Wishing you a happy Idul Fitri 1433 H!

To my fellow Muslims all over the world,

I wish you a great Idul Fitri for the year 1433 H!

That in times ahead, we shall be granted the strength, health, and devotion to meet again the holy Ramadhan month and to celebrate again the glory of Idul Fitri.

Wish you well always and take care! 🙂

RF

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Restaurant Review: Sukhothai (The Media Hotel & Towers, Jakarta)

It’s been more than a year and every good memory about it remains still. Sukhothai successfully brought back the sweetest of my dine outs memory with its carefully preserved, authentic Thai cuisine. As one of the oldest Thai restaurant in Jakarta and still a hidden gem, I feel the urge to share you my fantastic culinary journey there recently.

The recently rebranded The Media Hotel & Towers (previously Sheraton) is now unrelentingly promoting the new image both as a hotel and as a culinary destination. The director of PR, Mr Muhammad Iqbal who happens to be a good friend of mine, again invited me for another dinner session at Sukhothai and this time with several of my fellow food bloggers.

I remember my last encounter with Sukhothai during my assignment for Hang Out Jakarta magazine like more than a year ago to interview Executive Chef Firdaus Fadly (currently somewhere in Africa according to Mr Iqbal). That time I was instantly fallen in love with Sukhothai – the place, the atmosphere, and definitely, the food.

My second visit was again during dinner time or to be exact, for an Iftar. Although we had to commute quite far but I knew it that it’s for something good. The journey itself felt as if blessed by The Providence. We were still on the bus during azan Maghrib and we had forgotten to bring a mineral water for Tajil. Stranded with nothing to break our fast apart from a candy my wife gave me, all of a sudden a stranger gave me a labeled mineral water. It’s what my jovial friend used to say as, ‘Ada pekerjaan di atas’ which literally meant that there’s a building construction going on but here, it was more of God’s work and I am grateful for it!

It was timeless in Sukhothai perhaps as far as 15 years of its existence. Still the same color, the same tone, the same ambiance, and the same design that made me comfy. Traditionally, we all sat upon a cushion on the wooden floor and like Japanese style tatami flooring, where being barefooted is a must.

The all-you-can-eat menu here is something that you shouldn’t underestimate even though the choices are pretty limited. There, you can choose from appetizers until the desserts. To start the evening, we had the most appetizing opener ever namely pla takrai or very similar to Bali’s sate lilit. It’s a fried marinated fish with lemongrass and the herbs were quite strong but it created a beautiful mixture of savory flavor and traditional feel. While other appetizers we tried were gai hor baytoi or the fried marinated chicken wrapped pretty with pandanus leaves and mango sambal known as yam mamuang. The sambal may be also familiar for us Indonesians but the Thai signature style involves a higher rate of sourness and intense flavor. It may not be easy but it’s definitely refreshing.

The spice and sour thing also found in Sukhothai’s seafood tom yum soup (tom yum thalay). The taste was very fresh, but some may consider it too strong for their palate, and richly filled with fish, squids, clams, and prawns. Other options you can try here are also involving soupy dishes such as tom som (sweet and sour soup with crispy deep-fried fish) and kwe tiaw phed yang (perhaps quite similar with Chinese kwetiaw but added with duck).

Main courses were interesting and abundant, both of them were my favorites – the phad poh taek or the stir-fried seafood with herbs and chili and phad kapraw nuea or more like minced meat with chili and basil. Plenty of original Thai herbs involved and particular Thai style flavors – rich, sharp, and unique. With those came the most exciting side dishes. It’s pretty much similar with Chinese style dishes of fried rice or stir-fried vegetables but definitely Thai self-stylized.

For instance, the khao pad sapparod was one of the most delicious fried rice dishes I had ever encountered. Served upon a pineapple, the fried rice made with optimizing the spices and herbs at their best serving time after cooking them and to be then diluted with the rice. Not only was that it tasty but also fragrant, sweet, and rich. Other good alternatives would be khao pad plakem or the fried rice with salted fish and add that with stir-fried broccoli or water spinaches for your vegetables intake.

To seal the deal, I personally chose the tam tim krob where the main ingredient was merah delima or red water chestnut made crispy with yams and served in a cold, sweetened coconut milk syrup. If you want something ‘dry’, the man suam would also prove to be formidable to end your dinner. It’s basically a simmered cassava with sweetened coconut milk syrup.

While some dishes may be already quite familiar with our culinary culture but a small journey to Sukhothai has always been fruitful and pleasant. I am definitely looking forward for another visit and the all-you-can-eat scheme is indeed valuable package for everyone to share. Plenty of great, classic cuisine standardized well for years under the masterful skill of Chef Sidik, known to receive personal tutelage in Thai culinary from the masters back in Thailand years ago.

So, if you happen to plan yourself a visit there, don’t forget to tag me along then!

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SUKHOTHAI (THE MEDIA HOTEL AND TOWERS)

Halal-friendly
Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: Jl. Gunung Sahari 3, Jakarta – Indonesia

RSVP: +62.21.626.3001 ext. 4605

Opening Hours: Daily – Lunch 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm, Dinner 6 pm – 10.30 pm

BB Pin: 276AE2CE

Email: info@themediahotel.com | reservation@themediahotel.com

Website: http://themediahotel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themediahotel

Twitter: @TheMediaHotel

Pricing: All-you-can-eat currently available at IDR 175,000 nett per pax (on limited dishes).

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More pictures will be added soon!

Staycation: Aston Kuta Hotel & Residence – Kuta, Bali (Aston International)

Taken from: http://daytripswashbuckler.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/aston-kuta-hotel-and-residence/

Awkwardly designed, half-hearted service, and left isolated. Those were perhaps my impressions from Aston Kuta. If it wasn’t because that I had to choose the place, then I’d be happy to pick somewhere better.

As a part of my trip, I had been designated to stay at this particular Aston that’s located way far in the southern part of Kuta. Though it boasts its proximity with airport but somehow what I had originally wanted would be a place nearby public attractions or restaurants. Besides, Bali’s traffic nowadays has grown infamously jammed so wherever I stay then I would automatically allocate a safe margin of time just to reach the airport or just simply booked a convenient time. A close proximity would be a small bonus in Bali.

We arrived after a ‘long’ trip that cost us around IDR 60,000 – IDR 70,000 taxi fare from Seminyak. The hotel’s facade was indeed awkward as the lobby appeared sideways because perhaps they didn’t manage to acquire the whole land in front of the establishment as some buildings still exist there and hinder the true view of the hotel from the street. Only if they properly secured the land then most definitely, Aston Kuta would look better.

The lobby was very open and windy owing to the awkward nature of the design. We did a direct check-in since the tour organizer was careless enough not to book online first so we had to chip in first before getting ourselves a fat reimbursements. Before heading here, I had noticed that the rate for a Superior room was around IDR 700,000 through the internet but since I did a direct check-in (considering the administration break for the tour organizer) the price for the room skyrocketed to around IDR 1,400,000!

Knowing that it’ll be reimbursed then we had no objection and head straight to the room immediately. It was a long walk through the business center first on the 3rd floor of the hotel just to get ourselves to the room corridor. All we found there was a dark alley and another long walk to our room. A door was installed to separate the rooms with outside corridor and barricaded by a magnetic card lock, but that time it appeared that it was no longer used. Therefore, the room corridor was exposed to public.

Our room was neat and clean but tastelessly designed. Apart from too many cabinets, too many empty spaces, and no carpets nor wooden flooring to make it feel warmer, the room doesn’t have any complimentary internet access (unlike Aston Braga, Bandung) and proper hot water. We later complained about this but all they can say was, ‘Give it a try for awhile and the water will be hot soon’. Hell no, it didn’t get any farther than that after an hour. After all the fatigue, we were forced to take a shower with lukewarm water and what a waste of a good bath tub!

Next morning when we thought that they have finally figured it out, the water was still not getting any hotter. It’s just a waste of breath to complain again as they can actually honestly told us last night that they’re having difficulty to solve that matter so soon. On other occasion, we also requested a proper laundry bag and instead they sent a shopping bag, saying that if we don’t intend to launder here then they cannot give us a laundry bag. What an insult to us as the patrons who notably want to receive good service after the hefty price that we had paid!

Later that night, we also went out to seek good attractions outside and realized that the hotel’s a bit far from the entertainment constellation. So renting a car or motorcycle is a must unless you have a guide to help you travel. Otherwise you’ll have to use taxi and doing it every time may prove costly and unnecessary. The nearest attraction would be the Discovery Mall and would require quite a walk just to get you there. Bicycles are for rent there but who would do that late at night?

So, why not just dine at the hotel? I was a bit skeptical with the dishes especially during our breakfast. After all the price we paid, we could have better options for our breakfast but instead for the cheese platters only, they only served cheddar cheese and a limited choice of cold cuts. That’s an easy benchmarking right?

While the hotel seemed quite famous with Japanese travelers, but it’s definitely my last visit there. Not only that the service was shabby, but overall the hotel was a total boredom for me. I’d be sure to recommend somewhere else more exciting, affordable, and honest.

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ASTON KUTA HOTEL & RESIDENCE

Jl. Wana Segara no. 2-5, Kuta – Bali, Indonesia

+62.361.758.699

http://www.aston-international.com/ourhotels_overview.php?id=MTU=
http://www.astonbalihotels.com/

Flavor Preview: Tartlets and Butter Cookies (de Jaap Baking Co., Jakarta)

Ms Lia Rimaldi may be one of the most enthusiastic bakers I have ever met and one who understands well the power of social media to promote her beautiful creations. Under the name of de Jaap Baking Co., Ms Rimaldi started his baking business just recently on June 2012. Inspired by her grandmother’s genuine Dutch recipes, Ms Rimaldi is now setting her course to conquer the world of butter cookies, tartlets, and cupcakes from her kitchen at the vicinity of Alam Sutera, Jakarta.

Enthusiastic as she may appear, she delivers her goodie stuffs often personally and communicates well with her customers. As a start, she also approaches established F&B outlets and also people of high statures in culinary world. In short time, she has been able to perform some trial and error for her products due to inputs from those notable people, marketed her products swiftly, and now getting ready for her own brick and mortar shop of her own soon.

An opportunity was given to me to taste how her products a while ago and I received several tartlets and butter cookies. Two types of tartlets, the blueberry cream cheese and Nutella toffee. While the butter cookies were of no ordinary type one you’d encounter anywhere – filled with peanut butter.

I had gone crazy after sampling these beautiful creatures. The blueberry cheese tartlet was awesome and I had my adventure with many gradations of flavors there – the sweetness, the sourness, and also different textures. But on the other hand, it was also quite tedious with the Nutella toffee tartlets as they were too focused on being sweet and nothing else but sweet. Perhaps Ms Rimaldi can work on a bit for that matter, on how to make it more colorful.

But the stardom goes for the butter cookies, even my wife gone crazy over it and left me only with one butter cookie. It was milky, sultry, and fancy. I like the sweet stuff but as I reached the peanut butter, it felt like I was heading to a happy ending. The flavors mixed and matched well! Not only that I found it ingenious but also made me crave more for it! Looking forward to fulfill myself with jars of butter cookies like these.

I applaud Ms Rimaldi’s passion for baking and looking forward to taste more from their creations. For further inquiries, do not hesitate to just twit @deJaapBakingCo and create your own adventure from there!

Bon voyage!

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Fresh From The Oven is a new series of posts handmade by The Gastronomy Aficionado about his adventures with homemade goodies introduced to him and he decided (randomly) to tribute the goodness of it, so far without advertising payment. It’s an honest review like most of his posts out there!

QuikSkoop™: Ryoshi

Strategic and omnipresent? Yup, that’s Ryoshi. Again, I tell another story for Japanese cuisine craving while in Bali. It may not be wise to do it too often because Bali holds so many treasure for you to dig in but one cannot hold it when the urge comes out.

Sushi Tei may be famous back in Jakarta or Bandung, but not here ladies and gents. While some outlets may appear humble or small, many favor or at least mention about their inevitable encounters with Ryoshi. While richer in menu selections than Kunti on my previous post, Ryoshi still prides itself in presenting the classic style dishes.

So we got a good bargain for discovering their new outlet just nearby Discovery Mall at Kuta and that was a solid 20 percent discount for their soft opening period (until July 2012 only). There, Ryoshi becomes an open air restaurant but with a roof on it. The entrance is a stairway surrounded with beautiful pillars and dining sections on the side of it. An air conditioned indoor dining room is also available further inside alongside the usual tatami section.

On the contrary with Kunti, the menu was designed well and helpful. The waitress was also highly knowledgeable and helpful by explaining the details of the dishes adeptly. Even though the outlet’s still new, this kind of thing ensured us that we’re in good hands. But too many expectations there as I have to wait my seafood okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) although it ended up well. For the time being, we enjoyed also the Japanese style fish carpaccio (sliced raw) which I forgot the name was and the beef donburi (rice bowl).

Plenty of options from appetizers to main dishes consisting of sushi, sashimi, menrui (noodles), yakimono, donburi, and other usual choices you encounter at any Japanese restaurants. Bottom line is that Ryoshi would be the easiest and casual choice for everyone. With an affordable price tag, quite similar with Jakarta’s, Ryoshi is something that I would want to seek again whenever my family or my wife, in particular, would like for something common and comforting. With plenty available outlets everywhere now, I have no worries.

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RYOSHI

Halal-friendly

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Wi-fi unavailable

Address: TBA for address details. Currently Ryoshi has several outlets at Seminyak, Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, and Galeria Mall.

Opening Hours: Daily, TBA for opening hours.

RSVP: 

  • Seminyak +62.361.731.152
  • Kuta +62.361.766.302
  • Sanur +62.361.288.473
  • Ubud +62.361.971.192
  • Galeria Mall +62.361.751.684

BB Pin: N/A

Email: N/A

Website: TBA

Facebook: TBA

Twitter: TBA

Atmosphere: Best visited during night time. Warm and cozy, especially the latest outlet at Kuta just beside the Discovery Mall.

Ambiance: Conversational.

Service: May be slow at times.

Pricing: Around IDR 100,000 – IDR 150,000 for two.

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