Restaurant Review: Manhattan Fish Market

Getting ready to complete our wedding gifts, my girlfriend and I arrived late at Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall, Jakarta and decided to break our fast first originally at Yoshinoya. Seeing that the place’s overcrowded not only because that every seats filled but also the long queue, we quickly generated other choices for Iftar. Since Iftar will begin within 5 minutes therefore the place shouldn’t be too far from Yoshinoya. I was clinging with the hope that we should pick KFC but it’s not a choice relished by her. Well.. I was hoping more something more energizing though. We didn’t even think about the fast and cheap choice of Hoka Hoka Bento which of course the more inferior choice other than Yoshinoya and will be most likely another full house.

So as we walked down the corridor arguing about which place should we visit, we passed through Manhattan Fish Market (MFM). A choice which I had been curious about lately and offers hearty dishes similar to its closest adversary, Fish & Co.. The thought of having a dish similar to Fish & Co. aroused our appetites and instantly we decided to try this relatively new venue.

Platter dishes are actually what make this place interesting. As for Ramadhan, they even offer the platter menu for four people. Already with soup and free flow drinks with rough expense per individual around IDR 75,000++. That’s a hearty meal, intriguing and tempting Iftar for everybody!

Since there’s only two of us and there’s also option for platter dishes for two, so we decided right away without further deliberation since it’s already Iftar time. Lucky that she brought me a small bread, already chewed a bit though but I’m thankful nonetheless. ^^

Manhattan Platter for Two

We chose the Manhattan Platter for Two (IDR 189,000++) which comprised of fried calamari, fried Dory (or Cod) fish, fried oysters, and flame grilled prawn with mozzarella, all served on a huge bed of French fries and garlic bed, added with fresh tomatoes and lemons. There’s also another similar option that goes with the name Grilled Gala Platter for Two (IDR 189,000++) with mussels replacing the oysters.

The restaurant’s a bit packed in Iftar times like that with a large group occupied most of the tables and several other couples around but it’s still within control. It’s a tough time for kitchen staffs and waiters alike. Needless to say, the kitchen staffs must persevere and strive for consistency in the dishes they served. However, waiters must also ensure good hospitality and delivering the best for customers. This includes greeting, seating the customers, serving the menus, informing any promotions, giving recommendations, fulfilling any customers needs, serving the food, clearing the table after customers finished with their dishes, up to handling the bills and getting ready for next customers.

That may sound a bit too much but with the service charge of 5.5% I suppose they should’ve managed better with the service. First of all, we were not told about the discount promotions from certain credit cards although they had put the promotions in front of the restaurant. In this case, it’s their obligation to re-inform again to the customers. Also I heard from neighbouring table that they actually ordered the platter minus the garlic rice but instead they still put the rice there and separated the French fries in a basket saying that, ‘OK, here’s the fries in the basket’ without apologizing for the mistake. Either it’s an honest mistake, or just being inarticulate or even impolite, they should aware that they may encounter sharp and demanding customer all the time. Lucky for them that the customer there weren’t that demanding.

Anyway, our dishes arrived not long after that. Good thing that it’s fast though I was a bit in doubt about the quality considering that they may have fried all the stuffs beforehand or even re-fried it but there’s nothing to worry, it’s all fresh! Though I must remark that the best part of the dish would be the calamari and especially the garlic rice. The fish are OK but less delightful than its Singaporean counterpart. I was hoping for more tartar sauce but I just simply forgot to ask. At least they got pepper and tabasco.

The flame grilled prawns were highly regarded by my girlfriend but I didn’t really approve it since I prefer easier way to eat prawns and they’re not that exceptional. The fries were okay plus thanks to the lemons and the tomatoes who contributed immensely to add freshness in-between the heavy seafood.

The most controversial part would be the oysters. I was thinking that they’ll serve exactly the same as the mussels. Baked with the shells but here they drew the oysters out, then battered and fried. The taste was a bit strange since I was just having this divinely delightful fresh oysters back at C’s Seafood and Steak Restaurant at Grand Hyatt, Jakarta. In this case, oysters battered and fried seemed way too far from my imagination and this exploration didn’t really please me because it’s no longer fresh and divine but it’s getting heavy and unmerciful. My girlfriend who was just learning how to really enjoy raw seafood was utterly crushed by this unfriendly oysters. I even have to add chili sauce and mayonnaise to make it more edible. It’s just harsh so you’d best pick mussels instead.

Needless to say, Fish & Co. can feel pretty safe since MFM needs to reengineer again their cons here. With the many combos of platters, MFM could get to the edge of the competition. MFM is recommendable but with demerits such as the service and the overall taste which is still under standard. Hearty as it may seem, but it didn’t break into my heart’s contention.

MANHATTAN FISH MARKET (INDONESIA)

Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall, Level 3A, Unit FD-06-06A

JI. M.H Thamrin No. 1, Jakarta Pusat 10310, Indonesia

RSVP : 021 – 2358 1055

Also available in: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia.

Website: http://manhattanfishmarket.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/mfmindonesia

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mfmindonesia

Halal Meter: TBA.

Ambience & Interior: Conversational up to the point of boredom. The ambience doesn’t suit for long stay although you gonna need more time finishing the dishes.

Service: Inarticulate, not harmonious with fellow waiters and definitely with the customers, but sometimes helpful though charged too expensive at 5.5% from bill.

Pricing: Starters from IDR 19,000 to IDR 62,000, Pasta from IDR 72,000 to IDR 109,000, Platters & Combos from IDR 119,000 to IDR 399,000, and the usual Entrees ranging around IDR 60,000s.

Recommended Dishes: Grilled Gala Platter for Two, Platter for Four with soup and free flow drinks (Ramadhan time only), and try the Cod fish instead the usual Dory fish.

Reservation: Recommended because the place getting popular these days.

Operating Hours: Mall operating hours.

Payment Methods: Cash, Debit Cards, Credit Cards.

‘All About Belgian Chocolate’ Workshop with Le Chocolatier, Laurent Bernard

Emilie was designated as the host for bloggers workshop held by Prisma PR on August 4, 2010. The show ran by the chocolate/pastry expert Chef Laurent Bernard and he’s to show his might in creating the original Belgian chocolate and tell the audience everything about it. Why at Emilie? Because Emilie proved to be the best place for the workshop since it owns a special kitchen designed solely for cooking class on the 2nd at Le Bar.

Before that upon arrival at the scene, the bloggers were served with French dejeuner menu consisting of Le Caesar Salade, Le Poulet, and Le Profiteroles. Lovely designed dishes created by the prodigy Chef de Cuisine Ivan Duchene seemed to be more than enough introduction of Emilie’s presence within the small population of French bistro in Jakarta. In a separate post, I took the liberty to do a bit restaurant review on Emilie.

I also encountered several media people such as Mr. Burhan Abe, an editor-at-large with many years of experience in several big Indonesian media and Ms. Rahmayanti, an Indonesian traveling journalist based in Japan. This chance meeting proved to be a fruitful experience where Mr. Abe turns out to be an ex editor-in-chief of a certain food magazine Appetite Journey and currently a contributor for The Jakarta Post. He now owns a creative syndication site called Vox Populi. While Ms. Rahmayanti accompanied by her Canon Rebel camera, travels here and there between Indonesia and Japan sharing her life as an Indonesian who lives in a foreign country.

About the guest star, Chef Laurent Bernard hailed from France and after many years of experience being a pastry chef and chocolatier all over the world, he anchored in Singapore to establish The Chocolate Factory which he renamed into Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar. The very manifestation of his body and soul passion, in Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar he dedicates his two decades of immense expertise in chocolate to create delicious and delicate confectionaries.

The workshop started with the video presentation about the history of chocolate, how and who originally brought it to Europe, how nowadays chocolate brought from the plantations, and the basic processes before the final shipment to be created into the chocolate we know and consume nowadays. Afterwards, introductions made and now Indonesia ready to witness the skills of Mr. Bernard had inside his sleeves. He was at that time assisted by Karen Carlotta, an Indonesian rising star pastry chef stationed mainly in Singapore.

He began by explaining about tempering the chocolate. This is an exact procedure where a chocolatier should rise and lower the temperature of the melted chocolate in several phases. Mr. Bernard prefers to rise it first to 40 degrees Centigrade then lowers it to 28 degrees and finally to 31 degrees. Other chocolatiers may have their own preferences in temperature. That sounds simple but the procedure’s a bit complex than that and it is imperative to own a temperature measurer device in order to know exactly when to rise and to lower the melted chocolate. Rising the chocolate temperature would not be trivial but to lower it actually requires a certain low temperature room so that the chocolate will get cold ideally. Instead Mr. Bernard used the fridge to lower the temperature, but he didn’t recommend it at all saying that keeping it in a fridge can make the chocolate moist due to the matter of low humidity. Since it’s for quick class presentation sake, he had to do so.

Before Mr. Bernard successfully returning the chocolate to 31 degrees by pouring it over the marble table and mixing it, Ms. Carlotta quickly prepares the chocolate mold and Mr. Bernard pour the melted chocolate into it over several times. Solidifying it with the special hammer and finally using the fridge again to freeze the chocolate a bit. Afterwards Ms. Carlotta helps him to prepare the fillings for the chocolate.

Next, the chocolate which Mr. Bernard currently refrigerate will be filled with praline and ganache. Praline here is a filling made of mixture between chocolate, nut, and sometimes added dried fruits. While ganache is a mixture of chocolate and milk/cream. He can’t help but notice that people usually misinterpret the meaning of praline with any small chocolates other than chocolate bars they encounter. Praline is only a filling and doesn’t represent the whole chocolate. It’s just a flavor in a sense, it’s like your daily milk flavored with chocolate, strawberry, or mocha.

After reaching the desired temperature from the fridge, Mr. Bernard filled the chocolate with praline and then ganache in the next round. Then he showered again the gaps with the 31 degrees chocolate, hammered it to ensure the fullness, and then refrigerating it again. Seems quite difficult and it’s easier to just buy your usual box of chocolates at your favorite stores right? But if you know the whole process then we might appreciate a bit about the effort.

Later, using the rest of the unused chocolate, he also demonstrated of how to create a good ol’ hot chocolate. What made the hot chocolate interesting was that he had added a small scoop of vanilla ice cream into the base of the glass and after the glass filled, he topped it with a fresh cream and thin almonds.

The testing time has arrived at last! Each and every one of the bloggers expressed a joyful mirth when they savor Mr. Bernard’s creations. The chocolate was so fragrant and inviting. When you bite, it crumbles elegantly. Next all you gotta do is to experience the harmony between the filling and the chocolate. The praline chocolate was divine and tasty, not fully mild because you can feel the texture of the nuts there which was either hazelnuts or almond. Not to mention also the ganache. The proportional balance between the chocolate and milk created this perfect mildness and sweetness. Enjoy it with a glass of warm water and Mr. Bernard assured that every elements inside the chocolate will get rejuvenated somehow and you’ll feel the maximum taste of it.

This new concoction of hot chocolate was also interesting and taste really good. Sometimes you might get bored of your usual hot chocolate. Try to add the ice cream, topped it with whipped cream and almonds. Next, you’ll see the difference. I can safely say now that whenever you come to Singapore, don’t forget to visit Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar. Good job you did for us in Indonesia, Monsieur Bernard!

Now after he introduced and shared the beauty of Belgian chocolate, being the country that produced finest chocolates in the world, to Indonesia. Whether one day he wish to also compete in growing local chocolatier industry or not. The idea about opening one here will be most anticipated by any bubbling foodie and chocolate lovers in Indonesia. I love chocolate, do you?

Restaurant Review: Emilie

A few weeks after my visit to Java Bleu, I often wondering about other French bistros around the J-Town. The population is small but certainly not diminishing! Fans are still around and they even let these elegant genre of food ripped them off but made them happy nonetheless. No matter how bad the experience, they might gonna proudly say, ‘I’ve been to a French restaurant!’. Good for them then! But for me, it won’t be that simple.

It was sunny day that day and I was invited for a workshop from a certain chocolatier named Laurent Bernard from France in Emilie. He’s the master of chocolate so they called. Opened up his choco cafe back in Singapore and now he’s gonna counsel us about how to make a good, simple chocolate praline and ganache.

But first thing first, it’s the lunchtime at Emilie!

I was seated among other journalists in a table for four. It was an exciting moment when for the first time I exchanged gestures with people of immense experience in journalism and one of them turns out to be Mr. Burhan Abe, ex editor-in-chief of Appetite Journey. I remembered that I used to apply as a freelance contributor there but then again, it was not a masterful move if I got myself admitted since they’re now closed. For good..

Also I was seated with Ms. Emi, an Indonesian journalist and a blogger based in Japan. Also another blogger named Rere arrived afterwards. So over lunch, we were all engaged in conversations about what we do daily. Not wholly about food though. The thing is, that workshop was designed wholly for bloggers and not necessarily about foodie bloggers but also about home and living.

Le Salade Caesar

We were served with lunch first before heading for the workshop. Emilie has graciously served us a lunch set of what they called Menu Du Dejeuner, the creation of Chef de Cuisine Ivan Duchene. Foremost, as a teaser, I was served the usual bread and butter. It’s just ordinary, perhaps because it’s not warm anymore but luckily not long after that, the first dish of the course arrived. Le Salade Cesar.

The salad was good though mainly consists of lettuces with thinly sliced cheese and vinaigrette dressing. Alongside of the salad, a very big prawn, sautéed, teasing me. I had high hopes about this certain prawn and I used the small knife to cut through nice and easy. It’s big enough for 3-4 times of small chews but the taste was strange. I feel as if the prawn’s not fresh, but it’s not smelly. The taste was strange as well and thanks to the lettuces, it appears the flaws from the prawn can be disguised somehow.

Le Poulet

The main dish for the lunch would be what they called Le Poulet. It’s a roasted chicken breast, savory jus, and mashed potato. I figure out that since this is a free event therefore the cheapest course will be using chicken. There’s no way events like this, if we’re not paying a dime, will use lamb or even beef. As for the taste, the chicken proved to be a bit less than satisfactory. I appreciate the effort where they pulled all the bones to give us this bare breast and although the jus was there to help the chicken, it’s not worth the effort.

I felt a bit strange seeing the sidekick of the dish. It’s the sauteed spätzle and mushroom with foams. The last time I had a spätzle dish was in Mama’s German Restaurant in Bandung and no matter how boring the taste, it’s still better than this one. Spätzle is, most likely judging from the spell, originated from German/Austria/Swiss alike. In short, it’s the pasta of those countries but not necessarily cultured like in Italy. In this dish, it tastes so weird and makes me hoping in an instant that I was better off served with carrots or beans instead of this strange mixture of foamy spätzle and mushrooms.

Thank God that the mashed potato and the thin potato chips tasted good! I liked the design of the dish by the way. The mashed potato was lined thinly cutting through the plate and it’s probably the best thing on it also aside from the very ordinary chicken and the weirdo, spätzle I mean.

Le Profiteroles

What’s good left and the last chance would be the dessert, Les Profiteroles. I had to say that I was thinking highly of Java Bleu’s profiteroles and I assume that Emilie would do exactly the same to appease my standard. Here in Emilie, the choux pastries were a bit bitter and no matter how warm and good the dark chocolate sauce was, the dish failed to deliver itself for my contentment.

Though I know that Java Bleu mostly serves hearty, countryside dishes adapted with Indonesian size. Should be big, tasty, and not too expensive.

On the other hand here in Emilie, it’s completely different. Emilie emphasizes on the presentation. French dishes may be complex in its presentation and preparation in which we have to appreciate. But then again, no matter how small the size or the portion, people will always wonder inside their minds about the taste. They may become hypocrites when they say, ‘It’s beautiful!’ but inside, they’re yearning and swearing. So once again, gastronomy is a very hard thing to do for just ordinary people. I have to be balance but also unforgiving here.

I was forced to leave in a hurry manner since the Laurent Bernard’s class is about to begin. It’s too bad that I can’t really feel everything about this place. Further research needs to be done in the future. Chef Ivan Duchene actually has many things else behind his sleeves. I have to admit that everything’s here is beautiful but you need to work on the taste, Chef. I’ll be sure to come here again later and ‘force’ you to show what you got from all those years of experiences.

Ah by the way, the Laurent Bernard chocolate workshop? I’ll tell you later about it. ^^

EMILIE

Jalan Senopati no. 39, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta – 12910

RSVP : 021 – 521 36 26

Website: http://emilierestaurant.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jakarta-Selatan-Indonesia/Emilie-French-Restaurant-and-Bar/112366157207?ref=search

Chef: Ivan Duchene.

Halal Meter: Imported meats but no lards at all. Some pork dishes but available for substitution.

Ambience & Interior: Conversational. The restaurant decorated with elegance and luxury. Hidden behind the bushes and making it very comfortable and a quiet haven from the busyness and noise from Jalan Senopati. The VIP rooms upstairs are nice with a superb and warm kitchen for cooking class.

Service: Neatly dressed, friendly and knowledgeable about the elements in the dishes.

Pricing: A La Carte Entrees IDR 70,000-IDR 300,000, Poissons & Crustaces IDR 220,000-IDR 310,000, Viandes IDR 280,000-IDR 790,000; Dejeuner 2 Plats IDR 240,000, 3 Plats IDR 300,000; Decouverte Discovery Menu IDR 820,000, Wine Pairing IDR 680,000; Desserts IDR 50,000-IDR 90,000

Recommended Dishes: I wouldn’t recommend anything for now.

Reservation: Recommended for dinner especially weekends.

Operating Hours: Daily 11.30 AM to 10.30 PM.

Payment Methods: Cash, Debit Cards, Credit Cards.