Kahvehane: That’s Life Coffee

I was intrigued by this particular Youtube link my friend posted on Facebook a few months ago about a group of buddies who filmed their favorite coffee shop, That’s Life Coffee. It’s a local joint, located on Jl. Gunawarman, Jakarta. Be sure not to miss it because its presence can be very subtle despite its attempts to market itself and especially do not forget the fact that Jl. Gunawarman is a fast lane one way road where cars usually pace more and you may miss this tiny establishment.

By the way, on my way home after my visit from Mandala, the famous Chinese restaurant in Jl. Wolter Monginsidi, I decided to visit this place and of course, to do my daily writings about restaurant reviews. After I found the little place, I ascended upstairs and found out that it was a nice place actually. Though the capacity is somehow limited and you can only find mostly hard wooden chairs like in Starbucks, but if you happen to sit on the sofas which are next to the windows, you’ll get a good view of the street and busyness outside, which was quite nice.

Don’t forget to bring your laptop because they provide free wi-fi service but make sure to brace yourself if you don’t smoke because it’s a bit messy inside with smokers in which I finally realize that a good coffee shop should be free of smokers. They’re the scourge of the universe! Well.. That’s a bit too much because I used to be a smoker, not too addictive though. Hmmm.. That’s probably why..

Okay, among the extensive menu of coffee and other beverages plus some light meals, I just chose a cup of Cafe Mocha (IDR 26,000) instead. I took a seat just around the corner with a view to the street, turned on the laptop, got online, and accompanied with the coffee and sprinkles of cinnamon. So it was a good choice and I spent like several hours there, typing, sipping the coffee, while occasionally just gazing to the street watching cars and people passing by until the night comes. It was a good afternoon, really.

Cafe Mocha

But unfortunately on another occasion, me, my partner, and some of my colleagues went up there for a night-time coffee and though we spent a good time there, I was plainly disappointed by several things. First, the intoxicating smokes from cigarettes. Well, I knew all along that That’s Life Coffee is a smoking zone but a decent coffee shop, especially the ones with AC shouldn’t let this stay silent forever. At least, no matter how small the space is, keep them away in a separated section. I used to be a smoker and now also a social smoker but I can finally understand why most famous chain of coffee shops kept these likes outdoor. It’s annoying and hazardous!

Second, it’s the exaggerating level of service. Truly, they might be of good service and the hospitality level way actually too good to be true a.k.a to the level of annoying where I honestly recognized the honesty of the service but when they keep bugging you with the same question of ‘Is there anything you wish to order again?’ all the time they pass by my table or after clearing each of my friends glasses, it’s a pain in the neck. Seriously!

But the worst part of course, the coffee. I cannot understand why after all these years, That’s Life Coffee fails to deliver consistency with the coffee. It’s true that I tasted every of my friends’ coffee beverages, except one of my friends who was ‘blessed’ with doctor’s advice and ‘intuition’ for just having a glass of iced tea that night. He’s lucky. Well, anyway, all of the drinks were so bad I could even barely taste the coffee. My iced Cafe Latte was a big zero while the rest of my friends’, which I didn’t even want to remember the names, were also a total failure and an utter disgrace. You can’t even taste the coffee because it’s simply dampened with the milk or anything else. I even doubt that they put real coffee beans in those drinks.

Well, I know I said harsh words but please do bear in mind because I do love your place and I wanted it to be better and better. The competition’s hard but if you just can’t follow it, you’re seriously in danger I tell you. And oh… one more thing, with such ineptitude, I’d rather buy more expensive but assured in quality coffee because you put expensive price tag for a local joint. Grow up, dude!

THAT’S LIFE COFFEE

Jl. Gunawarman No. 24, Jakarta – Indonesia

Phone: +62 21 739 2942

Website: http://thatslifecoffee.wordpress.com

Email: thatslifecoffee@gmail.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/pages/Thats-Life-Coffee/35203488566?ref=ts

Halal Meter: Halal.

Ambience & Interior: Conversational to the level of loud which is forgivable. The TV is useless by the way and everybody seems smoking and that’s kinda annoying.

Service: Overly polite and keeps on asking whether we want to order something else, but actually pretty helpful in clearing the table.

Pricing: TBA

Recommended Dishes: Not the coffee so far but you might wanna grab the sandwich though.

Reservation: Recommendation for a seat at a coffee shop? Humm.. That’s rare.

Operating Hours: 11 AM (Mon to Thu) & 1 PM (Fri to Sun) up to 11 PM (Sun to Thu) & 1 AM (Fri & Sat). Closed on public holidays.

Payment Methods: TBA

QuikSkoop™: Soto Kudus Kembang Joyo

Many many years ago, I went to Central Java on a trip with my family and it was time for lunch so went to this certain establishment around Yogyakarta, which of course I forgot, to eat Soto Kudus. It was not a memorable thing I remembered about soto. First of all, even though I was still little, I didn’t like it at all for a reason that I don’t even remember. I was still little, that’s forgivable but that brings a traumatic memory about how much you don’t like certain food because your first experience sucked. For instance, like many who don’t like broccoli or even sushi. Brocolli, for instance, because your mother forced you to or she don’t cook well. Sushi, because you’re foolish enough to buy cheap during minimart discount time or a too cheap sushi joint. So where’s the fault? Let’s find out.

Many many years later, I was strolling around Jl. Sabang in Jakarta. It was dinnertime and plenty of choices around this backpackers vicinity. My girlfriend all of a sudden was craving for this particular Soto Kudus in an establishment called Soto Kudus Kembang Joyo. She said that she had been there with her friends and was quite contented.

The place can be easily found though it’s crammed in-between buildings in this dense neighborhood. Just look for a yellow signboard on the left side if you’re coming from the intersection of Jl. Wahid Hasyim and Jl. Sabang. Just a couple of hundred meters and there you go, Soto Kudus Kembang Joyo. The serving station is in the front of the building, just order from there to the attendant and he’ll prepare it for you. Usually people order the Soto Kudus Campur in which the soto itself mixed with rice.

Soto Kudus Campur

The composition of the soto is the shredded chicken, bean sprouts, celery, and fried shallots poured with chicken stock. For your information, the Soto Kudus here is served on small bowls so you might wanna dig in more by asking for another round and it will cost you IDR 9,500 per bowl. But you’ll get the sense where one bowl might be enough or at least two. It may look small but it’s more than enough sometimes. Nevertheless it was a good one and enough to recover my bruised memory from my childhood.

They’re also serving in separate plate filled with satays of quail eggs and chicken innards. Don’t forget to also eat the soto with variety of crackers also served in the table. Well well.. It was a good treat but of course I expect better from the genuine Soto Kudus from the original place. From what I heard, the real Soto Kudus is a bit more liquid and sweeter but this one was too savory, but hey it’s something that I gotta find out by myself. Perhaps one day.

So restaurateurs, it’s very important to serve the best even to kids. They learn quick and took long to forget. I even have to find out by myself, bracing, and finally getting through the test in flying colors. As for the Soto Kudus restaurant I had many years ago, you’d better close your restaurant because you brought shame to good restaurateurs who serve good Soto Kudus. Fortunately for you though, I forgot which one. ;p

LOCATION:

Jalan Sabang, just a hundred meters from Adiwarna camera shop on the left side – Jakarta

Restaurant Review: Java Bleu (Aquila Asia, Sep-Oct 2010)

Java Bleu is one among the small, exclusive ranks of French restaurants in Jakarta but the very existence of it remains somewhat secluded and hidden although after almost a decade after its establishment.

Arrayed in Indonesian traditional batik shirt, Chef Antoine Audran the proprietor of Java Bleu, seemed to be relaxed about the fact. He’s not worry that Java Bleu may sound like a fabled French cuisine haven underneath the vastness of Jakarta.

‘Because that serves the purpose that only those who can truly understand and appreciate true French food will see through the disguise’, exclaimed Mr. Audran.

That feels like that only people with Jedi senses who can find the place. It’s not that hard actually. Reputation speaks, in my case here.

But then the fatal attraction should be because of the love for food. So what about them? Here goes.

Mr. Audran’s personal selections for our feast that night started and ended in trio of appetizers, entrées, and desserts. I asked the manager, Michael, about the ingredients and everything the chef’s got inside his sleeves. ‘The chef only picks the best and he ensures the freshness of every little aspect in his dishes’.

Sounds promising and indeed, the starters looked fantastic when they arrived.

Baked Escargots Burgundy style

First, half dozen imported snails baked and blanketed with garlic, herbs, and butter served upon a plat a escargot will quickly caught anybody’s attention. It’s the legendary escargot, ladies and gentlemen! Eye catching, unique, and dark but once you dig in, straight or with the accompaniment of warm Brioche bread rolls, thou shalt be amazed! The solid team performance between the rich butter and the snails were very special and too memorable to be forgotten.

Cream field mushrooms soup served with brioche bread

The mushroom soup was also the star of the opening show. The finely blended seasonal field and forest mushrooms made into soup and laced with fresh cream was just too extraordinary. It was very flavorful and mild. Add the Brioche bread rolls with the mushroom soup for more life. ‘It’s groovy!’ remarked a company of mine that night.

Baked quiche Forestiere & Mesclun salad

To complete the trio appetizer fares masterpiece, Mr. Audran demonstrated how to make a great Quiche. It’s not all about the cheese or the meat, but it’s the balance. The soft crust, the mushroom, and the cheese were so harmonious and there’s not even a trace of meat to be found! It’s not the usual Lorraine or Alsatian, but it was Quiche Forestiere a la Java Bleu with Mesclun salad as the sidekick.

Mr. Audran successfully implemented the purpose of a starter itself. As an appetizer, a teaser for the next course! Felt like our stomachs emptied already and ready to ravish whatever comes next.

Fillet of Barramundi Fish Basquaise – Sauteed Pleurottes Mushrooms with dry shrimps – Baby Potato in Persillade

Then come along the entrées. First of all, a slowly cooked fillet of Barramundi (sea bass) caught fresh from the waters of Papua New Guinea served on a beautiful bed of Basquaise sauce. Paired with the oyster mushrooms, dried shrimps, baby potatoes in Persillade, and basked by something unusual, the genuine creation of Mr. Audran that finished the puzzle of the French cuisine fish dish with ingredients from all over the world by only with simple fragments of crackers! Starting from its majestic appearance, the supreme taste, and ended as a successful design of ‘unity in diversity’ concept.

Grilled half organic chicken with preserved garlic, mixed pepper corn & fresh garden herbs

Also, Mr. Audran generously introduced me the new entrée dish. Half organic chicken grilled to golden perfection with mixed pepper corn gravy and herbs. The chicken was fantastic and you won’t have to bother dirtying your hands eating it. It was crisp and savory. To make it even flawless, Mr. Audran added the magical potato gratin alongside the water cress salad. Be sure to check it out once available.

Entrecote Java Bleu style – French Fries – Fine Water Cress Salad

We were also served an entrecôte dish using the Australian beef Black Angus grade grilled to the medium-well level. The entrecôte was a bit tough and as the consequence may vary because mostly here, people prefer tender ones better. That was okay for me though quite unfortunate that I can only felt small amount of juice coming out of the beef. It’s a special dish to be exact, especially if you can comprehend the effort of how Mr. Audran personally created the Java Bleu sauce only for this dish in the first place and even pick the potatoes directly from France.

It was already almost two hours of pleasant encounters with great dishes and now it’s time for the desserts.

Coffee & Vanilla Profiterolles – Warm Chocolate Sauce

Legend has it that a certain friend of mine had told me about mythical dessert dish in Java Bleu and Mr. Audran generously recreated it for us. Washed in chocolate sauce, the coffee and vanilla profiteroles appear indomitably impressive. It’s ‘bittersweet’ in a good way. You’ll feel the good bitterness of coffee, the thick chocolate, and the balanced sweetness of vanilla ice cream flavor.

Peach Tart Bourdaloue

The rest of the dishes were also dominated by the presence of the homemade vanilla ice cream. Mr. Audran remarked that the French love vanilla ice cream and to my own personal preference, I agreed wholeheartedly.

So prepare yourself if you’re hoping for a light, fruity kind of desserts, expect Java Bleu to offer you almost none. If there was any, it’s probably only the peach or apple tarts that receive a sweet ending soaked under the glorious vanilla ice cream and sauce.

Black & White Chocolate Melt – Vanilla Ice Cream

I have to happily admit that the rest of the dessert fares were also top notch especially the black and white chocolate melt. The peach tart and vanilla ice cream was lighter and simpler compared to this one and the majestic profiteroles, but you’ve got to see the big picture. Every element was blended carefully and Mr. Audran’s effort to consider all these aspects was to be applauded and appreciated.

Java Bleu might not be the usual French restaurant you might imagine, the glamorous and formal archetype. On the other hand, Java Bleu appears simple, modest and honest with the hearty dishes crafted by a man who’s truly passionate about food.

With decades of experience, Mr. Audran knows how to balance everything. That is to maintain the standard, ingenuity, and the authenticity of French cuisine, while keeping up with the aesthetics and balance. Also not forgetting to cope in somewhere between local taste and the expectations of the homecoming feelings of expats coming in to his good place. That night, he did it again.

So schedule your dinner. Dress a bit relaxed and expect to be indulged by hearty and stylish full course French dishes! Make it an early dinner because it’s going to take hours of a gleeful celebration. Rejoice each and every minute of it here, in Java Bleu.

JAVA BLEU

Jalan Cikini Raya no. 15, Jakarta – Indonesia

RSVP : 021 – 314 45 45

Website: http://javableu.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/java_bleu
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=93796147822&ref=search

Chef: Antoine Audran

Halal Meter: No pork, no lard, no alcohol in the dishes but meats and poultry are imported except for the chicken.

Ambience & Interior: A shabbily decorated colonial era building, though eerily gives a certain degree of comfort. Thanks also to the jazzy tunes they play, if not you may think it’s a horror movie scene manipulated with a beautiful entrance of stairs to the second floor.

Service: Waiters and waitresses uniquely dressed in batik but some with troubles on spelling the dishes name and definitely not a tourism school artificially mannered graduates though helpful nonetheless. The manager on duty will immensely help you for any assistance you might need and will ensure that everything’s okay to the contentment of heart.

Pricing: Appetizers IDR 35,000-IDR 83,000; Entrées IDR 79,000-IDR 160,000; Pastas & Sandwiches IDR 55,000-IDR 78,000; Desserts IDR 20,000-IDR 39,000.

Recommended Dishes: Baked Escargots ‘Burgundy’ style and Cream field mushrooms soup served with Brioche bread rolls, Fillet of Barramundi Fish ‘Basquaise’ – Sauteed ‘Pleurottes’ mushrooms with dry shrimps – Baby potatoes in‘Persillade’, Black & White Chocolate Melt with vanilla ice cream.

Reservation: Not required, but if want to make it safe due to Java Bleu small space, best to RSVP then.

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11 AM to 10 PM

Payment Methods: Cash, Debit Cards, Credit Cards

-As seen in Aquila Asia Sep-Oct 2010 Edition (unedited)-

-Photos courtesy of Saesarez Novandito, Sandy Tjahja and Aquila Asia Magazine-