—- by David Jardine
In common with most people I had long thought it impossible to turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear. Now I know otherwise. When the peerless Jalan Jaksa emporium ‘Ya-Udah Bistro’ closed its doors last weekend that was bad enough but the scuttlebutt now has it* that the premises will become a…karaoke bar! Pass the spittoon, would you!
I was the very first customer through the gate just under seven years ago and the last one out. I can safely say I have been its most frequent visitor, even allowing for four months medical treatment in the UK three and a bit years ago. That, I think, qualifies me to make a few comments.
Owner Pedro Fauquez is a Swiss from Zurich in which city he once ran a British-style pub. He once also worked for Swissair. He knows all about catering, a field in which the Swiss excel and down the years it showed.
The motto of the ‘Bistro’ was “Quality…an understatement!” and a few blemishes apart Pedro has set the standard for others to copy, if they can. He may or may not have read James Joyce, who once said Swiss cities are so hygienic that you could eat a fried egg off the pavements. Certainly, I never doubted the cleanliness of the place, and it has been the only eatery I have ever known where the waitresses were expected to polish the menus page for page!
Price-wise it was almost impossible to beat. Where else would you get a very large bowl of Chef’s Salad for Rp.17,000, replete with fresh veg, chicken strips and boiled egg. Where else would you get top quality German sausages with a potato side dish of your choice for Rp 29,000 (c.US$3), no plus-plus?
There was over the years a real international quality to Pedro’s extensive menu. At various stages Swiss, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Thai, British, American, Mexican, Indonesian, Japanese and other cuisines have been represented.
Pedro can be gruff, a little brusque and if he got a bee in his bonnet about someone they soon found out. Hence, one or two folk got the heave-ho. And one or two silly buggers reacted rather childishly by setting up a scurrilous website called ‘Ya-udah Sucks’. Very silly buggers! Pedro over-reacted to this by threatening legal action when it would have been better to ignore it.
Beneath that gruff exterior is a very kind man and I can speak readily of his kindness and consideration towards the late Peter Sanders, a hugely popular Jaksa expatriate, and of other instances too.
Oh, and his beer was cold and cheap to the last! Only Rp 16,000 for a large Bintang right down to the wire.
There is talk of him having acquired some other premises in the vicinity. In the meantime Arthur Morgan’s ‘Romance Bar’ and ‘Warna Warni’ at the Tugu Tani end of Wahid Hasyim are the places to head and of course ‘Pappa’ café, if you can put up with certain folk!
Miss you, ‘Bistro’!
*Other scuttlebutt has recent Jakarta Governor and prospective Presidential candidate Sutiyoso being a major figure behind the development plans and that another branch of Carrefour is going to be built at the bottom end of the street. I would appreciate confirmation or otherwise of this, and whether he is as fond of karaoke as SBY.