The long history of Oasis was written not only from the time when they first re-introduced again the mythical arrangement of rijsttafel or “rice table” in the menu, but also its historical values as an iconic building from Jakarta’s past – the time when the city was still titled as Batavia.
Two decades after the turn to 20th century, a Dutch personage with an immense fortune from plantations decided to build a private residence in the exact same place where Oasis now resides. It has since become one of only few well-preserved colonial buildings in Jakarta.
The mansion survived the World War II and became the United States Naval Attaché in Jakarta temporarily afterwards. Several decades later in 1968, Oasis was born but not only until 1979 when rijsttaffel was finally promoted and since then, the restaurant receives its legendary stature as it survives until this very moment.
While it is true that most of the guests of Oasis are usually foreign tourists and expatriates working in Jakarta, they are known to spread the word mouth to mouth to the rest of the world about their experience – about how they marveled upon the building’s architecture and how extravagant the taste Indonesian cuisine at its finest – especially due to the unique serving of rijsttafel that features a dozen of maidens, serving each a different dish at same time.
They would tell the story of how time pauses even at the moment they are entering the restaurant. It all started from the traditional tune came from a gamelan band and the decorative gong from the 18th century that welcomed them. Inside, they saw the teakwood beams of the ceilings and the classic black-and-white checkered tiles reflect the tender light of Austrian crystal chandeliers.
On every conceivable angle, they also witnessed how Indonesian tribal artworks, masks, and paintings colored the walls until finally they reached the main dining room where a commanding presence of stained glass window made in 1936 Batavia depicting The Netherlands’ thinker during the Renaissance era, Desiderius Erasmus. The classical décor can be also seen within its private rooms and far the garden behind. All in all, Oasis has all what it needs to become an iconic restaurant.
The rijsttafel menu is constantly changing from time to time, traversing many borders of Indonesian cuisine from city to city and region to region. At times, a specialized selection of traditional Javanese cuisine or Betawi cuisine is available in accord to specific occasion, but most of the time, the rijsstafel consists as a mixture of many Indonesian home dishes with a little bit of colonial influence.
For example, you might encounter the appearance of beef roulade but it will also be accompanied by a highly delectable beef and chicken satays. Additionally there is also a plate full of lavish black rendang, frikadeller or the potato perkedel, stir-fry vegetables, pickles, and dishes involving seafood, tempe, or anchovies with peanuts, ultimately accompanied by sambal condiments with a variety of crackers and rice.
Everything was beautifully arranged, well-serviced, and most of all – cooked perfectly up to the point where you might be amazed at how Indonesian cuisine can be alleviated into a higher level like this.
With this kind of experience, it’s a surefire that anybody will spread the word whenever they return back to their native countries. Numerous of foreign dignitaries and celebrities have all frequented the restaurant and this privilege is surely something that will put Oasis in a beneficial position as an old guard restaurant, the preserver of culture, and the promoter of local tourism.
Some menu are suitable for vegetarians
Jalan Raden Saleh no. 47, Jakarta – Indonesia
Mon-Sat, 11am – 3pm (lunch), 6pm – 10pm (dinner)
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE July 2014 edition
Download it for free here via SCOOP!
Photography: Dennie Benedict