In a word, humbled. In a few more words, humbled and completely overwhelmed by the support.
These were the sentiments of Head Chef and young gun Freddie Salim of Sydney's Nu Bambu. Located behind the driveway entrance and through the foyer of Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL is Salim's pan-Asian bonanza, which has only been in action for nine months and in that time has already conjured up quite the following.
"At the beginning, I didn't know what to expect running this RSL eatery, but several months on and I can't believe the support I have received from both inside and outside of the club," he tells SBS.
Salim has used the fanbase to give back to the wider community, hosting a charity banquet (as part of Good Food Month), with 50 per cent of the evening's ticket sales, plus the winning bid from Nu Bambu's surprise dinner auction, going to the Red Cross Indonesia Earthquakes and Tsunami Appeal, just one of many organisations supporting the people and communities that have been affected by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Sulawesi in September and triggered a tsunami aftershock. The event raised $4,200 towards the appeal, but its success in bringing a local community together surpasses the dollar value.
It was completely coincidental that the charity dinner menu embraced traditional Indonesian flavours; not unexpected, though, since the roll-call of chefs (Tokyo Laundry’s Mulyadi Djunaedi, Muum Maam Barangaroo’s Santo Maximus, Miam Patisserie’s Meylissa Yusuf, and Stephanie Gondosiswanto from Pop Up Gondoskitchen) share Indonesian roots.
"While brainstorming, we knew we wanted to cook Asian, but it wasn’t until we all threw around our dishes that we realised that all of our ideas were Indonesian in flavour and style,” laughs Salim. "Like the restaurant, this event was opening people’s mind and hearts to Indonesia and to show people that there is more to Indonesia than just Bali.”
Beef rendang tartare kicked off the eight-course menu, with tamarind scallops, and chicken and prawn rice cakes following suit. Twice-cooked lamb ribs covered in a traditional Javanese and Sumatran sambal were a stand-out, so too the West Javan fried chicken bastik and seafood pindang (a traditional South Sumatran sweet, sour and spicy fish broth).
Creamy, sweet and salty notes accented the dessert share plates, with Central, East and West Javan flavours on show, including a kuih dadar (pandan chiffon cake) with caramelised coconut, a banana choux with black sticky rice and es lilin alpukat - a coconut avocado ice-pop that channelled the Zooper Dooper's tube-like presentation.
The evening was about coming together and sharing food, creating a menu that drew attention to Indonesia and the current crisis back in their home country, while also changing perceptions around what RSL food should be. "It doesn’t have to all be chicken schnitty and daily meat and three veg specials,” says Salim. “Nu Bambu is so much about sharing and bringing Southeast Asian, not just one country but the many regions, all into one place.”
You can donate to the Red Cross Indonesian Earthquake Appeal via their website redcross.org.au/earthquake
Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL: 20–26 Canterbury Road, Hurlstone Park, NSW
Mon - Thur 5:30pm - 10pm; Fri - Sat 11:30pm - 3:30pm and 5:30pm - 11pm; Sun 11:30pm - 3:30pm and 5:30pm - 10pm