Jakarta’s long standing history has been decorated with many colourful interactions between countries and local tribes thanks to its strategic position. Although the governance over this city changes from time to time, it has always been a melting pot of many influences, making it the country’s most shining example in many culinary aspects.
From the rustic Betawi cuisine that blends with various regional cuisines, Jakarta is now on its way to becoming a culinary destination with the vibrant addition of refined restaurants, both local and international. For many years street hawkers have played a fantastic role in the foundation of traditional gastronomic preservation and promotion in most cities of Indonesia, and Jakarta is indeed the strongest representative of this endeavor.
Nowadays, the demands to make the people’s dishes become more accessible for the higher echelons are on the rise and can be seen from the budding restaurants that reinterpret Indonesian cuisine in a more elaborate way. As an example, the emergence of Sate Khas Senayan as a standardised chain restaurant is a way to raise the prestige of Indonesian cuisine.However, the interesting idea of gathering traditional hawkers in a specialty food court, such as Dapuraya, have proved to be an exciting option as well, creating one-stop destinations for food lovers.
Ultimately, the foodie fever that has spread all over the cityhas sparked many interesting initiatives, starting with the emergence of food festivals, the rise of celebrity chefs, and the budding of restaurants with unique fortes in many shopping malls, high rise buildings, and five-star hotels in Jakarta.
The culture of hanging out at modern pubs such as at Saffron in Kemang for instance, is currently the trend for young adults and at the same time caters what the expats need. In a more upscale sense, Potato Head, following huge success in Bali, just recently opened its third restaurant – Potato Head Garage – which accommodates people with its rich gastronomic fare spearheaded by sophisticated western gastronomic fare and its libatious accompaniments.
From the haute cuisine point-of-view, French fine-dining establishments such as Lyon of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, highlight the need to be creative by constantly updating their fine-dining concepts so as to remain fresh. At the same time they are also creating interesting trends such as introducing the locavore concept of collaborating with local food producers for their ingredients, promoting rare seasonal ingredients such as black truffle or white asparagus, and even bringing in Michelin-starred chefs from abroad to promote the brilliance of their epicurean visions.
There’s no telling what Jakarta will see in another five or ten years, as it has been progressing in a way that we have never seen before. Its ambition to become one of the culinary capitals of the world successfully intertwines both the traditional and modern spirit of this vibrant city.
Featured in Let’s Eat Magazine – August 2013 Edition
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