Q&A with local chef, Samuel Yanto – Harley House Bar & Grill
23 April 2018
1. When did you become a chef and what inspired you to become one?
I started working as a chef in 1998.
My inspiration came from my mum. She is Indonesian, which strongly influences her cooking. When I was young I watched her cook us meals using such an array of herbs and spices. I was fascinated in the creativity needed to produce different tastes and flavours, which set me on the journey to become a chef.
3. When did Harley House open?
In its current incarnation, steps away from the T&G Building on Strachan Lane, we opened in March 2015. We focus on contemporary Latin American cuisine with a Peruvian Essence. Think pisco sours and ceviche.
4. What sort of clientele do you serve at the restaurant?
Due to the proximity of the restaurant to Melbourne’s CBD, we serve predominately corporate clientele. At night and during the weekend we also attract a lot of local tourists, as well as South Americans looking to get a taste of home.
5. What is special about the location of the restaurant?
Harley House is quintessentially Melbourne! The laneway and basement bar are what you expect from a dining experience in Melbourne. We have some amazing artwork by co-owner Vincent Fantauzzo and street artist Silly Sully adorning the laneway. We are also currently displaying work by John Kelly and Dirt Fish, as well as some of Vincent’s original Archibald pieces, which are on display throughout the venue.
The building itself was designed by Smith, Ogg and Serpell and built in 1924. Harley House is a miniature of the architect’s later Classical Revival design for the Port Authority Building. The atmosphere, building and location really give customers the full Melbourne cultural and dining experience.
6. What is your favourite menu item?
The traditional ceviche! We use sustainable local white fish to make it an amazingly fresh dish. It’s great for sharing and I just can’t seem to get past it.
7. What is the most popular item on the menu?
All of our ceviches are the most popular dishes. Aside from our traditional one, we also do a ceviche Nikkei, using fresh tuna, Nikkei sauce, sesame, avocado puree and kizame nori. It tastes as good as it sounds!
8. If you could open one restaurant overseas, where would it be and why?
I would have to stay in Melbourne! What more could you want? Great produce, passionate and well-informed customers, educated staff.
9. What is the most unique dish you’ve created in your career?
I am currently working on some more amazing ceviche concepts. I am playing around with interesting seafood and using medicinal herbs as bases. Stay tuned!
Harley House is located on 71 Collins Street. You can enter via Strachan Lane, off Exhibition Street. Book yourself in to try some of Samuel’s delicious creations at https://harleyhouse.com.au.