Riva at The Park Lane Jakarta is considered an institution by many diners. The French restaurant is the gem of the hotel. Riva constantly maintains its reputation as one of the best in Jakarta, if not Indonesia. For a restaurant of such height, changing the Chef de Cuisine is like getting a new Queen of England. It’s not gonna happen until the old queen dies, or has decided to replace Kim Jong Il instead.
Young chefs coming from Paris is not new, at least pour moi. What, you think those Junior Masterchefs are mythical? While regular ones play with crayons, there are actually talented kids who measure the right temperature to pan fry a chunk of foei gras in their mother’s kitchen. So, a 27-years old chef coming from Paris with a staggering portfolio that lists down names of world class chefs and multiple Michelin -starred restaurants he had been working for is nothing new for me. The thing is, Chef Mickael DoVan has a boyish Vietnamese look that might make him mistaken as a new member of Super-freaking-Junior.
DoVan started cooking at a real kitchen when he was around fifteen or sixteen. Originally he wanted to master in wine, but his old folks said that they couldn’t pay for that sort of knowledge. So, he learned to cook instead and took apprenticeship here and there. Upon finding his passion in the kitchen he had the chance to work under Chef Eric Briffard of Les Cinq at Hotel Georges V, Chef Jean-Francois Piege of Les Ambassadeurs at Hotel de Crillon, Chef Bernard Pacaud of L’Ambroisie Restaurant, and Chef Jacques Cagna of Jacques Cagna Restaurant – all in Paris. Globetrotting foodies know that those are respected names in the universe of delights.
So, what is DoVan doing in this other part of the world that many still consider as a part of Bali? “Indonesia gives me a chance to play around with spices and herbs,” he said when I got the chance to preview two of his creations yesterday. “It is a good opportunity for me to broaden my knowledge and experience. I have been working in Paris all the time, and it’s great to see how it is outside.”
How is it in Indonesia? Well, in Paris, if a chef needs a mushroom from Planet Pandora, there will be ten suppliers ready to give ten options. In here, you’ll thank Zeus for having just one supplier. This challenge, however, does not weaken DoVan’s spirit. He opts not to force making an unnecessarily complicated dish using interplanetary ingredients that will probably end up making Jakarta diners confused. He’d rather go zen and focuses on finding the finest produce. And, “To respect the produce. That’s my philosophy. Respect them. Handle them well.”
He carefully put a boiled chicken egg wrapped in bread crust on the plate. The appetizer item is presented with foei gras and black truffle. I’m an egg whore. But this one makes me feel like being an egg courtesan instead. Elegant with all authentic flavor blending in harmony. As for the main course that I got to try, a wild fish was properly cooked until the meat is juicy and the skin was drenched very well. Pear emulsion dressed the fish along with caviar on the side.
Chef Mickael DoVan is set to take Riva’s clientele to a new and exciting journey starting this coming February. Plan a special Valentine’s Dinner, anyone?
www.rivafrenchrestaurant.com Tel: +6221-8282000