16 November 2023

Five minutes with Andy, Ostani Bar and Restaurant

| Claire Sams
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A man in a dark suit and shirt standing in a restaurant

After moving from lawyer to bar manager, Andy has now made Canberra (and Ostani) his home. Photo: Claire Sams.

Who are you?

My name is Andy – I only have one name – and I’m a bar manager at Ostani in Barton.

What is your venue?

Ostani is a cheerful place where you don’t have to wait too long for your drinks. We have good service, good food, a good atmosphere – and a lot of space for people to come and sit!

What are the key things someone should know about you?

I earned a degree in Indonesia, where I come from, in international law, and my favourite colour is teal. I go to the gym and do high-intensity training five days a week.

What does your day-to-day look like?

My typical day-to-day starts when I get up in the morning to check on my daughter before turning on my coffee machine. After she goes to daycare, I go to the gym or go for a run. Sometimes, I cook lunch for my wife and then I go to work.

At work, to some extent, I do the same thing every day. There is restoring, making sure we have enough stock, going to meetings thinking about new cocktails. I have to make sure everything is looked after – though I have people I can rely on so I don’t have to micromanage them!

READ ALSO Five minutes with Adam Shaikh Ali, Dum Dickson Indian Restaurant

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I came to Canberra from Jakarta in 2009 – my uncle lives here and he invited me to visit him for a year. At the time, I was working in a law firm as a junior paralegal, but it’s long hours and you do the most boring jobs – photocopying and writing notes in meetings. You don’t actually do the important stuff and I was so bored.

So I came to Canberra and got my first job as a kitchen hand in a noodle shop in the city. From there, I worked as a sandwich hand, a barista, a head barista, and a cafe manager across different places. I think I’ve stayed in hospitality because you speak to a lot of people. When you’re making someone a coffee or serving them at the bar, you can make their day when you chat with the customer. Some people aren’t interested, but others interact with you and have a conversation.

A person holding a pizza

Ostani is open seven days a week in Barton. Photo: Ostani Bar/Facebook.

What are the top three menu items that really show what your venue can do?

There’s a cocktail at Ostani called a Kiwi Martini, and that’s been one of the crowd favourites here – although we’re just going to change into a new menu that I’ve designed. As for the food, the pizzas are good, so is the steak sandwich. Actually, the steak sandwich is amazing, and that’s what I order two or three times a week.

What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

Garlic and chilli. They bring a flavour and aroma and combine well together. It’s not the same taste without them.

READ ALSO Five minutes with Stu Inger, Volstead Repeal

What is Canberra’s best-kept food secret?

Hippo Bar – it’s busy, but it’s not crazy busy since people tend to go to Molly, Volstead Repeal or Bar Rochford. Ramen Daddy in Fyshwick is a good place, as well.

What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I’m watch anime – I’m watching One Piece at the moment on Netflix – and I recently finished The Witcher. I finished the first season last week, so I’ve started on the second season.

A man in a dark suit pouring a beer

Pilot and Hippo Bar are two of his favourite venues across the city. Photo: Claire Sams.

What is your comfort food?

My comfort food is easy – a packet of Mi Goreng noodles. It takes two minutes to make, so it’s very quick.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

My wife and I love going to Pilot in Ainslie for a birthday or anniversary. After that, we usually go to Hippo Bar in the city. We used to live nearby in Braddon before we had our daughter, and we went to Hippo a lot because my wife was working around the corner, as well.

Who do you admire in the Canberra food scene?

I’ve worked with Alex Piris from Fox & Bow before, and he’s done a great job. When he opens up a shop, he always works with the community and the neighbourhood. The vibe livens up the area a bit. In terms of places, I really like what Bar Rochford is doing. They have a really cool concept, with a good wine list, a cool space and cool people working the bar.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order?

A simple long black.

Ostani Bar and Restaurant is located at 18 National Circuit, Barton, inside the Hotel Realm (part of Doma Group). It is open 6:30 am to late (Monday to Friday) or 7 am to late (Saturday to Sunday).

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