All posts by Rian Farisa

Rian Farisa stars himself in a flick about how a culinary correspondent living a life full of adventures as if he will live forever. At the end of the day, he lives to retell the chronicles of his swashbuckling daring gastronomic adventures like a bard singing his tales of beautiful faraway lands. Since gastronomy consists of complex aspects and that is where his passion lies, he decided to unravel how businessmen, hawkers and luxurious restaurants alike, serve their dishes for the patrons. Whether they only serve for the advantages in taste or only the surroundings or whether they really throw anything for the sake of customer's satisfaction, he shall be solely the only one who can tell and in the name of this noble profession, justice shall be done!
Bengawan - Mexican Flair 6

Modern Mexican Kitchen at Bengawan, Keraton at The Plaza

Perhaps some of you remember how sensational the last year’s Mexican treat by Chef Lamberto Valdez, back in Bengawan – Keraton at The Plaza. It was a delightful 10 course lunch where the chef personally oversaw and shared us his two cents about Mexican food. From start to finish, we were made astonished for the full five hours and thanks also to the great company, it was probably one of the memorable lunches that I ever had.

To settle in first with how Mexican it was, you can check my last year’s posts here and here.

As time went by, apparently, Chef Lamberto Valdez was promoted as the Culinary Director of the Starwoods hotels in Indonesia – CMIIW. I was actually met him personally and accidentally, during a breakfast last month in Sheraton Bandung and I was utterly impressed that for a local hotel, Sheraton Bandung has added interesting elements in the menu that you may not find anywhere else. Of course, leaving his marks, Chef Lamberto shared his Mexican flairs as well there.

However, what made me feel even gleeful is the fact that Bengawan of Keraton at The Plaza has finally fully incorporated these Mexicano flairs as well in the menu. From the daily serving of Mexican treats in one corner for buffet lunch and dinner, the restaurant also provides a full range menu and dedicated selections for the brisk, business lunch for IDR 150K.

Sopa de tortilla
Sopa de tortilla

During one of those bloggers meetings, I had a really good lunch reenactment moments with Chef Lamberto’s meals and I started of course with his famed sopa de tortilla, creamy and crunchy but at the same time but one might want to steer away from the Mexican chili if you’re not ready, otherwise it would be a really ‘good’ surprise!


The highlight of the meals came from the finest guacamole in Jakarta, thanks to the beautiful concoction and of course, because of the use of Hass avocadoes – ‘the wagyu of avocadoes’ as I often tell everyone about how majestic these creatures are. I simply asked for more and more of guacamole to appease my cravings alongside the sour cream and the tomato salsa.


For the main course, I finally got to meet delicious selections for quesadilla that involved chicken and beef steak with it or the fajitas with hanger steak. But perhaps, what I was actually curious about are the tacos. For Indonesians, perhaps it would be best to have the usual flour tortilla because of the familiar taste but if you want to try the real Mexican – then the corn tortilla is the answer.

Pinto beans
Pinto beans

Despite the authenticity, you might experience a bit dryness and bitterness with the taste, which I cannot offer you the peer-to-peer comparison to you as of this moment. On a lighter note, the meat selections were actually excellent and rich in flavor as well. You can choose from carne asada, the chicken, the lamb birria, or the vegetarian course for this one.



Cinnamon Sugar Churros

To seal the deal, the choco-flan never fail to satisfy me, but I’d definitely recommend you to try Chef Lamberto’s take of churros complemented with three great sauces of goat’s milk caramel, white chocolate sauce, and the mango compote. It’s a modern touch of Mexican I must say but when you see the track record of the chef, you’d really want to give it a good try and of course, we need more Mexican food as well in town. Thanks to Bengawan, we all have something new to try and to talk about!

Menu details for Modern Mexican Kitchen >> here


Halal-friendly (ask if there’s alcohol or pork incorporated with the dishes)
Suitable for vegetarians

Keraton at The Plaza
Jalan MH Thamrin 15, Jakarta – Indonesia
T: +62.21.5068.0000

Opening hours:
Everyday, all-day dining

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

Spend: IDR 150,000++ / person for Business Lunch

How It Was Started: Bubur Ayam HI

Hotel Indonesia Kempinski - Bubur Ayam HI

Excerpts from The Foodie Magazine Issue 07 – The Legendary Bubur Ayam:

Since 1962, it becomes the ultimate choice for Hotel Indonesia’s guests as a favorite dish. The congee itself reserves the right to be called Bubur Ayam HI, using the abbreviation of Hotel Indonesia itself.

The origin of how the bubur ayam here can be so influential was traced back from the time when the hippest people of Jakarta visited the restaurant downstairs after having their all night long parties on the 16th floor of the hotel in Nirwana Lounge. Famished, they asked the staffs to make them bubur ayam for breakfast and that’s how it have since became a customary dish for everyone whenever they visit Hotel Indonesia until this very day.

Hotel Indonesia Kempinski
Jalan MH Thamrin 1, Jakarta – Indonesia
T: +62.21.2358.3800

Santiga 3

Taking It To The Streets: Santiga Seafood Benhil (The Foodie Magazine, May 2014)

While it proved to be elusive, at least for me, I successfully traced the whereabouts of this legendary seafood hawker after it moved out from its original neighborhood. The result for the hardship was a dining experience worth its weight in gold!

It feels like ages, but actually, it hasn’t been that long. In a previous life, I was part of one of those banking enterprises around the Jalan Sudirman. My officemates and I used to have dinner at street food stalls around the office or head north for the shopping malls.

One of the options they asked me back then was to have a dinner at Santiga Seafood in Benhil, a portmanteau for Jalan Bendungan Hilir. It was a nay that time for me as I was rushing for a prior engagement somewhere else and the chance never came again until quite recently after all those years.

Much to my dismay, my personal tour around the street made me realize that Santiga was no longer there to be found, aside from another hawker of slightly the same name took over the old place where Santiga used to be.

Santiga 4

Finally, I discovered that they moved permanently out of the neighborhood two years ago further south to Jalan Fatmawati. It’s a strange move considering they had hardcore fans around the area but I assume that if the food was that good, then people will follow them wherever they go.

So there I was on Jalan Fatmawati, in front of a closed ceramic store where Santiga had relocated. They set up a huge tent and were open for Jakarta’s seafood fans all night long. Business was good that night as patrons filled most of the seats even if it was already past 10pm on a weekday. The cooks were busy in front of their hot woks, the large flames bursting underneath, the fish griller in front of the shack commanded the wafting smokes that surely signaled for everybody to come. Street musicians were playing on the side, accompanying those who were waiting in anticipation of the great food coming their way.

Santiga 8

Usually, seafood hawkers cook their meals Chinese-style, with basic dishes such as fried rice, fried noodle and stir-fry vegetables present on the menu too. The cooks were ready to serve the rich catch from the sea in various types of cooking, as varied as the seafood available. From gourami to snapper are available to be fried or grilled. But before that, be sure to try the boiled cockles, or known locally as kerang rebus, as the opener served with appetizing pineapple sambal.

That night, I enjoyed the prawns – stir-fried in oyster sauce, and the crispy calamari. I found it rather inconsistent for some restaurants and side-street hawkers to be able to bread the cuttlefish well and fried it evenly, but Santiga clearly achieved it successfully.

While enjoying all these goodness, I spied a bit on other tables only to find the customers are all happy and enjoying their loot as well. The highlight that night was a guy eating so many steamed prawns all by his own and a family of three sharing a really good looking black pepper crab. That view alone made me want to visit the place again!

When are you going?


Halal-friendly (ask for the use of angciu)
Unsuitable for vegetarians

Jalan R.S. Fatmawati no. 42, Jakarta – Indonesia
T: +62.815.1410.4327

Opening hours:
Everyday, 6pm – 2am

Spend: IDR 50,000 – IDR 100,000 / person


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE May 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict

Ikan Bakar Bang Themmy - Facade

Taking It To The Streets: Ikan Bakar Nila Khas Padang Bang Themmy (The Foodie Magazine, May 2014)

With his Bukittinggi heritage and grilling forte, Bang Themmy decided to embark on a warung venture a few years ago by serving grilled fish unlike any other and not just that, he invites his guests to sample the traditional Minangnese cuisine like we often find in Padang restaurants!

Ikan Bakar Nila Khas Padang Bang Themmy or Ikan Bakar Bang Themmy is a grilled fish shack but in a different way. Yes, we often find grilled fish hawkers mostly around nighttime and basically they serve just a few types of fish, grilled, and then served with sambal kecap or simple sweet soybean sauce and bird-eye chilies.

Ikan Bakar Bang Themmy - Ikan Bakar Saos Padang

However, Bang Themmy does it differently and even much better. Firstly, he concentrates on only one type of fish and for that he chose ikan nila or tilapia, specifically from the rapid streams of Subang in West Java. The rapid current is believed to develop the big bones inside the fish, making it easy for us to devour it completely, unlike the common carp (ikan mas) that has smaller bones all over its body.

Secondly, Bang Themmy has devised a new way to make the fish even tastier and he concocted Padangnese yellow sauce that consists of garlic, shallot, turmeric, galangal, ginger, chilies, coconut milk, and other specific ingredients. He smears the yellow sauce during the grilling process and while Bang Themmy’s grilling technique may appear easy but he does it carefully to maintain the right moisture. Afterwards, he serves the fish with traditional lado mudo (green sambal made from green chilies), making it even more flavorful.

It’s a guaranteed squeaky clean plate for everyone who savors this beauty and I will always ask for more of those scrumptiously thick bumbu kuning and I’ll even use the Padangnese phrase for asking for seconds, “Tambo ciek!” (or “One more dish please!”) at times.

Ikan Bakar Bang Themmy 1

Additionally, Bang Themmy also serves the grilled chicken as the substitute for the fish. If you’re lucky, he has more surprises that you have to try such as the super spicy gulai itiak lado mudo (duck with green chilies), pucuak ubi tigo jam (steamed cassava leaves with a lot of spices and fish cooked for three hours – if with firewood), and traditional delicacies like ayam pop or dendeng paru.

That is, ladies and gentlemen, an unlikely beautiful scene found only in a humble, clean shack run by a really skillful and modest man alongside his lovely wife.


Unsuitable for vegetarians

Jalan Terusan Jakarta no. 280 (hawkers area), Bandung – Indonesia
T: +62.813.2222.4284

Opening hours:
Mon – Sat, 12pm – 10pm


Spend: IDR 25,000 – IDR 50,000 / person


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE May 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict