Restaurant Review: Piscator (Time Out Jakarta, January 2011)

Piscator is the latest addition of all-you-can-eateries in Jakarta resided in the all-new but still quiet Epicentrum Walk. While others promoting the usual yakiniku and shabu shabu, Piscator introduces the seafood genre.

Anyway, exactly like the theme, you’ll get a feeling like you’re on aboard a ship because everything seemed to be related with the sea. So just hop in and you’ll see ship models everywhere, sands, circle windows, enormously long buffet table with the sails, and some waiters even arrayed in sailor clothes. Despite the Western name that has something to do with fisherman/fishery, Piscator owes much to the nationality of its head chef. The dishes are mostly touched with Korean influence and thanks also for plenty of Korean expats patrons. However, to make it more universal, Piscator also adds Japanese theme and seafood grills in it.

For instance, pick the sushi and sashimi first just to get the feel about the food. Not too many variants but I bet you’d already acquainted with tuna and salmon. As additions, pick the tako sashimi, unagi sushi, salmon sushi or just one of those sushi rolls with kyuri, crab sticks, and the other one covered with mango plus the usual California roll. All was good and would bolster anybody’s appetite for the next dish. The Japanese theme doesn’t end there as you can also pick Oden and Tempura.

Aside from the sushi and sashimi for the opener, Piscator also have plenty selections of appetizers. The raw oysters were fresh and solid, though a bit small in size and missing the watery good of it though you can add lemons for a more fresh sensation. The fried prawns with mayo proved to be very delectable with all the crispy and sweet exterior sauced with the thick mayo. The steamed shrimps were ripe for plunder and so were the crab salad with the snail salad. Even so the seafood gratin which consists of scallops and mussels, however inviting, were not that special. They were lacking in characters of the cheese, the dressing, and most of all, the taste of the original scallops and mussels themselves. However, it can be quickly mended by plenty other selections such as the traditional kimchi salads in many variants up to the soup and noodles with fish balls, mushrooms, and vegetables.

The best part would be the displayed seafood in front of the grill and teppanyaki sections. Simply pick anything and as much as you want. Starting from marinated squids, Bulgogi, Galbi, shellfishes, bamboo clams, pomfret, prawns, dory fish, gindara, salmon, and USA beef. Just hand them over and wait for the cooking process. The wait’s worth it actually. After the grilled seafood or Korean beef came, simply dip it in sauces of your choice. I’d recommend the traditional Indonesian spicy and sweet soy sauce or the Japanese yakiniku sauce and you’ll be sure to hit the same portion again at least twice.

Despite the attempts to make the all-you-can-eat experience colorful, the main dishes on the buffet seemed to be largely neglected. People would go over the seafood grills, the teppanyaki, or just simply the inviting appetizers and sushi section. Nonetheless, Piscator successfully generates plenty of choice, serves fresh seafood, helpful service, and a valuable all-you-can-eat experience aside from the quite hefty sum we need to pay. So tag your friends along, celebrate the night, avoid too much drinks so you can save enough space for your tummy, ravish the goodness Piscator has to offer, and end the fiesta with scoops of good old ice cream.

Epicentrum Walk, GF. Komplek Rasuna Epicentrum. Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said, Jakarta 12960 – Indonesia

RSVP: 021 – 56 100 100

Rating: 3/5

Price Range: Around Rp. 300,000 – 350,000 for two

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

Restaurant Review: Jun Njan Seafood Restaurant

Jun Njan may be known to many people in Northern Jakarta area as a conservative Chinese restaurant held by at least two generations since the 1950s. Until quite recently, such ventures have undergone aggressive expansion done by their younger generations who notably received enlightening education from abroad. As I say over and over again to everybody every time they asked me about the current Jakarta or Bandung culinary scene these days, I said to them that these young people had learned a lot from their time abroad and brought all those alien concepts here to be implemented for their parents businesses.

That may not be the case for Jun Njan but the idle time is over and now is the time to show the world! Within a short period of time, Jun Njan has successfully established many branches in big cities of Indonesia especially Jakarta. Starting from the crowd-pleaser shopping mall, they have created a name for themselves much heard than their original restaurant in Batu Ceper. Even I, to be honest, thought at first that Jun Njan is an international brand Chinese restaurant franchise.

Not stopping there, during last Ramadhan, Jun Njan collaborated with Grand Indonesia to further their ‘ambition’ by inviting prominent food bloggers for an Iftar treat. Without further due, let us just skip the chit-chat and promotions from the sponsors and head for the appetizer.

The experimental Lobster Salad

Jun Njan, unfortunately for me, was introducing a series of dismal appetizers. The first one appeared to be promising and they even had to go through a lengthy unimpressive demonstration of how to prepare the dish. The hardest part was probably how to dismantle the lobsters and chop the meat into pieces before combining them with lettuce and finally mixing it all with a dose of disastrous longans with it. As the sauce, they also put some sort of mayo and they longans juice. The intention might be noble by sending the longans as the envoy for freshness from all the stuffy savory of lettuce, mayo, and lobster but it turned out to be a fluke! The sweetness and the size of the longans overpowered the remaining ingredients and it took effort and concentration just to savor the remaining goodness of the lobster. Lucky that Jun Njan is still at the stage of testing and preparation for this menu and I need to tell them to drop the idea. Instead, honor the death of the lobster by preparing something special for these exquisite ingredients.

The other steamed prawns were also not that special if not combined with the special sour sauce a la Jun Njan. It almost felt like the prawns were steamed and robbed of their lives for no reason at all. Instead we need to peel each of those prawns, forcibly joined a competition between bloggers of who gets to peel most prawns and finally, to savor the dismal pleasure. Again, please drop the idea for an appetizer like this. Both of the dishes didn’t successful at all to seduce me of going through the next phase if not because of my whole day fasting.

Seafood Fried Rice

Chinese food usually inherent with the idea of sharing the meals together and in this case all the bloggers will share each angle of photography first and then with such enormous amount of curiosity combined with hunger, all of us then savor each one of those traditional Chinese dishes. We might have started with a modest amount of Seafood Fried Rice, which was delicious, distributed evenly in bowls but the feast was just far from beginning.

The upcoming dishes were the stars of the show and I must highlight some pros and cons. The arguably best ones coming from Jun Njan was probably the very succulent secret sauce a la Jun Njan that produces savory taste, colored dark, and from what I thought is most likely made out of oyster sauce. The beautiful, dark looking goodness was poured all over fried squid which was not made crispy. I’d say that it’s a new way to serve and show that squid is far from over in Chinese dishes where most people who I know usually aim for meat or prawns.

Fried Squid with JN Sauce

Previously I tried the Black Pepper Beef before and knowing that Jun Njan probably served one of the best in Jakarta therefore without further ado I treated myself more with that gorgeous and colorful dish. First of all they cubed the good quality beef and stir fried it just right making it tender and juicy. The thick but friendly black pepper sauce was a wow factor as well and the combination of three types of bell peppers contributed the stunning look of it.

Braised Soft Tofu with JN Sauce
Fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolks

The rest of the dishes such as the Braised Tofu with Jun Njan Sauce was not so special but still I have to admit that the tofu was well made and braised. The sticky sauce and some mushrooms also provide a good companion and in this case if you eat it also with steamed rice. Then came the Fried Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk which actually could be one of the contenders but then a bitter sign came from the ‘over’ fried prawns made the taste a bit bitter but thanks to the exotic egg yolk sauce, the dish still retains its honor.

Deep Fried Carp with Sweet and Sour Sauce

The remaining two, Deep Fried Carp with Sweet and Sour Sauce and Fried Chickens with Butter Sauce are commonly heard and usually assumed to possess great taste. Some actually not in favor with sweet and sour sauce because they’d prefer something else while the fried chickens actually still promising. Then again the disastrous part was probably because of the fish which was pungent and not fresh then combining it with sweet and sour sauce, which I personally also not in favor as well, made it into a junk dish. Even the other table didn’t manage to finish this very dish. I didn’t know the reason though.

The chickens were fried crisp and inviting but it’s not a brilliant dish anymore since the butter sauce was not that powerful and I’d prefer a wetter dish like the one in Toko You, Bandung and if you take a look a bit at how Jun Njan priced their dishes, you’d hope that they would serve, instead, boneless chickens.

I will not attempt to enter myself discussing about the dessert which was not worth my time to discuss about it anyway but overall, based on my professional opinion, Jun Njan serves amazing main dishes but steer clean from some appetizers dishes as you might get overpowered by the awesomeness of ‘some’ of the main dishes. Desserts? There is no need since you might already be full at that point. The atmosphere was a bit darkly which might lower your real appetite, but I still found that the service was very commendable. I sensed that as well when they serve other tables unrelated to this event.

To wrap it up, Jun Njan. I am proud that you are one of the daring local envoys of Chinese cuisine and I hope that you will set the example of how local, conservative establishments could expand and express itself more not just in Jakarta but show it to the whole world. I bid thee a good luck, but it seems that you won’t need it anyway.

—–

JUN NJAN
Halal-friendly (ask for the use of ang jiu in the dishes)

Address:
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town – West Mall Level 5, Jakarta (refer its website for other locations)

RSVP: 021 – 2358 1988

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JunNjan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JunNjan
Website: http://www.junnjan-seafood.com/

Opening Hours: Mall opening hours

Restaurant Review: C’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant (Time Out Jakarta, November 2010)

C’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant is one of the Grand Hyatt Jakarta’s proudest restaurants. Located on the 4th floor, C’s specializes in grilled food and boasts an intimidating collection of about 3,000 wines.

The restaurant sports a modern design that leaves no corner  empty, while an impressive soft lighting scheme creates a warm intimate atmosphere. What sets the place apart from its hotel rivals is the open-style kitchen, which can be seen from the dining area, and has counter seating for those who want an uninterrupted view onto what  goes on in the kitchen.

The conversational ambiance and easy listening sound track helped us forget about all of the chaos outside on Jakarta’s congested streets. The excellent manners and professionalism of the staff seemed to be the biggest benefit of having the restaurant situated in a hotel.

We ventured to order the Dim Sum Platter and the Seafood and Steak Platter, and while we waited, we were  invited to try the fresh Australian Oysters. However, the dim sum arrived before the oysters.

The dim sum consists of hakau, scallop shaomai, and original shaomai — thin pancakes filled with beef, and spring rolls. The hakau  which has always been a favourite item was tasty but credit is also due to the other items. While C’s specializes in grilled food, it could  make a name for itself on its dim sum and pasta dishes alone.

Then came the oysters! This was a majestic display of Australian raw  oysters, very fresh, served on a lofty platter teeming with ice and lemons. The oysters were divine and refreshing, even those we didn’t add  lemon to. They tasted as all oysters should — as if they were caught moments before in the sea.

The Seafood and Steak Platter happened to be a very inviting main dish. Served on a long platter filled with frutti di mare and carne, it was a delight. There was the lovely Norwegian  salmon grilled to perfection, and thankfully without any trace of a fishy smell. With mild pink flesh on the inside and a slightly crispy outside,  the dish brought the best out of what salmon can offer. The platter also included two spicy beef sausages, and a very suitable companion  of beef steak and lamb chops, both medium-well done. The steak and the lamb chops were excellent. In the surf corner were huge prawns  and a lobster. The lobster was indeed very fresh as evidenced by that tell-tale hint of sweetness within its mild meat.

Overall, it was a very  satisfying dinner. However, we would probably have walked out of the restaurant feeling we had eaten an over-priced meal if we hadn’t  selected the surf and turf option, which was understandably expensive.

Grand Hyatt Jakarta, Jl. MH  Thamrin, Kav. 28-30

RSVP: 021 – 3901234

Opening Hours: 12 pm- 3 pm and 6 pm to 11 pm

Rating: 4/5

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