QuikSkoop™: The Royal Kitchen

Indian or Middle Eastern cuisines have always been uncharted in my culinary map despite their rise to prominence in Jakarta culinary map nowadays. It’s quite strange knowing that in the past, the archipelago of Indonesia has always been influenced by people coming from that direction but in modern times they flourish mostly only around Singapore and Malaysia.

It’s not that hard anymore to find decent Indian food in Jakarta now because at least you can try buffets at five-star hotels and alternatively you can now find Indian restaurants at many places in Jakarta such as the one I tried, strangely, in Bellagio Boutique Mall.

The mall itself has lost its charm long time ago and if it wasn’t for its sprawling apartments up there, what could this mall do to prolong its suffering of survival?

It was around 7.30 pm, Ramadhan, and it was dead silent outside with most of the tenants already closed, some probably for good. But the sound of Indian music keeps on calling everyone to come inside and there I found the only survivor, flourishing on the Bellagio desert of emptiness, and the name is The Royal Kitchen. Surprisingly enough there’s plenty of patrons for dinner though and not just Indians but people coming from different ethnics as well.

Though I have to be honest that if it wasn’t for the benefit coming from disdus.com all-you-can-eat voucher, I believe such place would only be an urban myth to the point of non-existent.

Much to my dismay though, the displayed buffet didn’t seem to offer many variations. The best part however came from the impressive duo between biryani rice with meat and the rich chicken curry. The basmati rice was definitely came from good quality, fragrant, and moderately spiced yet the rice would just melt in your mouth. Even my companion enjoyed it pretty much though she naturally doesn’t really fond of cuisines from South Asia and Middle East.

The chicken curry was the highlight of the night with all the savory thickness. I tried to overdose the emphatic taste of it with the chewy naan bread and dal makhani plus the mint raita. There I found happiness and curiosity as I feel more and more that Indian cuisine is something that I should know better and embrace.

For the closure, the exotic moong dal and rasmalai were the also the highlight of the fading night. The moong dal may look much like the fillings for nastaar cookies but it was made from beans, ground, and mix with this and that thus creating a sweet taste fitting for an ending. On the other hand, the rasmalai or the ‘pudding’ made from milk tasted also nice and sweet but with a strong milky odor.

Honestly, it was fruitful experience and quite an authentic one judging from the visitation of Indian patrons, the Indian owner wearing sari, Indian soundtracks from start to finish, great Indian food, and plenty plenty more to be explored from the menu. Regardless the lacking of variations in the already expensive all-you-can-eat dishes, it’s still gonna be another visit for me or I just plainly try somewhere else good inside this concrete jungle of Jakarta.

The Royal Kitchen, you’re the ambassador of Indian goodwill and now you reside as their envoy in my heart.

Bellagio Boutique Mall GF

Jl. Kawasan Mega Kuningan Barat Kav. 3-5, Jakarta

Halal-friendly

RSVP: 021 – 3002 9975

Website: http://www.theroyalkitchen-trk.com

Opening Hours: Mall opening hours

Rating: 3/5

Price: Lunch buffet IDR 69,000++ & Dinner buffet IDR 79,000++ (beverages excluded)

Restaurant Review: Benihana (Time Out Jakarta, December 2010)

Internationally acclaimed and with more than 100 outlets all around the world, Benihana now resides in Grand Indonesia shopping mall. The teppanyaki specialist finally shares the joy of tasty food and their attractive cooking style. You wouldn’t guess from its dark and simple appearance from the outside, but when you come inside you’ll be surprised that Benihana is such a vast establishment with so many teppanyaki tables and even an outdoor lounge with a direct view of Bundaran HI, the heart of Jakarta.

There are many choices on the menu, though it’s best to stick to teppanyaki specialties. Other options such as hot rice dishes, sushi rolls, and robatayaki are also available. For the teppanyaki, choices of beef ranging from Black Angus to Wagyu, seafood including shrimps, scallops, salmon, red snapper, and the rare teppanyaki ingredient of black cod are also available. Without hesitation, we recommend the Hibachi Steak or the Black Angus beef and the Jumbo Shrimps for that fresh seafood flavour. These two teppanyaki dishes come with appetizers such as Japanese onion soup with the fillings of sliced mushrooms and kitsune. Also there is the appetizing Benihana salad that reminds us of Asinan Bogor as the taste was quite familiar.

Benihana Salad
Japanese Onion Soup

Among several choices of sushi rolls we picked the Jakarta Rainbow Roll which consists of salmon, snapper, tuna, unagi, and toppings of masago or the capelin roes. The level of freshness was without doubt the highlight of the dish. It was light, tasty, and tender.

Jakarta Rainbow Roll

The teppanyaki chef comes in with a loud comedian introduction and bartender-like displays with kitchen utensil. Other chefs from neighbouring tables were also even singing! It was entertaining and funny but the good thing was that the food was also great. Starting with sautéed zucchinis, onions, shiitake mushrooms, and amaebi or the sweet shrimps, the chef added butter, pepper, and salt with some soy sauce to make it different than the usual sautéed dishes. We were indulged by all of these appetizers and they encouraged us to move forward and to get ready with the real deal, the Black Angus and the prawns.We asked specifically for the beef to be grilled medium-well. Alongside some sautéed bean sprouts, the chef then diced the beef and prepared the prawns. It didn’t take long and the result was enormously satisfying. The beef was succulent, juicy, and tender. As for the prawns, it was rich and fresh. There’s a sense of chewiness with the prawns but that made it even tastier. Dip it all in some ginger sauce to add more spirit to all of the meat and the vegetables on offer.

Hibachi Steak Teppanyaki

All in all, it was a delightful treat though a bit overpriced. Benihana has a swift and attentive service, not forgetting the entertaining chefs. Even so, it’s a must visit for singles, couples or families. Get entertained by the comedy chef and share the laughs with everyone, but most of all, share the hearty and the tasty teppanyaki dishes available here.

—–

BENIHANA

Address:
Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall, East Mall, 3rd Floor, Jl. MH Thamrin, Kav. 1

RSVP: 021 – 2358 1065

—–

Featured in Time Out Jakarta December 2010 edition (pictures modified and added)-

Restaurant Review: Aperitivo (HOJ, July 2011) [CLOSED]

Persaingan restoran Italia yang meningkat tajam di Jakarta ternyata tidak membuat Aperitivo selaku pemain baru di segmen ini menjadi lelah apalagi jengah. Tidak hanya berbekal lokasi strategis dan seorang native chef, namun Aperitivo juga membawa sebuah konsep baru yang sesuai dengan namanya.

Konsep aperitivo atau lebih dikenal sebagai aperitif di Perancis adalah tahapan pembuka dari makan besar atau biasa kita kenal sebagai appetizer. Konsep inilah yang dieksploitasi oleh Aperitivo dengan jeli yaitu memenuhi kebutuhan gaya hidup perkotaan khususnya untuk para pekerja dan ekspat yang gemar getting together after a hard day’s work for drinks and snacks. Dalam hal ini Aperitivo menyiapkan berbagai macam minuman beralkohol, sebut saja yang legendaris seperti Campari, Cinzano hingga Vermouth, yang siap disandingkan dengan snacks yang berganti-ganti setiap harinya bahkan ditawarkan secara free flow.

Aperitivo dalam pemunculannya yang masih muda ini sudah menggandeng seorang chef Italia asli berpengalaman di mancanegara untuk mendesain seluruh menunya menjadi suatu sajian yang berbeda. Aperitivo sedianya akan berkreasi menyatukan kekhasan kuliner berbagai daerah di Italia serta banyak melibatkan unsur seafood di dalamnya. Tentunya ristorante seperti Aperitivo akan mengolah sendiri berbagai hal yang berbau home made seperti pasta, pastries/bread, bahkan hingga sorbet and ice cream.

Dari segi kualitas, di sinilah Aperitivo memberikan sebuah perhatian khusus yaitu penyediaan bahan makanan yang baru, segar serta bermutu. Bahkan sang chef sendiripun yang turun tangan memilih ikan hingga ke pasar-pasar tradisional maupun ke supermarket demi mendapatkan yang terbaik. Bahan makanan lainnyapun banyak menggunakan produk lokal. Di sinilah kreativitas serta inovasi dalam mengolah makanan menjadi sedemikian rupa agar terlihat unik, segar, affordable dan tentunya dapat diterima berbagai kalangan.

Sebagai contoh pembuka selera yang lezat dapat dimulai dari mackerel carpaccio dan octopus saladDengan rasa ringan dan segar karena adanya citrus salad dan lemon sauce apalagi ditambah carpaccio yang dibuat dari mackerel yang relatif tidak lazim dipakai ketimbang tuna, justru membuat hidangan pembuka ini sebagai tanda bahwa Aperitivo memang ingin membuat suatu hal yang berbeda.

Untuk primi tersajilah pasta jenis maltagliati yang diolah menjadi creamy dengan perpaduan unik antara okra, blue cheese, dan bayam. Pertama-tama maltagliati yang secara harfiah berarti ‘wrong cut’ memang dibuat dari adonan pasta yang dipotong-potong tidak beraturan. Rasanya al dente? Tentu saja, apalagi perpaduan tidak lazim kembali terlihat dengan penggunaan okra pada hidangan ini. Okra bahkan jarang dipakai oleh masakan lokal kecuali versi yang lebih besarnya yang kita kenal sebagai oyong. Selain bayam yang memang selalu jadi pilihan sedap di berbagai masakan pasta, rasa gurih namun lembut dari keju yang dipakai membuat masakan ini semakin lebih berwarna.

Penutupnya tentu saja sorbet yang segar. Dua jenis sorbet buah-buahan terbuat dari mangga dan buah naga yang dicampur leci menjadi penutup yang tepat untuk sebuah santap malam yang menyenangkan.

Apabila santap malam bukan menjadi pilihan utama, selalu ada pilihan aperitivo all-you-can-eat yang dapat dinikmati dari bar serta berbagai promo lainnya yang melibatkan free drinks yang melibatkan tidak hanyaa wine atau cocktails namun juga champagne by glass!

Dengan kehadirannya yang  menambah perbendaharaan kuliner di Jakarta yang semakin kaya setiap harinya, sentuhan berbeda Aperitivo menjadi pesan bahwa banyak yang dapat kita coba dan jelajahi di dalam satu restoran saja. Besides, masakan Italia memang selalu jadi pilihan yang menggiurkan di berbagai suasana. Viva Aperitivo fantastico!

Atrium Mulia, GF

Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 10-11, Jakarta

RSVP: 021 – 5289 2304

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7am – 2 am, Sat-Sun 10.30 am – 2 am

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002210562425

Twitter: http://twitter.com/APERITIVO_JKT

-Featured in HANG OUT JAKARTA July 2011 edition-

Link: http://hangoutjkt.com/food/103/Aperitivo

Restaurant Review: Tairyo

Since before this Ramadhan, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town (GIST) and several tenants have been organizing an invitation for food bloggers to participate their Iftar program. Those tenants are Tairyo, Jun Njan, and Katsusei but it wasn’t much of a choice actually since GIST assigned the food bloggers according to the date they signed in for joining the program. Amongst the already established tenants like Jun Njan and Katsusei, Tairyo is probably the youngest and therefore the mission to untangle the mystery behind it was privileged to those who enroll earlier.

Tairyo may not look much like the usual Japanese restaurant you’d expect. First of all, it’s a teppanyaki restaurant and as the facts unraveled it’s not a native Japanese franchise nor locally tailored but it came from China Mainland. Said to have around 80 outlets in China, finally Tairyo set foot in Jakarta and hereby representing the first Indonesian outlet.

Prawn Salad

Usually there’s a certain degree of elegance and privacy in authentic Japanese restaurants, but please do not make it similar with fast food chain like Yoshinoya for instance. Of course Tairyo has its own private dining rooms but everything seemed so spacious and open here owing perhaps mostly its teppanyaki theme. There’s nothing wrong about it anyway.

Teppanyaki itself is a high-spirited way of serving dishes especially when you see those utensils clashing with each other, fresh display of the ingredients, the attractive cooking style like those in Benihana, and how teppanyaki tempts the patrons’ appetite with all its charm of sight and smell. It’s indeed a really beautiful way to deliver the goodness of food!

Prawn Cutlets

The difference however came from the variation of the dishes there. For example, teppanyaki usually involves vegetables, chicken, beef, and fishes all cooked in the usual way using the same oil, pepper, salt, soy sauce, etc. Here in Tairyo, they serve those ingredients in quite an unusual way.

Before that part, we started with a small appetizer of prawn salad and prawn cutlets. The salad was quite tempting especially with the sour and savory sauce ala Tairyo. The cutlets were promising with the golden crispiness, mayo and the fulfilling content of prawns with cheese but one participant complained that her prawn was not thoroughly cleaned therefore leaving some prawn filth behind. Again this is an embarrassing thing but it’s still considered as minor flaw. The best thing she can do was actually to break a plate and start shouting and hollering, refusing any kind of compensation but really, this is Indonesia and there’s no need for such fuss.

Salmon Sashimi

The sashimi class was proved to be quite interesting and Tairyo served us the salmon belly which was quite fresh but nothing really special about it since we were kept a bit long before the chef cook us the teppanyaki.

Straight to the teppan, it was a parade of meat and sinful dishes especially because it’s Ramadhan. Well, not exactly. For devout Muslim, it’s a constant chastity all year but after several courses vegetables, tasty short ribs, and a distasteful enoki wrapped with beef, finally it’s time to test it with the oysters. The chef heavily flavored the oysters using garlic sauce and everything he can put on the oysters before demonstrating how he can set the teppan alight by pouring brandy all over them!

Oyster with Garlic Sauce

It’s quite a sight to see but I can’t really eat something alcoholic like that and turns out to be a good call since other bloggers claimed that the oysters were way too salty!

Other courses such as the usual gindara and garlic fried rice yet the unusual such as lamb chop and ox tongue were not really that special until we finally caught up with something really good before the finale. It’s the chicken! So surprisingly, the cheapest among all, the poultry section represented by the chickens prove themselves worthy!

Banana Flambe

The finale took place after a long delay because of the quite exciting sushi making competition and apparently this dessert is their pride and soul. It was the banana flambé and they’re replaying again like when they made the oysters. Thanks to, I bet, the Diamond vanilla ice cream and the cinnamon sprinkles for making it special.

In the end, it was probably the lengthiest food bloggers dinner I have ever attended ended around almost 10 pm and it was a luxurious treat from Tairyo despite the flaws. All-you-can-eat option may be a bit tricky for you since frequent pauses while waiting for your food may prove to be too much and ensure early full stomach. It’s an adventure as well as a risky venture for you but still worth the try since teppanyaki has always been a great option for you and your family dinner.

LOCATION: Grand Indonesia Shopping Town – West Mall Level 5, Jakarta

RSVP: 021 – 2358 1988
Halal-friendly
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Tairyoindo

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TairyoIndo

Website: http://tairyoindonesia.com

Opening Hours: Mall opening hours

Rating: 2/5

Price: IDR 129,000+/person (lunch), IDR 149,000+/person (dinner), IDR 250,000 (all day) – all-you-can-eat with different varieties depending on the package. Children under 5 years old eat for free.

Interview with Jakarta Globe: My Jakarta – Rian Farisa [Food Blogger] (August 18, 2012)

I know dear readers that I am a day late and a bit narcissistic, but it’s never too late to thank everyone for this blessing and Jakarta Globe for the opportunity.

After a quite thorough interview with Ms. Lydia Tomkiw, it’s settled that I will be on air on August 18, 2011.

On this occasion I’d like to copy paste my engagements and everything I talked about my passion for food back then in case the link someday vanished into thin air.

So here goes!

My Jakarta – Rian Farisa (Food Blogger)

‘A Simple Fix of Fried Rice Will Do Me Any Time of Day’

Rian Farisa comes from a family that loves food. He moved to Jakarta four years ago to work a nine-to-five job in the banking sector. The daily grind started to get to him, so he decided to do something new after work. In 2009 he started writing a food review blog, The Gastronomy Aficionado, covering Jakarta’s dining scene.

The tagline of Rian’s blog reads, ‘The more I eat, the more I criticize. Just let me be severe about it, so they will reflect upon it.’ And Rian isn’t afraid of giving his opinion. He wants to take food reviews ‘to the next level’ and give his readers fearlessly honest assessments.

Rian, how would you describe the dining scene in Jakarta right now? 

Jakarta has really improved a lot. Every day, new restaurants with different themes and genres open. Even things you find more in Singapore and Malaysia, like Indian, are getting to Jakarta. The dining scene is very modern and very pricey as well. There are many varieties now. Two years ago you wouldn’t see coffee shops like Anomali so much in Jakarta. Now I see people who studied abroad and then came here and brought back the concept they found, like Sour Sally’s. Jakarta really is the melting pot of everything.

How did you come up with the name for your food blog, The Gastronomy Aficionado? 

Most people like to write their names. I wanted to use a sophisticated name. I wanted something rare, something people don’t use a lot. It took me two days to think of the name of the blog. The word gastronomy because I want to discuss all aspects of food, not just whether it is yummy or not yummy, but also the things that surround the food — the service, the interior and the price. And, aficionado, because as you can see, I am a big lover of food [laughs].

What’s your favorite type of cuisine to review? 

I do lots of Japanese and Italian. It’s the simplest thing to find in big cities. Not to forget my roots, I also love Sundanese food.

What’s your favorite Indonesian dish? 

I like the simple fix of fried rice, nasi goreng. You can find it anywhere. It’s probably not something you’d expect from someone who calls himself ‘Gastronomy Aficionado,’ but a simple fix of fried rice will do me good any time of the day.

Do you get any advantages or perks from writing your blog? 

My face is not that familiar. People know me from my writing. Sometimes people ask me to review and sometimes there are food blogger gatherings for restaurant openings. It’s not like I go to a restaurant and say, ‘Hi, my name is Rian. I am a food blogger. I want to eat in this restaurant for free.’ It’s not like that.

Do you think food bloggers have a lot of power now? 

They really possess power. Especially if one or two Web sites talk about something. I got an invitation one time to an opening and the restaurant wasn’t organized. One blogger was kept waiting over an hour for food. I don’t know what she wrote, but it can’t be good. People tend to be more expressive these days. Indonesians usually tend to be quite shy about expressing their thoughts, but I guess it’s changing these days.

You’re definitely not shy on your blog. 

Yeah. That’s the real purpose. When I made the blog I knew I wanted to be a bit harsh and a bit vocal in expressing my thoughts. I’ll be the judge. Bloggers now are getting powerful and now there are plenty of them. But the majority of them are still a bit kind.

How do you choose the restaurants you are going to review? 

Randomly, actually. But I tend to review new restaurants because with new restaurants people usually Google them right away and want to know all about them. That’s the thing about blogging, you have to keep it up to date. How do I do it? Well, I bring my notebook and camera. I don’t have to tell them I am a food blogger. I do it anonymously. I don’t have to be sneaky.

Sometimes you write in Bahasa Indonesia sometimes you write in English. Tell me about making that choice. 

Mainly I write in English. But a few magazines have asked me to write in bahasa so that’s why I’m doing it. I need to expand myself as well. I need to expand in different languages and expand my knowledge.

How much money do you spend a month on eating out? 

Well, sometimes if I’m reviewing for a magazine, I get reimbursed. I’d say up to Rp 1 million ($120). A few hundred thousand rupiah will usually do. Most of the time I am going with my wife. She likes that I have a food blog. It’s a blessing in disguise. She can come whenever I want to try something new.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently in Jakarta? 

About a month ago I was invited to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Michelin star Chef Fabien Lefebvre was there. We got a chance to test his food and publish something about it in the media. That was probably the first time I had eaten a Michelin star chef’s food in Indonesia and it was really good.

Rian Farisa was talking to Lydia Tomkiw. 

Link: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/myjakarta/my-jakarta-rian-farisa-food-blogger/459799