Gani and the Dandelion: a new place to dine and shine in Canggu
As you enter the Dandelion, you will possibly find Gani sitting in front of his typewriter behind the little wooden table in the middle of his restaurant. But he won’t stay sitting there once he sees you stepping through the old wooden door, which seems to have lived so many different lifetimes already. When you enter into this homely Warung, made only out of antique woods and furniture, Gani will welcome you like an old friend he has been waiting to return home for weeks.
With open arms and a warm smile, he will guide you to your table and hand you the menu. He personally wrote it on hand crafted red and yellow pages with his typewriter. He remembers the name of every guest and treats each one like a priceless treasure entrusted to him. You can be sure that he will spare no efforts to ensure that every single guest will leave his place with a satisfied glow on their face.
dreams come true
For over three years, Gani had been stewing on the idea of opening a restaurant. He trusted time and place to find him at the right moment, and when that moment arrived, his vision came into being. Everything just worked. But not, of course, without 3 months of tiresome building, decision making and moving. The process was not effortless. Every vision needs someone who believes in it and nurtures it until the end, always trusting that the heart will lead them down the right path.
“What is happening in my soul, listening and following its call, is essential to be in my personal happy place“, he explains and then quickly interrupts himself as he speaks. For a moment, it seems as if he wasn’t quite sure if he accidentally revealed too much of himself. He hadn’t.
A journey back to the roots
Gani wanted to create a place where people can gather and experience themselves and their friends as the beautiful individuals that they are. “The Dandelion is a place about the heart” he says. And hearing about how he built this place, arranged his menu and picked his staff, shows just how much he means that.
After over 10 years embracing a gypsy lifestyle; working on Cruise ships; studying hotel management in Miami; and opening a little store for Balinese furniture in Germany; Gani’s soul got called back home to Bali where he was born and spent the first 21 years of his life. Having the feeling that living in big cities and the western world didn’t really allow his spirit to unfold and grow naturally, he followed his inner voice and arrived, in June 2013, back to his island.
I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples
But his adventures in nature didn’t give him much time to rest. After seeing the world, traveling to places like the Caribbean, South America and Europe, it seemed to be the most natural thing to now pack his things one more time and backpack through Indonesia to discover more of his own country.
By then he already knew that once he returned to Bali he would open a Warung. But he had no idea what the place should look like. After 40 days of voyaging through the Islands, he found himself standing somewhere far out, in a little village in Java looking at a house which called his name. And he knew that this would become the roof under which people soon will get together, relax and forget about their daily routine for a while.
He talked to the owners of the house, talked them through his idea, and soon got permission to buy it and bring it over to Bali. The first step was to take out the walls. Who needs walls if you have ricefields behind the garden.
“I loved the house when I saw it, and more importantly I loved the people who lived in it. You can still feel their heartbeat in every fiber of those old beams.”
Take a break from everyday life
Even though Gani is always busy helping in the kitchen, checking on the orders, welcoming new guests or saying goodbye to those ones who leave, he never looks stressed and always finds the time to sit down for a moment and have a little chat with his guests. He has this special gift for giving each single person the feeling that the day wouldn’t have been the same without them sharing their precious presence with him.
Going through the ‘westernesian’ menu makes it hard to decide what to order – every meal is described with so much care and detail that it would be unfair to prefer one over another. And in between Grilled Tenderloin Beef and a Sate Ayam (a tender grilled chicken skewer served with homemade peanut sauce and steamed rice), one discovers little anecdotes and poems about Ganis life.
Reading this menu is about much more than just finding out what his lovely staff are creating behind those antic wooden kitchen walls he collected from all over Bali. Whilst deciding which one of these fine specialties will be on one’s plate, you can find out little bits and pieces about the thoughts and the past of Dandelion’s owner. Every one of his stories is spiced up with a good portion of humor.
Under the Grilled Vegetable Kebab it says
“I always wanted to be the kind of person who can wander through the grocery or farmer market and spontaneously plan a meal based on what looks good…BUT I’M NOT… I’m more the kind of person who, if he doesn’t have a carefully crafted list in hand, will come home with a random assortment of lovely looking stuff, more of which has any business on being on the same plate.”
How can you not order a Grilled Vegetable Kebab after that?
The kitchen – where creativity and inspiration come alive
“I see my staff as a part of my family and the Dandelion as our livingroom.”
Creating the menu was not something Gani had to analyze and think through with his five star head chef, trying to find the perfect combinations of ingredients, spices and sauces. It is actually hard to believe that none of his staff are actually five star head chefs. Yet, every single meal melts deliciously in your mouth.
“We try to do everything we do with our heart. I don’t tell my staff you have to do it this way or that way. I teach them to trust their own feeling for it. Find out what ingredients go together and let them replace one vegetable for another if necessary.”
Of course he exchanges ideas and inspirations with them, but Gani believes that if his cooks are proud of what they created, if they love what they have prepared, then the guest will love it too. A concept which seems to work without fail at the cozy Warung at Jalan Raya Batu Bolong No.10 – Canggu.
Another specialty of the house is the homemade healthdrinks called Djamu. It is a traditional Indonesian medicine made out of only natural products like roots, leaves, bork and fruit.
These recipes, which are about 1300 years old, are meant to help lower cholesterol, reduce body ache, or support the healing process of acne or dizziness, just to mention a few of their uses.
There is nothing more satisfying than having a belly, filled with healthy, delicious food and being surrounded by a warm, welcoming atmosphere and nice conversations. Gani is definitely the heart piece of this place. The way he flies from one table to another, explaining origins of his vegetables or simply asking if everything is alright, paired with his open and gentle personality, creates a truly soulful ambience.
As this place is all about pleasure, you shouldn’t leave without tasting the Dadar Gulung, an Indonesian crepe filled with grated coconut and palm sugar.
dinner may be dished up with some poetry
Once you are ready to jump back into the life outside the magic of Dandelion, Gani may hand you a postcard when he leads you to the door to wish you a good night.
On the back you will find a poem he wrote specially for you on his typewriter behind his little wooden desk in the middle of his restaurant. Just right now, whilst you where enjoying your evening. You might want to look up in the sky on your way home and make a wish. Because this is what a Dandelion is made for.
The authors favorites:
Starter – Grilled Chicken Sate with home made peanut sauce Main – Gado – Gado or home made mushroom ravioli Dessert – Pisang Goreng with sliced pineapple in palm sugar Drink – Dear Canggu fresh tamarind, orange & honey topped with soda water