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One Soul One Bowl: How Sajiwa’s Unique Bandung Street Food Challenged the Pandemic – and Prevailed

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Like I’ve said before, nothing hits deeper than memories. Especially when it comes to food from your childhood.

Citra Latief, Andre Prawiradisastra and Tino Indrawanto are childhood friends from Bandung who, after decades apart, found themselves reunited in Bali. Living separate careers and paths, the hardship of the pandemic sparked something in them. Yet, the spark then became Sajiwa by Bu Cici, one of Denpasar’s best Bandung street food joints. We had a little chat with Citra or Cici about the tiny hot spot.

It has always been in our minds to ask this whenever we meet you: How did a radio DJ decide to open a noodle shop? 

It goes back to 2013 when I got the first opportunity to join a food bazaar in Kuta selling Bandung style noodles. The response was beyond my expectation! People loved my noodles. A year later, I opened my first shop in 2014 and called it “Kedai Mie Cici”. However, because of various reasons in 2017 I had to close it. I continued to make noodles for my customers by opening pre-orders once every week, and then I sold them online as well. 

How did you decide to finally open a shop, and why Bandung cuisine? 

In 2020, I was reunited with my childhood friend, Andre and with my highschool senior, Tino Indrawanto. We are Bandoengers through and through, who keep missing out our hometown’s comfort food. We really can’t find any that are close enough to our palates. So the story begins from that simple conversation. When the pandemic hits, both Andre and Tino were forced to do work from home. Meanwhile, my husband’s office has to be closed, and I no longer work as a radio DJ. We still have to do something to survive the situation. The idea of resurrecting my kedai came up. After some meetings, we decided to reopen with a different name, different location, but same food and adding more delicious Bandung food on the menu. Et voila! Time really flies. It has been a year since we opened our doors. To make it even special, it’s in the heart of Denpasar, right in the heritage area. The surrounding just reminds us of our hometown, which is perfect for the kind of food that we serve.

Tell us more about the name and why you chose it. 

We actually came up with lots of ideas, but in the end what we want is something that is us. Something that reminds us that we have one goal in mind. Sort of comforting feeling between us three, something that glued us together. So we came up with “Sajiwa”, which in Sundanese means “one soul”. We agreed to add Bu Cici because I was the one who cooked everything and who kept the secrets.

Are your customers mostly people from Jakarta and Bandung trying to reminisce their memories through your food or there are other residents as well? 

Some people came from Bandung and Jakarta for a holiday or relocating here. Some from the other part of Indonesia who stay in Bali, but mainly people who are familiar with typical Bandung’s cuisine. It’s always fun when we find out that some of them or even many of them who came to our warung, starts to interact with each other, using their Sundanese accent or dialect – including us. It seems they found their home here. Some of them also have been familiar with Bandung in one way or another. They’ve stayed, or went to school in Bandung, so they know the taste of real Bandung cuisine. To know that they reminisce through our food is a great feeling. But as we are getting more exposure we are also finding that many of our new customers  is Bali’s resident, they try our food and they come back again as our repeat customers.

When it comes to the food of Bandung, it’s always between noodles (yamin or kocok) and dumplings (somay or batagor) for us. If you have to choose, which one is better? 

Oh, it’s hard to choose! But if we may to pick our top five, number one is yamin manis – which is still our best seller! 

Help us describe what’s a perfect day at Sajiwa and what are the must order dishes (appetizers, main, dessert) for first-time customers? 

We recommend between 3-5pm is the best time to come, or 6-7pm for dinner time. As for the full course meal,  you can start with the Siomay or Baso Goreng. Followed with our delicious Yamin Manis or Yamin Asin as the main, before concluding with the great companion of Es Alpukat or Es Teler. 

With restaurants opening their doors for dine-ins again, what do you expect for Sajiwa? 

We hope that Sajiwa will be and still Denpasar’s favorite warung to dine in, to hangout, and a hidden gem for anyone who comes to Bali and misses Bandung food. We definitely miss our interactions with our customers. We hope more and more of them will then come and enjoy their favorite foods coming right away from our little kitchen! There is nothing more delightful in this current situation for us to see when their tummy is happy and full of smiles!

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