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Archive for August, 2015

Salt Grill, Jakarta Jul 2015

Salt Grill by Luke Mangan is the one of the three restaurants of Altitude, a premier dining destination perched on top of Jakarta. Helmed by Executive Chef MJ Olguera, the restaurant is situated right at the centre of the Thamrin shopping district.

Sashimi of Kingfish, Ginger, Eshallot and Goat’s Feta IDR145,000

One of their signature dishes, the freshness and lightness of the sashimi and rucola, the sweetness and nuttiness of the eschallot, the creaminess of the feta, the saltiness of the salt sprinkled on all come to make an excellent blend of flavours. The dish is complex, tantalizing and teasing to the palette.

Sydney Crab Omelette, Enoki Mushroom, and Herb Salad, Miso Mustard Broth IDR140,000

This appetizer has an unmistakable Asian quality. The crab omelette is flavourless. Hence, it is highly recommended to consume the omelette together with the herb salad on top and the miso mustard broth. The herb salad, consisting basil, fried shallots, chili strips for colour and enoki mushroom, add welcomed crunch and textural complexity to otherwise soft, limp egg. They have also cleverly added mustard to the miso broth. That adds a certain depth or volume to the broth. When all the components are taken together, this appetizer works well.

Pan-fried Gnocchi, Corn, Asparagus, Zuchini, Parmesan, Thyme, Truffle and Verjuice dressing. (Vegetarian) IDR120,000 for entree or IDR180,000 for main course
Starchy and greasy, this is comfort food.

This place is often booked up for events, so call in advance.

Gaia, Altitude, Jakarta Jul 2015

Gaia is a hip restaurant. It sits tall in the office block The Plaza overlooking Monument Selamat Datang at the famous Thamrin roundabout in Jakarta. Gaia’s neighbours are five-star hotels and huge shopping malls.

Helmed by a new executive chef Orlando Nazario, it would do well to come back regularly to the restaurant for the menu changes regularly. Instead of following a fixed menu, Chef Nazario prefers working with produce available at the market to ensure the freshest cuisine and a changing roster of dishes to excite the palette of diners.

Panzanella Crab Meat Salad Granchio with marinated Tomato Lemon dressing IDR110,000
Traditional Italian bread salad topped with modern salad. Light, fruity, zesty.

Spaghetti with Sunset Clams and Sea Urchin IDR185,000
A wonderful blend of the taste of sea, the spiciness and heat of chilli, a slight creaminess and a certain umami quality. The spaghetti was the very definition of al dente. This calibre of cuisine excites me.

Grilled 200g Angus Beef Tenderloin Filet with Foie Gras, Crouton, Figs, Port Wine sauce IDR490,000
The very tender beef was plated on a crouton disc and topped with salted pan-seared foie gras. The very important figs decorate the side of the plate— their sweetness balance out the saltiness of the four gras; their fruitiness balance out the fat of the foie gras.

1956 Recipe Mascarpone Cheese Tiramisu Cake With Espresso Coffee, Biscuits and Cacao
Lots of mascarpone.

Fashionable and the place to be, this restaurant is often booked up by immediately recognisable international brands for private functions.


Alila, Jakarta Jul 2015

Alila is an excellent 4-star hotel located towards the north of Jakarta city, in the district of Gambir. The hotel is located not far from the Independence Monument.

Gambir is an administrative district. In other words, there are many government offices and ministries around the hotel.

The street, along which the hotel is located, is definitely not glamourous. There are small run-down shops and garages. There are a couple of mini-marts along the same street as the hotel as well as a couple of small restaurants. There are no shopping malls nor supermarkets in the immediate vicinity. The nearest supermarket is Carrefour. As the hotel is towards the north of the city centre, its location makes for a good base to explore Sunda Kelapa and Old Batavia (Kota Tua)—– these places are near, the taxi fare will be cheaper and you can probably avoid a good few traffic jams.

Regardless of the surroundings, the hotel offers functional accommodation and hidden charms. The rooms feature contemporary, minimalist décor. All the usual amenities are available and the hotel provides free wifi.

I would highly recommend getting an Executive room. Executive guests enjoy access to the Executive Lounge on the 7th floor where great value and enjoyment await guests.

Alila beats innumerable other hotels in Jakarta by offering an a la carte breakfast menu (in addition to buffet items) at the Executive Lounge. When I first learnt about the a la carte menu, I was like, “Wow! This is like Ritz Carlton.”

The a la carte menu is pretty extensive and offers items such as:

Alila Big Breakfast
Two eggs cooked any style served with mushroom, grilled tomato, chicken/ beef/ pork sausage, bacon and breakfast potatoes.

3 Egg Omelet or Egg white Omelet
Prepared with your preference of tomato, mushroom, ham, bacon, cheese, onion, bell peppers and chilli and sausage

Eggs Florentine
Two poached eggs with ham and spinach. Served on toasted English muffin and Hollandaise sauce

Steak N’ Egg
Sirloin steak topped with fried egg and breakfast potatoes

Scrambled Salmon
Soft scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. Served with grilled tomato and wheat toast.

Served with cinnamon poached pears

With caramelized pineapple and maple syrup

Morning Burrito
Chorizo, peppers, cheese and scrambled eggs in a flour tortilla roll with tomato salsa and baked beans.

Bubur Ayam
Indonesian chicken porridge with boiled egg, Chinese croissant, leeks and fried shallot. Served with sweet soya sauce.

Soto Daging
Clear beef soup with vermicelli noodles and vegetables. Served with lime, emping crackers and sambal.

Japanese Miso Soup
With tofu, seaweed and served with steamed rice, broiled salmon, nori, tamago omelette and tsukemono pickles

Nasi Kuning
Indonesian yellow rice served with braised beef, shredded egg, vegetables, coconut salad, homemade sambal and crackers.

Even the excellent Shangri-la Jakarta offers only bacon, eggs, sausages and the like for its a la carte menu. During my stay at Alila, I never once bothered to head down to lobby restaurant for breakfast. I always had my breakfast at the Executive Lounge. The a la carte items here are delicious! You can order as many items as you want, as many times as you want. They are simply and elegantly presented. Overall, this calibre of product is just excellent value and far exceeds other Jakarta hotels.

Come evenings, the Executive Lounge offers a pretty good cocktail hour. There are 2 hot items, burritos, canapés, dessert, wine and cocktails. Interestingly, they always try to feature a few different types of chilli sauce from different parts of Indonesia.

Should you feel peckish at any time during the day, you can always head to the 2 restaurants in the hotel: Buzz and Shanghai Storm. Buzz is the all-day dining restaurant of the hotel. Being the all-day restaurant, I did not really have high expectations for it; I thought it would simply be average and exist to support the hotel. However, the restaurant far exceeded my expectations. The cuisine here is excellent.

Braised Oxtail Terrine and Scallops
Madura – East Java
With cauliflower, edamame, shallots, chilli lime dressing and oxtail essence
The scallops were thick, white and fresh. The chilli lime dressing added zing to the dish and totally enlivened it.

Fresh Squid Ink Pasta
Kepulauan Seribu
With prawns, garlic, semi-dried tomato, sambal olek and coriander

Pan Fried White Snapper
Lampung – Sumatera
Served with vegatables, peanut pickle, spicy tomato vinaigrette

Shanghai Storm offers authentic Chinese cuisine served in a casual setting. The dishes are offered in Tapas portion and Main Course portion, which makes it convenient to try many dishes.

Other things I enjoyed about the Alila:

Every evening, they would put little tea lights on the floor by the walls in the lobby. The lobby is transformed and the ambience became so magical. Who would have thought that such an inexpensive thing (tea light) would create so much value?

In the bathrooms, they provide chemical-free soap handmade from virgin coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable glycerine, honey and essential oils.

They have a great gym— big and very complete

The spa treatment rooms are spacious and clean.

The staff speaks good English. There is no problem communicating at all.

Alila definitely surpasses bigger and more expensive international chain hotels.