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  • Clara Kleindorfer and Rachelle Liu

Bone Kettle: Filling the Void in LA’s Food Scene

Growing up as the only Asian in a primarily hispanic neighborhood of LA, Eric Tjahyadi noticed a void in LA’s food landscape: “inspired, chef driven Southeast Asian cuisine.” After ten years in the taco business, the Tjahyadi brothers decided to pay homage to their Chinese roots and Indonesian origin. Their goal: “a Southeast Asian concept that could look beautiful, dignified and inspired.”

seated: Eric and Erwin Tjahyadi, Co-founders of Bone Kettle (pc: Jesse Hsu)

After a heartening trip to Southeast Asia, Tjahyadi and his brother Chef Erwin acted on a dream and created Bone Kettle. To them, Bone Kettle is a way to tell their story through food. It has become a gateway for sharing culture and forming connections. Cooking Southeast Asian food reminds them of home, community, family, and past generations who keep them leaning on their vibrant and under-appreciated culinary legacy.

When Eric and Erwin lived in Indonesia, they experienced delicious food from all over Asia because of the fluidity between cultures and the constant influence from one country to the next. They saw potential for limitless creation, rich inspiration, and a diverse menu that manifested in unique bone broth, amazing craft sake, organic wine selections, beautiful tapas dishes, and an incredible location - a rustic and elegant building from the turn of the century.

Chef Erwin Tjahyadi (pc: Jesse Hsu)

Tjahyadi loves the diversity of voices on his team and their constant evolution and improvement. Bone Kettle thrives off of the diverse and food embracing Asian and Latino community in the San Gabriel Valley. The Pasadena emphasis on community and neighborhood connection has been a blessing for him because when people visit, he feels a level of intimacy and connection as if visitors are eating a meal in his home.

The most difficult part of creating Bone Kettle was starting out with no investors and having to shoulder all of the financial risks. COVID-19 has also tested the team’s resilience and survival instincts, but has shown them that together they are strong and resourceful. It also forced them to learn to be less wasteful and to be grateful for "the good times and the small wins."

Eric says the most rewarding aspects of restaurant-owning are the connections with customers, the unintended closeness with the team, the opportunity to provide employment to so many deserving and talented staff, and the chance to share their family story and culinary heritage with hundreds of people every night. They love serving all kinds of people in the neighborhood because their diverse experiences while dining at Bone Kettle is what fulfills their purpose.

In the future, Eric plans to survive the pandemic economy and come out on the other side, take more time for himself, continue to expand the portfolio of offerings at Bone Kettle. He wants to reimagine and renew, and do more for the community that has supported him so much during this low point. Tjahyadi wishes he could tell his younger self to "listen, be patient, trust in the process, and believe that you are enough to achieve big things." After a “very challenging and rewarding” journey he concludes, “no easy journey is worth taking.”

Visit Bone Kettle!

Location: 67 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

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