Restaurant Review: Canteen

Aksara and Canteen has always been a cool tag team. Whenever you wish for good books at a relatively competitive price (amongst all these rackets of imported bookstores in Jakarta) plus a bit of eclectic music and backstreet genres, Aksara would be the right place.

I have been a quite loyal patronage of Aksara for new books. Of course, being a prudent buyer, I always give myself an opportunity to circle around the competitors, do my homework, and pick up the one who offers the best price. Aksara maintains its credibility within my heart with such ability. Up until this time, however, I never had the opportunity to visit the Kemang branch, but I always fancy myself with the visits to Pacific Place and Plaza Indonesia.

Now now, back to food. My very specialty. I visited this place twice and I gotta give them quite a good remark for the food. So come along Canteen in Pacific Place. But before that I gotta tell you something about this. Unless you have noticed, you should recognize the true beauty of bookstores in this modern age. Imagine the past where the great libraries packed with oak racks, big old intimidating books, gloomy atmosphere, dominated by the brownish color and smell like nobody ever clean the dust for centuries, and filled with librarians and people who are notably.. Nerdy and grim.

Now cast aside those!!! And look at the realities of today, of tomorrow, and of the future! It’s true that some libraries still possess that kind of eerie looks, but the bookstores now are setting the pace and the trend. Which I hope that future libraries will also adopt the good looks and the friendliness even to those who don’t fancy reading! Now look at Aksara here for instance, the one in Pacific Place feels like home. Also adopting the same interior concept, the Plaza Indonesia branch introduces a homey design with more woods and a big rug in the middle of the shop. Though somehow smaller but more comfortable for me, save the crowd though.

Okay, that would be enough librarian talks. I’ll create one section later for bookstores comparison study, but now let’s head back for a lunch at Canteen, the faithful neighbour of Aksara and the whole package about how a bookstore these days should run -> Combine it with a cafe!! And in this case, Canteen has the more wine and dine type rather than just a canteen or a cafe. Judging from the name, a canteen should provide cheap foods right? But not this one people. I don’t know whether Aksara management decided to name it Canteen for this purpose of attracting people into a belief that this place would offer cheap price. It does provide coffee like any other coffee bar with competing price tags but wait a second people, if a cafe resides in a mall then it won’t be cheap anymore. Trust me. Especially the ones in Jakarta malls!

But then again, this type of challenge has always been my appetite for risk. The risk to spend. That’s what most people are lacking. Are you? Haha.. That’s a challenge!

So let me spare you from doing a trial-and-error experiment, and read this out loud to your friends -> This place is OKAY, you can go and try it.

Why? I’ll tell you why. First, you gotta comprehend that if I say it’s GOOD, then it’s good. But if it’s OKAY, there are still some flaws but you’re okay to go. So turns out that this place is in the OKAY category. I’m bringing you a simple categorization for culinary critics because most people only say that, ‘XXX is a good restaurant, ZZZ doesn’t serve a tasty food’ and so on. The thing is, most people wouldn’t bother to do that or… but mostly and, of course, unable to do a comprehensive judging.

Chicken Mushroom

Now, let’s start. From the decoration and interior judging first. I’d say this place gives you the comfort through the lighting. No wonder, for places who adopt wine and dine genre, certain level of elegance must be applied. You wouldn’t wanna sit drinking wine and or eating good food in a fast food kind of place right? As for Canteen who neighbours Aksara, the theme would be clearly stated here, it’s not a kind of kantin you usually reckon (that’s why I don’t know why they named it Canteen), it should be a cozy enough for someone who might me hungry after buying several interesting books. You might wanna lean on a bit over a cup of tea or coffee but certainly in the right place. Sure you can go to Starbucks or any other coffee bars around the hood in Pacific Place, but Canteen already offers you the right atmosphere. First, from the calm lighting, second from the cozy couches they have, and third, of course, the music. These elements blend in naturally and you gotta agree with this right? Though this place doesn’t offer the perfect blend, but I would still recommend it.

Big Breakfast (with free Carlsberg Beer)

Now, let’s go right on to the food. During my first visit, I picked the cheapest dish there (beside the pasta) and that was Chicken Mushroom (IDR 55,000), my partner picked Creamy Fusilli (IDR 55,000). The Chicken Mushroom was not that good, I mean it may look nice but I didn’t really agree with the taste. It was not special, it’s like a chicken cordon bleu filled with mushrooms plus the not-so-special mashed potato too. But the pasta my partner picked was great! It was thick, very succulent, topped with all-you-can-add parmesan, and unforgiving. She can’t even make it through the whole portion so I gotta help her.

Creamy Fusilli

The second visit there was because of something intriguing. I realized during my first visit that they have this brunch menu, but it was pretty careless of me to had neglected it. So when that time comes, it’s payback time! Intrigued by a certain foreigner who had ordered this dish, then I picked Big Breakfast (IDR 65,000) right away. My conservative partner chose the pasta again, a bit intriguing though, it’s Penne Arabbiata with crabs (IDR 55,000). So now you can measure a bit about the food price tag there.

Penne Arabbiata with Crabs

The Big Breakfast itself came with free Carlsberg beer, in which I already ordered myself another drink before they let me know they have the promotion. I didn’t read about it in the menu (unless they really stated it there), but the fact that they forgot to remind me about it actually can cost other customers more than they should have. Lucky for them I don’t drink, so then I returned the chilled beer bottle back. Anyway, the composition for the Big Breakfast was quite similar like the ordinary English Breakfast. It’s big, of course, and contains many things like bacon, eggs (you can pick any style, I chose scrambled eggs), baked tomato, tatters, and halal version of English Breakfast ‘accessories’. The Penne Arabbiata was quite okay, but not that satisfying judging that during our first visit here the pasta was very delicious. However, it’s still a decent pick anyway.

For the drinks, well.. we had our coffee, tea, and distilled water. Nothing too special, but the place was comfy enough for a good chat over coffee or something warm. You can also enjoy the free wi-fi. So it’s your pick, whether you just want to enjoy yourself surfing the net and sipping your favorite coffee, gossiping with your friends at a nice place, or a relaxing dine out with your partner, you can always pick Canteen for that. Perhaps they do need to change the name. Let’s say.. Bistro, Food Court, Cafe, or anything bland. Ahahaha.. Just kidding.

The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):

1. PRICE (4/10)

Calculation Method

GT = (Principle Price + (Principle Price x Service Tax)) x Restaurant Tax

– Service Tax = 10% (They even forgot to offer the free beer, this is outrageous!!)

– Grand Total = IDR 176,660 (2 people, first visit), IDR 193,600 (2 people, 2nd visit)

2. INTERIOR (8/10)

I like the design. The lighting makes you comfy, also they got these sofa in Pacific Place to make it cozier, and they design the interior neatly. The one in Plaza Indonesia also seem nice.

3. SERVICE (4/10)

For a 10% service charge, they provide lousy service by forgetting to mention the beer promotion, they dressed up unfashionably, but some of them were also helpful. But still overall, not good..

4. TASTE (7/10)

To save the humiliation for the service department, the kitchen provides good food with a decent taste.

5. OVERALL (5.75/10)

Additional Information:

Location : Pacific Place and Plaza Indonesia – Jakarta

Restaurant Review: Nanny’s Pavillon (2009)

My only wish few months ago was to apply to manage a Pancious franchise for Bandung. Equipped well with the insights of how wonderfully this business will run in Bandung and disappointed utterly with the appearance of this similar concept due to the lack of fund!

Fresh from the oven. Lo and behold! The Nanny’s Pavillon in Bandung!!! This place offers almost the same as Pancious but with a friendlier price of course (the one in Jakarta is more expensive).

Since it has become one of the hippest place in town, on and on it’s crowded like almost everyday. Located in a fine premise, very strategic, integrated with a boutique outlet and a food court, Nanny’s Pavillon boastfully presents its existence. The name ‘Pavillon’ was indeed French but since it’s using Nanny’s than it’s a bit strange actually but does the knowledge of proper English matters here? What matters is indeed what this Nanny may offer us!

It was indeed literally located in a pavilion, the open air design will give you a more fresh kind of feeling if you compare it to other air-conditioned pancake parlors in Jakarta. They also cover the place with plants and making it feels like home because in reality it’s located just beside the busy street of Riau/Martadinata St.

The problem would be where to park your car because they don’t provide enough parking space inside so most likely you gonna need to park your car outside and if you happen to be unlucky in a situation where you’re really craving of pancake at a wrong time (i.e : weekends), then you might gonna need to walk a bit from where you park your car.

Luckily, for those who use public transportation, you can stop the angkot just outside the place. Very convenient, but judging from how Indonesians now prefer to flood the street with motorcycles and the fact that Bandung is lacking of parking lots, you gotta do what you gotta do then.

Butterscotch Coffee

That time, the air was still in the atmosphere of Lebaran holiday but it was the remaining days of it so many people already got back to work. We assumed that even Jakartans already return back to their bustling city, so we decided to have a lunch there. It was a misjudge, lucky for us that we had arrived earlier for the waiting list because less than 5 minutes later, tons of people flooded the waiting list right away. We’re welcomed by waitresses dressed like French maids in green stripes clothes. The Nanny thing also applied to the theme of the place, like the interiors, the benches, and the whole design. It is very fitting with the pancake, I’d say. When we browsed the menu, they also served pasta, sandwich, baked rice and coffee.

Peach Pancake with Maple Syrup and Vanilla Ice Cream

Since my mom wanted a pancake, then I should pick something else. I suggested her the Peach Pancake (IDR 29,000) and I picked myself a pasta dish of Beef Fettucines with Brown Sauce (IDR 29,000). For a price comparison, the pancake was in the same tier with Pancious but the pasta surely cheaper. You gonna get around IDR 40K in Pancious for the pasta.

For the drink, I picked the Auntie’s Butterscotch Coffee (IDR 18,000). I took the liberty to change the name from Aunt Butterscotch coz I forgot the Aunt’s name. Hahaha.. So, the peach pancake was great! It was big, warm, tender, it got peaches in it (the one in Pancious was different, they simply ‘pour’ the peaches with the sauce on top of the pancake), plus really fits well with the vanilla ice cream (too bad Nanny hasn’t provided other flavors besides vanilla that time). They also provide the maple syrup, which was a very important thing you can add to a pancake!

As for the pasta, it was quite okay. You may see it like small portion at first, but when you dig it, it’s quite deep. Perhaps it’s lacking in composition whereas they put only few meatballs to balance the portion and the sauce. Plus it lacked of herbs. European dishes use plenty of grassy herbs like oregano, rosemary, and friends. Luckily they provided parmesan cheese (unlike the stingy Pizza Hut).

Beef Fettucine with Brown Sauce

To wrap it up, it was a decent lunch after all and people indeed seem to like the place and the food. I got no objection in that. Since Nanny’s Pavillon is the first and the most decent pancake parlor Bandung ever got. Sooner or later, competitors for the same genre will join in for the fight and as usual Bandung will become even more indisputable as a culinary haven. The price we gotta pay would only be the heavy traffic.

One more thing, why pick Pancious for the comparison study? It’s because that it’s the most famous pancake parlor in Jakarta. That simple. Pancious surely owns more menu though but you can substitute it with Nanny’s when you’re in Bandung, no sweat! ^^

The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):

1. PRICE (7/10)

Since Bandungnese are price-sensitive people. This place would accommodate their wallet and their appetite. Though the price tags in Jakarta are several thousand rupiah more expensive.

2. INTERIOR (6/10)

Feels like home and far from the feeling that it’s located just beside a busy street. The waitresses are like French maids ready to serve you with good home dishes.

3. SERVICE (6/10)

Quite helpful but if it’s the rush hour, you might gonna get a bit difficulty asking for their prompt compliance.

4. TASTE (6.5/10)

So far so good. I still need to work on the other menu there.

5. OVERALL (6.375/10)

The pioneer of pancake parlor in Bandung. They gonna need to improve every time so that they can compete with potential competitors sooner or later. As for the rest, I feel quite contented.

Additional Information:

Location : Jl. R.E. Martadinata No. 112, Bandung

More locations in Jakarta have opened (updates TBA)

QuikSkoop™ : BMC (Bandoengsche Melk Centrale)

Who would not have known of BMC if you live in Bandung. It’s a very classical place, even elders recognize it better than us. Since of course, it’s owned by the government then we can always assume that they don’t really care about it anymore after one point. For example, after the renovation finished (after many decades of ignorance) or other jokes they made. Ah enough politics, let us instead enjoy the milk products BMC has to offer.

Established in 1928 and famous during the colonial days back then, BMC specialty was indeed in milk and yogurt. They also offer local cuisine, a bit of Western and snacks. It’s been awhile since I last visited the place and I had enjoyed the milk and the yogurt of course. But this time, I’d like to taste the kefir. What is kefir anyway? We already knew that yogurt is a fermented milk, and kefir is next cycle of it, meaning that it’s a fermented yogurt. Recommended mostly for diabetic people or people in health treatment but it’s still healthy anyway of course.

So then I picked Mocha Kefir and proven not to be that sour. Perhaps the plain one would be quite ‘devastating’ for weak stomach but of course you can pick the strawberry version of it too. Cost for only IDR 10,000. For friendlier picks, there’s always milk, yogurt, and ice cream with all their assortments and ‘accessory’. Have a try!

Location : Jl. Aceh (nearby Masjid Al-Ukhuwwah and Sawios), Bandung

Kahvehane: Kopi Oey (FKA Kopitiam Oey)

Kopitiam Oey is a business venture owned by a famous culinary TV personality, ‘Om’ Bondan Winarno. With all his extensive knowledge and experience regarding food, he utilized it all to create this kopitiam business venture. Kopitiam itself defined like the usual coffee shop and Mr. Oey himself designed it truly like Chinese style. Oh by the way, if you don’t know about it, ‘Oey’ is actually pronounced ‘Wi’ that stands for the first syllable for the surname of the guru. So what I meant as Mr. Oey at the beginning that means it’s for Mr. Winarno.

At first, I didn’t notice that this belongs actually to him but you can see pictures of him all over the place. I knew it later from the internet. As for the interior, it’s Chinese old school with old style wooden seats and tables so that means no cushion at all. Pictures can be seen everywhere on the walls, old advertisements, newspaper/magazine articles, the menu in big pictures, and you can laugh at the funny ones. The place was not that big so you can see the kitchen right away further back. Overall, the place possess a warm and cozy atmosphere, be it in the afternoon or night.

The menu itself was extensive, Mr. Oey seems to be utilizing his knowledge fully and recreating famous dishes from specific areas all around Indonesia. FYI, the drinks are for all day but the dishes are differentiated for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Starting from the drinks you can find many kinds of coffee such as the originally brewed coffee up to Vietnamese coffee drinking style and not to forget, the best thing from this place, it’s the Wiener Melange (IDR 15,000). Wiener Melange is actually a coffee topped with vanilla ice cream. You gonna need a good ice cream for this and once it all got mixed up, it’ll become a great coffee!

Wiener Melange

You can find also tea in all its forms. You can have the original Javanese pot tea, Moroccan mint tea, and of course the star of the show, Teh Taloe (IDR 12,000). I forgot whether they have the coffee version of this too, but anyway it’s a mixture of tea with milk and raw egg(s). The taste was quite okay, it’s almost like Teh Tarik but you can feel the egg aftertaste which I doubt most people can stand it. It’s not particularly hard to find this drink as you can find it almost anywhere in a Padangnese restaurants. As for the rest, I think you should try Es Cincau Cikini made with milk and ginger and best served for hot afternoon and for only IDR 10,000! So as you can see, the price range for the drinks were quite okay and you can even find drinks below IDR 10,000.

Teh Taloe

Now here comes the food. I’ve been there until this day around 4 times and for the first time I only tried the Spring Roll for the snack and it wasn’t that good. The second time, we were only having the coffee. Then the third time was when I tried Mie Kepiting Pontianak (IDR 23,000) and it was quite okay, I took a sip for the Nasi Goreng (IDR 23,000) and it’s just okay but certainly has its distinctive taste. Then the last time I visited the joint was at the lunch time, we immediately picked the most inviting among the few available lunch dishes.

Lontong Tjap Gomeh

I picked Lontong Cap Gomeh (IDR 26,000) and my partner picked Nasi Rames (IDR 26,000). I need to confirm again later for the prices. The portion for the dishes were just fine for me (perhaps Mr. Oey already took careful measure for this). So it was okay for me and certainly too many for my partner. Haha..However, at the first taste for the Lontong Cap Gomeh, the broth was cold so I immediately asked for a warmer one. I was a bit disappointed because of that but lucky for them that the taste was just great. I had a clean slate for that. As for the Nasi Rames, it was good too and I was indeed satisfied. Closed by Wiener Melange, that made the whole lunch very worthwhile!

Nasi Rames

Indeed, I have to agree to what Mr. Oey said about his place, ‘Koffie Mantep, Harganja Djoejoer’. Though Kopitiam Oey still need for improvements but for this I trust on Mr. Oey high capability and even so, this place still attain one of the most recommended place among such in my heart. Give it a try!

The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):

1. PRICE (9/10)

Koffie Mantep, Harganja Djoejoer!

2. INTERIOR (6/10)

A warm coffee shop with a Chinese Peranakan interior style. Though without cushioned seatings, you’ll enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of this place. Luckily it’s opened in the further side of the busy Jalan Sabang.

3. SERVICE (6/10)

Just fine.

4. TASTE (7/10)

If it’s about the culinary guru, Mr. Oey. You should not underestimate his measure for this one. Even so, the food still needs improvements however for the drinks, it’s an A-OK!

5. OVERALL (7/10)

Has the potentials indeed to become a famous place to dine.

Additional Information:

Location : Jl. H. Agus Salim/Sabang no. 18, Jakarta Pusat.

Website : http://www.kopitiamoey.com/

QuikSkoop™ : Nasi Kebuli H. Ali

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.

Nasi Kebuli Kambing

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

The exciting gastronomic escapades of a foodie journo!

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