Be­yond In­done­sian fare

Epicure (Indonesia) - - BEST OF INDONESIA -

With Jakarta of­ten se­lected as a launch pad for many Asian restau­rants to in­tro­duce their cuisines to In­done­sian din­ers, there’s no lack of great op­tions. Divya Pridhnani sussed out four of the top din­ing des­ti­na­tions in the city, from In­dian to Ja­pa­nese. Keyaki

For more than 40 years, Keyaki Ja­pa­nese Restau­rant – housed in Sari Pa­cific Jakarta ho­tel – has been serv­ing au­then­tic Ja­pa­nese cui­sine. It has man­aged to with­stand the test of time and stay true to its con­cept of of­fer­ing clas­sic Ja­pa­nese de­lights against a slew of younger com­peti­tors who are dish­ing out fu­sion fare.

“Jakar­tans love the fact that we are able cater to the In­done­sian palate with­out com­pro­mis­ing on au­then­tic­ity,” said Ja­pa­nese ex­ec­u­tive chef Masani Okamoto. And their din­ers have voted with their fin­gers as ev­i­denced by the many times Keyaki snagged awards for The Best Ja­pa­nese Restau­rant in Jakarta, in­clud­ing Best Sin­gle Ja­pa­nese Restau­rant in 2017, at the Best Restau­rant, Bar and Cafe Awards (BRBCA).

Din­ers are still greeted with en­thu­si­as­tic cries of ‘irasshaimase!’ as they en­ter the restau­rant. Ev­ery de­sign de­tail is well thought of, such as the white walls dec­o­rated with wooden squares ac­cents, which evokes the feel of a shoji, a tra­di­tional Ja­pa­nese room di­vider made of translu­cent pa­per and wood frames. The tatami din­ing area and wait­staff dressed in ki­monos set the mood, in­clud­ing a mas­sive ‘Keyaki’ tree painted on the glass at the front of the restau­rant.

The food is pre­pared in var­i­ous styles: ro­batayaki, tep­pa­nyaki, sukiyaki, yakiniku and shabu-shabu. Some of the dishes that stand out in­clude the gin­dara or yel­low­tail fish cheek, which is grilled for 30 min­utes, then driz­zled with a de­lec­ta­ble sauce made from boiled fish bones, soy sauce and sake. Another com­fort food favourite is Nabeyaki Udon, served with veg­eta­bles tem­pura and a choice of chicken or beef. And of course, an au­then­tic Ja­pa­nese din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence isn’t quite com­plete with­out sashimi and sushi rolls, es­pe­cially Keyaki’s sal­mon av­o­cado rolls, spicy smoked sal­mon roll and Rock ‘n Roll; the lat­ter con­sists of scal­lops, grilled eel and prawn. Rp300,000/per­son with­out al­co­holic bev­er­ages. Keyaki also of­fers a five- or seven-course omakase. Keyaki Restau­rant, Sari Pa­cific Jakarta, Jalan M.H. Tham­rin No.6, Cen­tral Jakarta. Tel: +62 21 2993 2888

So Thai

When it comes to spicy, tangy and savoury flavours, Thai food shares a close pro­file with In­done­sian cui­sine. The newly opened So Thai in Plaza In­done­sia is fast gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the best Thai restau­rants in town. So Thai is another brand of­fer­ing from In­done­sia’s lead­ing Thai restau­rant chain Jit­t­lada Group.

“Since our open­ing in Novem­ber 2017, our restau­rant re­mains packed with cu­ri­ous and en­thu­si­as­tic din­ers. They are

aware that Jit­t­lada Group al­ways de­liv­ers the best Thai cui­sine ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Lucky Soe­byan­toro, pres­i­dent di­rec­tor of Jit­t­lada Group.

So Thai is a de­par­ture from restau­rants that sport tra­di­tional Thai in­te­ri­ors. The sheer de­tail­ing in the main din­ing area – from the iconic Thai-street graf­fiti and carv­ings to wall mu­rals and sculp­tures – re­flect a more mod­ern vibe. Adding to the splen­did din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is a cosy bar at the en­trance and a pa­tio.

Ex­pect to savour some of the most pop­u­lar Thai dishes here. Think Tom Yam Goong – a tra­di­tional spicy and tangy Thai soup teem­ing with prawn, mush­room and lemon­grass; Pat Graprao – stir-fried chill­ies and holy basil leaves with a choice of chicken, beef or seafood; and Gaang Mus­saman – a south­ern Thai curry. Another must-try is the steam fish man­aow – fresh fish sea bass or grouper, steamed with fresh lime juice and chili sauce. It’s the per­fect and rich bal­ance of sweet, sour and spicy in one dish. Rp300,000/per­son ex­clud­ing al­co­holic bev­er­ages. So Thai by Chan­dara, Plaza In­done­sia Lan­tai 1, Jalan M.H. Tham­rin No.30, Cen­tral Jakarta.

Tel: +62 21 2992 1935

Fez Ki­nara

In­dian food afi­ciona­dos who are al­ready fa­mil­iar with Ki­nara in Ke­mang are in for a sur­prise, as the restau­rant has re­cently changed its name to Fez Ki­nara. It has ex­tended its reper­toire from In­dian-only dishes to Mid­dle Eastern and Maghreb fare as well. But fret not, crafted by ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ec­u­tive chef Chal­liou Rachid and In­dian chef Bashir Ahmed, Ki­nara’s wildly pop­u­lar dishes are still avail­able.

“We want to take our guests on a culi­nary jour­ney through In­dia as well as the Mid­dle East and Gulf re­gions. There are a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween th­ese cul­tures in terms of food and en­ter­tain­ment,” said Mo­hamed Ahmed, man­ager of Fez Ki­nara.

There are a few dishes that will never dis­ap­point. One is Dahl Ki­nara, which is made of black lentils, toma­toes, ginger and garlic. The in­gre­di­ents are sim­mered overnight on a char­coal fire, then driz­zled with cream. The Tan­door Plat­ter of­fers an as­sort­ment of ke­babs in­clud­ing prawns, lamb, fish and chicken. Ro­gan Josh – a Ki­nara spe­cial­ity – com­prises ten­der lamb morsels sim­mered in curd and in­fused with Kash­miri herbs and spices. Murgh Makani, of In­dian char-grilled chicken, is served in vel­vety tomato gravy en­riched with honey. To cool off one’s burn­ing palate, or­der the Ke­sari

Kulfi, a rich and creamy home­made In­dian ice cream, flavoured with pis­ta­chio, al­mond and saf­fron.

Din­ing at Fez Ki­nara will make you feel as if you have been trans­ported to an In­dian palace, so come dressed the part to bask in the ma­jes­tic am­bi­ence. Fur­nished with teak­wood and sand­stone, the restau­rant sports a grand 400-year-old an­cient gate from the state of the Ma­hara­jas, Ra­jasthan. Thanks to

the dra­matic stair­way that leads up to the din­ing room, re­gal tra­di­tional aes­thet­ics and ex­quis­ite car­pets, along with warm am­bi­ent lights, Fez Ki­nara is a classy venue to en­joy the royal spread that awaits. Rp400,000/per­son ex­clud­ing al­co­holic bev­er­ages. Jl. Ke­mang Raya No 78B, Jakarta Se­la­ton 12739. Tel: +62 21 7192 2677

Li Feng

For a long time, the clas­sic Xin Hwa was Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Jakarta’s draw­card for tra­di­tional Can­tonese cui­sine. Tak­ing its place since is Li Feng, which of­fers a more mod­ern am­bi­ence.

The im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence starts as din­ers are sur­rounded by works of art lit­er­ally above them. A beau­ti­ful art piece hangs on the ceil­ing show­cas­ing the his­toric voy­age of junk ship and the spice trade be­tween the South Chi­nese Sea and Batavia - the name Jakarta was pre­vi­ously known as - de­picted as an up­turned “sea” made of hand­made am­ber crys­tal glass. The sub­tle use of earthy colours and streaks of blue through­out the restau­rant is a wel­come change from the overly used red and gold hues in many Chi­nese din­ing venues.

Li Feng, which means ‘beauty in abun­dance’, of­fers no­table del­i­ca­cies that are a feast to the eyes. The menus are per­son­ally

hand­crafted by two toques, chef Fei (who owns a fa­mous and top-tiered Chi­nese restau­rant at Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Guangzhou – Jiang) and chef Chang See Loy.

“I cre­ated the dishes at Li Feng in a style that is true to its Can­tonese and Sichuan roots. Some of the dishes are also spicy and rich with flavours – which are suit­able to the In­done­sian palate,” said Chang.

Among the many sig­na­ture dishes, some of the must-tries in­clude the Deep-fried Swan Dumpling with Black Pep­per Duck meat and the Beg­gar’s Chicken, which is a tra­di­tional dish from Chang­shu, Jiangsu Prov­ince. The lat­ter is made of lo­tus leafwrapped stuffed chicken, baked for three hours, which is then cer­e­mo­ni­ously cracked open to re­veal soft, suc­cu­lent meat that falls off the bone. Also, do not miss out on one of the most ad­dic­tive dishes – Deep-fried Sal­mon Skin with Salted Egg Yolk sauce, and Spicy XO Scal­lop and Black Squid Ink dumplings with seafood and fish roe – thick, fresh, juicy, and well-sea­soned fill­ing sheathed in thin elas­tic skin. Rp350,000/per­son, with­out al­co­holic bev­er­ages. Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Jakarta, Jl. M.H. Tham­rin, Cen­tral Jakarta. Tel: +62 21 2993 8825

Keyaki Ja­pa­nese Gozen

Keyaki’s in­te­ri­ors

Gaang Mus­saman So Thai Steamed Fish Man­aow

Ki­nara

Crispy Fish Skin with Salted Egg Yolk at Li Feng Deep-fried Swan Dumpling with Black Pep­per Duck Meat at Li Feng Li Feng’s main din­ing room

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