Staycation: Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers – Bandung, Indonesia (Starwood Hotels & Resort) (Venture Travel Magazine, Oct 2014)

The long standing, classic Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers has just recently completed a huge transformation and Venture decided to unravel new mysteries from its new, rejuvenated charms.

I remember the time when Sheraton Bandung starts their operation in the 1990s. It was the time when there were only less than a handful of five-star hotels in the city, or if by my knowledge that time, perhaps it might only be Sheraton. Finally the defining moment came as I decided to give this wonderful hotel my fourth visit and the first one with its new look.

Sheraton Bandung 3

Sheraton Bandung is conveniently located upon slopes of Dago. While many hotels are now competing nearby the city center, it is perhaps only Sheraton who dared itself challenging the hegemony from uphill. Its short distance to the city’s natural places of interest is also one of the advantages. The route further uphill from Sheraton Bandung leads to the national park – Taman Hutan Raya Ir. H. Juanda, a golf course, spots overlooking the city and also the recently discovered Tebing Keraton. The city center also is highly accessible and it’s easy to reach the shopping centers like Jalan Dago or Jalan Riau from up here as well or even the landmarks of the older part of Bandung further down.

What actually impresses everyone with the current state of Sheraton Bandung is the transformation they have undertaken quite recently. While the classic facade of the buildings is still maintained, the style is drastically changed – bringing the up-to-date style and an uplifting mood with it, quite in contrast with the 1990s style with what I would call as the ‘hunting lodge’ style with wooden color and relaxing mood.

Upon entering the lobby, you can clearly see how impressive Sheraton Bandung has become now. The new color tone and furniture choice freshen up any weary traveler coming to the hotel, while the intricate blue crystals on the ceilings brings an inexplicable commanding yet majestic aura in the lobby. Further in the back, the newly designed lounge gives away the same characteristics as well, but the best part of this section is the balcony overseeing the green valleys of Bandung.

Sheraton Bandung 1

Feast, as its flagship all-day dining restaurant, now serves even more colors on the buffet tables. During one of my encounters with Starwood’s high ranking chef Mr Lamberto Valdez, he explained to me that Sheraton Bandung now adapts serious change with its F&B choices. Not only that he put his Mexican touch with a special section of guacamole and tomato salsa, the rest become pretty serious as well with choices of fresh sushi and sashimi, carving table, bottled fresh juices, and the grilling section. Feast is also peered with Samsara as the hotel’s signature lounge right in the lobby and the new kid on the block, Toastina – Sheraton Bandung’s pastry and coffee house.

Describing the room may be the hardest part since Sheraton Bandung has embedded so many traits within its 156 guest rooms of any class. Not only that it is equipped with the most current, refreshing look of elegant taste with floral theme in line with the city’s nickname as Kota Kembang; each room experiences the natural light coming in all day and with different views as well – starting from the pool, the garden, and the lush greenery from the valleys. It is a guaranteed relaxing moment while staying here, especially when sinking in deep upon the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed with its plush mattress, comfy pillows, soft blanket, and the duvet.

Sheraton Bandung 4

Needless to mention, Sheraton Bandung provides other facilities and activities as well. Upon its vast garden, which at times is frequently used for outdoor weddings, Sheraton Bandung built a special children’s playground and the prancing ponies to accompany the kids. Adults can enjoy their time as well swimming with the kids, keeping up the shape in the gym, and lastly, experiencing the all new Shine Spa and sauna.

With all these rejuvenated details ready to indulge you, it clearly becomes a best choice for those of you who decide to seek fresh air on the upper side of the city or a more adventurous holiday from the heights of Dago or even as far as Lembang. For that, the starting point starts here at Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers.

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SHERATON BANDUNG HOTEL & TOWERS

Jalan Ir. H. Juanda no. 390, Bandung
T: +62.22.2500.303

Website 

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Featured in VENTURE TRAVEL MAGAZINE October 2014 edition

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Photography by Dennie Benedict

Special Section – Our Indonesia: Griya Kula (The Foodie Magazine, July 2014)

Some say that Cirebon people is neither Sundanese nor Javanese, but clearly the struggle of cultural influence between the two goes back since medieval times. Because of that, the city benefitted from all the mash up and inherited a rich culinary tradition.

A certain place called Griya Kula represents all what’s best from Cirebon cuisine in one stop only.

Good news for everyone is that we don’t have to go far for great Cirebon dishes, courtesy of the royal family of old Sultanate of Cirebon. A guild of street food hawkers called Griya Kula is the closest you can visit in Jakarta. Because of this, you don’t have to go through the fuss from Cikampek toll road traffic and hours of trip just to get to the city for authenticity because all the ingredients are being sent on freshly on daily basis via Cirebon Express train.

Griya Kula 2

An extensive treat fit for your lunch are all here from nasi lengko (rice with tempe and tofu poured with peanut sauce and bean sprouts), nasi jamblang (Cirebon-style of mixed rice dish), bubur sop ayam (rice congee mixed with chicken soup), empal gentong (beef soup), the really unique docang (rice cakes, tempe, cassava leaves, bean sprouts, and grated coconut), alongside the much-loved tahu gejrot (sliced fried tofu served with brown sugar and vinegar sauce).

In addition, Cirebon-style sate kalong here is among my most memorable choices, especially because it was made from grilled mashed buffalo meat combined with peanut sauce and the highly exquisite taste of Cirebon sweet soy sauce. At Griya Kula, food adventure has never been this interesting and that goes with the fact that you only need to do one stop to explore the best from Kota Udang – the famous nickname of Cirebon.

Griya Kula 1

Despite this admirable and painstaking effort to bring the authenticity to Jakarta, the location they picked to open the business may seem problematic. Griya Kula opens far in East Jakarta within a complex of old, dilapidated swimming pool and tennis club. There are offices nearby to satiate the workers but it can only do so much for the day, except perhaps in weekends when families come to enjoy their recreational sports and ended up having lunch here.

Nevertheless, with this kind of quality and what they have gone through, it’s a must visit no matter on which part of Jakarta you live in. Take some time off and enjoy the best from Cirebon here once in a while.

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GRIYA KULA
Kolam Renang Bojana Tirta – Bea Cukai, Jakarta – Indonesia
T: +62.818.0707.7222

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE July 2014 edition

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People Behind Food: Mang Indra – Owner of Ketoprak Pantura

Mang Indra

Meet Mang Indra, our best bet for ketoprak in the neighborhood for breakfast.

For many years he’s been selling ketoprak in front of my wife’s house every morning from 9 to 11 and has been her family regular.

Despite his modest look, I found out that he’s a generous person as well. In an event that I cannot disclose, he donated a relatively large amount of money without many people knowing.

Thank you for keeping us well fed ya Mang Indra. 🙂

Jakarta, Indonesia – #peoplebehindfood

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Follow the Instagram: @peoplebehindfood

Recipe: Bilenthango – by Biko Mointi Boekoesoe

As the continuation of Ibu Biko’s Gorontalese dishes on the previous post, I would like to also share the recipes that she cooked specially for us during the photo shoot. I hope you can try this back at home too. Have fun!

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Bilenthango
Bilenthango

BILENTHANGO (Gorontalese spicy fried fish)

Serves: 5

  • Ingredients:

1 pc                  Fish of your choice (snapper, trevally, or tilapia)
2 pcs                Tomato (sliced)
Lime
Scallions, chopped
Lemon basil

Condiments:

10 pcs              Red chili
10 pcs              Shallot
3 pcs                 Garlic
To taste          Salt

  • Steps:
  1. Clean the fish, cut through its back and divide into two sections. Squeeze the lime over the fish.
  2. Blender the condiments well.
  3. Mix the condiments with sliced tomatoes, scallions, and lemon basil.
  4. Fry the fish with small flame.
  5. Smear the condiments on all over the fish. Serve.

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Recipe is provided by Omar Niode Foundation and Biko Mointi Boekoesoe – owner of Talaga Cookery.

TALAGA COOKERY | Jalan Kalibata Utara no. 25, RT 11/RW 2, Jakarta – Indonesia | +62.21.797.2246

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Photography by Dennie Benedict

Special Section – Our Indonesia: Rumah Makan Marannu (The Foodie Magazine, July 2014)

Makassar cuisine is perhaps like German in Europe. It’s all about meat, straightforward, rustic, but richer – thanks to the spices. Sop konro is clearly among the most favorite of Makassar dishes in Jakarta. When talking about it, you simply cannot discount the presence of Rumah Makan Marannu in Kelapa Gading.

Makassar people sure know how to drool people with their meat business. In many of their famous dishes – such as sop konro, coto, pallubasa, or sop saudara; they give us a prime example on how to use many parts of beef or buffalo meat in a dish and to combine it with many versions of soup accompaniment.

Within the den of eateries in Kelapa Gading, it’s not actually hard to find Sop Konro Marannu thanks to their fame. However, the situation is like in Makassar itself because foodies will be torn apart with the competition between Serigala or Onta for pallubasa, and it happens here as well with Marannu and Karebosi for their sop konro.

Sop Konro Marannu 1

In Marannu, for example, the beef ribs came in huge and with the bones instead of being cut to bite-size whether they’re traditionally served with soup or grilled then served with peanut sauce. Like most of Makassar soups, the one with sop konro appears dark as well owing to the use of keluwak with a unique scent and flavor from coriander. The overall taste is a mixture between strong-flavored spices used in the soup, sweetness from the peanut sauce, and a decadent yet harmonious balance with the juicy ribs.

Additionally, it’s not all about sop konro at Marannu. You also opt for coto, grilled fish, and some Chinese stir-fry dishes although not exactly related. But what you must not miss is their traditional desserts like putu cangkir, apang paringgi, gogos, barongko, and the refreshing es pallu butung.

Find out what are the definitions of those tasty alien words by visiting the place and get to know more of Makassar cuisine just a few steps out of your neighborhood.

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RUMAH MAKAN MARANNU
Jalan Boulevard Raya Kelapa Gading TA 2/27, Jakarta – Indonesia
T: +62.21.452.0155

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE July 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!