Union Deli

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Knowing one’s weakness is the key to gain victory. That is the absolute rule of war… and restaurant business.

Union has been strolling around everyone’s face in the culinary business by claiming the crown for best bakery in Jakarta; the jewel is undoubtedly their glorious Red Velvet Cake. However, they still fall behind to the likes of Collete and Lola in terms of money-making. Why? The reason is simple; they don’t have enough stores.

Union had 2 notable spaces and the most famous out of the two is located in Central Jakarta, in a mall called Plaza Senayan (the other one is in most western part of the city, which no one really cares). A great place to meet expatriates, desperate rich housewives who are looking for fun with their frenemies, and a bunch of teens seeking the next hip place to hang out (I shamelessly get into this third category). Still, it is not the best place to sell cakes.

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Bakerzin Revisited

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A few months ago I came to Bakerzin to taste their infamous macaroons. While I did have a great time in there, one slice of plain strawberry cake at the end of the meal kind of ruined the whole experience. That’s not a reason for me not to come back though, especially with my sister paying this time.

Sunday might not the best time to have a brunch since all of the good tables were already taken, but we managed to score a seat right beside the window, which means better Instagram pictures for me. Our waiters were the same cheerful man that instantly offered us real menu books this time. I will stop here and give a quick compliment to whoever designed Bakerzin’s menu books. Good job, man! Everything is in the right place with the right font and beautiful photos, without being overly decorative to the level of chaotic collages of ice creams and steaks. Kitchenette needs to learn a thing or two from Bakerzin in this particular area.

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Kitchenette

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Christmas is right around the corner and it is no surprise my friends and I decided to celebrate it a little bit earlier with nice dinner at Kitchenette. Located in the middle of giant artificial park complete with small pond to give the restaurant a Zen-like atmosphere, Kitchenette is just fabulous. It is a perfect Gourmet restaurant for youngsters. The atmosphere is chic without overused acoustic music or overly loud electro beats that are just too much, even for 18-year-old smartphone-wielding group of teens.

I instantly fall in love with crystal clear rooftops with plastic plants hanging around, providing good lighting for my Instagram feed or/and my blog. It can be a little bit hot during the day though, so be careful with timing. The back of the restaurant is not bad, even though its quite gloomy with small yellowish lamps as the only source of lighting and 3 giant window panes providing good, but limited, natural lighting.

After deciding where we want to seat (at the back of the restaurant, near the kitchen), the staffs hand us three pieces of brown cartons which turn out to be menu ‘books’. Each carton has elegant typography describing Kitchenette’s signature dishes, but they show no clear pictures whatsoever. We end up stumbling around, trying to guess what the dish looks like. Even though it is not a really big deal, it can be quite annoying sometimes. I think it is time to change into a real menu books, Kitchenette!

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Sumoboo

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Sumo Boo is exploding like a small sized nuke these past few months. I don’t know whether its because shaved ice based dessert is so popular these days or Sumo Boo’s signature dog shaped ice cream that’s just so Instagram worthy. Whatever it is, the line outside its newly opened cafe in Taman Anggrek Mall is simply crazy, noisy, and very sensitive. A timid looking waitress is trying to calm the costumers in a futile effort while kids running around with their nannies attracting several raised eyebrows.

I squeeze into the line and say my name out loud to the waitress, she looks down and politely say I need to wait for a few minutes. When I ask her how many people left before my turn, she looks up apologizingly and says nine more people. Nine! I brace myself for 30 boring minutes staring at lucky people in their small seats enjoying shaved ice and something like a hotdog.

Fortunately, my stare strategy works. People quickly come and go, acknowledging the impatient line waiting for their seats like a bunch of hungry ogres in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Before I know it, the waitress calls my name in panic and point at small seat near the entrance. Not the best seat in the house, but this is not the right time to complain about anything. Continue reading

Quick Review – Popolamama

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As holiday season is approaching its undeniable ending, hanging out together with my friends proved to be more difficult than usual. I have to accept that I am going to have a solo lunch today at this new restaurant called Popolamama. What a shame, I know. To my surprise, not many people have heard about this new Japanese Italian fusion restaurant before. Opening up first in Grand Indonesia, Central Jakarta, Popolamama quickly gained some of the city’s most influential food writers attention and in the blink of an eye, it has opened another branch in West Jakarta, which is also the one I visit for my first ever solo lunch. A risky yet brave business move… Continue reading

Koultoura

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I just heard crazy rumour that Apple spends zero amounts for advertising. It looks like good management people from the company sends free stuffs to production houses to use in their movies as much as they need. Hmm, zero budget, huh? That reminds me of one cafe that does the exact thing; Koultoura, a relatively new trendy cafe in West Jakarta area.

Unlike other restaurants or cafe, which try to attract attention by giant opening parties and strange promos, Koultoura simply takes over the Instagram and start posting delicious pictures of Italian pasta, green tea latte, and Chicken Gordon Blue. You know how many likes you can get with #foodporn. Just a few months after that, the cafe becomes huge. People come and go taking pictures like crazy and join their photo competition in order to get free cappuccino. Famous food bloggers giving reviews for Koultoura (mostly positive, though I have read some bitter experiences). In short, the cafe owes its delirium success to Instagram. Zero advertising budgets!

However, along with those new-found popularities, huge responsibility also handed to Koultoura. Now, people critically observe the foods, the atmosphere, and the service. Every single thing is an issue. The pressure is higher than ever, just like Apple. The question is; can Koultoura lives up to our expectations? Like usual, I come down there with a few friends myself to find the answer. Continue reading

Bakerzin

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A few years ago, some 5 stars hotels introduced ‘high-tea tradition’ to Indonesia. In an instance, the new trend become viral. People want to taste, enjoy, and become a part of this high-tea tradition. Now, not only hotels, restaurants and cafes finally join the crowd and present their own versions of high tea time. Sometimes, it’s a hit. Most of the time, it’s a total miss for me.

I like to think that high-tea is an upgrade, more expensive version of regular tea-time. And just like regular tea-time, the quality of the cakes are only good when the tea is on par. More like a balance between the soothing, almost bitter aroma of the tea with the sweetness of the cakes. Most of those restaurants fail in delivering this balance, which results in messy pile of expensive hyper-sweet cakes and super-bitter tea.

Bakerzin surprisingly exceeds my expectations and deliver not only good tea and cakes, but also service, ambience, and price. Originated from Singapore, Bakerzin makes it’s own fortune by selling highly recommended shortcake and macaroons. Just like Nanny’s Pavillon, it begins to add some heavy foods, from pasta to grilled chickens, on it’s menu with carefulness and high quality controls. In short amount of time Bakerzin has been exceeding its competitors easily and gaining more fans all over the city. Knowing this fact, I happily stroll into one of it’s cozy cafes with my friend.  Continue reading