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Restaurant Review: Café Bali

It’s been like a decade since I last took a holiday in Bali. That time, among the towns they’d stay at, Kuta and Legian were those among people would speak of. I don’t know since when but lately Bali has added another town to attract people. They say that this town was designed for middle ups. So, you can find this town a little bit further to the north and it’s called Seminyak.

It was for the dinner time when we arrived at the vicinity. You can judge that Seminyak is somehow more classy by looking at the shops there. They seem to sell more expensive items. Not only apparel but other luxury items. So, my friends who had visited Bali months before recommended to park around the spot that offers many eateries around Laksamana Oberoi St. We parked the car and walked around the street looking for the most inviting restaurant. Personally, I’d love to try each one of them.

But on this case, we need to adjust to everyone’s wallet and among them all, Cafe Bali seemed to be the wisest choice back then. The exterior seemed neat, the menu was extensive, and most of all, the price was OK. Please don’t judge that a place might be nice because filled with foreigners because practically you see foreigners everywhere in Bali. So we took our seats and I did a bit walk around the cafe to see more.

The place was indeed nice, plays interesting music that attracts applauses from visitors which I found amusing, but has no air conditioners at all. Ceiling fans are everywhere but it’s a bit humid nonetheless. The heat actually can be negated because the atmosphere was warm and friendly, the waiters/waitresses were also very helpful and kind, and that make everything seemed perfect at that moment. If I happen to be the owner of Cafe Bali, I need to keep up the quality because Cafe Bali happened to be located around other fierce competitors. Well, Cafe Bali was able to make me content that time. That’s a good start.

Let’s go to our favorite section, shall we? The food! Cafe Bali provides a wide range of world food, notably the Western, Eastern, and Indonesian plus suitable for any occasions starting from breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a kind of cafe or restaurant that provides all.

The cons about such place is that there’s no specialty. Even though I still bother to ask about it to the waitress and she confidently answered that Cafe Bali excels at its Carpaccio. Now that I think of it, it’s a bit rare that a cafe provide such menu. There’s actually several carpaccio divided into the types and the weight. You can have like beef, tuna, or salmon in 150 grams or more.It’s with the beef that I had been quite familiar before but hadn’t had the chance to taste the real deal of it, so I decided to pick Beef Carpaccio 150 grams (IDR 40,000++).

Beef Carpaccio

Previously I was quite tempted to pick Tex-Mex Chicken (IDR 39,000++), but my friend had picked it first. My dear partner chose Cheese Ravioli (IDR 45,000++) based on my recommendation. I know very much about her appetite and she likes pasta a lot plus I gotta know about the taste too. The rest of my friends picked Hakao (IDR 28,000++) which was a bit expensive than the usual dimsum you may find but I tell you about it later, then somebody else picked Lasagna (IDR 45,000++), while the rest selected Tenderloin Steak (IDR 55,000++) and Mahi Mahi Fish (IDR 69,000++) for their dinner.

In an occasion like this where I eat altogether with many of my friends can be very beneficial because I can taste so many foods in only a single visit. My dish was surprisingly delicious. You just can’t imagine for the first time and other than sushi or salmon gravalax would see a dish like carpaccio where 150 grams of raw beef sliced thinly and decorated with cheese and salad with dipping sauce. Some people might not get too familiar with the taste but I liked it a lot. The salad may be so-so but the cheese and the meat worked in pairs beautifully. I need to try the specialty though carpaccio is usually served for appetizer. I say what the heck about that and just enjoy it and I did enjoy it very much. ^^

The other dishes turned out to be a satisfaction for me. The taste and the portion were great. I tried each one of them and that made me wish to return there again someday. The price was also very considerate as I said earlier and with these dishes, it was actually a surprise for me. Plus the fact that in Bali, restaurants or cafes don’t cheat the taxation. They added up the government tax and the service tax to the totals, unlike those shameless places anywhere that multiply it first by one tax, total it, then multiply it again with the other tax and the VAT can be quite high in the end. Even though, my friend said that USA is even worse. Apart from that you gonna need to give extra 15% tips or you might get sued because of not complying it. Jeez…

Ah about Cafe Bali again, it’s an incredibly worth remembering experience. The food, the music, the atmosphere, the service, the price, and everything else adds up to make it perfect. I wish to return again someday soon…. *daydreaming*

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

1. PRICE (6.5/10)

That’s what I love about Bali. No cheats on the taxation and here in Cafe Bali, everything is price tagged at a considerate price. It was only IDR 575,000 for 7 people dinner. Quite okay!

2. INTERIOR (7.5/10)

A very nice place! The atmosphere, the design, and the music make it very comfortable. No AC though, but that figures why they open all the windows and make it looks like an open air cafe.

3. SERVICE (7/10)

Very helpful and resourceful. What more can you ask?

4. TASTE (7/10)

Wonderful! As I have stated earlier. I wanna go there again!

5. OVERALL (7/10)

Keep up the good work!

Additional Information:

Location : Jl. Laksamana Oberoi, Seminyak, Bali.

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Supermarket Sweep: 7 Eleven [CLOSED]

Hot Cappuccino Medium Size with free Syrups!

What’s with 7 Eleven? It’s only a mini mart! Yeah, I know that. But this one is special. Just opened recently in Jakarta. I heard we got one here back then, but this one’s probably the whole different story. Located on the intersection of Mahakam St., this place getting a bit packed with teens who would hang out around that place in weekends. One of the attendants also said to me that they’ll open one in Kemang next, so I guess that the next one would be in Sabang St. That’s a businessman acumen. Haha..

What’s so special then? Unlike those smaller 7 Eleven marts I saw in Singapore, KL, or Bangkok, this one got everything inside! Mostly they only got the Slurpee and Big Gulp right? Here, they of course got those too, but they also installed the brewed coffee machine and a machine for teh tarik, cappuccino, and latte for any size! Add your favorite syrups for free! I had 4 shots of caramel for my hot cappuccino for excellent taste.

They also got counters for ready food like the hotdogs, fresh pizza, fried rice, Japanese croquettes, and others! For the hotdogs, you can add anything you like inside plus add the cheese from the machine for free!!! Now that’s what I call heaven!

They also provide seats so that you can sip your coffee or have your hotdogs peacefully. Plus the instant photo box machine and the copier for your other needs. Though what I didn’t like was that they put so much lamps on the ceilings so it gets too bright and definitely energy unfriendly. Well, don’t expect to get pampered a lot in a mini mart like that, but at least they really provide many interesting things for us to see for the first time in Jakarta. Enjoy your visit there! ^^

Location : All over Jakarta!

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

Food Court: The Kiosk Food Market

The Kiosk offers you food stalls from Bandung’s local specialties. The concept is quite similar but not exactly the same as Marche or Urban Kitchen in Jakarta but the selections and the price can be the very reason why you gonna love this place. Currently there are 3 places you can visit, one in Dago, Setiabudi, and in Braga.

Let me mention everything about the local specialties that available in this place. You can pick iga bakar, satay, nasi bakar, mie kocok kikil, soto sulung ayam, nasi liwet, lotek & rujak, es campur, nasi goreng, gudeg, nasi begana, bubur ayam, baso tahu, pempek, kupat tahu, ketan bakar, and batagor. All from local favorites such as Ronde Jahe Alketeri, Iga Bakar Si Jangkung, Pempek Rama, and many others!

Mie Kocok Kikil

My favorite there of course, Mie Kocok Kikil Kebon Jukut. The one I had that day was in Braga. What is Mie Kocok? Originated from Bandung, this type of noodle, resembling fettucine, is served with thick broth plus the diced cow’s leg (kikil) with many bean sprouts. Sometimes this dish can be added with meatballs but not here. You can have it for IDR 13,000 and for bigger portion IDR 17,000. Very decent and reasonably priced plus there’s plenty other options should you return next time to venture more inside. What more can you ask?

LOCATION:

  1. Braga City Walk GF. Jl. Braga no. 99-101, Bandung
  2. Jl. Ir. H. Juanda no. 48, Bandung
  3. Setiabudi Supermarket 2F. Jl. Setiabudi no. 42, Bandung

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.