Kahvehane: Kedai Teko

Greed may be the fuel of civilization or spare me the lecture and at least admit that it’s busy right outside on Jalan Ciumbuleuit. But take a turn left to Jalan Neglasari and it may feel like Lorien forest in the afternoon. Afterwards take a look at your right side and there you will find a sanctuary. It’s called Kedai Teko.

Nothing changes and I bet even if the owner has the means to do that, I guess they still won’t do it and still they’re sticking with a very rustic design and old-fashioned furniture. At the very least it’s normal for me to expect that in terms of the menu they’d offer something different or at least improving.

So aside from the serene surroundings, actually very serene since they didn’t bother to play the music, and my relaxed mood, Kedai Teko’s menu was still pretty much the same. Consistent with its name, Kedai Teko still serves plenty of tea varieties starting from the locals like jasmine or black tea as well as the imported like Darjeeling, Ceylon, or infused fruit teas. Kedai Teko’s also not short in coffee brews such as the original Kopi Tubruk or Cappuccino.

Percolated Coffee

I headed directly for a big jug of coffee called Percolated Coffee in the menu. It’s actually a customized Kopi Aroma famous coffee beans served for a party of people with sugar and milk as the companions. Basically it’s like Cafe Americano in a jug but with a very mild taste and too soft for my taste. Still, it’s a good treat for a good price for soft bellies.

Italian Noodle

Steer clear out far from the food, unless perhaps for the snacks. The so-called Ravioli with Chicken and Shiitake, no matter how good it sounds, tasted terrible. The tomato sauce was totally forgettable and the fillings were non-existent. They also seemed to grate cheddar cheese instead the parmesan they promised in the menu. Another mistake that my companion previously ordered the same bolognaise sauce but used on an overcooked spaghettini. I won’t even bother to complete the dish as it tasted way even disgusting.

Lucky that a patron brought himself a guitar and played it from afar thus breaking the ultimate silence into a harmonious melody with the relaxed mood. Though unlucky afterwards that some customers came in loud and terribly annoying, meaning that we had to leave the place soon.

It’s a pointless nostalgic in the end and I don’t know until when Kedai Teko will survive at this state though losing them would be a blow since cafe like this one’s a bit rare in Bandung. I hope somebody will come and save it from its miserable state soon enough.

Kedai Teko

Halal-friendly

Address: Jl. Neglasari No. 4, Bandung, Indonesia

RSVP: TBA

Atmosphere: Rustic and deteriorating hacienda with pristine green surroundings.

Ambiance: Silent as in haunted grave but comforting. Eh?

Service: I can’t find any around me. Oh! I’m the one who should be looking for the waitress.

Opening Hours: 9 am – 9 pm (weekday), 9 am – 10 pm (weekend)

Pricing: Tea and coffee at around IDR 15K, food and snacks at around IDR 20K

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7319272302

Restaurant Review: Tokyo Connection

Never before I found such an insolent, wasteful, and arrogant restaurant. Some might achieved one or two of those bad traits but Tokyo Connection successfully without shame accomplished them all in no time.

You’d be impressed actually with how they designed the place especially once you get deeper inside but I found that the main entrance a joke. It’s like you have to go through a side walk with plenty of motorcycles parking there only to found a not-so-grand entry. The front side with a view to the busy street of Progo appears to be quite nice for a quiet coffee in the afternoon but that’s not the case in Tokyo Connection. It’s busy, packed, and the music director, if there’s any, should be sleeping somewhere. You’ll find soon enough that they’re playing plenty of Japanese music with no relation whatsoever with the joint’s atmosphere and growing nuisance. A music director supposedly handpicked each of the song and standardized them into at least the same bit rate and volume. I found myself irritated because one song was right and the other jeopardized everything!

If you take a look at the food, it’s even a disgrace for Japanese people. With such investment for the establishment, I found that the menu is none other than street level izakaya such as ramen or donburi.

Thus we all had to head straight each with our own choices from different departments.

My oyakodon chicken katsu donburi proved to be careless. In shambles if you see the messy presentation with rice scattering all over the place and no eggs covering it. Though it’s a very safe dish if you don’t want to gamble especially at this kind of place, I guess that there’s no safe place anywhere in this world anymore. It was bland if it wasn’t for the eggs and served on a huge bowl instead of the usual box donburi usually resides in. I see no problem with that though because at first I innocently believed that Tokyo Connection will be an envoy of change and performing differently but still in a good way besides other usual, conservative Japanese restaurants. But I was just wrong and wronged!

The safest ramen was also uninviting. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people by serving with a tremendously huge bowl for ramen. It got cold quick and the essence of enjoying ramen vanishes just like that.. Poof! Japanese people slurp the noodle and enjoy it hot. The sound matters a lot because it’s a sign of respect for the joint’s owner or cook but here Indonesians mostly play it safe for their teeth by not abusing them with hot broth and noodles, even we want to play it the right way, they simply won’t allow it.

Third dish would be the so-called Japanese steak. It was served on a hot plate and the steak poured with sweet and savory teriyaki sauce. The sauce was good but they missed the point of how people usually enjoy steak. Truly, some people wanted sirloin steak and cooked medium. It’s gonna be a bit chewy but if you can’t chew it at all, why the hell they’re so utterly foolish enough to serve it?! They even dare calling it tenderloin on the menu!

Last but not the least is how disorganized their service was. I was told earlier that my hot ocha can be refilled at most one time meaning I can get two glasses of hot tea. After I finished my tea, another waiter told me that there’s no such privilege anymore and no apologize even spared for us. Should everyone get briefed before they open the restaurant? This small detail’s missing and it matters a lot!

To add the bonus of how miserable and lousy this place was the serving time and how slow they also in responding our request. One dish served way longer than the other, ultimately served cold and we had to ask several times for them to fix it and finally of how ignorant they were to our plea about the tea. Hell, we deserved some explanations right?!

Oh yeah, one more thing, you might wanna empty your bladder first because after hundreds of millions of rupiah spent to build this joke, they hadn’t thought for even a minute to build a decent toilet. Men and women restrooms are combined and there’s only two private rooms. Imagine that if patrons of this vast place all of a sudden got the urge to go to the toilet and it’s gonna be like antrian sembako! The cleanliness? Ah, don’t make me tell the story.

In the end, it’s a disgrace for fellow eateries especially in Progo Street who actually started their businesses clean and modest by showing their noble passion for food and sharing the goodness of it with others. While Tokyo Connection? I personally don’t care whether they manage to add more menu or new features for their customers since they started it awfully dishonest, inappropriate, yet arrogant, I won’t give a second chance.

Tokyo Connection

Halal-friendly

Address: Jl. Progo no. 5, Bandung, Indonesia

RSVP: 022 – 420 4335

Atmosphere: Dark and expensive, feels more like a discotheque than Japanese eatery.

Ambiance: Cacophonous thanks to the awful selection of music.

Service: One of the worst and non-existent. They’d better switch to self-service restaurant soon.

Opening Hours: 11 am – late (daily)

Pricing: Donburi, ramen, and sushi at around IDR 20K, pancakes and crepes at around IDR 20K

Facebook: Tokyo Connection Japanese food and cafe

Restaurant Review: Three to Five

If you’re thinking that tea time culture is exclusively for true, noble yet decadent Englishmen or something that the so-called socialites do in five-star hotels or abroad, then you’re completely wrong. These days everything seems accessible and for everybody! By the way, you should read the history first.

Tea came from Asian countries mostly and why the hell only the English get to have the excitements from it. We have tea ceremonies notably coming from China and Japan! But here in Indonesia, though we love tea so much and has nothing in particular about tea time or even ceremonial kind of thing but why do they steal all the spotlight? So it’s time to seize the glory and Three To Five Afternoon Tea Cafe in Bandung is there at your disposal.

Let’s just start with the bad news first though. Pretty understandable now that the previous venture owned by coffee shop franchise Daily Bread finally had to shut down the operation and that might also happen for Three To Five as well. The location might be golden but the layout is terrible. The building is definitely not in shape for a ‘decent’ cafe and with huge parking lot in front of it makes it even more ‘unseen’. I see progresses made by Three To Five by putting some catchy lamps to attract more customers but still, it’s not suffice yet or perhaps I’m just being impatient.

So the concept is tea time cafe which actually lacking neither in presentation nor atmosphere. I was actually hoping that there are more rooms like the only one they had in the corner, the tea room with classic design of  old-time couch, fireplace (though unreal), and the vintage wallpaper. The rest of the room feels actually empty and too spacious. I cannot feel the real English style mansion with plenty of trinkets and stuffs around or even ladies laughing while sipping their tea like vampires.

It was actually quite uplifting for me to find out that Three To Five and the legendary Rasa restaurant are connected. Therefore you can see plenty of Rasa’s products there from my hugely favorite ice cream, cookies, and up to the cakes. The proprietor, Mr. Kenneth, also claimed that some of the dishes are similar with those from Rasa but he also experimented with other dishes to make it clear that the place is more Western yet different from its counterpart.

Fried Potato Skin

So for a starter, a plate full of fried skin potatoes poured with cheese and tomato salsa sauce. The potato skins were undoubtedly delicious especially when hot but the problem lies at the necessity to finish up the appetizer A.S.A.P. Why? Sure it’s getting cold but even since the beginning, I was hoping that they could at least add a hot sauce of let’s say, tomato bolognaise combined with the salsa and cheese. Or just minus the salsa and give us the beans then make it into a magical chili con carne! Surely this dish is already beautiful and plenty of creativity and be done even from those skins.

Still at this point where people supposed to have their English tea time, I still see not so many people around the place. This is something urgent that Three To Five must educate to many Indonesians particularly those who live in Bandung that they’re bringing a new custom here and promotions must be done intensively! Last month they might be still preparing the cake dishes for the tea time but now that everything’s done, I’m hoping to see more about it.

Three To Five Tenderloin

But let’s refrain the excitements first and head for one of their main dishes which notably consist of steaks. This one is called Three To Five Tenderloin and without being asked the meat temperature first, they served it well-done. Quite nice though I actually preferred medium well-done grade as always. The sides are very extensive such as a thin smoked beef which I deemed unnecessary since the meat already quite rich, then came hash brown potatoes, spinach, basil sauce. So it’s a bit sour and savory at the same time but with mozzarella washed all over the meat and the spinach, I think that they stole the spotlight instead of the meat quite unfortunately.

Steak can be pretty tricky these days. Sometimes I prefer a very traditional steak, grilled straight, and poured by the traditional sauces of BBQ, mushroom, and black pepper. It’s a well-known recipe by most Indonesian, they even started to notice about the importance of temperature just recently. But beyond that, steak is not that simple anymore and Three To Five decided to enter the area for the sake of how ‘Westernized’ its genre is.

Thus after exchanging gestures with the owner and observing the slow progress to the road of fame, finally our tea set arrived. Well, I gotta tell you that there are some things that might prove to be a hindrance for you. First, you gotta pick the right time for this, especially unlike me who challenged these beautiful trophy straight after lunch. Secondly, most of these cakes are sweet therefore you gotta prepare yourself again. Third, I found the collection of the tea still inadequate. I was hoping for a more traditional kind of English tea such as the English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and others but here you’ll ‘only’ find infused and flavored tea such as peppermint, chamomile, mango, strawberry and other fruit teas.

Tea Time Cakes

Objections have been landed and let’s just go straight to the sides then. I have no objection whether Three To Five wants to use the traditional cakes or not but it’s still an interesting and colorful array of cakes! There are homemade French macaroons, cupcakes, eclairs, brownies, chiffon cakes, marzipan, scones, and the rest would be the savouries such as sandwiches and Rasa’s specialties bitter ballen and sausage broodjes.

After all, Three To Five needs to shout out about its existence even louder or doomed to the same fate like its predecessor. I fear for that since it’s quite rare to see tea cafe like this in Bandung and it would be a waste if it went unnoticed. The exterior might be disappointing but the rest inside is actually quite promising. Judging the competition nowadays, people invest more in what they want to be perceived rather than what they truly offer. For example, the inept and terrible Tokyo Connection comes next. For now, Three To Five, please hang on like those little tomatoes (it’s a song title, sorry) and show them that you’ll hit them quick and hard even before they knew it. Make them promise that they won’t just come for Rasa’s ice cream and cakes but they’ll come again for you.

Three to Five Afternoon Tea Cafe

Halal-friendly

Address: Jl. Ciliwung no. 15, Bandung, Indonesia

RSVP: 022 – 723 4297

Atmosphere: Half baked spacious cafe lacking in warmth and passion however promising.

Ambiance: Quiet and music feels like a distant echo.

Service: Adequate.

Opening Hours: 7 am – 10 pm (weekday), 9 am to 11 pm (weekend), afternoon tea time 3 pm – 5 pm.

Pricing: Minimum order for two people tea set at IDR 75K, appetizers at around IDR 20K, main course at around IDR 40K.

Twitter: @3to5cafe

Kahvehane: Sabang 16 (Time Out Jakarta, March 2011)

Crowded and loud, those would be the initial expressions coming from Sabang 16. Lucky enough that the place is quite comfy and air-conned good enough to endure Jakarta’s hot weather and noisy crowd.

Never mind about that for now, it’s time to have a good coffee and snacks. FYI, if your stomach’s growling, best not to rely on the food list. The heaviest meal would be either the toasts or the overpriced Indomie, Indonesia’s pride for instant noodles, topped with boiled egg and meat balls. Well, at the very least you can choose fries and sausages.

The toasts, however, not to be underestimated. The Roti Panggang Srikaya or popularly known as Kaya Toast is a good choice that consist of Two slices of bread of considerable size with butter and kaya, though somehow unconvincing, was actually sweet and fulfilling. While the French Toast (bread dipped in eggs and flavored with maple syrup) is a decent choice accompanied with Dilmah assorted tea and various cuppa coffee from Indonesian beans. An array of selections of Aceh Gayo, Sidikalang, Toraja Kalosi up to Papua Nabire are available at your disposal.

While Sabang 16 successfully boasts its Srikaya Toast, their other jewel named Vietnamese Drip Coffee was somehow different from the one I had in some restaurants or cafe back in Saigon. The ‘original’ version I had back then was milder due to the nature of the Vietnamese coffee beans, sweeter due to the nature of the Vietnamese evaporated milk, and there’s this inexplicable chemistry between them both. At any rate, drop the Vietnam thing and just enjoy the dripping coffee. It’s decent nonetheless.

Still hungry? I bet you are, but don’t hesitate to order the fried Chicken Wings. It’s honey dipped and golden fried, so it’s the whole package of mild sweetness and savory though perhaps you’d still want to dip them all up in chili sauce. A portion of six of them would beat your hunger a bit. So how about you add it with a side dish of a small glass filled with two half-boiled chicken eggs? It’s one of traditional hawker’s dishes with similar menu like Sabang 16 has. Just add a pinch or more salt and pepper to wrap it all up nicely, shake it up, and enjoy it.

Aside from all of those coffee and traditional hawkers delights, one of the owners of Sabang 16 also brings Badak, the Indonesian ‘Root Beer’ coming from Siantar in North Sumatera. It tasted almost the same with the original Root Beer but with a more soothing flavor, less soda, and still, it’s good and refreshing.

So joining the almost same path (but less adventurous) like its famous counterpart next door (Kopitiam Oey), Sabang 16 at least promotes cleaner and definitely better version from its hawker offsprings with the same menu, rich coffee selections, indigenous drinks, all for a bit expensive but still within the reasonable level of pricing.

Jalan Sabang has always been the center of food hawkers. Though recently dwindling since the flood prevention and road constructions thanks to the DKI Jakarta governor, nonetheless some business still bravely stood against the wind and this time, the fledgling Sabang 16 starts successfully in its endeavor.

Jl. Sabang 16, Jakarta

Rating: 2/5

Price Range: Around Rp. 50,000 – 75,000 for two

Featured in Time Out Jakarta March 2011 edition (pictures modified and added)-

Restaurant Review: Tin Pan Alley (Time Out Jakarta, February 2011) [CLOSED]

Tin Pan Alley is the latest cool addition to the growing family of stylish bistros in Central Jakarta and it’s inconspicuously located inside a new office premise of Thamrin Nine Podium/UOB Plaza.

The restaurant successfully revives old American era of musicians that goes with the same name circa 1920s where inside you’ll see an old telephone, a gramophone, stained mirrors, classic tiles, and white bricks that resembles the early 20th century American industrial era completed with drawings of old working class flats with gridiron emergency stairs. The lightings are comfortably soft and that went harmoniously well with the jazzy tunes. It’s just perfect for a romantic dinner scene especially when there were not too many patrons around and that would be during weekdays.

The genre itself is American dish with some influences from Mexican, Italian and Cajun. Starting from the familiar Western style breakfast dishes up to salads and soups, burgers and sandwiches, pasta dishes, and the mains where mostly deal with grills, pan sears, and roasts.

Strawberry Lemonade and Melon Juice

In the morning, you may want to deal with their all-day breakfast dishes which mostly involving the affairs between eggs, tuna, salmon, and croissants and even in dinnertime plenty of choices are available for appetizers but the sound of the good old finger licking delicious chicken wings served in abundance and with three choices of sauce such as the barbeque sauce, garlic cheese sauce, and the sour yet spicy sauce they called Red Devil Buffalo was just too good to be true. And dear oh dear, what a marvel! The chicken wings were fried to perfection, battered proportionally, and most of all the meat all tender and savory. Just dip the chicken in the barbeque sauce and you wouldn’t want to add anything else because it was just perfect like a match made in heaven.

Chicken Wings

When it gets serious, I chose the Italian heritage menu and this time it’s neither the usual spaghetti nor penne but I put my bet on their macaroni and cheese. It’s a hot bowl full of baked macaroni with creamy yellow cheddar cheese and many bits of bacons in-betweens. You can feel the weight by just imagining it, looking at it and then my fears came to worst. So no matter how delectable it might be with all the savory cheese, good macaroni and the copious bacon bits, the base was just too oily and the thickness of everything inside the dish will sap your appetite away before even getting into the dessert.

Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

Instead of lingering and giving up to the fate, I shifted right away to the barramundi dish, said to have been one of the stars of the show from the roast and grill department. The 170 grams pan seared sea bass was just fresh but a bit chewy. If you happen to not familiar with pan seared fish, it might not be a good first encounter but nonetheless it tasted quite okay. Although the key to the goodness of it lies at the fresh papaya mango salsa sauce seasoned with lemon juice and beautified with raisins, poured over the fish. This created a sweet but refreshing taste making it not boring or too ‘fishy’. The dish was also accompanied finely by savory potato wedges and mixed salad thus saving the fish from total disappointment.

Seared Barramundi with Papaya Mango Salsa Sauce

At times you might want to just hang out and have a leisure time sipping a cup of Illy coffee or the infused lemonades with various fresh fruits while also enjoying light meals and the live music in Tin Pan Alley. The food may require some improvements but the atmosphere was just too perfect to be missed by not having a good time with your significant others or friendly office colleagues. So team up with your besties and have a good time once in a while at this fine joint.

Thamrin Nine Podium/UOB, Lobby Lvl #f, Jl. MH Thamrin Kav. 10, Jakarta

Rating: 3/5

Price Range: Around Rp. 200,000-300,000 for two

Featured in Time Out Jakarta February 2011 edition (pictures modified and added)-