It was the holy month of Ramadhan. Some of my colleagues, pursued by the spirit of devotion, routinely visit Masjid Al-Azhar for the Tarawih prayer, as for the rest of us including me were driven by the spirit of….. satisfying our growling stomaches! It’s 7 PM and we haven’t had any decent breakfasting menu so the idea about Nasi Kebuli seemed to be intriguing.
Just behind the Masjid, we found hawkers everywhere including the famous Roti Bakar Eddy, though I haven’t tried it myself. The stall that we’re looking for was Nasi Kebuli H. Ali. After we got seated, most of us ordered Nasi Kebuli Kambing and one of my colleagues had the one with chicken.
Just in case, if you’re not familiar with this dish, it’s actually a variant of the famous Biryani Rice. The essence of this cuisine was actually rice with many condiments and spice added with meat and pickles, but the combination of the ingredients and the name may vary between countries and in our case it’s become Nasi Kebuli. If it’s Middle Eastern or Indian/Pakistani, best to pick lamb/mutton as the meat.
For the moderate price of IDR 25,000 for lamb and IDR 20,000 for chicken, the taste was just ordinary. It’s not that spicy and fine for me though the humidity of Jakarta can be cruel even at night, so I got sweaty a bit but that’s okay like Chef Anthony Bourdain used to say while he’s eating, ‘I’m sweaty but I’m happy’. Anyhow, it’s a quite okay dinner and we all went away full but I was left unsatisfied.
Location : Jalan Raden Patah (nearby Roti Bakar Eddy and Al-Azhar University), Jakarta
This has become a lucid, transparent target for me to raise myself into a new level of connoisseur dementia. It’s a good thing, unlike any other dementias. Well.. There might be pros and cons about this dementia stuff because some will still got hurt in the process (notably the wallet). I, who obviously suffer this dementia, enjoy each and every moment of it anytime it strikes! Everyone would probably bailing out when it comes to this level because the stakes getting higher and higher. A word of advice for all the wannabes, always ensure that you’re up for this or else you can quit at your loss.
Okay, so what’s with the opener? It’s quite strange actually. Well, it’s because that I opened the Pandora’s Box, the door to the very road that will drag me on and on towards the appointed doom, the very thing that was long time ago before I was even born embedded in my mind and my tummy (haha..), are now finally and ultimately revealed, unraveled, unveiled, brought to light! It’s a revelation for me! It’s the fate that I should cling into for the rest of my life (much to the expense of my health and my pocket)! It’s the next level of how (I warrant) a gourmet I should become. It’s…. It’s……..
The Invasion of Hotels!!!!!
Wait… that doesn’t sound cool… Any other name?
The…. uh…. ummm….
I got none right now… Yeah whatever!
Anyway here’s the big deal, I ran into several promotion posters every time I visit Intercontinental Hotel, Jakarta. Starting from 2009, Chef Antonio Massagli will reign over Intercon’s only Italian bistro, Scusa! For the whole year! Yaay! Some people told me that before this guy came, the food was not that good. If it’s true from what I read in a certain magazine, the kitchen was ruled by Chef Luigi Girardin. You should know me that I shall not trust others’ judgments even for movies. It’s essential for me, the afflicted patient of connoiseur dementia, to judge whether it’s good or not, only through my tongues!
So one day, one of my colleagues, one of those people from the neighboring department who were the lifeline of my workplace, the profit makers, the highly paid, and of course, those who like to spend for fancy foods, asked me out for a lunch at Scusa alongside the rest of the gang. Many of my colleagues here reckon the not-so-surprising fact anymore in my office, that I’m the guy for foods, the sole survivor in the office rather than in the jungle, and the one who always carries foods from nowhere and people would ask, ‘Where did you get it?’ and I would say, ‘From the sky!’.
Yup! That’s me!
By the time I got there, my friends already had their dishes ordered. They took the same dish to my surprise. It’s actually one of the most common main dish everywhere, but what’s the essence of having this discounted fiesta with RBS card plus the ingenious Italian cuisine?! For me, it’s for having more expensive dish and this will cut the price half more than usual and that’s what I call a rare chance! Even so, I didn’t even take the 50% opportunity. There’s a lot of interesting menu of course but I took the package menu (Mezzo) instead which notably excluded in this discount system. That’s what I call the connoisseur dementia if you can now understand what the hell I was saying at the beginning of the show.
So, to start to whole party, we were all given the Walnut Bread with Fetta Cheese fillings as the opener. The round-shaped bread was stuffed into this small cup but somehow the bread still has a quite considerable size for an appetizer.You might gonna guess that the taste would probably the same like any other bread added with cheese, but it’s completely different! It’s tender with empty core in the middle but you can go straight downstairs, I might add, for the fetta cheese. It’s a match made in heaven. The looks may not be much, but you gotta dig in and find it out by yourself. Well, at any rate, don’t stray too far coz it’s only an appetizer. You’ll never know until you meet the main dishes right?
The main dishes for my colleagues were the Salmon Steak served with asparagus, veggies like scallions, and mashed potato. Seemed to be drenched with herbs and olive oil sauce. Very decent taste! The salmon was humongous, definitely not smelly, plus the you’ll be overwhelmed by the tenderness of the mashed potato with the slices of asparagus there. Anyway, two of my colleagues actually shared this other type of salmon dish, it was the Salmon Fillet with the sauces you can pick. The composition was actually quite the same, but you gonna need to pick one from the many sauces.
Since they had ordered their dishes before they even got there, my dish came a bit later. Though they spoiled upon their desserts like Mango Gelato, which was great also! Plus one of them had Tiramisu Cake, and probably some fruity coolers if I’m not mistaken, I just tucked in to my appetizers. The Italian name over my dish sure made it cool enough before even eating it and that would be the Insalata di Frutti di Mare. The Fruits of the Ocean in a salad form. Frutti di Mare is a common term in Italian for seafood. The big shrimps that went with mussels and oysters plus the green veggies with the red and green of the bell peppers, not to mention the watery cherry tomato soaked in olive oil and most likely the Italian dressing made it perfect. Of course I tucked in greedily. Hahaha..
Not long after that, the star of the show came, Homemade Spinach with Ricotta Ravioli with tomato, butter, and sagesauce! Though the name was quite spectacular, but I didn’t approve with the taste. It’s more like gyoza with rarely placed spinach. The sauce was extraordinary however, but I was quite disappointed with the composition of the main dish. Sorry Monsignor Massagli, but this one’s a bit… lame. The good thing was, I can add more olive oil. I’m always a fan of OO, like Rachael Ray says.
Well, my colleagues were all disappeared at this point since it’s already past the lunch break hour, but I managed to texted my boss telling him that I’m gonna be late. Now that the formalities done, I can now have my dessert at ease. It’s a Sabayon Parfait with orange sauce. It’s a quite weird parfait for me. The vision about parfait for me was like in Japanese manga where you can see the characters having this tower full of ice creams alongside plenty of melted chocolates, bananas, cherries, and any of those ice cream condiments. Truly, this Sabayon parfait was like an ice cream, but it didn’t feel like one. It’s a defrosted ice cream, feels gelatinous, which is okay because gelato works nicely in ice cream but it has this somewhat bitter taste like you can find in oranges. Also the orange taste didn’t fit well in the ice cream though the sauce was okay actually.
As the real finisher, I was offered the coffee! I can actually pick anything that I like, be it Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, or anything. I picked the Cappuccino instead, the much safer one. Normally I’d pick Latte but since I had one earlier, well.. actually just a few days before, might as well pick another one. Turned out that the cappuccino thing was the right choice, it was quite nice in fact. I had this quite wonderful lunch, probably if I got accompanied by more friends to discuss and share the taste of the food, that would be lovelier. But the thing was, the reason why I had picked the package menu because I wanted to know the whole thing about the food starting from the appetizers up until the desserts. For me, it was quite okay because I can still see some flaws here and there, but then again, you might not see it if you order ala carte menu since the Salmon Steak was great! You see, in my case, it’s actually the main dish and the dessert. They can actually make it more ‘proportional’, not just a bland ravioli with the God only knows whether the chef put the spinach or not in it. Plus the parfait would’ve been better actually. They just need to work on the bitterness there. As for the insalata, terrific! I’d suggest that you might want to try the Sunday Brunch for everything you wish to know about Italian food. Perhaps that would be the best time to test the whole real thing and in this case, it’s the time when Chef Antonio Massagli show his might and magic in his dishes.
The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):
1. PRICE (5/10)
What can you expect from an Italian bistro with an imported chef. It’s expensive! But then again it has to be this way though in some dishes, it’s just not worth it.
2. INTERIOR (7/10)
Mysterious. I like the dark scene. It gives the elegant atmosphere, especially with all the jazzy stuff. Perfect for personal events, perhaps a bit scandal will do here. ^^
3. SERVICE (8/10)
Responsive, helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. What more can you ask here? Well, you still gotta pay the service taxes. *_*
4. TASTE (7/10)
You gotta prove it in Sunday Brunch, Chef Antonio. I’ll come again. That’s the proving time for that.
5. OVERALL (6.75/10)
Location : Hotel InterContinental-MidPlaza Jakarta
So many times I’ve been to this place yet that so many times I forgot to collect the necessary data and begin to write about it. Might as well do it now, though I can come over to this place like everyday (I work nearby the establishment). Well, Japanese restaurant has always been my favorite theme. They might be similar to one another but for Sakana, you can see it right away from your first glance. But first thing first, allow me to explain a bit about my observation for Japanese restaurants in Jakarta. Well, certainly you can always pick the people-already-know type like Sushi Tei, Takigawa, or even Hoka Hoka Bento. Haha.. Sushi Tei Bandung and the one in Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta used to have this sous chef from Japan though, but still they got in for the popular class. So from my point of view and driven by my desire to hunt for the ingenious taste, then the places that I should aim would be those from office buildings which notably many Japanese companies resided or at the very least the mall nearby such premises. True, that there are some places like these in malls, but it’s my job, my very job to seek hidden places like these and put an end to this hunger! Haha…
Okay, by the time you got downstairs, you can see other places of interest. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in front of you, Aro Aroy for Thai cuisine, a Japanese goods mini market called Pi-Ma, and other than Sakana would be the fellow competitor named Taichan. If you’re going deeper inside and even cross yourself to InterContinental Hotel, you’re gonna find many things! Ah Yat Abalone Forum Restaurant, The Grill (Korean and Western grill), Bakoel Manna (Manadoan cuisine), and Kantin 99 for local foods with local price tags, and at the hotel you’re going to cross against Kado and Honzen (Japanese restaurants), Bacchus (Wine & Dine), plus also mention Java and the expensive Italian restaurant, Scusa.
Alright alright. This time I’m really coming back for Sakana. You see, you can be a bit intimidated when you encounter the outlook of the place. It’s dark and you’ll be forced to lead into a gloomy alley which turns out to be an old Japanese kind of night street festivities with many foodstalls on it but only two actually in Sakana. Those that serve takoyaki and oden. Well, from this point of course, you will be led by a waitress to your seat. By the time you got into the main hallway, you would never guess the place could be that huge! A maze made out of the private rooms. There rooms of course can be mobilized to create a new map for the maze because they got wheels down there! Each room offers different size but some rooms are interconnected with each other. Might as well give it up to any waitresses who lead the way, but be sure to tell them if you want a personal room. Nothing kinky here though. Haha.. Some rooms which don’t have wheels (strange isn’t it), they do have the sliding doors but were made out of loosely lined up bamboos. Anyway, the maze will end up in a big VIP room, the kitchen, and also the sushi bar with the kushiyaki barbeque. But of course, once again, I warrant that the favorite place would be the private rooms, be it with your friends or significant other.
On several occasions, I got myself to taste the legendary takoyaki here. I bought it for the appetizer, I ate it for dessert (well, for some of my friends, they don’t mind to buy it coz this place is the only indoor smoking haven in the premise!), and I brought it back home too. The thing is, I love it! So far, only the original ones though, haven’t had the chance to try the rest. But it’s actually funny because, aside the original, they poured the takoyaki with demiglace sauce, they had this Jawa Takoyaki which actually use spicy sauce and beef flakes/floss, then they also got Curry Takoyaki, Akashi Takoyaki (with soup), Dezatako Godzilla and Dezatako Harajuku (in which they also use macha ice cream for it). Seriously, these are wicked combination, but still, many people refuse to believe how good it actually is if they, eventually, ask questions like ‘What’s inside a takoyaki? What is tako anyway?’ and so on. And by the time they actually comprehend what a tako is, they had this long face, frowned, remembering those tentacles and the heads and blablabla. Long story short, they wanna be kept out of this cute tasty creature! Well, FYI, tako is an octopus forgodsake! Not that Mexican food. What a crispy joke that would be. Mind the heads and the tentacles, just bring it on and eat!
A portion of original takoyaki (IDR 35,000) consists of 6 big balls baked on a special stove, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and plenty of aonori. Aonori, literally in Japanese would be ao – blue and nori – seaweed, but it’s actually more like another type of edible seaweed frequently used as a topping for many Japanese dishes. The main ingredient of it all, the tako itself comes actually from the baby octopus, it’s like the one you see orbiting around the sushi restaurant on its conveyor belt, so there’s no need to worry about it. Instead think about the baby kailan, baby corns, or even the cherry tomato in salads. How cute they are right! Now, all you gotta do is associate it with the tako and there you go. Delicious!
Aside from the takoyaki, you can always guess what a complete Japanese restaurant would offer. A wide range of various dishes from oden, donburi (lunch/dinner box), yakitori (skewers), teishoku (lunch set), sushi, sashimi, menrui (noodles dishes), plus the authentic Japanese liquors of course. The price range for this place is very friendly comparing the competitors in Jakarta. But the service tax certainly one of the highest. Well, for lunch, I recommend the teishoku of course, but after comparing it with several restaurants, the grilled fish here was just great! I have tried the shishamo (smelt), shake (salmon), and sanma (mackerel) so far. For cheaper lunch set, you can try the crispy chicken cutlets of course. All of it comes with miso shiru, rice, salads, and pickles. Plus if you wanna go green or vegan, you should also try the Yasai Itame Set, it’s just great! They simply stirred veggies and shiitake mushroom then put on top of a hotplate, of course added with the same companions like all teishoku do. Too bad that (like Sushi Ippachi), they don’t provide teishoku at night.
So this place turns out to be an izakaya of some sort. A place for drink and snacks. Though mostly dominated by beers, sake, and shochu but experiencing the feeling of a night Japanese town leisure districts with lanterns, private rooms resembling the foodstalls with seatings, and of course the tatami mats and low tables would certainly be very grasping, right? Day or night would bear no difference once you get inside this place. You can go for private here or partying a la Japanese people after work! Still you gonna hear plenty of Japanese talks, hearty laughs, but at the same time, privacy guaranteed!
The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):
– Calculation Method (Reeks of Taxes!)
GT = After Service Tax Principle Price x Restaurant Tax
– Service Tax = 10% (Huh!)
– Grand Total = TBA
2. INTERIOR (8/10)
A very unique Japanese restaurant as far as I’m concerned. It may be intimidating, but privacy would be the keyword once you get inside this place.
3. SERVICE (6/10)
With 10% service charge, the waitresses can actually put more smile. They do helpful and swift, but should be friendlier. Perhaps it’s already a habit for them to serve Japanese people this way.
4. TASTE (7/10)
The best takoyaki ever! As for the other, you can almost guess. Pretty much the same but certainly is good.
5. OVERALL (6.5/10)
This is the threshold for my average insatiable satisfaction level. I’m still looking for better places with more balanced score, but Sakana certainly tries to be one of them that could keep up with my standards.
Location : MidPlaza Building I Basement Floor, Jalan Jend. Sudirman Kav. 10-11, Jakarta
Harvey Nichols is one of the most long-lasting and prominent chain of fashion retailers from UK. Opened its first store in South East Asia here in Jakarta at the soon-to-be or already pride of Jakarta, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town. Resided in the newly opened East Mall and conquers over several stories, Harvey Nichols offers us a new style of a fashion retailer should be, though competing bitterly with its next door rival, Seibu.
Surely this blog came out with something and if that’s not about food or traveling things, then what else? It was exactly at the 3rd floor (guess so), side by side with Social House, that’s where you can find the Harvey Nichols Food Market. It wasn’t a huge place that offers everything, but mostly were imported goods. But the cool thing is that after 7 PM you can buy takeaway foods with a 50% discount. You can name many things started salads, juices, and pastries. Probably the best bargain were the salads and the pastries only. The juice well, you can pick various fruits or veggie starting from orange, melon, tomato, carrot, etc but well it’s true that it gonna cost you about IDR 8,000 or at most 10,000 if I’m not mistaken, save that you don’t like any sugar added it would be cool, but I found my melon juice was so bland! I was dead thirsty that time and was hoping to quench it with a more nutritious liquid substance and found out that it was a mistake. Probably better if it was orange juice nonetheless.
As for the pastries, I haven’t had the chance to try it, but the variety was the extra kick. The salads? Wow! It’s big, good selections, plus many dressing options for only IDR 12,500 (already reduced price). Greek Salad, Caesar Salad, Mix Green Salad, Nicoise Salad and you name it. Salad dressings from Italian Dressing, Mayo, Thousand Islands, Vinaigrette and you name it too. A big box of salad surely will help your so-called diet (mind the freshness). So anytime you’re around the East Mall after 7 PM strolling a bit between Fab’s Cafe at Gramedia, the Gramedia itself, or Social House (buy your wine but bring your ‘tapas‘ from the Harvey Nichols bargain. Haha..), pay a visit to this place and buy something for your family back home.
While the research continues, I’ve been spending more than a year visiting local delights in Jakarta. Of course I never missed the opportunity to try new coffee bars. One of those opportunities was this Bakoel Koffie. They have opened several branches around Jakarta. Two of the branches I visited were the one in Cikini and this one in Senopati.
The weather that time was perfect. A rainy night! So I arrived at the place. Designed like a contemporary style art gallery but the interesting thing was that they integrated the art gallery with a coffee bar on the main hall and a sushi bar (Sushi Underground) in the visible basement right on the front of the premise. Intriguing! The paintings kept the wall filled, but the furniture were lacking in number so there’s still some blank spots unused. They could make it more homey, perhaps in time, but the terrace outside is a good spot for afternoon or night coffee, though I don’t really recommend it. It’s Jakarta and it’s humid even at night.
Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by coffee. Even I wrote a thesis about coffee back then and I took my time researching one of prominent local coffee bars in Bandung. Local players have always been the subjects of my comparison study. Each has its own distinction, of course, which happens to be very comprehensive. For me, the most important aspects of a coffee bar is not all about serving coffee beverages, but also the ability to create good beverage by selecting and mixing coffee beans with other ingredients and condiments alongside with the rest, such as the design of the place, the seats, the food, and many things else. That’s probably the gastronomy aspect from a coffee bar.
I’ve been scouting for years to find the place that could blend those things perfectly and still I found none up until now, but the search must go on of course. Well.. at the very least, I’m proud with the local players and admire their effort to do so. It’s still a bit hard comparing the locals against the international class franchise like the Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and many others. Thanks to the heavy grip of globalization and it’s because they have standardized themselves so heavily in taste, they have a very active R&D, plus the control everything from the source up until the end products. Not to mention their experience. However, the locals also cannot be underestimated. Nowadays they have also become serious contenders, they learn from this fierce competition, and they got the advantage, cheaper price!
So it happened during one rainy night. I actually had visited other outlets of Bakoel Koffie previously, but found out that this one’s a bit different. Perhaps this place used to be an art gallery, but they left some paintings inside. There’s also this space downstairs, used to be a garage I guess, but still vacant and also an empty room upstairs. Well, it’s not really separated and blocked by a wall yet it’s not a long walk downstairs or upstairs. The design was a contemporary one, separated by glass, and very visible. They also have this balcony outside. Very very spacious I must say and unique because such premise can open a coffee bar, a sushi bar, and an art gallery at the same time. Cool!
Now for the coffee time! Their method of serving the coffee was just like in Starbucks or Coffee Bean, but the difference was that they delivered the coffee to the customer’s table. In Cikini branch however, the waitresses came over to us and everything ended like in common restaurants. So there’s not much fun in here, just a usual order and deliver thing. But speed is of the essence of course, they got to brew the coffee good and fast. So after a short while, here they come. Oh anyway, forgot to mention it, I ordered the Ice Coffee Float (IDR 28,000) and my friend wanted a Large Cappuccino (IDR 24,000) with extra Hazelnut Flavour (IDR 4,000). Well, comparing to the other com padres of local Jakarta coffee bars, Bakoel Koffie actually offers an extensive line of coffee beverages menu but it’s still no surprise that the taste was not that special. And comparing it to the other local competitors, still couldn’t meet my expectations.
Making quality conversations! This is the right place to do so! Well, for teenagers or anybody who don’t like to talk serious thing, you can always do the board games or talking trash and gossiping. But when you elevate things to higher level, then talking serious thing or be creative about something, then a coffee bar would become the right place to stay. Somehow I found it interesting and intriguing seeing people drinking alone, reading, or using their notebooks. I figure that typical nowadays lifestyle is like this, not to mention the growing individualism. But this is also a place where people now can create or produce something in mobile, communicating with people digitally, and conducting business globally. How fast life could evolve! I mean, we didn’t think such things can be made possible though we had dreamed of it right? Though it evolved from 1800s in Europe, but we gotta admit that since that time Europe has been able to produce many talents. Who might possibly know that brilliant musician like Mozart or famous philosopher like Nietzsche used to hang around their local coffee bar a lot? Thank the Turks for making coffee bean available in Europe.
The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):
1. PRICE (7/10)
– Calculation Method (Popular Method)
GT = After Service Tax Principle Price x Restaurant Tax
– Service Tax = 5%
– Grand Total = IDR 64,680 (just fine)
2. INTERIOR (7/10)
Bakoel Koffie everywhere applies different interior, but this one’s coolly designed though there are some empty spaces left untouched making the place somehow cold..
3. SERVICE (5/10)
4. TASTE (6/10)
Not the best tasting coffee for local coffee bars I’ve ever drank. Plenty rooms for improvements though. Local coffee bars should aim for the world, not only locally.
5. OVERALL (6.25/10)
Bakoel Koffie should try to devise something that would show their differences with others. Show your trademark from now on to the world. Improve more and don’t stop.
Location : Jalan Cikini Raya no. 25, Jakarta – Indonesia