Sisters Claudia and Vanessa Ong, both accomplished martial artists, enjoy a feast of fresh seafood and tender beef with authentic Japanese flavours at Iseya Japanese Restaurant. Kevin Sjahrial writes 165
Sampoerna Strategic Square stand tall amid the crowded region of Central Jakarta. Tucked away in a corner is Iseya Japanese Restaurant, a serene space in which to escape from the daily hustle and bustle while enjoying delicious Japanese fare.
Founded in 2012, Iseya Japanese Restaurant is renowned for the freshest of ingredients, from vegetables to meats and seafood, flown in from different parts of Japan. As the seasons change in Japan, so does the menu at Iseya. Our guests for the afternoon were Vanessa and Claudia Ong. At the entrance, the two sisters were greeted by sting rays and arowanas—symbols of good fortune—swimming gracefully in an oversized aquarium. An attendant dressed in kimono then led the sisters to one of the private rooms for a meal especially prepared by Head Chef Moriya Hidetsugu.
The first two courses of the meal showcased the range of Iseya’s offerings. The opening appetiser consisted of prawn, scallop, roasted chicken and beef tataki, each wonderfully complemented by its own sauce or puree. The broth that came next was served in quaint, individualised kettles. As the soup was poured out, a most alluring aroma filled the room. The Dobin Mushi, a traditional seafood broth, is prepared with gindara, mushrooms and prawns giving it its sweet fragrance and powerful taste.
We caught up with our guests as the plates were cleared. Vanessa and Claudia are not only sisters, but are also business partners. Choosing to go independently from their family business, the two sisters set up their own jamu enterprise. One of their biggest goals was to reintroduce jamu— herbal elixirs traditionally consisting of turmeric, ginger, and rice—to the next generation.
They started with Jamu Workshop in 2014. As the name suggests, the sisters hold workshops in which participants get to learn about and mix their own bottles of jamu. Earlier this year, they expanded their business to selling and delivering packaged jamu. Their