Bandung Indonesian Restaurant makes tempting tempeh and fusion dishes

The restaurant produces hundreds of pounds of tempeh per week
MaPo Chicken with tempeh chips

Pram Adriansjach stations himself between four tabletop fans aimed at two large buckets of steamed soybeans. He’s at Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, the Williamson Street eatery he owns along with his parents and his wife, Julie Adriansjach. Pram Adriansjach is in the middle of making a batch of tempeh, a fermented cake that is a staple of Indonesian cuisine and is often used as a meat replacement. He knows the multistep process by heart. “It’s all by instinct when I know it’s going to be dry,” he says as he plunges his metal spatula into a sea of small peanut-shaped beans.

This is Bandung’s makeshift tempeh-making production facility, and they produce hundreds of pounds of tempeh per week — not just for the restaurant, but also for grocery stores and other area eateries, including Monty’s Blue Plate Diner and The Green Owl Cafe. To the Adriansjaches’ knowledge, they’re the only Madison makers of tempeh for wholesale. They take on this tedious task on top of being involved in the day-to-day operations of their 20-year-old restaurant and bar, which has established itself as a destination not just for tempeh, but for its entire Indonesian fusion menu, local art displays and diverse live music offerings.

How Bandung Makes Tempeh

three illustrations of making tempeh

Illustrations by Nicole Peaslee

1. Pram Adriansjach got into making tempeh because of his father’s love for it. “This was a project that my dad started,” he says. “We have to follow a very specific routine — you can’t skip a step.” Bandung’s process starts with cleaning and dehulling soybeans before they’re soaked and steamed.

2. Next, the soybeans are dried and cooled. If at any stage the beans aren’t dry enough or cool enough, the batch will fail and you’ll have to start the process over. They check the temperature, and once it hits the right number, a starter spore, Rhizopus oligosporus, is added to begin fermentation and the beans are bagged and weighed.

3. The bags are placed in a temperature-controlled room and checked on periodically for about two to three days. Once the process is complete, Bandung uses the tempeh in varying ways — it’s sold wholesale, it’s cubed and added to vegetarian dishes and it’s fried and served as tempeh chips in the restaurant. Julie Adriansjach says they like to serve it this way because it showcases tempeh’s flavor. “It’s kind of smoky, kind of nutty,” she says.

Classic Faredaging rendang

Every one of Bandung’s dishes passes through Pram Adriansjach’s hands. That includes the daging rendang, which is a traditional mix of beef and potatoes marinated with Indonesian spices and lemongrass and served with a side of broccoli.

Flavorful Favoritemung bean curry

Bandung’s mung bean curry is made with your choice of protein, red peppers, mushrooms and mung bean cellophane noodles served in a yellow curry sauce. This curry is also offered at The Nutty Bar, the adjoining bar that features the work of local artists, live music and a tailored menu of food and drinks.

Dream TeamPram and Julie with Pram's parents

Julie and Pram Adriansjach (second from the right and far left, respectively) are the day-to-day forces behind Bandung along with a sous chef and Pram Adriansjach’s parents (middle and far right). “Funny story,” Julie says, “when we started dating at UW-Platteville, Pram wanted to cook Indonesian food for me but he wasn’t able to finish so he had his parents drive down to finish our meal. Funny to think from that day we ended up running an Indonesian restaurant for the past 20 years.Pram Adriansjach’s mother taught him how to cook, and he’s been doing it since the mid-1990s when he started cooking for other international students like himself who were missing food from home. Julie runs the business and fulfills front of house duties at night while also working full time as a senior research specialist at UW–Madison during the day. Julie and Pram have one teenage son, Riann.

Find Them: Bandung 600 Williamson St., 255-6910

Andrea Behling is editor of Madison Magazine.