Jakarta On The Move (Let’s Eat Magazine, August 2013)

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.

Dapuraya - Facade
Dapuraya’s Facade

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.

PTT Head Garage - Interior 1
Potato Head Garage’s Bar

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.

Lyon - Scallops with White Asparagus
Lyon – Scallops with White Asparagus
Mandarin Oriental Jakarta - Lyon - Private Room
Mandarin Oriental Jakarta’s French restaurant – Lyon

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.

Saffron - Pavarotti Bread
Saffron – Pavarotti Bread

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.

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Featured in Let’s Eat Magazine – August 2013 Edition
Download the e-mag version at http://www.letseatmag.com/emagz.html

Restaurant Review: Marutama Ramen (2013)

Jakarta may be feverish for ramen nowadays, but for me who has certain limitations, I still vouch for Marutama Ramen with its toripaitan broth. Last year I had the chance to see how everything works at this popular ramen joint and grasped the importance of perfection is for Mr Kudo – its benevolent owner. This year, it’s the consistency test and to also taste their newly found recipe, a ramen not using toripaitan broth for the first time!

Meeting up with fellow bloggers for breakfasting during Ramadhan has always been enjoyable, especially when there were so many gossips to share. You know what I mean right, foodies? By the way, Sentral Senayan outlet was the last year’s outlet for our breakfasting and it feels private after office hours yet more comfortable for me, but this Ramadhan, the busy eX Plaza Indonesia outlet became the host. What I really like about this outlet is that we can see clearly the bowling lanes downstairs through its windows, although at times the air feels humid.

Chawan Mushi
Chawan Mushi
Gyoza
Gyoza

So, we went through several dishes first before the unveiling of the new ramen. The breakfasting started with everybody’s all-time favorites for appetizer, chawan mushi (egg custard) and gyoza (dumplings). For me, the soupy gyoza has reached the desirable taste and standard like I find in many good Japanese restaurants but Marutama Ramen may want to play it better with the chawan mushi especially in terms of the content and the depth of its flavorAdditionally, the new kareraisu (curry rice) and the freshly fried chicken karaage brought more cheer for the hungry crowd. You know it so well that karaage is not your usual American-style or the hip Korean fried chicken. It’s boneless, it’s juicy, still crispy but a bit chewy thanks to the batter, and that distinct ginger flavor. Fantastic!

Chicken Karaage
Chicken Karaage
Curry Rice
Curry Rice

And now we’re back to that comfort zone that I used to know so well last year. The legendary toripaitan ramen returned to please us all with its rich, milky soup. My wife originally did not really fond of this type of soup but this time, its deliciousness brought her to a new level of appreciation that ramen is indeed a serious dish that requires patience in the process and meticulously standardized.

As we all already aware of, this toripaitan broth is prepared fresh every day by using 30 kgs of chicken bones for only one hundred serving and Mr Kudo gives no room for error on the soup quality. Personally as someone who used to work with in a Japanese company for a few years and saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi (a documentary about Jiro Ono, the perfectionist owner of famous sushi joint in Japan), it’s really admirable to see how Japanese people are willing to challenge themselves day by day with their kaizen principle and indeed, Mr Kudo is one among these zealots.

Toripaitan Ramen
Toripaitan Ramen

In addition to the springy noodles and the rich soup, now customers can also enjoy the chasiu and Marutama’s legendary half boiled seasoned egg on the same bowl at once! Of course, the ramen is also well equipped with fresh negi (onions) and aosa (sea lettuces) for maximum satisfaction. Consistency is something that not many restaurants can keep up with but Marutama Ramen is among definitely among those who could.

Finally, the time for truth came and Marutama Ramen unveiled its miso ramen, an alternative to their signature toripaitan and also as one of the classics among legendary ramen soups. Colorfully topped with vegetables and generous amount of chicken chunks, the miso ramen was actually well-prepared and has a powerful taste, however it was served right after we had our greatest time with the toripaitan. Certainly, this underrated dish must not be let hidden behind the shadows any longer and I will definitely urge myself to try this again for another occasion.

Dorayaki
Dorayaki

To wrap the day up, Doraemon’s favorite dorayaki cake with sliced fresh fruits and vanilla ice cream were chosen as our parting companion. Although with no real surprise, I concluded that Marutama Ramen has performed well to keep up with my expectations and that is to maintain its consistency with the ramen while also has been improvising with new creations. Now that the competition between ramen restaurants in Jakarta has become so fierce, Marutama Ramen will surely try to struggle for the win and kicking its dishes up a notch from time to time. They have survived well in many countries and surely, I don’t see why they cannot here.

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MARUTAMA RAMEN (2013)

Halal-friendly (ramen broth uses chicken instead of pork)

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address:
Sentral Senayan I Building – BF, Jalan Asia Afrika no. 8, Jakarta – Indonesia
eX Plaza Indonesia – 2nd Fl., Jalan MH Thamrin Kav. 28-30, Jakarta – Indonesia
Jalan Pluit Putra Raya no. 15A, Jakarta – Indonesia
Puri Indah Mall – 2nd Fl., Jalan Puri Agung, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours:
Everyday,
Sentral Senayan: 11.30 am – 10 pm (weekday), 11 am – 10 pm (weekend)
eX: 11.30 am – 11.15 pm (weekday), 11.30 am – 12 am (weekend)
Pluit: 11 am – 11 pm (weekday), 11 am – 12 am (weekend)
Puri Indah Mall: 11 am – 11 pm (everyday)

RSVP:
Sentral Senayan: +62.21.572.4050
eX: +62.21.316.0705
Pluit: +62.21.669.1199
Puri Indah Mall: +62.21.582.3193

Website: http://m-ramen.com

Facebook: Marutama Ramen

Twitter: @MarutamaRamen

Spend: IDR 75,000 – IDR 100,000 / person

Quikskoop™: Otel Lobby (2013) [CLOSED]

I always have that ‘rest assured’ feeling whenever I enter this particular ‘hotel lobby’, knowing that I’ll be under good care of Chef Maya Aldy and her kitchen charisma. I bet everyone feels the same about this restaurant!

Although Otel Lobby has been around for quite some time, I just recently learned that the restaurant has gone through a new touch on its decor. What I really love about it is the European feel like in the 1920s (if I’m not mistaken about the era) with its vintage briefcases and retro-looking furniture. Of course, not only the decor that has changed a bit, Otel Lobby has always been known to put the extra mile on its dishes. Chef Maya Aldy continuously creates something new to delight her beloved customers.

Even a short walk under the punishing sun on the business district of Epicentrum was enough to put me famished and the grilled lamb shank was a beautiful choice to seize the day alongside other refreshing beverages. With its appetizingly rustic appearance, the lamb boasts a depth with its flavor, drenched with sweet potato confit. Anyway, the diced sweet potatoes were also set as the sidekick for the lamb to give it a homey feeling about the dish but the cucumber salad was the one that gave the elegant touch.

Nachos & Cheese
Nachos & Cheese

Before that, a cutting board filled nachos was invited to join me and my wife conversation about our daily lives. Equipped well with melted cheese, diced avocado, tomato salsa, and crushed meatballs, the nachos was a powerful appetizer for any occasion. Even so, the tempo was a bit disrupted by the sudden appearance of the salmon pizza.

Of course our focus shifted to this extravagant traditional Italian dish topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, rockets, and chives. Regretful, but we had to let the nachos gone stale from the sauce. It was all highly satisfying but of course it’s not right if I didn’t seal the day with a decent dessert and that choice fell for the Toblerone puff with creamy filling and chocolate sauce. Works the wonder for hot days during summertime!

Salmon Pizza
Salmon Pizza

So, those were my choices among several new inventions by Chef Maya. Other options such as “Pigs in the blanket” for example is actually a tender beef hot dog with warm pastry or from the pasta side, ‘Garden pasta’ filled with zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, light tomato sauce, and added with chicken or seafood of your choice sounds intriguing as well.

Well, the downside was also there even though Otel Lobby is a place hallowed with magic spells. The service could use a more smile and attention to details were lacking that day like when they served the pizza too quick or when they didn’t clear the table after we had finished with each dish. Way before, the dessert was also served too early even before the nachos came and of course, we made them return it back to the kitchen. Well, I was actually hoping for a fresh dessert after we really finished with the mains but with this, there’s nothing you could do right? It would be a shame to waste it and luckily, the Toblerone puff turned out very well anyway.

Toblerone Puff
Toblerone Puff

At the end of our lunch, a chance meeting with Chef Maya happened just before we left the restaurant and it’s always been a pleasure to meet the lady proprietress. So, there goes my last visit to the ‘chamber of might and magic’ as I said back in 2012. Looking forward for many visits to come and to enjoy the creations of the chef I trust my tummy with.

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OTEL LOBBY
Halal-friendly (liquors are served)
Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: The Annex Building of Bakrie Tower, Epicentrum Kuningan, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, 11 am – late

RSVP: +62.21.2994.1324

Website: http://otellobby.com

Facebook: Otel Lobby

Twitter: @otellobby

Spend: IDR 250,000 – IDR 400,000 for two

Kahvehane: Chez Moka [CLOSED]

Bandungers have to thank Noah’s Barn for bringing the renewed spirit in coffee exploration. Within a year after the arrival of Noah’s Barn, several artisan coffee shops emerged and Chez Moka being one of them. Of course, its initial appearance is colored with experiments on micro batches of foreign coffee beans as the main attraction but will it be able to stand the test of time with its small capacity?

Chez Moka - Interior

While other coffee shops boast their capacity and other advantages, Chez Moka survives well with its small size but with hearty atmosphere. Even so, I have to say this at the very beginning of this post. What disappointed me during my last visit was that Chez Moka let too many open air inside to ruin the smell of coffee. But not just that, smokers are also welcomed inside. Not only that it disturbed other non-smoking visitors but it may also jeopardize the coffee beans quality. Hopefully in the future, Chez Moka will consider to always close the door, put the ‘no smoking’ sign, and then try its best to obey the sign and obey and obey and obey.

On the bright side, it felt lively at Chez Moka – welcoming people, friends cheering each other, good selections of coffee, La Marzocco Linea, and a shot of Black Hole – a signature drink from here. I was immediately asked to try this particular drink – a shot of espresso with neat mixture of lemongrass-flavored syrup (if I reckon right) and simple syrup. The trick is that you have to drink half of the glass first to get the espresso punch with a touch of lemongrass and then continue to finish the drink and feel your palate cleansed by a refreshing shot of lemongrass and the sweetness from simple syrup. Neat!

Flat White
Flat White

My mood back then made me not to have the usual manual brew thingy, therefore I decided to see the work with the machine. I was intrigued with another signature ‘Lattegato’ drink, which I think is the latte version of affogato, but instead I chose the original version for my wife who recently fell in love with LIN’s vanilla ice cream made with liquid nitro and sunk within the goodness of espresso. Much to my disappointment, the ice cream wasn’t solid enough when presented and dominated the glass instead of sharing it evenly with the espresso. Lucky, my wife didn’t mind as Diamond’s vanilla ice cream, no matter how generic the taste is, never fails to deliver that smile even for me.

Lastly, the date ended in a sweet note came from a cup of the good old flat white. So, no matter how clouded the place was with cigarettes smoke, I found myself happy that there are more options for good coffee now in Bandung. However, as coffee business is a whole different, complex world aside from what the usual F&B world I see everyday, I still want to put my faith on Chez Moka. It does has its potentials although I think in coffee business, you really have to keep it up always with the challenge and to try to aim what any coffee shop could ever asked for – planting, roasting, and brewing at the same time. So, first thing first, throw the ashtrays out, close the door, and let’s brew that jo!

Chez Moka - Facade

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CHEZ MOKA

Halal-friendly

Some menu suitable for vegetarians (non-dairy products)

Address: Jalan Sawunggaling no. 2, Bandung – Indonesia

Opening hours: Everyday, TBA

RSVP: N/A

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