‘Hedonism’ is a new trending word in social media right now, right after ‘fine dining’ and #2015. What’s more annoying is I found myself using this way too many times with my friends, especially when we were eating at Orient8 in Mulia Hotel. Eating at Mulia means major bucks, which you will try to cope by thinking how good the foods are. Orient8 is no different. Standing right beside Table8 and one of 3 main restaurants of Mulia Hotel, Orient8 kicked my wallet in spiral of recession and self-loathing, yet I still left the restaurant with a smile.
Like many other fine dining restaurants, Orient8 open around 12 am to 2.30 pm, then after changing some dishes and prepare a few fancy things for dinner, they open again around 6 pm to 11 pm. If you are planning to have a cool Sunday brunch with a bunch of your friends, you better make reservations a few days before. Honestly, I was concerned about not getting seats, but my friend reassured me that everything was going to be okay.
We arrived at Mulia around 11 am, which meant one full hour of waiting. The good side is it is impossible to feel unhappy waiting in Mulia’s luxurious lobby. Huge sofas, free apple juices, giant fluffy carpet that seems to absorb all of the noise from busy concierges, and a battalion of polite staffs who are ready to help as if it’s their only life goals. The bad side is we were not technically hotel guests. We tried not to look suspicious by hanging around in the main lobby right in front of the receptionist, but one hour is a long time and a few staffs started to look at us with confused expression; do we need to ask these people or left them be? Are they guests? Are they waiting for someone? Thank God, they were all too polite to ask. Both sides ended up playing stupid, much to my relief.
Around 12 am Orient8 finally opened its door and let us in. The waitress was a bit cold, even though not as bold as Union’s when showing it. Like many other 5 star restaurants, Orient8 interior looks grandiose. French-styled salon greeted us first with natural lights leaking from its heavily decorated partitions. The main dining room is decorated with Chinese/Parisian style; marble tables, fluffy sofas, and a bunch of small eerie-looking Buddha-like lamps. My DSLR was ready to shoot, but by the look of the staffs I know that camera is strictly prohibited. Yeah, right.
Orient8 has two dining options, a la carte or buffet. A la Carte menu looks really interesting with selections ranging from crab salads to classic chocolate lava cake. However, since we came here with the hope of devouring a lot of heavenly foods, we chose buffet without a second thought. Sometimes you just have to admit that quantity can beat quality.
To my surprise, the buffet section only consists of two huge tables. One is for dessert, which is pretty nice with different selections of pretty fruit tarts to choose, little tarts in beautiful small plates, wide selections of mouse in martini glasses, handful of bon-bon chocolates, fresh fruits and chocolate fondue.
The other table is used for fried dish and Vietnamese pho. Presented in ceramic bowls are three different types of noodle (based on my guess they were wheat, rice noodle, and kway teow), raw vegetables, cold fish and beef meatballs, beef slices, and some sort of mushrooms. For fried dish we got roasted chicken, spring rolls, samosa, fried prawns with orange leaves, goat shish kebab, and even a small portion of cheese-and-pepperoni pizza. Salad bar is at the same table with pho and fried side dish, but they don’t look really inviting under gloomy yellow light.
Main menus consist of French classic dishes. Seafood bouillabaisse, chicken meat with organic rice, mushroom and beef in black pepper sauce, chicken cannoli in glistening tomato sauce, and grilled fish with warm tomatoes.
I started this wild ride from fried section. Goat kebab tasted bitter with sweet aftertaste from fresh paprika and half-raw onions. Spring rolls were so juicy oily without much surprise. Fried prawn with orange leaves was the best -meaty, crunchy, fragrant, juicy, and a bit oily to give people a quick reminder that this is the real fried dish champion! Curry filled samosa wasn’t too bright -a tad too dense. Roasted chicken was extremely juicy combined with watery sweet-and-spicy sauce, but I expected the skin to be much crispier to balance the soft texture of chicken meat. Pepperoni and cheese pizza tasted cold, not surprising but it was a huge let down for me who expect hot-cheese-melting-tongue-burning pizza.
Vietnamese Pho section was a quick take-and-go. Stringy white noodles, some slices of boiled beef meat, fish and beef meatballs, small cuts of leek, and finally good old beef broth. The holy pho bowl was complete.
Before devouring my pho down, the waitress asked us -a bunch of hungry wolves with their over capacitated plates- what kind of drinks we would like to have. Damn, so we needed to pay for drinks here. I chose Jasmine while my friends chose English Breakfast. To be honest, we were a bit embarrassed to order just two pots, so we ended up ordering four pots of tea. A bit crazy, but there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep my pride secured.
Back to the pho! The beef broth was warm, tasty and very nice. To my surprise instead of parading the whole broth with celeries, pepper and garlic, the chef concentrated on the beef, creating a rather monotonous beefy flavor that totally won my heart. The noodle was not that good though, it was too mushy. The meatballs, on the other hand, were really good, especially the beef ones; thick, juicy and still maintained their firm textures. I felt sorry for myself not eating more of these gorgeous meatballs.
After washing down the pho with a cup of bittersweet Jasmine Tea, I headed to the main dish section. I helped myself with a lovely cut of fish bouillabaisse, squids with warm tomatoes, and some cannelloni. I ditched the whole black pepper thing and chicken with rice because they looked cheap compared to seafood fiesta on my plate. I apologized for not being a more sensitive thoughtful food blogger.
I dig into my bouillabaisse plate first. The seafood was undoubtedly fresh, I can tell by the absence of ground water smell common to fishes that spend too much time in grocery store’s freezing room. The warm tomato soup tasted rather plain, even though it matched the fish flavor perfectly.
I seriously think bouillabaisse is not the right dish for Indonesian people. The soft, elegant taste of the dish doesn’t really match my strong-taste loving tongue. I can’t slam this dish down, since it tasted just like the way it should be, but maybe the chef can alter it a bit to match Indonesian people love for spices.
Cannelloni, thin pasta wrapped around grilled chicken breast and covered with tomato paste, tasted great. Not mind blowing whatsoever, but I can approve of this dish. The chicken breast was solid, a bit dry, and satisfying, while the pasta was well made, soft, and very tasty -Orient8 obviously has master the art of making pasta, secret only to the most dedicated Italian chefs. The sweet-and-sour tomato paste completed the trifecta with broken cuts of fresh red tomatoes. Each ingredient compliments each other very well without going over-the-top. However, I did expect to taste something a bit…classy. I can easily find this kind of dish in good (cheaper) Italian restaurants a few blocks from this super hotel. This kind of cannelloni is not the reason why I came to Mulia and waited for one full hour.
Squid with warm cherry tomatoes tasted similar to bouillabaisse, however the squid was grilled rather than steamed. Due to the grilling technique the squid left bitter aftertaste in my mouth, quickly redeemed by the sweetness of warm cherry tomatoes. My only complain is the lack of chewiness from the squid. My teeth had to work extra hard to chew it down and my stomach hurt a bit after each bite. That’s not stopping me from gobbling down the squids in monstrous bites though.
After washing down all those seafood with another cup of jasmine tea, I proceeded to dessert section. The lovely beautifully decorated filled with joy and hope of humanity greatest achievement dessert section. I skipped the fruits altogether, though the chocolate fondue tempted me bad. My first target was crunchy slices of strawberry tarts.
The tart was milky with really crunchy textures that tasted more like biscuits than pies. I absolutely loved it. The strawberries were sour without even a hint of natural sweetness; the entire sweet aftertaste in my tongue came from thin layer of frozen caramel syrup. I didn’t hate it, since expecting fresh sweet strawberries in Indonesia is like trying to catch a cloud with bare hands -not impossible, but hard as hell.
I also tried Orient 8 classic mousses. They come in different taste from tasty looking dark chocolate to greenish pandan. My favorite is strangely the vanilla one. A tiny ball of foam stuffed into martini glass with dense milky syrup to amplify the flavor. The vanilla mousse was so light I almost couldn’t taste it, but the milk syrup pushed the flavor and slightly change the texture into something richer, denser, tastier, and…. more elegant.
I did exclaim that Orient8 strawberry tart is delicious, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any competition. One plate of peach tart proved to be a tough contender for ‘best dessert’. It had the same crunchy milk tart with sweet caramelized peach. I absolutely fell in love with this one too and ended up eating more dessert than what’s appropriate.
The restaurant closed for dinner preparation at 2.30 pm and we were still goofing around at 2.00 pm. The staffs were starting to take away our plates and cleaning up -an obvious sign that we needed to get our ass out. So, we did. We paid the exorbitant bills, drank more tea, and asked for taxi at the lobby.
If you asked me whether I was satisfied or not, I would say yes… and no. The food was delicious, yes. The service was acceptable although they could be warmer. And the buffet presentation was nice, especially the dessert section. But there is something missing….
I expected to have a superb dining experience at Mulia; an experience that I will never forget, or at least, become my Instagram subject for the next few weeks. Instead, I got good dining experience with no impact whatsoever. When the lunch hour ended, I even found myself craving for some frozen yoghurts.
Hmm, Mulia is a 5 stars hotel and -without a doubt- a pinnacle of Jakarta’s love for old time glamour. On the other hand, Orient8 might be a 5 star restaurant that serves delicious food with a touch of boredom.
Perhaps, this is what they call ‘connecting with guests’, a business art that has been neglected so much in Jakarta culinary landscape. To make a good restaurant, one needs to have that communicative warm personality that attracts the guests and makes them willing to come back for more. Orient8 is missing in this aspect. Such a shame, otherwise I would tell the whole world how awesome this restaurant is.
I made a promise to myself to comeback though. Not for the buffet, thank you very much. I want to come back for A la Carte menu. Perhaps, next time I will finally be able to taste the real Orient8 dining experience.
Orient 8 Mulia Hotel
- Address : Mulia Hotel, Asia Afrika Street, Senayan, Jakarta
- Hours : 12.00-14.30; 18.00-22.30
- Phone : (021) 5753278; (021) 5747777