Restaurant Review: Toko Coklat

At long last, a post about something from my hometown!

Well, it appears that, since I have taken a long absence from adventuring around my neighbourhood, my sister took the liberty to scout out a bit and share another fresh info about a new place. It’s been awhile since my eagle eyes have been put into a good use and on my behalf my sis has become a good ranger for this sort of thing.

The neighborhood around this place was quite nice. Full of trees and despite the closeness to the central attention of factory outlets around Jalan Riau, this place was still as calm as before although might be a bit packed around the corner where Jonas Photo resides. Toko Coklat held a ground at the intersection between Jalan Progo and Jalan Cimanuk and the other road that leads to Jalan Riau again. So that actually offers a vantage point to attract passersby which ultimately can’t help by noticing it and one of them would’ve been my sister I assumed.

Okay, so in one sunny afternoon after taking my family some time off and a good lunch, it was decided that we should have a some sort of ‘coffee break’ in a chocolate bar. I see why not and once we arrived, seemed for me, the place was quite nice. Modern architecture, with plenty of windows and open air to keep it fresh and full of light. But alas, actually there were many spaces for comfortable seats inside, the owner prefer to furnish the cafe only by cheap furnitures. The kind you would mostly encounter in food courts of trade centers or mediocre malls. Quite a shame actually.

For a small choco bar, Toko Coklat actually offers a wide selections of small chocolates price-tagged at IDR 3,500 each. Indulge yourself with the rich Jamaica Liquor, Coffee, Mocha, or Vanilla Cream and many others. The counter dressed beautifully also with animal-shaped chocolates which can be wrapped as a gift, also you can find cakes like Rolls, Mousse, Tiramisu and friends. You can also pick salty light snacks like Croquettes or Macaroni and even heavier ones like Spaghetti. Well after all, since I had my lunch before, I only picked myself a cup of Hot Chocolate and some chocolates. Though there were also coffee with all its varieties, but that time I chose the very substance related with the theme of the place and even the name of the place, Toko Coklat!

Hot Chocolate
Vanilla Cream & Mocha Chocolates

Since I lost the bill and I haven’t renewed my visit there, I concluded that everything that was there definitely not expensive. For instance, you can have a cup of coffee or chocolate only at a price range between IDR 10,000 to 15,000. As I mentioned before, the chocolate costs only IDR 3,500 and believe me, consume at most 2 and you’d probably had enough for the day.

I can guarantee the taste, the intensity of the sweetness was quite considerable but not at an exaggerating level whilst filled with creams of many sorts notably like mocha, caramel, or vanilla but that didn’t make the chocolate even too sweet and inedible, on the other hand it made the taste complete, whole, or anything you can name. Well, then again, I haven’t had the chance to taste all of it but I do recommend the place.

Apart from the fact that it’s not a place to hang out for a good deal amount of time (thanks to the not-so-cozy furnitures), you can visit here some times, pick some animal-shaped chocolates or box filled with small chocolates for your loved ones in substitute for pricy things, make it special this time and you can enjoy seeing their happy faces. Might as well come to this place, yet again I mention it, Toko Coklat.

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

1. PRICE (8/10)

A very wallet friendly place for a sinful indulgence!

2. INTERIOR (6/10)

The place wrapped in lights and adopted minimalist sytle interior. Though it can be furnished further to make it even better. Toko Coklat still has plenty of rooms to improve and it really should.

3. SERVICE (5/10)

Just fine.

4. TASTE (6/10)

For good chocolates, you can pick this place. Though I might not yet recommend the rest. You should try it by yourself first, unless you wait for my updates. ^^

5. OVERALL (6.25/10)

Additional Information:

Location : Jl. Cimanuk no. 5, Bandung

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Restaurant Review: Sakana

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!

Takoyaki

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!

Oden San Ten

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.

Akadashi Miso Shiru Grilled Shishamo

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):

1. PRICE (5/10)

– 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.

Additional Information:

Location : MidPlaza Building I Basement Floor, Jalan Jend. Sudirman Kav. 10-11, Jakarta

Supermarket Sweep: Harvey Nichols Food Market [CLOSED]

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.

Kahvehane: Bakoel Koffie

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.

Kopi Tubruk & Tiramisu Cheese Cake

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)

Just fine.

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.

Additional Information:

Location : Jalan Cikini Raya no. 25, Jakarta – Indonesia

Restaurant Review: Y&Y [CLOSED]

Arguments to decide where we should eat at the state when our stomachs growling equals bad idea. It happened when me and my friends strolling around the vast Grand Indonesia newly opened theme stories (The Crossroads of The World). Several stories between Blitzmegaplex and the shopping mall are designated for entertainment and food zones. Several tenants have filled the space, but they seem to be separated with each other so we have to walk to and fro while arguing where we should eat. I came up with the idea for The Grand Duck King, but they seemed to be discouraged by the menu pictures. Well, I’ll save it for another occasion then. Anyway, long story short, we arrived in a bright place that goes with the name Y&Y.

Judging from the outside, this place was bright and shiny and the interior was quite neat actually and by the time we got inside, it’s actually quite comfortable. The white theme and the bright texture somehow deliver a pristine atmosphere. I must say I’m quite impressed, plus the installed “camouflaged” ceiling fans. That’s neat! You gotta see by yourself.

After observing the menu, Y&Y seemed to be a fusion genre kind of restaurant. Well, they provided dishes from appetizer to dessert, but all has the Japanese touch in it. The price seemed to be reasonable but I doubt that it’ll bring me satisfaction. They also promoted the Wagyu (Japanese superior quality beef) in the menu. Tempting, but I suppose, to be really satisfied with Wagyu, you need to visit either a true Japanese restaurant or a steakhouse. That would probably more suitable, but in terms of price, I warrant, you’re gonna think twice. Haha.. OK then. I happened to see this intriguing dish there. It’s a fusion pasta! After some deliberate consideration, I chose the Thyme & Parsley Escargot & Asparagus Fettuccine (IDR35,000). Seems like a good bargain. My friends seemed to be intrigued too and they picked with the Beetroot Fettuccine With Mix Mushrooms (IDR 35,000). Nowadays, we create pasta out of vegetables such as spinach, carrot, and even beetroot. So that makes pasta even more colorful. You know, it’s like when I was a kid, my mom used to told me that I’m not supposed to eat too much candy bars especially the colorful ones. She said that it’s not good for health because they put this artificial color on it. Notably like Yellow 5 and 6 in Pringles Cheese, well… not to also mention the MSG — our favorite thing from snacks! Anyway, this kind of thing really makes me a bit phobic when I’m facing colorful foods. A bit exaggeration, but after a while I realized that this is a pasta! So I assume there’s no need for me to worry.

Thyme & Parsley Pasta with Escargot & Asparagus

Well, in terms of taste, strangely decent! I mean it’s an odd mixture between asparagus and escargot (if they really put escargots in it) over pasta. The pasta itself was probably aglio e olio type (garlic and olive oil). I added parmesan to enhance the taste, but the original taste I must say was quite OK. Too bad they didn’t provide the life of Italian cuisine for the customers, it’s the olive oil. I took a turn to taste my friends’ dishes which happened to be the same. But this one turns to be a bit more exotic than mine. But mine’s definitely better in taste. So, the fettuccine itself was purple colored.. well you know.. the beetroot color, mixed with Japanese mushrooms like enoki and shiitake. Add more parmesan for more life. Enough for my insatiable appetite I suppose.

On another occasion (my second visit), the rice bowls were the theme of the day. Those were the Red Duck Curry Rice (IDR 45,000) and Mix Fishes/Sashimi Rice (IDR 48,000). I found these two were not enough to even satisfy my stomach, not to mention my judgment too. The duck one was quite OK but the ingredients were a bit imbalance. Well the veggies were dominating the taste instead of the duck but at least the sauce was able to balance it a bit. Uniquely served in stone bowl like when we used to live in the Stone Age. Haha… Meanwhile, my dish was the sashimi rice and served in clay pot bowl. Gotta be careful there. The whole idea was to have a clay pot rice with sashimi, but eventually as the rice got mixed with all, the sashimi were not raw anymore. So it’s more like the Pepper Lunch dishes where you semi-cook everything in your dish according to your preference. Anyway, they too provide this special sauce which definitely helps a lot! Cause the taste was really just so so. Still wasn’t good enough to meet my demands.

Mix Mushrooms Beetroot Pasta

So in the end, I conclude that actually this restaurant serves decent dishes but since most are fusion genre dishes, some of which may be total disasters! But gotta admit that the rest probably okay. The pricing is OK considering the Japanese ingredients for the fusion dishes. Not too pricey but definitely you can pick better place. I’ve seen better days in enjoying Japanese cuisine but combining it with Western doesn’t always work. Play safe here, lads!

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

1. PRICE (6/10)

– Calculation Method

GT = After Tax Principle Price x Service Tax

– Service Tax = 5%.

– Grand Total = IDR 190,575 (First visit, three people); IDR 136,290 (Second visit, 2 people)

2. INTERIOR (7/10)

Coolly designed! Although dominated by white color, but still gives the calming atmosphere. I love the camo ceiling fans!

3. SERVICE (5/10)

Just fine. Too bad they don’t provide olive oil, but at least they got parmesan (unlike the stingy Pizza Hut!)

4. TASTE (6/10)

Quite decent, but you should still play safe and pick the right dish according to your intuition. The pasta dishes are recommended.

5. OVERALL (6/10)

Probably okay for the first couple visits, but soon you’ll get bored. Worth a single try.

Additional Information:

Location :

Y&Y Steak
Pacific Place, 4th Fl #4-65
Jakarta 12190
(021) 5797-3137

Y&Y Nasi+
Pacific Place, 4th Fl #4-72
Jakarta 12190
(021) 5797-3127

Grand Indonesia, West Mall- 3A, Entertainment District 1 #23
Jakarta
(021) 2358-0825

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The exciting gastronomic escapades of a foodie journo!

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