MELBOURNE | Koen is a COVID-19 side hustle started by Indonesian born chef Axel Chiang, who was working at places like Cafe Di Stasio and Atlantic Group before lock down.
With Koen, he’s making the food he grew up with in his hometown of Surabaya, catering for Indonesians looking for a taste of home, and others looking to try something different. The dish that I tried when I did my Koen order was ote-ote. It’s is a flour based fritter filled with pork mince, seaweed, and soy bean. It’s eaten fried, accompanied with fresh chilli.
The dish is a speciality of Porong, Sidoarjo in East Java. It’s very regional, and Axel tells me, hard to find outside of Sidoarjo-Surabaya. It’s new to me, and damn tasty. A savoury, umami laden bomb of flavour with a crispy exterior and dense interior. Think of it as a next level meat pie.
Along with ote-ote, Axel is also selling another regional delight, pempek palembang, and things like the Yogyakarta delicacy, nasi gudeg. It’s sweet jackfruit & egg curry, spicy tofu w/ black eyed beans & cowkskin, sambal, & coconut broth poached chicken. Check out the Koen Instagram account to see what he’s cooking up at any given time and to place your order.
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