Four Singaporeans embarked on an epicurean journey around the globe to enjoy good foods and also in search for culinary inspirations. Their wishes came true when they scoured New York and they saw how people in the Big Apple couldn’t get enough of this newly found variant of fried chicken that came from Korea, instead of the traditionally known American-style fried chicken. In awe with how it tastes, the quartet return back home and introduced the trend for us here in Southeast Asia.
Korean-style fried chicken is probably represented strongly by 4 Fingers’ real competitor here in Indonesia by BonChon with its numerous outlets. Instead of introducing itself as a family restaurant, 4 Fingers appeared more like an underground movement thanks to its distinctive appearance, and that’s probably why people don’t really take it too seriously here. Inspired by urban New Yorker style, 4 Fingers appears more like a hip hop community who likes hanging out with their hoodies, riding skateboards, and playing around with authorities with their graffiti arts. Need not be afraid of that and dive in to see what they have inside with their version of fried chicken.
Fried chicken in Korea is probably like when you find gorengan (fritters) in Indonesia. It’s for anyone, anytime, and anywhere, especially as a bar food. The real difference lies with the frying technique and the skin appearance of the fried chicken. Firstly, they don’t marinade the chicken, they fried the chicken twice thus rendering it from the fat and making the skin thinner but still maintain its crispiness. Afterwards they rub the chicken with either soy garlic sauce or the piquant sauce that tastes so good. To make it even healthier, Koreans usually fry it fresh and they don’t use any heat lamps at all. It’s indeed a radical movement that even the Western people cannot help but to love it.
4 Fingers’ version slightly differ from BonChon as they use chicken of larger size (unlike BonChon who standardized it heavily to keep it on medium size) and it has a thicker skin, more like the Western version but only slightly. The sauce was immaculate and you have to try combining the chicken with the sauced rice, which I think it’s like a version of teriyaki but more spices in it. Additionally their calamari also tasted impressive although unfortunately they ran out shrimps that day which actually the official camaraderie of the squids. By the way, later I found out that this is a problem also in other outlet either in Singapore or The Philippines.
The only major downside was the service. I arrived around 2 pm that day but they didn’t seem to prepare themselves at all. There’s only one cashier available and she wasn’t briefed about the IDR 15,000/3 chicken wings promotion. Additionally, our iced mint tea was not get any sweetening at all and then later we were given sachets of sugar for it instead of simple syrup by an unfriendly staff. I think my previous two visits were tainted by slow service as well.
But you know what they say, ‘As long as the food is good, we don’t mind’. Usually this doesn’t work for me but the food was really good that day and they nailed it against BonChon big time! Although the price may be steeper than BonChon, I think it’s still worth the visit once in a while. Your turn now.
4 FINGERS CRISPY CHICKEN Halal-friendly
Not suitable for vegetarians
Sun Plaza, Jalan H. Zainul Arifin no. 7, Medan – Indonesia
Shiesuta wa ii wake de Sono yubi de senaka made mata tsuranuite
Hana no mitsu ni karen ni mujou ni oborete iku chou no you ni Shidai ni shiosai tooku naru no kieru you ni
Mou dare mo inai sunahama nokosareta biichicheaa Aishi tsukareta natsu ga yuku
Rinaria ga kareru aki sabishisa mo masu darou
Kokoro sude ni dosha furi Hageshii koi ni utarete chou no you ni tobezu ni Shiosai tooku naru no nigeru you ni
Naze toki wa Naze yume wa Naze sora wa Naze umi wa Naze anata wa
Shiesuta wa ii wake de Sono yubi de senaka made mata tsuranuite
Hana no mitsu ni karen ni mujou ni oborete iku chou no you ni Shidai ni shiosai tooku naru no kieru you ni
“Shiosai” by paris match
You might be wondering why this time (and this time only I hope) I started my post with the lyrics of one of my favorite songs. Yes, I’ll be indulging you with a culinary trip to a Japanese restaurant of the same name up on the northernmost part of Jakarta. Known previously as Okoh during its Hotel Horison era, now Shiosai under Mercure Convention Center Ancol is more than ready to indulge anybody who suddenly craves for decent Japanese food. Here goes!
It’s quite rare for me to travel around the northern side of Jakarta except the last time I visited The Media Hotel for its supreme Thai cuisine back at Sukhothai. I scour mostly around the eastern, central, and southern part of the city. As for the rest, I just hand it over to my foodie friends who mostly live around the western side. Well, it’s not a short trip even from where I live although we all know that it’s just a straight way up via Jalan Gunung Sahari for Mercure Convention Center Ancol
Aside from the long way up that hinders everyone, the ticketing price to enter Ancol Bay City is another problem. If I’m not mistaken, an entry ticket for car costs IDR 25,000 and each passenger for IDR 20,000. Do correct me if I’m wrong there, but nevertheless it’s a tough hindrance indeed.
Resided in Mercure Convention Center hotel or formerly known as Hotel Horison, Shiosai was known before as Okoh. During its heyday, Okoh was probably one of the oldest and most sought after Japanese restaurant in the northern part of Jakarta.
Shiosai inherits Okoh in many terms. The design remains classic and as we all know quite familiar, a Japanese restaurant is divided into a common dining area, a sushi bar, teppanyaki counters, and private tatami rooms. As for the dishes, Shiosai inherits the tradition of what Okoh used to have from its menu and the skill legacy of its chefs. Now, let us be seated and embrace whatever the pleasure Shiosai presented me during my visit a few months ago.
Our lunch started with a plate full of chicken teriyaki and several sushi rolls such as unagi with avocado and salmon with parmesan cheese. It was a really strong start but we kept on digging as we fell in love right away with the generosity of the portion and of course, the compatibility of the taste with our tongues.
Apparently for the main dishes, we had to go separate ways as I went with a traditional sushi & sashimi combination of fresh salmon, tuna, squid, tobikko, tamago, and crab sticks. Well, being a fan of Japanese, the natsu combination was a really good choice and it possessed nice quality as well. Even so, I decided to be a gourmand instead and bugged in my wife’s main dish, which appeared beautiful and intriguing.
My wife decided wisely with gyuniku kantekiyaki. It’s basically a plate full of thinly sliced beef but we have to manually grill these beauties over an earthenware pot fueled by charcoal. This deluxe dish is also equipped with shiitake mushrooms, onions, and the good old soya sauce. The interactive manual cooking process has always been a perk that we all look forward whenever we’re in a restaurant like this. This style also gave us a boost not just from the fun, but also from the result. A solid price of IDR 115,000 was a wise spend and add that with the sushi rolls. You’d live happily ever after.
So finally, all those weary and fatigues from a long road trip high up to the northern part of J-Town, facing the exorbitant ticket price, and a long way back down home was well worth it. Shiosai remains the King of the North and no matter how rare it is to visit Ancol, it’s a must-visit place for lunch or dinner after your gondola ride all along the beach or even the Dunia Fantasi amusement park experience. How I wish to see you again, Shiosai…
Some menu suitable for vegetarians
Address:Mercure Convention Center, Jalan Pantai Indah, Ancol, Jakarta – Indonesia
Arrived at 2.30 am in the morning, exhausted, and had to proceed with the wedding ceremony the next day, finished around noon, took a nap, attacked by a bed bug, and then came my last evening in Yogyakarta. Even though I got caught in-between fatigue, deadlines, and my latent willpower to scour Yogya, finally I decided to take a ride on a becak with my wife and led us for a really fine dinner. Gudeg Yu Djum was our obvious choice!
It’s not easy to ride on with so many responsibilities in hand, so little time, and exhaustion. Not to mention that we’re going to have a long ride back home to Jakarta by bus on the next day. Traffic gets crazy nowadays with so many people now own cars and motorcycles, so many buses and trucks on the highways, and the never-ending irresponsibility of local governments to really maintain the road quality. It became stressful to do land travel nowadays in Java and that’s the reason we arrived in Yogyakarta the previous night after an almost 24 hours ride!
So under those circumstances, the dinner’s better be good or else..!
Clearly the obvious choice goes for gudeg on Jalan Wijilan. Well, we’re usingbecak, Wijilan is nearby many places of interest, and gudeg should be fulfilling no matter what. The competition is pretty fierce on the street and each place offers adequate space and cleanliness, but that’s not the case for Yu Djum.
Gudeg Yu Djum occupies a small, cramped place and we had to wait until seated for like around 10 minutes. Well, the cleanliness has never been an issue for Indonesian hawkers even the famous one, so you’d better set your expectation on the food and nothing else. Although service was quite slow here, one of the staffs was quite helpful and managed to get us through with what we wanted.
Originally I wanted the cheaper kind of gudeg such as the ones combined with egg, tofu / tempe, or ayam suwir (shredded chicken), but since it’s almost closing time, they’re almost finished with the usual choices. This left me with only gudeg telur and chicken breast for a heftier price. Well, what I really needed that time was a decent dinner and in that case, I don’t mind at all. Lucky that my family’s also okay with whatever they could get that night.
The portion was small but it was deceiving. I underestimated it at first but it all turned out really well. Yu Djum’s interpretation of gudeg is a mixture of balanced sweetness and emphasizes more on the spicy side thanks to the solid performance of sambal krecek (made from diced cow’s skin).Of course the rest of the team did well and it was a harmonious teamwork between the warm rice, gori (young jackfruit), hard-boiled egg, and the chicken.
Well, I can’t say much for now as I have to compare Yu Djum with the rest of the competition at Jalan Wijilan or even somewhere else. But rest assured that Yu Djum’s version of dry gudeg is clearly one of the best so far, but you have to be a bit lenient and not too picky with the cons. Until next time, Yogya!
GUDEG YU DJUM – YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA
Must eat:All delicious gudeg combinations!
Spend: IDR 20,000 – IDR 40,000 / person
Address: Jalan Wijilan, Yogyakarta – Indonesia
Jalan Kaliurang, Yogyakarta – Indonesia
Jalan Wates, Yogyakarta – Indonesia
Jalan Solo, Yogyakarta – Indonesia
Hey, you know what they say that ‘third time’s the charm’ or ‘third time lucky’? Yes, that’s how I encountered this slippery hawker back in a small town of Sokaraja, just a few miles away from Purwokerto in Central Java. By the way, I have to thank a friend of mine, a native Purwokertoan, the famous Wasis Gunarto for telling me about how good the satay is and made me turn upside down just to get my hands on this elusive hawker for several times. Finally the third time was really a rewarding experience!
Last Lebaran during my mudik here, Wasis took me to travel around Purwokerto and introduced its culinary charms. Additionally and specifically he mentioned two noteworthy local dishes around Sokaraja. The first one was Soto Sutri, which took me several times also to find since it’s hidden inside a rural residential area and fortunately opens after Lebaran, and then Sate Ayam Sinar Jaya, the most elusive one. Closed since my arrival in Sokaraja and even until after Lebaran, thus I had to let it go.
The second time was when I passed by Sokaraja on my way back to Jakarta from Surabaya. We arrived around dinner time and it was the perfect time since Wasis told me that it opens only around evening. We parked the car, saw it open from across the street, crossed the busy street with a big grin, but when I just arrived the owner told me that they’re already finished. That broke my heart so bad and my dad-in-law had to drive our car back to Jakarta by himself because of that. Hahaha.. That’s just a joke, but I was quite brokenhearted that evening.
Finally, the third time lucky moment arrived. Just a few weeks ago we passed by again the town and it was quite early. I took my leave quite early just to get myself the satay. Finally my prayers came true and they still have lot to spare for the customers. Quickly I ordered around 30 skewers of satay. By the way, they only serve chicken satay at Sinar Jaya, no lambs or no beef.
Unlike other satay hawkers, Sinar Jaya serves pretty fast and still remembered what Wasis used to say that they have a rather unique peanut sauce. Indeed it was, the peanut sauce was mildly blended and has a distinct smell of a curry. Apparently, the peanut sauce was mixed with a certain curry sauce that involves coconut milk so that it reached not just a unique taste, but also rich and milky. Before serving, a handful of satay was dipped first to the sauce and then literally bathed with it alongside the rice cakes.
Returning back home, I was definitely in awe with the satay. Not only that it differs itself easily with the usual satay we often encounter anywhere, but it was really fulfilling because the generous amount of chicken flesh on every skewer of the satay. Perhaps they did pound the chicken first but it made your every chew worthwhile. However I have to advise you to just combine it with a plate of warm rice instead of their mushy rice cakes.
It’s a dream come true and a third time lucky moment indeed. So whenever you’re around Sokaraja around dinner time, you really have to drop by and forget the traditional Soto Sokaraja and Getuk even though it can be easily found around Sate Ayam Sinar Jaya.
SATE AYAM SINAR JAYA – SOKARAJA, INDONESIA
Must eat:Chicken satay
Spend: IDR 12,500 / portion (10 skewers and rice cakes)
Address:Jalan Jendral Sudirman (on the left side from Purwokerto, around 150 meters before the riverside traffic light), Sokaraja, Central Java – Indonesia
Restoran dengan spesialisasi berbagai hidangan khas jazirah Arab dan berbagai eksotika serta keberagamannya yang begitu berwarna.
Sebagai salah satu restoran masakan khas Timur Tengah yang tenar di bilangan Raden Saleh ini, Al Jazeerah memang tidak segan-segan menggunakan bahan-bahan segar serta kekayaan rasa dalam setiap menunya.
Jangan lewatkan berbagai menu pembukanya yang segar seperti mutabbal (terong panggang dengan pasta wijen, jus lemon, dan minyak zaitun), taboulah (tomat, ketimun, peterseli, jus lemon, dan minyak zaitun), serta yogurt dengan bawang putih dan daun mint. Jadikan kesemuanya itu sebagai isi roti tipis berkantung khas sebagai appetizer yang menggoda.
Alternatif lain tentunya datang dari hot mezzeh atau menu pembuka panas seperti arayes (roti pita panggang yang diisikan daging kambing, tomat, dan bawang bombay), hummos lahamb (pure kacang chickpea, tahini, minyak zaitun, dan daging kambing), maupun martabak yang sudah kita kenal baik di Indonesia.
Sebagai menu utama, Al Jazeerah memiliki kombinasi daging ayam maupun kambing dengan berbagai racikan nasi dengan nama-nama unik seperti nasi kabsah, biryani, mandi, kabli, matbi, serta madgot, dimana masing-masing memiliki penggunaan bahan berbeda, karakter tingkat kegurihan atau kepedasan yang beragam, serta tentunya penampilan yang berwarna. Semuanya tersaji berlimpah di atas sebuah piring logam besar dimana biasanya para warga asli Timur Tengah bersama-sama menikmatinya langsung dengan suasana kekeluargaan yang hangat.
Nama-nama masakan terkenal lainnya yang layak dicoba di Al Jazeerah tentunya tidak lain seperti falafel, shish kebab, shakshouka, dan juga shawarma. Sungguh kunjungan ke sini tidaklah cukup hanya satu kali saja!
Al Jazeerah tuntas memenuhi semua aspek kebutuhan para pengunjungnya mulai yang bersantap individu, keluarga, atau hanya sekadar take away maupun menikmati shisha di Arabian Tent Café-nya yang terletak di bagian depan restoran.
Para stafnya yang mahir berbahasa Arab tentunya menjadi nilai plus khususnya ketika melayani berbagai kebutuhan para pengunjungnya yang notabene merupakan para ekspatriat dari Timur Tengah. Meskipun dari segi kenyamanan tempat dan suasana perlu mendapatkan peningkatan, Al Jazeerah tidak boleh diragukan secara rasa makanannya dan harganya yang sesuai dengan kualitas yang ingin disampaikan.
Where Jalan Raden Saleh no. 58, Jakarta – Indonesia
Operational Hours Setiap hari, 11.00 am – 10.30 pm
Price Range IDR 75,000 – IDR 100,000 / orang (F&B)
ANEKA BUBUR 786: PAKISTAN, INDIAN, & CHINESE CUISINE
Persilangan menarik antara hidangan Pakistan, India serta masakan Cina di dalam satu atap. Selain menu-menu Pakistan dan India-nya yang khas, ternyata hidangan fusion antara Asia Selatan dan masakan Cina juga terjadi di sini.
Konon dahulunya pemilik toko karpet asal Pakistan di sebelah restoran ini sepakat untuk bekerja sama dengan sang pemilik restoran yang berspesialisasi masakan khas Tiongkok. Hasilnya sekarang Aneka Bubur 786 ini memiliki corak menarik yaitu masakan khas India, Pakistan, serta Cina. Bahkan mereka menciptakan menu bersama yaitu bubur yang menggunakan saffron dan merupakan menu termahal di restoran ini!
Tapi kembali dengan tema makanan khas Timur Tengah dan Asia Selatan-nya, restoran ini adalah tempat yang paling tepat untuk menikmati berbagai macam roti-rotian uniknya seperti paratha, naan, chapati, chanai, dan papadum untuk kemudian dipadukan dengan berbagai hidangan kari pedasnya seperti rogan josh,masala, dan korma – semua dengan atributnya masing-masing.
Lalu pilihan-pilihan menarik sebagai lanjutan dari menu pembukanya yang tenar seperti chicken/beef/lamb tikka; pakora; dan samosa, maka sudah barang tentu menu nasi-nasian menjadi pilihan pamungkas di Aneka Bubur 786 ini. Dengan pilihan lauk pauk yang sangat beragam mulai dari daging kambing; sapi; ayam; udang; telur; shish kebab; hingga menu vegetarian, Aneka Bubur 786 memadukannya dengan nasi biryani maupun nasi kabuli yang wangi dan menggoda dengan rempah-rempah, kismis, dan taburan kacang-kacangannya.
Sebagai contoh, satu hidangan shish kebab kabuli tersaji dengan cantik dan menggiurkan, apalagi setelah dipadukan dengan asinan nanas yang segar dan memberikan keseimbangan rasa yang tepat. Selain itu jangan lupa mengakhiri perjalanan makan-makan Anda dengan segelas lassi (yogurt khas India) yang segar sebagai penutup yang cantik.
Dari segi penampilan, tampak suasana santai sebuah restoran yang dihiasi berbagai display karya seni serta karpet ala Timur Tengah yang menjadi bisnis asli dari salah satu pemiliknya yang berasal dari Pakistan. Di sudut kiri dan kanan tersedia pula meja-meja lesehan dengan karpet yang empuk serta banyak bantal sehingga menambah suasana makan kita menjadi serasa berada di Negeri 1001 Malam, meskipun suasana toko dan dagangannya masih mendominasi.
Meski secara keseluruhan tidak terlalu tampak seperti sebuah restoran Timur Tengah, tapi unsur rasa; penyajian; maupun servisnya merupakan hal yang tidak boleh dipandang sebelah mata dari restoran ini.
Where Jalan Radio Dalam Ujung no. 123, Jakarta – Indonesia Telp: +62.21.720.2224
Operational Hours Setiap hari, 24 jam
Price Range IDR 50,000 – IDR 75,000 / orang (F&B)
DO YOU KNOW
Saffron yang digadang-gadang sebagai bahan masakan termahal ($ 1,000 per 2 kg!) di dunia kerap digunakan di berbagai hidangan Asia Selatan seperti India dan Pakistan. Konon untuk ekstraksi setengah kilo saffron siap pakai dibutuhkan tidak kurang dari 50,000 bunga!
Berbagai masakan terkenal di dunia ternyata menggunakan saffron sebagai pewangi sekaligus pewarna khasnya, contohnya seperti paella dari Spanyol, tajine dari Maroko, bouillabaisse dari Perancis, hingga berbagai jenis minuman khas di Italia.
Selain berbagai jenis kacang-kacangan yang biasa kita kenal, masakan India/Pakistan juga menggunakan jenis kacang dengan nama lentil dalam berbagai masakannya. Konon kacang ini kuat dengan habitat kering dan bisa dibudidayakan di berbagai pelosok dunia.
Layaknya budaya lesehan di Yogyakarta, konon gerai-gerai kaki lima di Pakistan memang membudayakan duduk bersila tanpa mengenakan alas kaki serta makan menggunakan jari jemarinya untuk menikmati roti dan nasi serta berbagai saus dan lauk pauknya.
Beras yang kerap digunakan di berbagai masakan Afrika Utara, Timur Tengah hingga Asia Selatan adalah jenis basmati. Bentuknya ramping dan panjang, berbeda dengan nasi Jepang yang pendek dan gemuk atau beras di Indonesia yang merupakan titik tengah di antara kedua kubu ini.
Tahukah anda bahwa masyarakat Timur Tengah biasanya menikmati makanannya bersama-sama dari satu piring besar dengan menggunakan tangan? Cobalah menikmati semisal nasi kabsah khas jazirah Arab dengan laham (daging kambing) bersama keluarga. Dijamin menjadi sebuah pengalaman menarik!
Published in Linked – Citilink in-flight magazine, July 2013 Edition (unedited)