À bientôt, Riva!

Riva - Openers

As one of the old guards of French cuisine in Jakarta, Riva prides itself as the starting point for many successful chefs such as Gilles Marx of Amuz, Renaud le Rasle of Chateau Blanc, Eric Guilbert of Bibliotheque, and now Risky Hidayat – a talented local chef. Although the latter now has joined the ranks of Chef Renaud, it is impossible to not acknowledge Riva as one of the strongest influences for the French dining scene in the city.

Scallops & Arugula
Scallops & Arugula

I can’t say whether I was unfortunate to know Riva after the time of those fabulous chefs I mentioned earlier. My first time was when a young French-Vietnamese chef Mickael Dovan reigned the kitchen last year and I had several delightful time witnessing his talents. Well, Riva’s style is unlike those who favor colorful presentation filled with edible flowers or the countryside style – rustic and hearty. It’s somewhere in-between but it’s always appeasing. One time, Chef Mickael entwined his creations with coffee as you can read here and I had also a really good experience having a romantic dinner once, but then again Riva still has plenty up its sleeves.

Foie Gras Terrine
Foie Gras Terrine

I was hugely entertained with its supreme presentation from the start to finish. From the finely seared scallops and the rarely seen foie gras terrine, I also enjoyed my first time having the exotic dover sole fish and a very decently prepared beef tartare with quail’s egg yolk.

Riva - Cote de Boeuf

A really huge serving of côte de boeuf colored the mains, roasted to perfection, and served beautifully as in at a royal banquet. Of course, I had my mashed potato, buttered spinach, and the warm brioche as my sidekicks. As the ending of our wonderful lunch, we were then served with two perfectly bloomed souffles alongside a cup of coffee and the enchanting madeleines fresh from the oven.

Dover Sole
Dover Sole

Now, the French Riva time has come to an end as it now undergoes a serious facial lift and will return around the end of 2013 with a different concept. I always find it difficult to part with certain restaurants that already hit a soft spot inside my heart. Hopefully, I can still find a glimpse of nostalgic feeling with the new Riva but I am also really looking forward with what Riva has to offer with its fresh look.

Riva - Grand Marnier Souffle

So for now, à bientôt, Riva!

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RIVA (under renovation)

Address: The Park Lane Hotel, Jalan Casablanca Kav. 18, Jakarta – Indonesia

Website: http://www.parklanejakarta.com/riva_parklane_french_restaurant.htm

Restaurant Review: Ikan Bakar Nila Khas Padang – Bang Themmy

It would be ungrateful even for someone like me who has visited this certain place, really content with the food, and still not writing about how cool the experiences were. Though appear modestly and owned by a person with humble personality, the experiences I had with this particular warung is what that reminds me during the heyday of my college years of having the best from hawkers – unsullied by time and modern stuffs. Can you believe that? 

Ikan Bakar Bang Themmy - Facade

Ikan Bakar Nila Khas Padang or literally translated as Grilled Tilapia Fish with Padangnese Sauce is the signature dish from a warung owned by Bang Themmy that successfully sets a new, high standard for grilled fish dishes. With his Minang heritage and skillful cooking, he intertwines two critical aspects never fully realized before.

For the fish, he specifically chooses tilapia from his wife’s hometown of Subang in West Java. The streams around Subang have rapid currents and referring to a cousin of mine who excels in ecology, he said that the rapid currents help the fish to develop robust body with bigger bones which makes it easier for us to eat, unlike common carp for instance that has many small bones and proves to be challenging although it does have its own qualities. Of course, Bang Themmy provides three to four different size of tilapia in his warung to appease both your appetite and your wallet.

Usually Bang Themmy has already grilled it halfway and anytime a customer comes, he will only need to just grill it for a shorter period of time and brush the fish with his homemade bumbu kuning or a sauce made from a mixture of garlic, shallot, turmeric, galangal, ginger, chilies, coconut milk, and perhaps many others. Bang Themmy then served the fish with warm rice, boiled vegetables, and everyone’s favorite – sambal hijau or green chilies sambal.

His second time grilling technique appears easy but he does it carefully to maintain the right texture and moisturity. It’s a guaranteed squeaky clean plate for everyone who savors this beauty and I will always ask for more of those scrumptiously thick bumbu kuning or even a tambo ciek (“one more please!”)if my wife doesn’t realize it!

Pucuak Ubi Tigo Jam
Pucuak Ubi Tigo Jam

On the other hand, my wife is actually a very lucky lady because she used to experience Bang Themmy’s gulai itiak lado mudo or the Padang-style spicy duck with green chilies. However, Bang Themmy is a very idealistic cook and disappointing his customers with expensive pricing is out of option for him. The price of duck in the market, according to his wife, is currently very high and for the time being, this challengingly spicy dish will not be made available.

But the good thing is that he keeps on improvising with other stuffs from his Minang heritage. For instance during rainy season, he will try to find the freshest cassava leaves to promote his mom’s pucuak ubi tigo jam (three-hour steamed cassava leaves) dish. Bang Themmy only uses the finest part of the cassava leaves for this dish and then he steams them alongside Indonesian traditional herbs and of course, coconut milk.

‘My mother used to cook it for three hours with firewood, but now I am using the modern stove and it took only an hour’, said Bang Themmy. Although we all know that firewood uses more time and skills, you won’t be disappointed with the result as the dish became more fragrant and tastes differently in a good way. However, Bang Themmy’s skills were put in good use even though he uses the modern method as his steamed cassava leaves are of top-notch quality and you won’t find it anywhere else!

Ayam Pop
Ayam Pop

During my last visit, I was also given the honorable opportunity to taste his new creation of ayam pop (Bukittinggi-style fried chicken) and it was a very satisfying one as Bang Themmy successfully married the rich taste of the chicken with red chilies sambal filled with petai (stink beans). He never ceases to amaze everyone!

Only for a short period, he manages his original warung in Antapani area to become more spacious and homey. Not only that, another branch is now open nearby my house, but I still prefer to trust Bang Themmy’s personal touch for my ikan bakar.

Oh gosh, writing about this stuff makes me hungry already and misses Bandung already! If I were you, I’d go to Bandung right away and have that grilled fish for dinner!

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IKAN BAKAR NILA KHAS PADANG – BANG THEMMY

Halal-friendly

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address:
Jalan Terusan Jakarta no. 280 (hawkers area), Bandung – Indonesia
Jalan Ciliwung (hawkers area), Bandung – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, lunch & dinner

RSVP: N/A

Spend: IDR 25,000 – IDR 30,000 / person

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Jalan Terusan Jakarta HQ

Jalan Cimanuk Branch

Quikskoop™: Road Cafe de Fame

There was a time when Bandung was drawn into steak battles between warungs and small restaurants. To be exact, in the mid 1990s, a small warung called Myukebra started the trend and then came so many who decided to enter the business as well. Although not many left to be seen now, but Road Cafe de Fame is one of the few survivors. Also, it has long been considered as a pioneer in self-styled, non-wagyu steak dishes and started it all modestly as a hawker. So, how do you do now, Road Cafe?

Nowadays we see a generation of wagyu-cravers and medium-rare believers – although many and including me have not yet fully fathom the utmost depth of grilling department. Then again, there was a time when we were crazed about anything to do with beef steak with BBQ sauce and fries regardless the process behind. Whether it’s wrong or not, Road Cafe de Fame appeared around late 1990s with its weirdly-named menu on Cilaki hawkers area.

Initially, it’s always a full-house whenever you wish to eat there and the success drove Road Cafe to open several other outlets although now only one survives. This other branch aside from the Cilaki HQ is now intriguingly positioned inside a colonial building on the opposite of Gedung Merdeka which famously known as the landmark of Bandung.

Road Cafe - Exterior

Despite the building’s historical values, Road Cafe has always been negligent when it comes to decor. None of their restaurants is comfy enough for a long stay, except when they opened one branch around Dago back in late 90s and the latest around lower Cilaki area because of the alfresco concept, although the decor was also another disappointment.

But the cool thing about Road Cafe is that the dishes are consistent in taste from time to time, although they were never that brilliant. The dishes’ names may be confusing to some and the staffs can only explain with their limited knowledge, but I urge you to try any of these without hesitation. After all, the most expensive menu will only cost you around IDR 20,000!

I have always been an avid fan of Stecchini Carlos – a beef steak filled with cheese and then covered with fried eggs. It used to be the most expensive menu back in 90s which cost around IDR 8,000 and now it stands still as my favorite menu. You can then choose the sidekick between spaghetti bolognese or fries. The sauce for the meat tastes a bit sour and savory like BBQ. To make it a bit richer, they also grated some cheddar cheese on the top of the meat. It’s kitschy but it tastes just right, much to my amazement.

Alternatively you can always choose beef/chicken cordon bleu, which you may find ‘safe’ as a first timer at Road Cafe. Other than that, speculate between Hungarian esterhazy or gulyas or other dishes for instance, although I’m not sure whether they’re of the right version or not. Well, I have to be honest that their self-styled steaks proved to be resilient against many competitors and they manage to keep it affordable, although it won’t appease my gourmand stomach. Luckily, I have never had any health issue after eating at Road Cafe for years although you might find the pricing ridiculously cheap for steaks.

Care to give it a try? Life is an adventure once in a while after all, right? 😀

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ROAD CAFE de FAME

Halal-friendly

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address:
Jalan Cilaki (hawkers area), Bandung – Indonesia
Jalan Asia – Afrika (in an old building on the opposite of Gedung Merdeka), Bandung – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, late lunch & dinner

RSVP: N/A

Spend: IDR 25,000 – IDR 30,000 / person

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Jalan Cilaki HQ

Jalan Asia-Afrika Branch

Quikskoop™: Lotek Buah Batu (Herry Thea)

There was a time when I was still single and I took my family around Bandung to discover new, hidden places for good lunch or dinner. Avid Sundanese like us love anything with vegetables. Well, you can name so many dishes that involve vegetables in this particular province and of course, the indigenous lotek is one of them. Being one of the best, Lotek Buah Batu indeed has a special place inside our hearts.

Thanks to my fellow foodie from Bandung, Banyumurti with his love of Indonesian food at http://www.banyumurti.net, I decided to choose Lotek Buah Batu to be featured as one of the street foods of my choosing for an article at Let’s Eat Magazine. Initially I was visiting RM Jalan Macan first; famed for its lotek, rujak, and kolak, but it was closed due to Lebaran holiday. Thankfully, my mom suggested me to visit Lotek Buah Batu instead and it’s also nearby. Perfect!

Lotek Herry Thea - Exterior

Although still retains the name of the street, this particular lotek has relocated to a new place not far the original location. Just turn left around 200 m to Jalan Solontongan and you’ll find it on your right side. Lotek Buah Batu now resides in a permanent building and seemed to enjoy its reputation now as clearly seen from signs that ask people to be patient with the queue. Lucky that I arrived quite early and served right away because not long, lunch seekers started to come one by one.

Lotek Buah Batu serves lotek with the options of raw or boiled vegetables. My mom advises me all the time to always pick the boiled version just to be safe, although I used to pick the raw one whenever I came here. The formation of the vegetables is pretty much the same with any other lotek stalls you would encounter in Bandung, but Lotek Buah Batu makes the sauce sweeter than most. On top of that, what makes lotek nowadays a bit expensive is because some famous lotek serve their lotek with a generous amount of peanut sauce and making it very fulfilling. I had my best of time having the nostalgia while savoring this proud Sundanese dish I had known since I was a kid. Have it your way with your favorite crackers and I bet it’s gonna be the best lunch you’ll ever have in Bandung!

So, you now know where to go for good lotek as an alternative for my favorite granny’s recipe at Lotek Kelenteng. If I recall, there are around three to five other great lotek sellers in Bandung and in time, I’ll share you all with the stories!

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LOTEK BUAH BATU (HERRY THEA)

Halal-friendly

Suitable for vegetarians

Address: Jalan Solontongan no. 16, Bandung – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, TBA

RSVP: N/A

Spend: IDR 15,000 – IDR 20,000 / person

Quikskoop™: LIN Artisan Ice Cream

It’s exciting to see how Jakarta evolves into serious culinary destination of Southeast Asia day by day. No matter how unfriendly it is towards its citizens or even tourists, for this sake, one must not get carried away with its decaying urban scenes or its biggest forte – the unbearable congestions. Because at the end of the day, we always get to choose how to seal the day in a better way and for that, LIN Artisan Ice Cream proudly presents the first liquid nitrogen ice cream in Jakarta!

LIN - Interior

Despite its location in Kemang, LIN may prove to be elusive for everyone to find. Jalan Taman Kemang is the street opposite of the Kemang Mansion apartment and also serves as an alternate entry to Lippo Kemang Mall. The mall actually causes daily bottleneck traffic on the intersection of the apartment and that means, finding LIN becomes easier. Additionally, I think we’re going to witness the emergence of more restaurants on this street in the near future.

Designed the way people like it nowadays – industrial-style with nice wooden furniture, whitewashed bricks, and enough space to move around. In addition to the cozy air-conditioned indoor area, the smoking section is also provided outside and suitable for backpacking foreigners who seek refreshments after a long day of walking around the city like I saw that night.

LIN - Liquid Nitrogen in Action!

Well, LIN is indeed a good place to stay for your ice cream while most people may prefer to have it as takeaways at other ice cream parlors. It’s also fun to see the process at how they lovingly squeeze the lemon and grate the skin or extract the essence from the vanilla sticks before the mixing process. The liquid nitrogen is then infused through a pipe and they will have to check and mix every time until it reaches the desired texture of the ice cream. From here, you will witness magic as this process can freeze a liquid in just around 2-3 minutes. It’s also fun to see the process as the whole serving station is clouded with cold smoke as a result from the infusion.

LIN - Lemon Ice Cream

My first ice cream that night came from the strawberry faction. It reached the desirable characteristics of an ice cream empowered with small chunks of the fruit itself and the grainy texture of a strawberry. However, LIN made it a tad too sweet although it was still forgivable due to the acidic nature of the fruit. The best among them all that night came from vanilla ice cream elegantly made into affogato on a cup filled with a shot of espresso. Again, I don’t have any objection with the sweetness since the acidic/bitter taste of the coffee helped to balance it.

Strawberry Ice Cream
Strawberry Ice Cream

Unfortunately it didn’t work for the passion fruit ice cream. Although it retained a good texture but the sugar was very overpowering and it broke my heart to see myself for not being able to finish a scoop of freshly made ice cream.

Passion Fruit Ice Cream
Passion Fruit Ice Cream

Like coffee nowadays, we as customers need to always involve ourselves in the process in order to get what we expected. However, it is also necessary for LIN to always fine-tune the flavor in daily basis as well to counter the fluctuating taste from the fruit. It’s like when this day we got ourselves a sweet orange but tomorrow, it might be a tad too sour. Therefore it is imperative for LIN to also communicate with what the customer expects from the ice cream. As a pioneer, it would be a huge advantage for LIN as the first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor to set a good standard and beat the usual pre-mixed ice cream hegemony.

To sum it all up, I am actually looking forward to have a cozy place to spend my day around Kemang for a decent coffee, a good ice cream, solid snacks, warm service and of course, fast internet connection. Let us have faith that LIN will be able to achieve these in no time and not waiting until another competitor arrives.

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LIN ARTISAN ICE CREAM

Halal-friendly

Unsuitable for vegetarians

Address: Jalan Taman Kemang I no. 6, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, 11 am – 11 pm

RSVP: +62.21.7179.4393

Spend: IDR 40,000 – IDR 75,000 / person

Website: http://www.linicecream.com/

Twitter: @linicecream