New restaurant brings unique food and American dream to Harrisonburg

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- UPDATE (8/1/2016):
BoBoKo Indonesian Café has now officially opened in the historic Ice House in downtown Harrisonburg.

The concept for this new restaurant was inspired by the flavors of Chef Hotiman Ridwan’s native tropical country of Indonesia, his love of friends and community, and the use of fresh and healthy ingredients enjoyed in a cozy, and friendly environment.

Boboko is West-Java tribal language for a “rice basket” typically made out of bamboo and used as a serving container for prepared steamed rice.

Ridwan carefully transformed his dream into a reality by utilizing many economic development resources offered in the Harrisonburg community. Participating in the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center’s 2015 “What’s Cooking-The Business of Food” program allowed Ridwan to take his dream and formalize it into a business plan. Ridwan was the winner of the inaugural What’s Cooking Concept Plan competition held last April.

"Ridwan and his partner were wonderful participants in our 'What's Cooking' competition. They worked hard on their own plan while being fully engaged and supportive of all the other members," reported Joyce Krech, Director of the Small Business Development Center. "Ridwan took advantage of the SBDC and city resources and met regularly with the SBDC team to move his plans forward. The results show in this beautiful space and creative menu. We're extremely proud of BoBoKo!"

With a fully formalized business plan and financial projections in hand, Ridwan worked with Harrisonburg Economic Development and Matchbox Realty to determine the best location, which is at 217 South Liberty St.

Andrea Dono, the executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, said, “We are [...] excited about adding an Indonesian restaurant to Downtown Harrisonburg’s impressive food scene. Downtown has almost 40 restaurants in our 40-block district and are thrilled that BoBoKo further showcases the culinary skills and creativity of our diverse community.”

Utilizing the skills of professional services including Sysco Virginia, Blue Ridge Architects, and Rhodenizer Construction, Ridwan's dream was transformed into brick and mortar reality in just over one year, reports Allison Dugan of the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center.

Menu items include appetizers like Tofu Teriyaki Summer Rolls, Indonesian Chicken Noodle Soup, and Indonesian style tropical salads like Gado-Gado with steamed mixed vegetables available in small or meal portions. Beef and Chicken Rendang are prepared traditionally along with many vegetarian tempeh and stir-fry options. An array of authentic Indonesian Street Foods feature rice and noodle dishes like the Mozzarella Cheese Risoles, an Indonesian fusion vegetarian fried croquette filled with mixed vegetables and mozzarella. Sandwiches and desserts featuring French Macarons complete the menu.

The restaurant's official website can be found in the 'Related Links' section of this article, and their Facebook can be found embedded below.


ORIGINAL STORY (4/4/2016):
A new restaurant coming to Harrisonburg soon will bring unique food and accomplish a dream for a man who first came to America nearly 15 years ago.

Hotiman Ridwan came to the United States in 2001 and now he has plans to start his own Indonesian restaurant right in downtown Harrisonburg. It's type of food, he says, isn't around in the Valley very much.

The new business, called BoBoKo Indonesian Cafe will be an about 18-seat sit down restaurant right next to Pure Eats in the Ice House complex.

Ridwan says his parents own a small business in Indonesia and he has grown up in the food industry his whole life.

But he also says programs through the city of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County have allowed him to learn more about starting his own business.

"It's exciting and scary, but I'm ready for it," Ridwan said. "(...) I always wanted to have this business."

Ridwan expects to open the restaurant by June 2016.