Anime-inspired food art of traditional Indonesian dishes goes viral

Studio Ghibli-style Indonesian food art by renowned illustrator Alfeus Christie, better known as @harousel, has gone viral on local social media – attracting famous local sponsors such as Sasa MSG, Indomie, and GrabFood to have him create content starring their products.

Christie’s social media account features mainly local food and beverages, making many netizens miss their childhood days. The variety of Indonesian dishes in his art, from savoury to sweet, have been prompting Indonesians to express their pride in our food heritage.

From satay to bubur Manado…

satay drawn by alfeus christie
Alfeus Christie’s depiction of sate

Image credit: @harousel

Satay, or sate in Indonesian, is a popular street food dish of skewered and grilled meat typically served with soy and peanut sauce, and consists of diced chicken, mutton, or beef. However, chicken sate is the most popular in the country, and bamboo sticks like what we see in Christie’s illustration are used to hold the diced meat together to make it easier to grill it over a charcoal fire.

Though sate has made its way to high-end Indonesian restaurants, and is often labelled as the national dish of Indonesia, it actually originates from Javanese cuisine. In Java, sate is usually accompanied by lontong, or round rice cakes.

Local variations exist, such as Sumatra’s sate kulit with its crispier texture, marinated in spicy sauce, and South Kalimantan’s sate Banjar that includes more chillies and fewer peanuts, making its sauce red as opposed to the Javanese brown peanut sauce.

bubur manado drawn by alfeus christie
Christie’s anime-style depiction of Bubur Manado

Image credit: @harousel

Moving up north from Java to Sulawesi island, we can find the popular bubur Manado or Manado porridge, also known as Tinutuan in the Minahasa language. As the name suggests, it comes from the city of Manado in North Sulawesi, and is usually consumed as a breakfast dish.

The rice porridge mixed with vegetables such as cassava, corn, and kale creates a yellow broth, and sometimes comes with fried salty fish though it typically doesn’t include meat.

Bubur Manado is one of the most sought-after breakfast dishes in the country, and can be found in many parts of Indonesia including Java and the capital, Jakarta. Needless to say, Christie’s rendition of bubur is making our tummies rumble.

…to martabak manis and es cendol, aka es dawet

martabak manis drawn by alfeus christie
Martabak manis depicted by Christie

Image credit: @harousel

Christie continues to make netizens drool by creating a depiction of a popular Indonesian dessert called martabak manis, that was invented in the Belitung Islands in between Sumatra and Java. This sweet pancake-like dessert consists of bread-like dough, baking soda, yeast, chocolate sprinkles, crushed peanuts, butter, and cheese, and is usually served piping hot. Today, you can get it in a variation of modern flavours such as red velvet and matcha.

es cendol drawn by alfeus christie
2 glasses of es cendol, aka es dawet, placed on a batik mat depicted by Christie

Image credit: @harousel

Desserts in Indonesia also come in the form of drinks, including es cendol, also known as es dawet. This Javan dessert drink is known by two names, showing the linguistic diversity within Java.

The word cendol is used in West Java, mainly in Bandung, and dawet is used in Central Java, particularly in the Banjarnegara regency – although there is no difference in the ingredients and consistency of the drink.

Usually served cold and consumed after a meal, it features ingredients that can only be found around Asia. Green rice flour jelly partly made with pandan leaf extract is used to provide aroma and colour, along with durian and jackfruit toppings, palm sugar syrup, and condensed milk – all lovingly drawn by Christie. Of course, ice cubes are added because this drink tastes best when chilled.

Some of Christie’s artwork is sponsored by MSG company PT Sasa Inti

nasi padang dishes art
Padang dishes depicted by Alfeus Christie

Image credit: @harousel

Indonesian MSG and food flavoring company, PT Sasa Inti, has sponsored some of the artwork by Alfeus Christie featuring local dishes. Christie cleverly depicts Padang food from Sumatra that uses coconut seasoning and curry base broth – among the most important ingredients in Padang food that differentiate it from other local delicacies.

For those of us who don’t have the time or energy to make these from scratch, Sasa provides sachets of coconut cream and curry broth to help us make Padang food at home with less of a hassle. You can add them to a huge variety of dishes, from meat to vegetarian sides.

sasa rendang art
Rendang dish from the Padang food series by Alfeus Christie

Image credit: @harousel

Who can forget rendang when talking about Padang food? This spicy beef dish hailing from West Sumatra is a signature dish of the Minangkabau culture.

By far one of the most popular dishes in the country, the preparation process of rendang takes a while, because the beef is slow-cooked to get a soft texture, and is then braised with coconut milk and a spice mixture.

Christie’s depiction of skewered meat in rendang includes, of course, a packet of Sasa’s premade rendang paste.

Netizens shower appreciation on the illustrations, taking pride in their traditional dishes

sayur asem
Sayur asem, or Sundanese-style vegetables in tamarind soup, illustrated by Christie
Image credit: @harousel

Netizens have commented in appreciation, some applauding the meticulousness of the art, and some proud of the representations of their culture. Others couldn’t help but feel hungry by looking at the images, while yet others reminisced about their childhood days eating some the dishes depicted by Christie.

netizen comments on alfeus christie's art 1
Image adapted from: @harousel

@risa.fahraini added, ‘’Oh god, this makes me hungry, the sayur asem (Sundanese-style vegetables in tamarind soup) looks good.’.

khong guan biscuits drawn by alfeus christie
Image adapted from: @harousel

Every 90’s Indonesian kid remembers watching the TV advertisements of Khong Guan cookies, commonly sold in iconic, huge metal tins.

netizen comments on alfeus christie's art 2
Image adapted from: @harousel

@joannnna_ commented, reminiscing, “Ohhh, memories of cookies like these,” at the throwback image of the Khong Guan cookies.

netizen comments on alfeus christie's art 3
Image adapted from: @harousel

The backdrops of Christie’s images also takes us back to our younger days in our hometowns. @alissalovesfood added, ‘’The table mat! Manado Batik represent!’’ after spotting it beneath the bubur Manado spread.

Ghibli-style Indonesian food art

Aspiring illustrators can also take inspiration from Christie’s rujak (fruit and vegetable salad) illustration timelapse video on his Youtube account. His art doesn’t just stop at food – he’s also created whimsical illustrations for video and mobile games, which you can spot on his Behance.

But if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to look up where we can order some of the dishes he’s drawn in such delicious detail for our next meal.

Looking for some real food now? Check out:

Cover image adapted from (clockwise from top left): @harousel, @harousel, @harousel, @harousel

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