Restaurant Review: Rosso (2013)

After three years! Finally I came back again here and for Rosso’s famous Sunday Brunch. Well, actually I was here like a couple of months ago to taste Chef Oriana Tirabassi’s magical risotto with golden leaves. Now, it’s time for the fresh antipasti, fresh raw seafood, and main courses that I anticipated a lot. Here comes, Rosso!

It was a full-house and filled with cacophony of children playing, glass clanking, and people talking. I don’t mind about it since I was also anticipating this kind of situation. The Sunday Brunch deal is a good deal after all. You get to choose many wonderful things from start to finish and under the leadership of Chef Oriana, everything is well guaranteed. The forever-replenished antipasti bar, bruschetta, raw seafood, and live pasta station star as the protagonists for any given Sunday Brunch here, but I will now focus more on some of Rosso’s finest main dishes.

I was unlucky at first that I was away taking photographs somewhere while Chef Oriana came by and say hi to my wife instead. By the time I return, my wife told me that Chef Oriana ensured her that our dishes that day will be free of porkie dorkie. It’s a good thing to hear that she cares for her customers and coming by straight to our table is something of an honor for any dining experience nowadays. The connection between the chef and the customers is a must and something that is sacred. This bond of trust would mean well for each party to appreciate and energize each other with compliments and/or healthy criticisms.

Fillet of Barramundi with fennel salad, sauteed Jerusaled artichokes, and lemon butter
Fillet of Barramundi with fennel salad, sauteed Jerusaled artichokes, and lemon butter

But that afternoon, there’s nothing left to say aside from compliments and happy thoughts. Chef Oriana presented us with her wondrous craft of fillet barramundi with fennel salad, sauteed Jerusalem artichoke and lemon butter sauce. The skin of the fish was also perfectly fried and given as the accompaniment of the dish. We immediately finished this one first although the other two dishes were also appear intriguing.

Prawn Gnocchi
Prawn Gnocchi

Pappardelle and gnocchi became the next main dishes we tried on that brunch. Well, I have to tell you one thing about gnocchi. I have never found a good gnocchi before and I shy away from it on many occasions. Now that I have to face this one, then it immediately became a daring challenge for me. The result? Chef Oriana gave me a solid cure for my phobia from encountering gnocchi for good. She cooked a well-made gnocchi which was very flavorful, thanks also for her idea to combine it with the cheese sauce, and accompanied them with prawns. From here, I know where to find good gnocchi and I pledge myself to be taken with care with the skillful hands of this wonderful lady. Bravo, Chef Oriana!

Pappardelle with Porcini
Pappardelle with Porcini

The pappardelle with porcini mushrooms came in nicely but we were already too overwhelmed with the goodness of the barramundi and the gnocchi. Nonetheless, it’s always a good thing though to refresh your pasta dictionary, especially with pappardelle which may not be as famous as its other wonderful peers as we know them so well.

Pizza for dessert
Pizza for dessert

The brunch ended with a sweet note of a freshly baked pizza topped with berries, cream, and chocolate. Well, we had to wait quite long for it but it’s well worth it! Look how beautiful this creature is and I’d have it all day with a freshly brewed coffee while sitting on a porch overlooking the ocean. Imagine that!

An additional note over this busy brunch is that you may have to be a bit patient with the service as it may slow down a bit and sometimes the waiter is nowhere to be found, although we were seated in a strategic area. The hospitality was a bit uneven as some of them were very kind while the rest was a bit awkward. Well, service is a tricky aspect from a restaurant, although sometimes you can forgive any problems coming from it IF the food in then captivates you, but still it plays an important part with customer’s real satisfaction.

Well, it was a really good dining experience and both me and my wife enjoyed our time there. It took a bit longer than expected but Chef Oriana treated us well with her might and magic. A comeback is indeed a must!

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ROSSO

Halalness to be confirmed (pork menu and liquor are served)

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta – Kota BNI – Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours:
Everyday,
Restaurant: Lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm Dinner 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Lounge: Lunch 11am – 2.30pm Dinner 5.30pm – 1am

RSVP: +62.21.2939.9580

Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/jakarta/shangrila/dining/restaurants/rosso/

Spend: IDR 500,000 – IDR 1,500,000 for two

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Restaurant Review: Nishimura

Shangri-La Jakarta is probably among the few among five-star hotels in the city that possesses quality one-stop stay and dine trait. By having the powerhouse restaurant quartet of Satoo; Nishimura; Rosso; and Shang Palace, Shangri-La Jakarta is more than serious to really fulfill the needs of many Jakartans – from casual foodie to extravagant gourmet, from passersby to meeting attendees, and from locals to expatriates. A few weeks ago, Nishimura became my first stop and the only one left I haven’t tried from the hotel’s stellar restaurants.

Tucked all by itself in a quiet corner of the hotel, Nishimura resides over a vast space and like other exclusive Japanese restaurants, it separates different room functions according to what the customers wish to enjoy during their stay. They have teppanyaki bars, a sushi bar, tatami rooms/private rooms, and the common dining room. Even in the common dining room, each space is ensured of its privacy and tended carefully by the waitresses. Well, we had a late lunch that day and customers were not that many left, but there’s always somebody new coming in, either for having their lunch sets or wearing long aprons for their teppanyaki session.

That afternoon, we decided to enjoy the fulfilling lunch of Kaiseki set and a teppanyaki set for my wife. In-between, we were also served with colorful assorted sushi set for sharing. It’s a good thing that the swiftness and great hospitality from the waitresses really contented our hearts but somehow I found that the serving time for my wife’s teppanyaki set was a bit uneven. I was hoping that every phase will be served with good timing but instead, the final dish of the teppanyaki which was the garlic fried rice came a bit too early (usually fried rice served last so that we won’t get full too early because of the rice). Sometimes it’s a bit hard to judge which dish belongs to who, but we were too overjoyed to see the creations of Chef Hideki Chomei came in all meticulously detailed, full of aesthetics, and of course, delicious!

Kaiseki Set Lunch – Three Kinds of Appetizers
Three Kinds of Sashimi & Clear Soup

My Kaiseki set lunch opener came in appetizingly – from a glass of unagi dipped in a cold souproe-filled prawn, clear soup and sashimi. Nearing by the main course, a perfectly grilled gindara and a bowl of neatly-arranged boiled vegetables in thick sauce gave a bonus point for the appetizer part. At this point, mooching one or two bites from my wife’s teppanyaki set became a beautiful mistake since I didn’t realize what was coming my way for the main course!

Grilled Fish
Grilled Fish
Boiled Veggies
Boiled Veggies

Sealing the whole deal of the Kaiseki set, I was served with the all-time favorite and one of the most rustic Japanese dishes known as the kamameshi or the steamed rice served in an earthen pot. Using the earthen pot, the rice usually becomes sticky and overcooked right on the edges of the pot. The favorite part is that you have to scratch the rice out with a bit effort but the overcooked part becomes crunchy and tastier than it looks. As with the proteins, the rice was well-equipped with many elements from the sea such as fish, crab cakes, prawns and et cetera. It’s probably more suitable as a serving for two, considering the quite extensive opener and how I also got tempted with my wife’s dishes.

For the closure, a bowl of ogura ice cream and a glass of good iced milk coffee gave my part a satisfying ending, but you know what? I liked my wife’s part better with her teppanyaki.

Kaiseki Set Lunch – Kamameshi

She began with the usual appetizers such as the salad and chawan mushi. But then came the most enjoyable part – a combo of grilled vegetables, beef steak, prawn, scallops, salmon, sauteed mixed veggies, miso shiru, and pickles! Plus of course, the early garlic fried rice. We particularly enjoyed the seafood and as an avid fan of fried rice, I decided to help my wife with it.

Teppanyaki Combo Lunch Set - Grilled Vegetables, US Beef Steak, Prawn, Scallop, Salmon, Sauted Mixed Vegetables
Teppanyaki Combo Lunch Set – Grilled Vegetables, US Beef Steak, Prawn, Scallop, Salmon, Sauted Mixed Vegetables
Teppanyaki Combo Lunch Set - Garlic Fried Rice
Teppanyaki Combo Lunch Set – Garlic Fried Rice

But in my defense though, the only reason why I didn’t finish my kamameshi (as much as I’m still regretting it until now) was because of this lovely platter filled with sushi and sushi rolls. Beautiful, enjoyable, and features the unusual sushi apart from our all-time favorite tuna or salmon. Even salmon, they say, is rarely used back in Japan.

Tenku Sushi Gozen - Assorted Premium Sushi Set
Tenku Sushi Gozen – Assorted Premium Sushi Set

Well, it was a wonderful lunch! Although Nishimura tends to get a bit wintry rather than its comrade, Rosso and Shang Palace, I found the tranquility inside was really soothing. Sure I can heard a bit the conversations from our neighbors but I can still enjoy my privacy, topped with a swift service and good food.

So, if you’re looking for a serious, classic Japanese cuisine in Jakarta? Nishimura can be one of the formidable options. This international brand first established by Mr Hiromi Nishimura back in 1985 has been closely connected with Shangri-La operations around Asia and now I can see the reason why. Why’s that? Well, you really have to find out about it yourself! 🙂

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NISHIMURA

Halalness to be confirmed (pork menu and liquor are served)

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta – Kota BNI – Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening Hours: Everyday, 11.30 am – 2 pm (lunch) & 6 pm – 10.30 pm (dinner)

RSVP: +62.21.2939.9580

Website: http://www.nishimura.com.hk/ & http://www.shangri-la.com/jakarta/shangrila/dining/restaurants/nishimura/

Pricing: IDR 500,000 – IDR 1,500,000 for two

Viva Mexico! – A Mexican Cuisine Extravaganza by Chef Lamberto Valdez (Part 2)

The continuation of Chef Lamberto Valdez’ wonderful interpretations of Mexican cuisine keeps getting better and better. On the last post  – Viva Mexico! – A Mexican Cuisine Extravaganza by Chef Lamberto Valdez (Part 1) – I wrote about the chef and his colorful openers consisted of guacamole, ceviche, and the Aztecs traditional soup. So without further due, let’s get on with the main course!

Well, entering the main course, I have to admit that I had no clue at all about it. For me (and many people, I bet), Mexican food is all about guacamole, tacos, quesadillas, or even Tex-Mex stuffs have always been thought as pure representation of Mexico. Now, after this encounter, I realize that Mexican cuisine is more than that and Chef Valdez taught us all about it eloquently.

We started with crepes filled with lobster meat. While that may not be Mexican, but Chef Valdez actually wanted us to know about their proud tradition in making mole sauce as the accompaniment of the crepes. The making of this signature sauce is often made into competition back in Mexico and it’s a complex process by using  a lot of ingredients while also took a long time. Well, it kind of reminds me of Minangnese does it with its dishes but of course, this one’s different.

Lobster Crepes with Mole
Lobster Crepes with Mole

Mole may use up to 25 – 30 ingredients and that involves cacao and dried chilies. The result after 5 hours of painstaking process, it’s not only silky and savory but has that sweet, thick elements came from cacao. It’s just fascinating, especially when you know that it may be originated since thousands of years ago back in the times of Aztecs or Mayans and it uses chocolate, a native ingredient unknown to many parts of the world back then. You really have to imagine it combined with the crepes filled with Canadian lobsters, arugula, and feta cheese. Mamma mia!

Carne Asada
Carne Asada

Next we have the Carne Asada, or the hanger steak grilled to medium degree a la Mexico! First, the meat has to be marinated first using sauce made from garlic, onions, and other traditional herbs, making it a tad more acidic. After grilled, the steak then served with a green sauce or what they call as ‘poblano’ – a mixture of green bell pepper, garlic, and cilantro. The accompaniment was a well-presented mashed sweet cassava, garnished with cherry tomatoes and Guajillo chilies. Needless to say, it was the ultimate part of the whole deal! 

Camarones al Ajillo
Camarones al Ajillo

Let’s head next for the grilled shrimps with chipotle sauce over fried rice. While that may sound simple, the process of making the fried rice was actually a bit complex. Chef Valdez told us that he had to do several procedures to make the fried rice right. First he had to make the rice green (I feel like Mexicans really love green color after all as seen from their national flag) by mixing them with cilantro, parsley, poblano sauce, jalapeno, and chicken stock. Then to reach the desired size, which is relatively bigger than our normal rice, he had to gone through frying and steaming first before served. Well well, it’s interesting as well as delicious. So you got the whole Mexican style by just having this dish – the poblano, jalapeno, and chipotle. Rich!

Huachinango a la Veracruzana
Huachinango a la Veracruzana

The last bastion of the main course came from the red snapper done in Veracruz style, the coastal old town where the Spanish first colonized Central America. That’s also the very reason why this dish has a Spanish influence as seen from the red rice. The huachinango or red snapper was seared lightly and drown in style with Hass avocado puree which was really delicious, topped with black olives, green olives, and capers. These gave the snapper a complex flavor of buttery thickness came from avocado puree, unique flavors from olives and capers, and the juicy salmon as the main star. The Spanish part came with the red rice, fried with tomato sauce for the color. Majestic!

Chocoflan
Chocoflan
Churros
Churros

As for the closure, this talented chef who’s also excelled in English and French, presented us with both Chocoflan and the eclectic chewy Churros with caramel sauce and jackfruit compote. What a way to finish the lovely lunch and although I really wanted to stay a bit longer, it was already almost 5 pm and gotta rush back home to beat the traffic!

Well, Chef Valdez presented us with what I call as a brilliant way to promote his country’s tourism. Back then I had a jealousy over a friend who had her time enjoying Yucatan beach or at how people adore Acapulco and so on, but now I have more confidence to really travel there one day and discover more than just Tex-Mex.

Thank you Chef Valdez, until I see you someday soon at Westin Ubud!

Viva Mexico! – A Mexican Cuisine Extravaganza by Chef Lamberto Valdez (Part 1)

It’s quite common here that sometimes we know better about European or Japanese food rather than our own cuisine. No matter how cliché that may be, there are also two regional cuisines that we don’t really know much here in Indonesia. They came from Central America – mostly represented by Mexican cuisine, and the rest came from South America. I had small affairs with Colombian and Ecuadorian previously, but Mexican? Well, people would easily point either Chili’s or Amigos here in Jakarta or the current trending Taco Local, locally handcrafted by my tutor Mr Sebastian Subakti for Mexican.

As for the rest? Nobody really know or even care much about it compared with those mainstream cuisines. But after I met Chef Lamberto Valdez, I really had to let myself bedazzled with his culinary genius! How could I not? A wonderful ten course of Mexican cuisine tailored by the Chef personally with the added bonus of immense knowledge about the background of each one of these beauties. Hats off, Chef!

Chef Lamberto Valdez
Chef Lamberto Valdez

With his immense background in cooking for over 25 years, Mr Valdez appears young and dedicated. I can see through his conviction even before the lunch back in Bengawan – Keraton at The Plaza, Jakarta a month ago. He explained to me about his dishes he were about to present for us – totaling 10 majestic course, and he gave me some clues about it, during which I had to greet some friends I met there and he had to pause his explanations each time for a while, but that didn’t stop him from telling me more about his creations. I like that attitude!

Grew up in Acapulco, a place where people dream to be although Mr Valdez said there’s nothing special about it, the chef then went for a long-term culinary adventure back in the US after he had finished his apprenticeship. He’s climbing up to the top with Le Meridien, J.W. Marriott, and Sheraton. He was even cooking for prestigious personalities during his tenure back in The Ritz Carlton Florida. From there, his long affair with Starwood group started and lasts until now. Started from W Hotel in Doha, he worked alongside Jean-Georges and chosen by Alain Ducasse to oversee an important project. Now, he’s stationed in Westin Ubud – Bali and loaned to Keraton at The Plaza to showcase his talents temporarily.

Viva Mexico! last month was designed to introduce people with the richness of Mexican cuisine and a seasoned chef was assigned as the vanguard for this long standing heritage back since the Aztecs ruled the country. Let us fast forward to the first dish and also the beginning of a very long, engaging, and yet joyous lunch I’ve ever had in my whole life. Well, it lasted for almost 5 hours!

Classic Tortilla Soup
Classic Tortilla Soup

First was the Classic Tortilla Soup, thick and fresh, done in Aztec style and that means traditional. Corn, tortilla, chicken, tomato, cilantro, zucchini, and avocado all blended nicely. I happened to foolishly bite the whole Serrano chili (if I’m not mistaken with the species) and I had that burning sensation where my face became a bit sweaty and my glasses became foggy. So embarrassing but nobody saw it!

Guacamole with Tortilla chips
Guacamole with Tortilla chips

Secondly, Chef Valdez graciously presented us with the legendary guacamole done in two ways – first traditionally and the other one infused with chipotle (dried jalapeño). What made it so good, especially when you dip it with tortilla, was because of the high quality Hass avocado. Grown mostly in The States, Hass avocado was a variant of avocado found by a modest postman back in the beginning of 20th century and was originally ignored by people. Not until years later people then realized the mistake and it became one of the best avocado variants in the whole world plus it’s also one of the most expensive. Its buttery texture was just rich and Chef Valdez made it so right that I cannot let both of these green beauties gone wasted. By the way, Chef Valdez loves to add goat cheese in his dishes and this guacamole was one of them. He said it was a classic add-on for Mexican cuisine.

Stuffed Bellpepper with Alaskan King Crab
Stuffed Bellpepper with Alaskan King Crab

Next we got a really pretty dish. It’s a Ortega bell pepper, roasted with skins peeled and seeds removed, then filled with roasted fresh corns, Alaskan king crab, and goat cheese. The bell pepper itself was covered with egg whites and then pan-fried lightly. Salsa sauce was used as the dressing and there you go, a very heartwarming dish but light and appetizing. The bell pepper was not spicy at all and I just love the juicy texture combined with crab and corns.

Trio of Ceviche
Trio of Ceviche

For the fourth course, Chef Valdez prepared a dish not really originated from Mexico. It’s the Peruvian pride of Trio de Ceviche done in three ways – salmon with coconut, ginger, and lime juice; shrimps with lemon juice, red onions, cilantro, and lime juice; then tuna with yuzu, ginger, and lemongrass. Well, this trio came in colorful and inviting but I’d still go with the original version – which was the one with shrimps. The Japanese cuisine inspired tuna and the salmon with coconut were nevertheless, intriguing.

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In the next post, I will tell you more about the surprising creations of Chef Lamberto Valdez in three main courses plus two desserts. Oh my, that was so indulging and I gotta let you know that I drool (literally) while writing about this piece. Stay tune!

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To be continued

Quikskoop™: RM Simpang TPI – Ni Yas (Bungus – West Sumatra, Indonesia)

During the remaining stages of Tour de Singkarak, my willpower to seek new foodie haven had gone a bit dwindling but a last strike was all I need. Judging that our route would be along the coastline of West Sumatra between Padang – Painan, then seafood would be the best option. That’s the time I heard all the good things about gulai ikan karang and RM Simpang TPI is the powerhouse name for that!

RM Simpang TPI - Interior

Originally, it was palai bada or the grilled anchovies with herbs wrapped in banana leaves, that came as the initial intention for our culinary trip highlight of the day. Unfortunately though, I cannot find a specific restaurant of where to stop by in Painan for this. Not until I finally found several places recommended for it and the gulai kapalo ikan karang around the beach of Bungus instead.

RM Simpang TPI is clearly named among the best for these. Even so, we passed the restaurant by too early or around brunch time and we got too excited to pursue several places of interest first before sealing our day with good food.

Off we went first for Jembatan Akar (an eclectic bridge made from stretched roots) and the amazing seven-story waterfall (although we could only access and see the first two-story, unfortunately). Arriving at Painan, we were overwhelmed by the lunch boxes and a trip to a neighboring island. So bottom line is that we had to see the race finished first before we head for RM Simpang TPI.

TPI itself is an abbreviation of Tempat Pelelangan Ikan or Fish Auction Site in English. It’s true that this particular restaurant is quite nearby the site and the Carolina Bungus beach, making it highly accessible with fresh seafood products everyday.

However, it was unfortunate of us in the end. We arrived a bit late and they all ran out of snapper’s head used for the curry dish and there’s no palai bada as well. Instead, we were left with the snapper’s meat curry instead or the usual gulai ikan karang.

Lucky that I’m a kind of person that pays no heed about this disadvantage and gave my trust for the rest of the dishes. Turned out that the gulai ikan karang was not only delicious, but it also possessed a distinctive flavor that I cannot comprehend until this very moment with the addition of also using fresh snappers!

Gulai Ikan Kakap
Gulai Ikan Kakap

The yellow curry was just incredible and packed with flavors aside from savory. There’s this certain ingredient that I cannot comprehend, combined with onions in the base of the curry, and all of it created something I have never encountered before. I dare to challenge its snapper’s head curry with RM Pak Slamet‘s version back at Cilincing, the next time around.

A journalist friend of mine mutually agreed with me that the fish curry is indeed a solid one, possesses unique flavors, fresh, and of course, delicious. We happened also to finish each a plate filled with two pieces of fish and pairing it with sambal teri or anchovy sambal. The sambal was not spicy at all and a tad too salty for some, owing the flavor to the anchovies, but it’s much to my liking nevertheless! I bet my wife won’t really like it. Hahaha..

RM Simpang TPI - Sambal Teri

Well, it was quite fulfilling although I was still a bit disappointed for not encountering snapper’s head curry and palai bada, but we had a really beautiful closure when taking photographs over sunset at Teluk Bayur on our way back to Padang.

It was an adventurous day sealed with great food and beautiful view.

What more can you ask?

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RM SIMPANG TPI NI YAS – BUNGUS, INDONESIA

Halal-friendly

Must eat: Gulai ikan karang

Spend: IDR 20,000 – 30,000 / person

Address: Jalan Raya Padang – Painan (20 km from Padang), Bungus – West Sumatra, Indonesia

Telp: +62.751.751.454

Opening hours: Everyday, TBA