Category Archives: Jakarta

Eastern Opulence: Representing What’s Best from The East

Eastern Opulence is situated on the corner of Jalan Cipaku, near to what some people would call as the trinity of Jakarta’s gourmet streets – Senopati, Gunawarman, and Wolter Monginsidi. The neighborhood is home for many foodie haunts, from street food to upscale restaurants. Among the latter, is Eastern Opulence with its wide offerings of Indonesian and Asian dishes.

Flaunting its whitewashed exterior and the numerous windows, it becomes more glamorous once you’re heading deeper inside. Marbles, columns, a grand staircase, aristocratic dining tables and chairs, and the attendance of many waiters and waitresses are the welcoming theme of this restaurant. The restaurant can house to more than a hundred diners even on the first floor. Heading up, you will be witnessing the opulent private rooms, all color coded and each representing the name of a jewel.

The grand menu is developed by the young and talented Chef Kevin Zhu. Trained since the tender age of 16, the chef honed his skills further at a prominent culinary school and by delving deeper into New Zealand’s gourmet food scene. There’s a level of sophistication and cleverly intertwined elements between modern techniques and Indonesian influences from his dishes here. That clearly came from his years of experience abroad and his love for Indonesian food.

Heading straight to the main course section in the menu, one can see that the chef employs various modern cooking processes by using premium ingredients. For instance, the 12-hours, slowly cooked Australian beef tongue with green chili sambal. My personal favorite would be the sous-vide Australian lamb rack grilled to medium-well temperature and glazed with spicy kecap manis, Balinese sambal matah, and serundeng. Other than these two, savor also the flavors of charcoal-grilled oxtail or the wagyu cubes with black pepper sauce, and many more.

From the poultry section, it is recommended to choose the delicate Bebek Betutu – duck’s leg braised in 20 types of herbs and spices and topped with sambal matah. The Lollipop Chicken Salt and the Salted Fish Crispy Kailan would also serve well as the accompaniments. The latter is a unique combination of crisply fried kailan leaves, the mild texture from cooked stems, and salted fish.

With its extravagant look, it is no wonder that Eastern Opulence also becomes a perfect venue for events such as weddings or even fashion shows. On a personal level, it’s also a place for give a special treat for your loved ones or a perfectly amicable family dinners. After all, Indonesian food is best when eaten together and Eastern Opulence has many things to share with you for that.

This article was published in Passion Magazine

Markoek: Innovating Beyond the Boundaries of Indonesian Traditional Snacks

Heading to the southern part of Jakarta in a busy, weekday morning was no small feat. The excitement to know more about Markoek, a decade old business that successfully promotes traditional Indonesian snacks, pumps up the spirit for even the most seasoned foodies.

Any efforts nowadays through personal means to promote Indonesian food in its own country are very much appreciated – let alone if one could successfully introducing it also abroad. More and more people are showing their love to Indonesian food nowadays, but the pioneers may be only a handful and they are here to inspire us today. One of them is Markoek.

Traditional Indonesian snacks have unlimited potential – especially if we could appreciate how influential they are within the fabric of our society. Its intricacies behind the making, how colorful they are, and its rich variety are the mediums that brought people together in social functions for as long as any Indonesians could remember.

Even so, its place within the society nowadays is considered only for lower segments, since the mid-high markets are more interested with the likes of modern French and Japanese pastries nowadays. Not to mention of course, the onslaught of Korean influences for at least a few years now.

Upon reaching our destination, we meet Mr. Mindiarto Djugorahardjo. Traditionally known as an experienced salesman, a business consultant, and also a trainer; Mr Djugorahardjo has been in the business for around three decades now. Surely if the motivation is righteous and the opportunity arises, one can tell that he would be undaunted with the task of expanding his business to food.

That was the case regarding the inception of Markoek in 2006. It was a leap of faith in remembrance of what his mother had taught him about food and the spirit to promote Indonesian cuisine. As a foodie and a home cook, Mr Djugorahardjo jokingly suggest that, “Entering this business is a matter of changing the main ingredients of rice to flour”.But even so, Markoek turns into a very serious business.

Fun fact, Markoek itself may sound like a real world but it’s actually a portmanteau between “markt” (the Dutch for market) and “koek” (cake). Markoek was then labeled as a boutique cake shop, instead of just the usual snack shop.

The story of how it all started came from eleven years ago. Menteng – a verdant neighborhood in the heart of modern Jakarta, was about to witness the opening of a strategically located small shopping mall that goes with the name Menteng Huis.

“I was asked by its management to be featured as one of their food tenants there with Indonesian theme on the menu. Quickly we came up with the idea of promoting Indonesian traditional snacks”, explains Mr Djugorahardjo who would right away took the opportunity.

His confidence quickly was put to test during the early years of the business. “Two years we bled and it was indeed challenging to open up a shop there”, he says.

Menteng Huis as we know it, is more of a culinary destination rather than a full-fledged shopping mall. “One would walk around, does some window shopping, watch a movie, and then grab something to eat in a shopping mall. With Menteng Huis, it’s about people coming specifically to eat at a certain restaurant only”, he explains.

That’s when they decided to open up the delivery business and also going online. “It was the initiative that my daughters presented and I quickly agreed with their terms. Now each of my family members has their own involvements in the business”, says Mr Djugorahardjo proudly.

It was advantageous for Markoek to expand into delivery service that caters nearby offices and government institutions around Menteng. “The Ministry of Fishery is one of our regulars and its bureaus would each order from us for their meetings and other functions”, he says. In time, other nearby institutions such as the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Law & Human Rights, Pertamina, BAPPENAS, KPPA, and others require the services of Markoek for exactly the same needs.

However, then came a time to close the shop at Menteng Huis as Mr Djugorahardjo deemed that the renting fee has become too exorbitant. Nevertheless, Markoek has now already stood firm with its delivery business, all made with love from its main kitchen back at Kelapa Gading.

“In the afternoon we are doing all the preparations and then the finishing part came in very early in the morning. As the dawn breaks, we are ready for the delivery”, Mr Djugorahardjo explains about how it works back at the main kitchen.

Markoek’s traditional lineup consists of the things we know all too well and yet hard to resist. Snacks such as getuk, ongol-ongol, bugis, hunkwe, onde, arem-arem, kroket, and lemper are only but a few of its full lineup. “In order to make it competitive but also innovative, we also employ the use of cassava flour instead of the imported regular flour. Apparently, it works really well for some of the snacks”, he says.

Now after a successful traditional snack delivery business, a coffee shop, and two snack booths at Jalan Radio Dalam and TransMart Cempaka Putih; Mr Djugorahardjo still has in his heart to expand his business again with something even more innovative.

“Jakarta doesn’t have a proper traditional oleh-oleh shop”, he says. “This city needs to be like Bandung, for example, where people would buy its pisang molen or brownies as souvenirs back home. That is something that I would like to do in the future here.”

The article was published in Passion Magazine (2017)

3 Hotel Kekinian Wajib Coba untuk Staycation di Jakarta

Tinggal di ibukota Jakarta bukanlah hal yang mudah bagi sebagian orang. Kehidupan perkotaan diwarnai kesibukan dan tuntutan hidup yang tinggi. Seringkali ini memberikan dampak stres bagi banyak orang. Nah, apalagi sekarang di masa pandemi. Berbagai kebiasaan lama dipaksa berubah demi hidup yang aman dan sehat. Di tengah keadaan yang rumit ini, liburan menjadi salah satu opsi menarik untuk mengembalikan ketenangan diri. Meski demikian demi alasan kesehatan, kita juga belum dianjurkan untuk melakukan perjalanan ke luar kota. Itulah mengapa staycation di Jakarta menjadi alternatif menarik dan masuk akal untuk dicoba.

Pemandangan kota Jakarta 180 derajat.
Segudang pilihan staycation di Jakarta seru untuk dicoba! (Foto: Tom Fisk/Pexels)

Memaknai arti staycation di Jakarta

Staycation sebagai sebuah liburan yang dilakukan dengan cara menetap di sebuah penginapan yang ada di kota sendiri. Hal ini sudah menjadi kebiasaan populer di berbagai kota besar seperti Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, dan juga lainnya.

Konon, gaya liburan seperti ini pertama kali berkembang di Amerika pada tahun 2003, dan kini telah menyebar di berbagai negara. Dari hanya sekadar berakhir pekan seru, ataupun hingga merayakan berbagai hari raya, staycation menjadi cara menarik untuk berlibur.

Staycation di Jakarta dimulai dari membuka pintu kamar hotel.
Berlibur akhir pekan tak perlu pusing lagi dengan konsep staycation dalam kota.

Tiga pilihan hotel yang unik untuk dicoba

Beberapa hotel staycation Jakarta berikut bisa menjadi pilihan menarik untuk kalian yang ingin staycation bersama teman-teman ataupun keluarga. Yuk, simak apa saja pilihannya!

1.      Park 5 Simatupang

Berlokasi dekat dengan CITOS, Park 5 Simatupang ini merupakan hotel yang memiliki gaya arsitektur modern dengan desain interior yang kekinian. Setiap balkonnya menawarkan pemandangan Jaksel yang begitu berwarna. Semua fasilitas penunjang juga disiapkan secara lengkap – seperti wifi, AC, TV, teko listrik, bahkan kamar mandi pribadi yang dilengkapi dengan shower dan amenities.

Tak kalah menariknya, nikmati fasilitas kolam renang serta menyantap aneka hidangan lezat a la Indonesia maupu Barat di restorannya yang keren.

2.      Couleur Hotel Cengkareng

Siapa yang menyangka kalau ada hotel kekinian tampil di dekat Bandara internasional Soekarno-Hatta? Nah, Couleur Hotel Cengkareng adalah pilihan yang tepat. Tak hanya dekat dengan bandar, hotel ini juga berlokasi strategis dengan berbagai pusat perbelanjaan di Jakarta Barat.

Desain modern dan industrialis yang sangat kental di hotel ini juga sangat instagrammable, tak sulit menemukan spot untuk foto-foto yang keren. Fasilitas penunjang juga lengkap seperti AC, TV, minibar, bahkan kamar mandi pribadi dengan shower dan perlengkapan mandi. Wifi yagn kencang menjadi penunjan untuk kamu yang ingin upload video atau foto saat staycation di sana!

3.      Hotel Akmani

Sementara itu, hotel staycation keren yang satu ini berlokasi sentral di pusat kota dan perbelanjaan sekitaran Thamrin. Itulah Hotel Akmani yang bertempat di Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim, sungguh dekat dengan sentra kuliner Sabang.

Staycation di sini sungguh memuaskan karena fasilitas berupa gym, kolam renang, restoran, bahkan tempat spa juga tersedia. Begitupun setiap kamarnya dilengkapi dengan AC, wifi, minibar, teko listrik, serta kamar mandi pribadi dengan shower dan amenities.

Pastinya sudah tidak sabar untuk staycation, dong? Langsung saja pesan melalui Traveloka. Tak hanya ketiga hotel tadi, masih banyak pilihan hotel staycation Jakarta lainnya yang tidak kalah menarik. Apalagi Traveloka selalu memberikan diskon menarik. Sudah siap untuk staycation di Jakarta akhir pekan ini? Jangan lupa untuk selalu menjaga hygiene dimanapun kamu berada, ya!

Santhai, The Next Generation of Wonderful Thai Cuisine

The interior design of Santhai, Kota Kasablanka.
Feels like having a great summer on the beaches of Thailand at Santhai here. (Pic: Passion Magazine)

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.

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

Featured on Passion Magazine

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

The interior design of Rosso, Shangri-La Jakarta.
Warm and intimate, a great setting for steak and seafood. (Pic: Grand Hyatt Jakarta)

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

Featured on Passion Magazine