Union Deli

AdobePhotoshopExpress_23b636c4e04a4d7eb27b5c30259bb433 copy

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.

Continue reading

Orient8

IMG_4098

‘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.

Continue reading

Bakerzin Revisited

IMG_20150111_150807

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.

Continue reading

Semarang Part 1

IMG_3003 copy

I can’t believe I am sitting in The Tavern, part-bar part-restaurant and ultimately exclusive during New Year’s week in Semarang. Yes, Semarang, one of the sleepiest cities in Indonesia and possibly the world. Semarang’s popularity has faded into quick stop for backpacker heading to Jogjakarta, widely popular for Borobudur temple, and another relaxing spot for truck drivers carrying fresh fruits to Jakarta. Unlike Bandung with its trendy cafes and Paris van Java reputation, Semarang doesn’t have that kind of popularity or charms.

Yet here I am, sipping down my light beer while watching the city lights up with amazing sunset and Merbabu (or Merapi?) mountains as background, my brother (who is a college student and real Semarang-ster) asks for Carbonara Pizza and another round of lemon-infused beers. A single thought come up in my mind; maybe Semarang is not that bad!

Continue reading

Sumoboo

IMG_2414 copy

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

Koultoura

IMG_2373

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

Majestic Chinese Restaurant

IMG_2237

If you look at travel books or magazine, there is always something similar with all of them. They’re suggesting you to stay away from popular (possibly overrated) tourist places and go follow the locals. For some reasons, I bought this cliché suggestion in my last visit to Hong Kong. Wanting to avoid touristy dim sum places, like the infamous Tim Ho Wan, I chose to stop at Jordan MTR Station and followed my relative’s suggestion to an authentic Chinese restaurant called Majestic.

The place wasn’t too hard to find. Yes, just like many other ‘hidden’ gem, it’s hard to spot because Majestic Restaurant is actually occupying an entire third floor of a building, not having it’s own private space. I had to look for the sign, which is also covered with Hong Kong’s chaotic billboard arrangements, and pushed number 3 in an old squeaking elevator.

It was quite an adventure, I am telling you. Continue reading

Jun Njan

IMG_1713

I can summarize Jakarta’s culinary landscape in two words: Western and Cafe. In the past few years, Jakarta has become the new home for international coffee outlets, brewing tons of caffeine and dominating local magazines with their newest creations. Along with the rise of coffee makers, Western foods are also slowly gaining back their popularities. Mostly because they offer not only glorious melting cheese and smoking beef pastries, but also trendy places with plenty of natural lightings for selfie lovers.

The competition is getting harder day-by-day, and it seems the favor is not in authentic traditional family restaurant like Jun Njan. Jun Njan is more than an old player in Jakarta’s culinary world. Established in 1950s, the restaurant has been serving seafood dishes with classic Chinese touches for at least two generations. Unfortunately, just like many other historical restaurant, it suffers from globalization and trend changes. Though local customers are still ready to order at any time, the younger ones go right across the street ordering coffee to go and beef lasagna. The question that lingers in everyone’s head is; is there really no place at all for restaurants like Jun Njan? Continue reading

Sushi Tei

IMG_1665

After having lunch in Washoku Sato, which is hardly an uplifting experience, I am starting to wonder about traditional sushi, the one with simplicity, elegance, and technique. Instead of random mayo and scattered grilled salmon. At the same time, I also begin to realize that it is really hard to find traditional sushi in Jakarta, Indonesia. The city is filled with Western-Japanese fusion restaurants that look (and taste) awesome, but can’t hold a candle against real sushi. Lowering my expectation a bit, I come to Sushi Tei.

Sushi Tei is probably the most popular or affordable, high-sushi-restaurant in town. Combining great service (unlike Union), fusion Japanese-Western menu, and classic conveyor belt sushi bar, Sushi Tei instantly steals my heart and becomes one of my most favorite Japanese restaurants. What I love most about Sushi Tei is their abilities to add just a little western touch to their traditional Japanese sushi and create a lovely balance from those two, a task that looks simple, but proves too hard for other so-called fusion restaurants.

Stepping into the restaurant during lunch break means having your name written in their never-ending waiting list. Fortunately, my sister and I are able to score two seats right at the end of the ‘bar’. We quickly decide not to order from their two gigantic elegant menus (one for dessert) and just take everything we need from the bar. Our waitress just smiles and nods her head in understanding. Continue reading

Union

IMG_1568

I remember vividly how crazy people become when someone mentioned ‘red velvet’ two years ago. Yes, the cake used to be a symbol of Jakarta’s trendiness, urbanism, and exotic unexplainable taste (back then cream cheese was just a strange material to use).

Among many cafes that offered red velvet, Union rose above them easily and claimed the title of ‘Best Red Velvet in Town’. And it’s not an empty talk; they indeed have the best red velvet in town. Their cakes are wonderfully made with delicious cream cheese, bitter rum and crunchy sweet peanuts. It’s just one of the most wonderful red velvets I’ve ever eaten.

Now, I am sitting in this small wooden table with my friends, staring at this poor white paper, as tablecloth and wondering where the hell are those good memories? Continue reading