All posts by Rian Farisa

Rian Farisa stars himself in a flick about how a culinary correspondent living a life full of adventures as if he will live forever. At the end of the day, he lives to retell the chronicles of his swashbuckling daring gastronomic adventures like a bard singing his tales of beautiful faraway lands. Since gastronomy consists of complex aspects and that is where his passion lies, he decided to unravel how businessmen, hawkers and luxurious restaurants alike, serve their dishes for the patrons. Whether they only serve for the advantages in taste or only the surroundings or whether they really throw anything for the sake of customer's satisfaction, he shall be solely the only one who can tell and in the name of this noble profession, justice shall be done!

Santhai, The Next Generation of Wonderful Thai Cuisine

For being the most distinctive among all other Thai restaurants, people would immediately refer Santhai as the go-to place in Jakarta. Here’s how they revolutionize the Thai cuisine in the Big Durian.

There’s a local quote saying, “Santai seperti di pantai”. It’s not rhyming in English, but still it can be literally translated as “relaxing on a beach”. For that purpose, Santhai’s design embodies the holiday mood. The theme is tropical, and both outlets apply the always-fashionable neon lamps. Even the staffs are clad in beach shirts. Certain food and drinks are served on floaties and bird cages.

True to its name, Santhai was created in a way that’s playful, or “Instagrammable” – says the millennials. It’s unlike any other Thai restaurants that usually sport formal look. Surely you will immediately notice that most Thai restaurants have all that royal themes with statues, paintings, and the usual classical interior. Santhai is the complete opposite.

However, the most important part of all from a restaurant is always the food and Santhai is not short of surprises there. It boasts nearly 200 types of dishes, with additional a few dozen coming in after the second opening of their outlet quite recently in Pantai Indah Kapuk.

Credits should be given to the visionary owners and the native Thai chefs who have been collaborating closely to present this outlook. Aside from the eclectic designs, the owners also encourage the chefs to create interesting new dishes inspired from other cultures. Authenticity certainly has its values, but Santhai bravely mixes the two worlds to create both appetizing and intriguing lineup of the menu.

Santhai do embrace the classic choices such as the pineapple fried rice or the pad thai. They also offer the boat noodles, albeit the size may be different than the traditional. Expect to see other authentic options such as the Thai mango salad, massaman curry, the red and green curries with prata, and even the tom yum. To end the whole experience, the sticky rice with mango awaits you. The durian desserts are also ripe for the taking.

However, if you are feeling playful, then you should try something different. The popularity of salted egg dishes these past two years encourages the chefs of Santhai to develop their own Thai take which can be seen from salted egg spring beans, crispy salted egg yolk with chicken, also with prawns. The mantou buns proved to be a perfect choice as the starter, since it can be served with Peking duck or soft-shell crabs with Thai basil.

As for our personal experience, we were very delightful when trying the always good fried rice, but this time served in a coconut shell and presented on a floatie. This eclectic presentation was immediately followed by the highly delectable salmon’s head curry. For the desserts, the durian spring rolls awaited us curiously in one corner.

The highlight of the day goes for the salmon’s head curry. It’s not easy to cook a wonderful salmon dish, since I personally think that salmon is only best when served as gravlax or sashimi. Through this dish, Santhai made it clear that they can make salmon as the star of the show. It tasted very fresh, with enough serving for a few people, and the rich red curry’s flavor was out of this world. Simply majestic!

There you have it, a complete package of a playful Thai restaurant with a rich lineup of menu and perfect for the whole family. We have a feeling that we’re going to see great things coming ahead from Santhai in the future.

SANTHAI
Kota Kasablanka, Lantai Lower Ground
Jl. Casablanca Raya, Jakarta


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C’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant, On Why I Will Always Return

Sporting the majestic new look of the environs around Bundaran HI from the heights of Grand Hyatt Jakarta, it becomes apparent that there are more reasons now to visit C’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant. For a long time now, this restaurant has set the standard high for steakhouse businesses that it’s impossible to not compare a favorable experience here when dining somewhere else.

In my eighth year as its patron now, the sight and smell of C’s have become a familiar terrain. Upon entering, the open kitchen is where all the attractions are happening. You can smell the fragrant of steaks being seared. You can see huge fish tanks filled with wonders from the sea. You can hear the clashing of the wok and spatula from the Chinese food section. This parade of senses immediately urges me to sit and waiting in anticipation for what will come next on my table.

The warmly lit restaurant evokes a certain degree of intimacy and comfort. While it is not a fine-dining restaurant, one would enjoy the hours passed here while devouring all the goodness from the menu. Building up the excitement to eat here, C’s is also inviting foreign chefs from time to time to share their expertise and create a limited time menu.

The ambiance here is mildly conversational with easy listening music as the background. When you are planning to visit with family or scheduling a meeting with colleagues, then reserving the private rooms overlooking the Bundaran HI would be a major perk for your dining experience.

C’s has become the backbone for the hotel, especially when Grand Café was undergoing a major renovation in much part of 2018. Of what used to be known as an ala carte restaurant for lunch and dinner, C’s was temporarily converted as an all-day dining that caters esteemed guests of Grand Hyatt Jakarta. When Grand Café was finally unveiled several months ago, C’s has returned to its former self again – serving its guests with their much-loved fresh seafood, steak, and Oriental dishes.

The Executive Sous Chef, Mr Agung Budi went to a length explaining what’s in store at C’s for its patrons. There is a plethora of fresh, quality produce ripe for the taking – especially from the seafood side. Indonesia is now home to many local produce and seafood previously only imported from overseas. Additionally, C’s dedication for farm-to-table concept and sustainability brings good tidings for the environment as well as C’s most discerned diners.

The chef explains that at least 90% of C’s seafood came from local waters. “We have prawns from Aceh, clams from Bali, and crabs from Papua”, he says. Vegetables are always freshly delivered from a farm in West Java. “Take this burrata salad we have here for example. The beetroots are now grown in Puncak and even the burrata are produced by local cheese artisan”, explains the chef.

Every restaurant has its own signature dishes. At C’s, the must-have would be the colorful and delectable steak and seafood platters for sharing. Additionally, don’t skip its famous nasi goreng kambing and the wonderful Chinese cuisine lineup.

From the steak section, a wide range of premium cuts available here are sourced mostly from US and Australia. The star of the show are the platters and the Tomahawk. The seafood platter consists of rock lobster, king prawns, clams, Timika crab, Alaskan king crab, and mussels. Meanwhile, the steak platter has Black Angus beef tenderloin, half baby chicken, lamb chops, and beef sausages. Right on the spotlight, the 1500 gr Tomahawk wagyu steak for sharing with your loved ones.

C’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant
Grand Hyatt, Lantai 4
Jl. MH. Thamrin, Jakarta


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UNION Café, Ready to Take on The New Terrain

Much to everyone’s excitement, UNION Café was recently unveiled as the latest entry from The Union Group – the big family that shapes the F&B scene of Jakarta for years now.

Known for the endless innovations when it comes to various dining concepts, UNION Café in a way differentiates itself with the siblings. Emulating the success of UNION as the group’s flagship restaurant is already a challenge, but to leave its own mark of distinction to curious Jakartan diners would be an admirable feat.

Within just few weeks of their opening since before Eid this year, the establishment has already become the talk of the town. The welcoming atmosphere, the circular shape of the café, and the alluring display of bakery would entice even UNION’s most seasoned patron. Once inside, it’s all about comfort and privacy – albeit pretty much the whole Senayan City can see the hustle and bustle of the café.

The distinctive features came mostly from the menu and perhaps this is the first time in the history of UNION that we have Indonesian-inspired dishes more than ever. The inspirations for the menu was either creatively driven or derived from personal experiences of chef proprietor Adhika Maxi and his wife Karen Carlotta. The result is an exciting lineup worth every penny to indulge.

From the starters, UNION Café boasts the collection of Indonesian snacks such as the prawn and chicken tahu isi with daun jeruk, singkong fries “soto flavor”, scallop bakwan jagung, and bakwan fishcakes. Alternatively, you can choose international flavors such as the lemongrass tuna tataki with tempeh crumbs or the calamari with San Marzano tomatoes and tartar sauce.

Heading to the pasta section, the Indonesian flavors can be seen right away from the appearance of crispy teri aglio olio spaghetti and the crispy chicken penne with sambal matah. The latter shows UNION Café’s new commitment for bolder taste. It’s not just about the depth of flavors and the sophistication of the dish, but also the level of spiciness. This would be a new height that perhaps only a few internationally-themed restaurants in Jakarta would be brave enough to climb.

Heading to the main course, one certainly must play along with UNION Café’s signatures. For example; the Indo Spiced Steak with cabe rawit confit, colorful vegetables, and rice would be a great substitute for your usual Steak Frites. Other than that, the café offers the appetizing nasi bebek garing on garlic rice and served with 2 kinds of sambal. Not stopping on those, we have all the goodness from slow cooked short ribs with tamarind sauce, nasi goreng kepiting, and seafood mie goreng.

Heading straight to the desserts – a specialty that has contributed so much for UNION’s success, is also not short of surprises. Firstly, we have the es teler ice cream bolu roll, and pisang coklat with cinnamon sugar and burnt caramel ice cream. The rich display of cakes and pastry would be great for takeaways as well.

With this, one would be curious enough to see with what UNION Café in particular, would conjure again in the future with its potentials. As they say, UNION made is well made, and certainly we’d be looking forward to more exciting things coming from the group and its other ventures.

UNION CAFE
Lower Ground Floor, Senayan City,
Jl. Asia Afrika No.19, Jakarta
Phone: +6221 7278 1145
www.unionjkt.com


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NAMELAKA, A Refined Pâtisserie at Its Best

Passion meets Yoan Tjahjadi and Ivan Setyawan, co-owners of the rising star pastry shop Namelaka at Shophaus Menteng. They share a story about their humble beginnings and how in just less than two years, they are ready to take the pastry world of Jakarta by storm.

One decade is all that we need to assimilate ourselves within the global culinary culture. It was quiet on all fronts back when I started writing and observing about Jakarta’s food scenes back in 2009. And now, we can see it clearly that everyone is contributing a part to further embolden our local food culture – from a writer and up to restaurant owners, from starting out in a long chain of hospitality industry and up to become an accomplished chef. This also includes the appearance of food start-ups, influencers, and other aspirations.

Everyone is always inspired with something and that’s the drive needed to gain the foothold in this so-called journey of life. That’s the case for both Yoan and Ivan as well.

Pastry has always been a thing for Yoan, who started it all from zero. She did it first by learning about cookery in general from a short course in Jakarta, while also at the same time finishing her graphic design study. Meanwhile Ivan was already on his way studying about cookery and accounting. Long story short, they met at William Angliss Institute back in Melbourne – each in pursue of their aspirations within the food industry.

Graduated, they both returned to Indonesia and promised themselves that they should leave a mark in this world somehow. Namelaka was then established in 2016, starting humbly as an online pastry business and joining food bazaars around Jakarta.

“One time there was an offer from Shophaus to open up our first store here”, Yoan says. Both were excited about the opportunity, but they realized it was all about renewing their own commitments for the business. A decision that they must face sooner or later.

Thus, December 2016 was historical for Namelaka as finally Yoan and Ivan agreed to commit themselves wholeheartedly into the business now. The production flow has been set to full motion now and all their resources were assigned to make that happen.

But what’s the difference between Namelaka and the rest of the competition, I ask them. “Number one, we don’t follow what’s trending out there. Our products are simply based on the flavors that we personally like and we try to be creative with that”, she explains.

Ivan quickly gives example, “Back when I was in college, I used to really love this hazelnut coffee from Starbucks and that inspired us to create the Coffee Caramel Hazelnut cake”. “Or in my instance”, says Yoan cheerfully, “the Honey Lemon Ginger Tart which was based on a flavored beverage I really like!”

Their signature product now is the choux pastry with a wide variety of unique flavors such as the Thai milk tea, salted caramel, mango lassi, and many more. Other than that, Namelaka prides itself with their collection of cakes; namely the Intense Chocolate, Earl Berries, and the Noisette. Each boasts its luscious look and a curious blend of quality ingredients.

Last Ramadan, they paid homage to the holy month with their unique creation of Nastart – a combination of the much loved nastar with homemade pineapple jam, compote, and almond crumble on a pie base. Additionally, they were busy producing the all-time favorite hampers for Eid.

Business may run well for Namelaka so far, but they do not stay idle. I ask them what they are planning after this. “Rather than focusing on opening new shops, we want to focus on increasing our capacity. We are planning to relocate our central kitchen to a bigger place”, explain them both. They hope to increase their efficiency when responding for more online orders specifically.

With their current pace and their commitment to quality from this tender age, it’s safe to assume that we will see more of Namelaka from time to time. It would be exciting to see what other creations they will come up with in the future and how the crowd would react to that. As for me, I have found a new sanctuary within the verdant Menteng area. And that is to sip a good old cup of coffee here and a slice of cake from this patisserie.

NAMELAKA
Menteng Shophaus, Lantai 1
Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro No. 36, Jakarta


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“Dining In The Dark” Fundraising Dinner by Fairmont Jakarta

As part of AccorHotels sustainability efforts, Fairmont Jakarta presents a one-of-a-kind fund raising event called “Dining in the Dark” which will be held on 3 December 2018 at the Ballroom. The event is in collaboration with and in support of Yayasan Mitra Netra – a non-profit organization that focuses on efforts and initiatives to support people who are visually impaired.

The concept of dark dining takes place in a dark restaurant, where the customers do not see the food they are eating. The basic concept is that the removal of vision enhances the other senses and increases gastronomic pleasure. At the Dining in the Dark, Fairmont Jakarta invites guests to experience a culinary journey through taste, smell, touch and sound, in total darkness. Guests will be served a sophisticated 12-course set menu that is meticulously crafted by the team of talented chefs to indulge the senses.

Seated in the pitch-black dining room, the guests will be guided and served by blind individuals who have been specially trained to offer guidance to sighted guests. It would be a life impacting experience when the roles are reversed – the blind become the eyes, opening minds to a deeper consciousness.

The event also serves as a form of solidarity for the people suffering from blindness. The guests will be challenged to do the usually taken-for-granted activities, like enjoying the menu and pouring drinks, in complete darkness. This affinity leads to mutual trust and respect, and a realization of the value of their work and overall ability to carry out tasks.

Serving the tables that evening are the visually impaired individuals from Yayasan Mitra Netra. The foundation provides educational services, as well as initiating work field diversification programs for the blinds.  People with visually impaired sights – some since born and some lost their eye sights during adulthood – come to the foundation to learn on how to enable themselves in getting education and work opportunities.

Dining in the Dark is available for guests at IDR 2,500,000 per person, where the fund raised will be donated to Yayasan Mitra Netra. For reservations, please call (+62 21) 2970 3333 or email diningreservations.jakarta@fairmont.com.