We don't usually do product endorsements but when we ventured back to Melbourne for the wet season we immediately missed the authentic flavours which Bali has become famous for.
Possible one of the most exciting things that happened to us on our return to Melbourne is the arrival of a new brand, Eighteen Thousand Islands... a new venture by two young blokes from Melbourne with half Indonesian heritage that wanted to bring the authenticity of Bali (and Indonesia) to the streets of their hometown, Melbourne.
Inspired by their mothers traditional feasts they started off at the bustling night market where they were lucky enough to secure a stall every Wednesday night for that first summer many years ago in 2003. They built a charcoal grill out of a 40 gallon drum and 'Warung Satay' was born (a warung is traditionally a small, family-owned business, usually a restaurant or cafe).
To say it was busy would be an understatement. Every week they had queues of people waiting for a taste of their remarkable peanut sauce - their grandmother's recipe - and in two hours they would sell over 2000 skewers and 60 litres of sauce. It was so successful that by the end of the summer they decided to open a permanent store.
It took another eight or nine months to find a location that was suitable; a tiny, empty corner shop in what was then a relatively quiet part of the Melbourne central business district. They decided to call their new store a name that would have no ambiguity and customers would understand exactly what they were getting - 'Sataybar'.
Over the next 3 months they built the business up with their bare hands and finally opened Sataybar on April 4th, 2004. It wasn't long though before their single-offering store started to really get noticed. In October of that year Matt Preston, now of Masterchef fame, reviewed them in his weekly column for The Age Newspaper. In it he wrote,
"In an era when every little hole-in-the-wall tries to do everything, Sataybar does just one thing and does it well. That thing is satay."
And with that, they were off. Following that article they were featured in newspapers, magazines and on TV. The Melbourne CBD food scene started to explode and they being celebrated in most publications that featured Melbourne food.
By the end of 2005 Sataybar was going so well they opened a second location, this time right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD on Manchester Lane. The Age Cheap Eats, the city's food bible, had featured them each year they'd been open, writing,
It's a simple formula but when Grandma's satay recipe tastes this good, why mess with it?"
Eventually the duo decided to sell in 2012 after over 8.5 years of operating and was a tremendous tribute to their late grandmother and her wonderful cooking.
Today, the duo are back and bringing their peanut sauce that was renowned for many years, and offering it into jars and onto shelves throughout Melbourne with their newest venture, Eighteen Thousand Islands, which is a rough estimate of the number of islands in Indonesia, and for them that represents endless opportunities with so much to discover and share.
Being extremely passionate about Bali, we love and adore everything about this island and when we came across the flavours these two were able to create, we simply had to share it with our audience...
We liken it to the incredible smell your washing has after you get it washed in Bali just before you head home... it's simply authentic, unique and reminds you of that special place.
Eighteen Thousand Islands have somehow done a similar thing with their incredible sauces.