Upon its opening in February, Pasadena's Bone Kettle was touted as “a bone-broth concept.” This description buried the lede significantly: The far more interesting thing about Bone Kettle is its chef, Erwin Tjahyadi, and his use of Indonesian flavors on this menu. Bone Kettle is not a purely Indonesian restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, nor does Tjahyadi claim it is one. It's inspired, he says, by his travels throughout Southeast Asia, and particularly by the many bone broths he tasted along the way. And the soup is great! Local company Sun Noodles provides the round, slightly bouncy, ramen-style noodles, and the broth, made from boiling beef and spices for 36 hours, is milky and rich and comforting. But what's far more interesting about Bone Kettle are the small plates, and the evolution they represent in terms of bringing Indonesian flavors into the New American canon. Gado gado, an intense peanut sauce that's usually served as a dressing over vegetable salad, is used by Tjahyadi as the binder for a small pile of chewy rice cakes. Mie goreng pedas — literally fried spicy noodles — is chock-full of shrimp paste–fueled, fermented fish funk. A sous vide egg comes nestled in the middle of the bowl, adding to the dish's slick richness. Bone Kettle is a major advancement of our city's best food trend — the one that involves chefs with immigrant backgrounds and fine-dining training taking the two parts of their culinary identities and merging them into something new and delicious.
Credit: Anne Fishbein