Restaurant Review: Al Jazeerah

First of all, I have to thank my favorite chef Antoine Audran of Java Bleu for letting me know about the best place to enjoy Middle Eastern dishes on Jalan Raden Saleh and clearly, Al Jazeerah itself is already perfect choice. Been here for like three or four times and Al Jazeerah manages to keep its consistency. So what’s it like inside?

Jalan Raden Saleh, the very street it presided at, is the main street that connects Matraman area and Cikini which makes it really busy from morning until even after sundown. Businesses flourish here and there’s a tremendous amount of Middle Eastern people seem to be directed around this area either by tradition, travel agencies, or anything else. That’s also why Jalan Raden Saleh becomes the haven for Middle Eastern cuisine in Jakarta, although it may be a bit upscale-ish if compared with other areas such as Condet or Manggarai.

Al Jazeerah - Interior 1

Well, in any case, I have never yet ventured that far aside from Al Jazeerah on this street. However, thanks to my wife’s newly found interest in this particular genre, I suppose we’re now on the right track to explore more from this territory!

In terms of appearance, I can say that Al Jazeerah is not well-designed. With limited parking space, awkward placements for the interior, and its tacky design, one may not be pleased by just gazing it. All it takes left is to check the babies from the kitchen as Al Jazeerah promotes a very extensive Middle Eastern dishes both authentic and some are fused with Western style by using French fries, for instance. Also one thing, if this is your first time, then rest assured that you’re in good hands since the waiters there are excelled in Arabic and highly knowledgeable.

Muttabal
Muttabal

Best to start with the refreshing cold mezzeh (cold appetizers) whenever you’re here. A combination of Arabian pocket bread with mutabbal (roasted eggplant with sesame paste), taboulah/tabouleh (tomato, cucumber, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil). fathus/fatoush (similar with taboulah but added with crackers), baba ghanuuj/baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant, tomato, parsley), and the dipping sauce of yogurt with mint and garlic would become one of the best openers you’ve ever tasted in your entire life! Not only that they are all came from fresh ingredients and very appetizing, but at the same time you can feel the elegantly rustic mixture of rich flavors and textures.

Tabouleh
Tabouleh

Alternatively, starting with hot mezzeh (hot appetizers) such as arayes (pita bread filled with lamb), hummos lahamb (hummus and lamb), martabak, or mulgalgal (sauteed lamb liver) should prep you up well also for the next round.

Yogurt with Garlic & Mint
Yogurt with Garlic & Mint

Yes, it’s time for basmati rice with chicken or lamb, served in a really huge portion, suitable for 2-3 persons at once! Choose between the different flavors of kabsah, mandi, biryani, kabli, or matbi for the rice and pair it with grilled lamb or chicken. Starting with mandi or biryani will be good for starters as they possess the savoriness that we all familiar with. Other options, such as kabsah, is cooked with tomatoes to make it red and the rest is pretty much mysterious even for me. It’s like one type of rice at a time whenever I visit Al Jazeerah! So much fun indeed.

Biryani & Mandi Dujaj
Biryani & Mandi Dujaj

To seal the day, umm ali or muhalabiah should be your option for desserts. The original umm ali or what we know as bread and butter pudding, may be too milky or rich for us Indonesians. However, Al Jazeerah’s version has been adjusted well with our taste, but at the same time, the restaurant masterfully attracts Middle Eastern customers as well! It’s like achieving something that Sushi Tei cannot even reach as most Japanese expats prefer to enjoy their native dishes from individual restaurants inside office premises, far from public knowledge.

So, does Al Jazeerah knows how to customize the taste of each dish in accord with the patron’s nationality every time? Again, it’s a mystery from behind the kitchen, but for me it’s always been a pleasure to visit this restaurant anytime of the day.

Thanks for the recco, Chef Antoine!

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AL JAZEERAH

Halal-certified

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: Jalan Raden Saleh no. 58, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, 11.30 am – 10.30 pm

RSVP: +62.21.314.6108

Website: http://aljazeerahinjakarta.com/

Spend: IDR 150,000 – IDR 250,000 for two

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Quikskoop™: Aneka Bubur 786

Busy and forever effervescent, Jalan Radio Dalam has been serving forever-craving Jakartans especially on their way back to the southern suburbs after working hours. One of many reasons why we should sometimes take a break here and enjoy what this street has to offer is because of this particular restaurant that supposedly only serves Chinese cuisine judging by its name, but who would’ve guessed that it serves also Indian/Pakistani cuisine? Hereby, I welcome you to Aneka Bubur 786.

Since time immemorial, a Pakistani carpet merchant and a Chinese restaurant live together side by side peacefully. Until one day they decided to join forces and create something never seen before in Jakarta – Chinese & Indian/Pakistani restaurant under the same roof.

Aneka Bubur - Entrance

The restaurant presides over the old Chinese restaurant and has direct access to the carpet shop own by the Pakistani compatriot. Aside from carpets and the restaurant, they also sell a large number of art collections from paintings and Middle Eastern trinkets. This will make everyone can’t believe at first that they’re in a restaurant. However, with its sizable space, the restaurant managed to fill in with numerous dining tables and if you want so badly to enjoy your Indian/Pakistani dishes upon a carpet, you can always choose to do lesehan here.

Years ago, I first knew about the restaurant through several television shows and mostly highlighted its rich variety in Chinese-style porridge. Some of them are also fused with Indian/Pakistani influences and even the restaurant has probably the most expensive porridge in Jakarta, by using saffron! From what I saw last time in the menu, the saffron porridge will cost you around IDR 88,000 per bowl, however instead of tasting it, I decided to just stick with its South Asian cuisines and my oh my, I had a really great time with it.

Shish Kebab Kabuli
Shish Kebab Kabuli

Aneka Bubur 786 does provide an extensive South Asian cuisines from start to finish. I was tempted to try the kabab, samosa, or pakora but decided to just dive in for the main courses instead. To share the togetherness with my wife, I chose the biryani rice with seekh kabab or known more as shish kebab. It took some time to serve this baby but it’s really worth it as not only the lamb kabab tasted to divinely flavorful and fulfilling, the rice was also fragrant and rich with condiments.

Lamb Korma
Lamb Korma

The additional protein came from lamb korma with generous amount of diced lamb which I found tender and juicy but of course, korma is indeed a fiery dish. Aneka Bubur 786 don’t use coconut curry for its South Asian dishes but instead with yogurt and cream. As you can see, the lamb korma appears like beef rendang but it’s definitely different and all you got to do left is to order the good, warm bread and dip it to the bountiful curry. Wander through Aneka Bubur 786 rich bread dictionary from chanai, paratha, naan, chapati, or kulcha. Real South Asian people might know better what and when to use specific bread, but treat your curiosity impulsively instead!

Lassi & Pakistani Iced Milk Tea
Lassi & Pakistani Iced Milk Tea

The good closure came from the South Asian-style yogurt drink, known more as lassi, and a Pakistani herb-ish iced milk tea. Although service was slow at first, the trained cashier wrapped everything up well with his knowledgeable remarks about the restaurant’s dish and even entice us to take a look at the carpet collections. Well I had to decline the offer but at least now I know well where to find great South Asian cuisines restaurant around South Jakarta and next time, it’s going to be the porridge time! Or with the curry dishes again? Hmmm..

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ANEKA BUBUR 786

Halal-friendly

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: Jalan Radio Dalam Ujung no. 123, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, 24 hours

RSVP: +62.21.720.2224

Spend: IDR 50,000 – IDR 75,000 / person

FCK™: Master Wok

As one of the prominent F&B groups who battles its way as the ruler of the culinary scenes in Jakarta’s shopping malls, Boga Group recently unveiled its first ever prasmanan-style brand. How will it fare in the future?

At first, you can clearly see the prestige of Boga Group applied well and shines among other competitors around the newly found food court at Lotte Shopping Avenue of the glamorous Ciputra World shopping mall in Jakarta. The message Boga Group wishes to convey is that now they have entered a new niche where Chinese food can become affordable for everyone, since we all know that most of Boga Group brands are mostly upscale-ish such as Paradise Dynasty and its Japanese compatriots of Ten Ten and all-time favorite Pepper Lunch.

Master Wok - Outlet

In terms of portioning, Master Wok serves its Chinese dishes bento style. For instance you have to pick a flexible package of rice with two vegetables and one meat or three vegetables only or other designated combinations. I had my Chinese bento box filled with fried rice, General Tso’s chicken, tofu, and shrimps fried with salted eggs. It was actually a pretty decent combination however I found that the vegetables were cold and even though they supposedly keep the food warm on the display. So, you’d better ask first before making them fill in your bento box.

While most of the combinations are priced around IDR 30,000 after tax, the drinks are actually that made everything pretty exorbitant. So in the end, you might have to pay up around IDR 50,000 VAT, while at the same time, you could opt to pay this much for Pepper Lunch Express, which happens to be the same brand under Boga Group once again, and that goes with a drink as well. We all know and love Pepper Lunch so much with its sizzling, forever-mouthwatering rice dishes but here you might risk yourself for not getting the hearty lunch you’re looking for, thanks for the modest portion, and even also have to spend more to achieve that.

So, this is gonna be a homework for Master Wok if they really want to compete against other familiar players in food courts. But let us instead count on Boga Group’s experience for future improvements. For now, I’ll just wait and see.

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MASTER WOK

Halal-friendly (not certified yet)
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians

Address: Various locations in Jakarta
Opening Hours: Mall opening hours
Delivery: N/A
Website: N/A
Facebook: Master Wok Jakarta
Twitter: @Masterwokjkt
Spend: Around IDR 75,000 – IDR 100,000 for two

 

Quikskoop™: Masakan Rumah Bu Endang

A few months ago, I was working on an article about Javanese cuisine in Jakarta for a particular in-flight magazine and was actually did a trial on a Javanese restaurant around Panglima Polim first. Thanks to their arrogance for not letting me taking any photographs on their not-so-cool restaurant, I decided to bail out and headed for Cipete for my last resort of my research that day. Upon encountering Masakan Rumah Bu Endang, not only did I realize that stopping first at that Panglima Polim restaurant was a mistake but also my choice to stop by here was be the best decision ever!

However, when you see Bu Endang’s restaurant facade, you’d be frowning right away. How could everyone not? Well, at least for a first-timer like me. You would witness yourself a rigidly designed building that came from probably back in 1980s and resembled more like a cheap hotel rather than a restaurant or even a home! The good thing came from the exterior is probably the parking spots which I found really helpful especially for a busy, narrow street like Cipete.

Masakan Rumah Bu Endang - Interior 1

Even so, by the time you enter the restaurant, your frowns will turn into a sheer smile as you will witness how Bu Endang has made a good effort to make her restaurant homey, clean, and neat. Despite the fact that the chairs are probably of cheap food courts quality, nevertheless it blends well with all the tidiness and the celebrity photographs all over the walls of this dining room.

Nasi Ayam Panggang Kemiri
Nasi Ayam Panggang Kemiri
Brongkos
Brongkos

A very extensive Javanese and Indonesian dishes are represented well by Bu Endang here. All you can see from Java can be found here, from colonial influences on bestik lidah/ayam (Javanese interpretation of steak), Chinese on lontong cap gomeh (soupy rice cakes with many accompaniments), and even from rustic side such as brongkos (soupy bean curd dish with beef) or mangut ikan pe (fragrant smoked fish soup). I decided to combine some of these beauties with my all-time infatuation of sosis solo (a variant of spring roll filled with minced beef) and of course, the Surabaya’s pride – tahu telor petis (egg fried with bean curd and seasoned with vegetables over petis).

Tahu Telor Petis
Tahu Telor Petis

I had probably one my most pleasant times living on a dreamland of having the best Indonesian food vaganza in a restaurant, since you know that mostly only hawkers or home restaurants are those who can really share the intimacies with us in terms of taste and price. Well, Bu Endang serves these not too expensively and often remarked as a gracious host. Too bad I haven’t met her yet but I’d be sure to come over again and praise her directly for taking care of our cravings during our in Jakarta!

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MASAKAN RUMAH BU ENDANG

Halal-friendly
Suitable for vegetarian

Must eat: Satisfy all your cravings for rustic Javanese dishes!

Spend: IDR 40,000 – IDR 60,000 / person

Address: Jalan Cipete Raya 16C, Jakarta – Indonesia

Telp: +62.21.7663.585

Opening hours: Everyday, 10 am – 10 pm (Mon – Sat) & 8 am – 9 pm (Sun)

Restaurant Review: Shang Palace

After the Japanese and Italian connections back at Nishimura and Rosso, now it’s time for the final specialty restaurant found at Shangri-La Jakarta establishment. The Shang Palace!

Shang Palace sports a classic interior but has not yet followed the footsteps of probably another two five-star hotels who had transformed their Chinese restaurant into a creature of modern beauty. Despite of that fact, I saw numerous of people flocking into Shang Palace be it as a big family, couples, or even a group of friends during my dinner last time. Shang Palace somehow positions itself to be flexible as it caters the lap of luxury courses but also you will find a good time there with your usual stir-fried dishes and a bottle of soda. Why not?

Aside from these facts, the service was supreme and kind of reminds me with my previous encounter with Nishimura for lunch that day, but you may not find the solitude you’ll find at the Japanese compatriot rather than Shang Palace which suits more as a family restaurant with its openness.

Fresh tiger prawns with homemade orange sauce
Fresh tiger prawns with homemade orange sauce

But then again, what matters now are the creations of Shang Palace’s prominent chef, Mr Benson Fok. The freshness of the ingredients was so well-assured even from the openers, the beautiful fresh tiger prawns with homemade orange sauce. There’s always a smile on my face whenever I see my wife gets so excited over fresh shrimps, prawns, or even lobsters. Well, we all do love it sincerely right?

Minced beef soup with spinach
Minced beef soup with spinach
Fish maw soup with cordyceps flowers
Fish maw soup with cordyceps flowers

Additionally, our openers were made more excited with the companions of the rich minced beef soup with spinach and of course, the delicious and exquisite fish maw soup with the unique cordyceps flower. Unlucky though because I can only find one maw per portion and I literally struggled to find another piece of it amongst the chicken chunks only to see myself sunk in disappointments. I was lucky to be cured in an instant afterwards by the appearance of the majestic Peking duck dishes. First, made into pancakes filled with fresh vegetables and hoisin sauce, and then secondly, the remaining slices were stir-fried with black pepper sauce. It was just amazing!

Preparing the duck
Preparing the duck
Peking duck wrapped with vegetables
Peking duck wrapped with vegetables

For the main course, the fried rice with assorted seafood and XO sauce was actually more than enough for me but Shang Palace was more than generous to also introduce me with the melts-in-your-mouth pan-fried wagyu beef tenderloin rolling the juicy enoki mushrooms bathed with nightly beauty of black pepper sauce. Not stopping there, a plate full of homemade bean curd stir-fried with ham, shimeji mushrooms, and dried scallops all over these bootylicious dish.

Pan-fried enoki mushroom and wagyu beef tenderloin rolls in black pepper sauce
Pan-fried enoki mushroom and wagyu beef tenderloin rolls in black pepper sauce
Homemade bean curd with vegetarian ham, shimeji mushrooms and dried scallops
Homemade bean curd with vegetarian ham, shimeji mushrooms and dried scallops

The wondrous night then ended in a sweet note thanks to the appearance of chilled mango and sago cream that made me chase all over the plate for the sago pearls. However my errand did not stop there as the finale of Chef Fok’s creations of avocado puree topped with coconut ice cream made me to literally again savor the last drop of the wonder fruit on the plate.

Chilled mango sago cream
Chilled mango sago cream
Chilled avocado puree topped with coconut ice cream
Chilled avocado puree topped with coconut ice cream

Our date night was a success and we head back to the room to enjoy the Jakarta view from the 24th floor contented and fulfilled. What more can you ask from that? Thank you Shang Palace! Our second encounter after the unique Kong’s Cuisine was no less enthralling.

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SHANG PALACE

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,
Lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm (Monday to Saturday)
Brunch 9am – 2.30pm (Sunday only)
Dinner 6.30pm – 10.30pm (Daily)

RSVP: +62.21.2939.9580

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

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