The warm elegant atmosphere at Djakarta Bali, a charming Indonesian restaurant in the centre of Paris, is explained by the fact that the Hanafi family have been welcoming guests here ever since 1985. There’s a fascinating backstory here, too, the senior Mr Hanafi had been the Indonesian ambassador to Cuba and a government minister, but chose to stay abroad after a regime change in Indonesia. “We receive guests at our restaurant like we would receive them in our home,” says Nina Hanafi, his gracious daughter, who founded the restaurant, where the dining room is dominated by a golden Buddha, silk banner and slate walls. Unless you’re a knowledgeable fan of Indonesian cooking, the best way to meet the varied kitchen of this island nation in southeast Asia is with the excellent value 35-euro Bandung Menu Rijsttafel (the word rijsttafel means rice table in Dutch, and is how the Dutch refer to this sort of tasting menu in a country that was their colony for three centuries). You start with the soothing Soto Ayam, a rich chicken soup with rice and vegetables, and continue with lumpia, deep-fried spring rolls, chicken satay (peanut sauce), and umami rich rending daging, beef marinated in coconut milk with Indonesian herbs. By turns delicate and fully flavoured, Indonesian cooking is soothing, sophisticated and sensual, and this is a wonderful place to discover it. – A.L.
Djakarta Bali 9 rue Vauvilliers (1st), 01 45 08 83 11