Posts for the 'Indonesian' Category


Indonesian breakfast

Realising I had missed breakfast this morning at the hotel, I suddenly developed a craving for pancakes. In a city such as Jakarta where pancakes are probably not the normal breakfast choice, I realised this was probably futile, and instead headed out to wander; ‘hunt and gather’ if you will. Stumbling upon a bakery, I proceeded to investigate. Not being sure whether the lady behind the counter could speak English or not, I tentatively made some inquiries about the items on display, whereupon her responses led me to make the following purchases:

My Indonesian breakfast

My Indonesian breakfast

“Its egg, beef and mayonnaise” she said, referring to the item on the left. It turned out to be egg and ham. “Its chicken and potato” she said, referring to the item on the top right, but was actually beef and potato. “Its shrimp and chicken” she said in reference to the bottom right. No second guesses, but it turned out to be tofu with some indiscernible matter pasted on top. But they were all tasty and filling enough, and interestingly boxed with chillies, a mandatory Indonesian accompaniment. All this cost only about 60p.


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Grand Café at the Grand Hyatt Hotel: Wagyu beef rendang

One of my most enjoyable experiences of eating wagyu beef was a few years ago at Per Se, the New York City outpost of the illustrious chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame. The experience left me gasping. Deliciously fatty and tender, it was the most gratifying of oral experiences. Growing up in Australia, I was particularly proud that the wagyu was of Australian origin, but thereafter it prompted my boyfriend at the time to affectionately bestow the nickname of wagyu (Australian cow) on me. Well we are no more, and I have had wagyu many times since, including notably at one of London’s best Japanese restaurants, Umu. However nothing had ever come close to being as divine as that time at Per Se which will forever be etched deep in my memory as one of the most memorable dining highlights of my life.

Wagyu beef rendang with rice

Wagyu beef rendang with rice

For tonight’s dinner I chose one of the restaurants in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Jakarta: the Grand Café. Essentially a buffet restaurant with a large capacity to feed the masses, the decor was designed for such a purpose in the style of unpretentious comfort. For about £12 it was also possible to have the buffet which appeared to be quite varied with seafood, Western and local dishes, and scrumptious looking desserts. Wines appeared to be available although these weren’t listed on a drink menu, which instead included soft drinks and cocktails.

However what had drawn me here was the wagyu beef rendang. Wagyu is such a fine piece of meat that to me it should be cooked medium rare. I was intrigued by how this dish would turn out as rendang involves the meat being slow cooked for several hours in coconut milk and spices till the spices are absorbed. However, with such a fine piece of meat, and rendang being an Indonesian specialty, I was hoping that the combination might unexpectedly work.

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Keyaki Japanese Restaurant at the Sari Pan Pacific Hotel

The first thing that struck me as I tried to exit Jakarta’s International Airport late yesterday afternoon after clearing immigration was that there were no taxis. Not a single one. Perplexed I searched high and low with my very unyielding luggage trolley, attempting to gracefully dodge this scary looking man yelling at me in a language I could not understand. With no taxis in sight, was I meant to catch one of those packed buses with all the locals hanging out of the bus door? Surely Jakarta couldn’t be umm… this backwards? The yelling did not cease despite what I thought was my well judged inclination to ignore him, but eventually with his persistently wild gesticulating arms, I was made to realise that I had used the wrong exit, the workers exit, and I was to retrace my steps back through to the other end of the airport, to a more civilised arrival hall with ATM machines, foreigners, and taxis waiting.

Common form of Jakartan transportation, the Bajai (auto rickshaw)

One type of Jakartan transportation, the Bajai (auto rickshaw)

The first crisis over, I was swiftly faced with crisis number two. On attempting to withdraw cash, using both cash cards and in all five ATM machines three times over, I realised neither of my cards worked. With only the sum total of £5 in my pocket it was not enough for cab. So it was to be the bus after all. My thumbs were a blur as I sent frantic messages to my bank manager during the long bus ride into town, but it would be some four agonising hours before my account was “unlocked”.

Which was why that night, after all was resolved, in a ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Moment’, I did not eat dinner, feeling all too exhausted and all too jetlagged. I woke up absolutely ravenous, but as I didn’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my hotel room to brave the 35 degree heat, I only finally emerged at about lunchtime. By my count, this meant I had not eaten for some 26 hours since the noodles at the airport. Surely this justified some comfort eating once more.

I headed for the buffet at the Japanese restaurant, Keyaki, at the 5 star Sari Pan Pacific Hotel. Jakarta’s searing heat was like a surge of electricity to my system so the restaurant being air-conditioned was one irresistible draw card, that and the fact that it is rated by Indonesia Tatler as one of the best restaurants in Indonesia in both 2007 and 2008. It is styled in the usual Japanese fashion; glossy dark wood tables, lantern light fittings. Also, the presence of the atypical sushi bar is perhaps also a giveaway.

Sashimi and sushi selection

Sashimi and sushi selection

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