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New Zealand Flavours Tempt Indonesian Diners

New Zealand Flavours Tempt Indonesian Diners

Friday, May 9, 2003 -- Top quality New Zealand produce is on the menu every night in Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest city, since the opening of the first offshore version of the successful kiwi chain of Steak Out Restaurants.

The new dining facility in South Jakarta features New Zealand beef and fresh New Zealand fish with pots of honey from Havelock North based Arataki Honey sold across the counter and used to make a honey-based drink. A New Zealand made ice cream is expected to be on the menu in the near future.

The restaurant is owned by Indonesian meat importer Mr Kuswandi Wangidjaja, who plans to open a second Steak Out in North Jakarta in a few months and eventually a chain of 20 restaurants throughout Indonesia. While Bali was initially seen as a logical site for the first Indonesian Steak Out, a big drop in the number of tourists visiting the island after last year’s bombing meant Jakarta was selected instead.

There are six Steak Out Restaurants in New Zealand’s North Island - the original in the Hawke’s Bay town of Havelock North and others in Napier, Palmerston North, New Plymouth and Auckland (Pukekohe and Kumeu).

Owner Murray Bell, who is acting as a consultant for the Indonesian project, bought the Steak Out in Havelock North eight years ago and knew he was on to a winning concept when people from other provincial cities approached him about replicating the restaurant.

He has kept ownership of the two Hawke’s Bay Steak Outs and franchised the rest.

Mr Kuswandi was in New Zealand last year to meet with executives from meat exporter Richmond Limited who brought him to dine at the Havelock North Restaurant.

“I got a phone call about two weeks later from Mr Kuswandi asking if he could open a chain of franchised Steak Outs in Indonesia. There are already a number of steak houses in Indonesia but none offers top quality grass fed New Zealand beef,” says Murray Bell.

Internationally known franchises in Indonesia include Chicago Ribs, Hard Rock Café, Red Lobster, TGI Friday, Fire Grill Steak and other restaurants offering Mexican, Italian and Japanese menus.

Jakarta’s Steak Out looks identical to its New Zealand counterparts, decorated in the same cognac and green colour scheme, and with staff in black uniforms. The menu, in both English and Indonesian, is similar, although the sauces and salads have been adjusted to suit the Indonesian palate. Art works showing New Zealand landscapes and prints promoting New Zealand beef adorn the walls, and the restaurant was opened with a powhiri performed by a teacher and pupils from the New Zealand International School in Jakarta.

Murray Bell says the restaurant has been doing steady trade since it opened in March with the only complaint being that the portions served are too big.

“Indonesians are not used to eating steak the size you would expect at a New Zealand restaurant. While we do serve considerably smaller portions over there, many people still find them too much. That’s a complaint we are prepared to live with!”

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