Grand Cafe at the Hyatt Hotel

Posted on Saturday, 30th August 2008

Today, I found my way to the Jakarta zoo (Ragunan), or rather the kindly taxi driver drove me there. He was pleasantly friendly, but despite all his efforts on the 45-minute journey, conversation proved futile on account of my inability to speak Indonesian. He was also a little lacking in stature, probably a head shorter than me, so it amazed me that he actually had a line of vision above the dashboard.

Ragunan boasts the largest collection of Indonesian animals in any zoo in Indonesia. I found it to be a pleasant surprise, in particularly the primate collection which included many endangered species. The quiet of Ragunan zoo almost provided a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of central Jakarta and the ever-so-slightly cooler clime was also a welcome relief from the sweltering heat that I had been enduring over the previous two days.

I had to confess however that the attractions of (Ragunan zoo) were not my only motivation for staying another night in Jakarta. For having frequented the Grand Café at the Grand Hyatt Hotel two nights earlier and perused their buffet selection, I had been salivating at the thought of their lobster ever since. Unable to resist the temptation, I finally succumbed, which was where I found myself this evening.

My lobster (and prawn and oyster) plate

My lobster (and prawn and oyster) plate

I started with what I had come to the Grand Café for, the lobster, and along with that the prawns and oysters too. The lobster was fresh but cold, obviously having been cooked and then refrigerated prior to serving. I prefer lobster freshly cooked and there had been many an occasion when I had gone to the Fish Markets in Sydney and bought live lobsters which I cooked fresh (steamed, not boiled, to maintain all the flavour). This wasn’t quite as good but it didn’t stop me going back for seconds, for lobster is lobster.

Peking duck looked good, but missed the mark

Peking duck looked good, but missed the mark

Sparing only the breads and salads so as to not waste valuable stomach space, I proceeded to then work my way around the buffet floor; from the sushi to the cooked foods to the pasta bar, I just about tried it all. On the whole, the food was as good as you would expect from a buffet at a five star hotel, although there were some ‘space wasters’. The Peking duck was bland and not very Peking at all, and the roast beef chewy. However there were also some winners. The Indonesian dish, gado gado, a vegetarian dish mixed with a peanut sauce was delicious. This version was prepared by grinding a peanut mixture to a fine paste, adding water and then mixed with tofu, rice cake, bean sprouts and noodles. Also delicious was the sop buntut, an Indonesian oxtail soup that had a real deep stock flavour.

Grinding the gado gado sauce

Grinding the gado gado sauce

There was also a tremendous selection of desserts, ranging from Western to local ones. The Western desserts fell short; the crème brûlée not creamy enough, the strawberry shortcake a little dry; but the Indonesian desserts, predominantly made from coconut, pandan and glutinous rice, were all divine. On a night when I came for lobster, clearly Indonesian food reigned supreme.

A range of western desserts

A range of western desserts

And even more desserts

And even more desserts

Grand Café at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Jakarta at:
Jalan M. H. Thamrin Kav. 28-30,
Jakarta 10350,
Indonesia
Tel: +62 21 390 1234
Web: www.jakarta.grand.hyatt.com/restaurants


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