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Category: Jakarta

Trattoria, The East Building, Jakarta Jul 2015

“The Best Risotto I Ever Had”

Trattoria is a chain of authentic Italian restaurants with locations that stretch across Southeast Asia. A Tuesday afternoon found me at Trattoria The East Building, which is an office block, located at Mega Kuningan, a neighbourhood with a lot of office buildings.

This restaurant is helmed by Chef Bruno Paolo Olmi, who hails from Sardinia and has extensive experience working on ships, in his native Sardinia, Milan, Sydney. Unsurprisingly, in addition to the usual Italian favourites, this Trattoria branch specialises in Sardinia dishes.

Every meal here starts with a complimentary buchetta—- fresh tomatoes, a little lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, basil on crispy bread.

My antipasto was Insalata Tiepida Di Polpo Al Aceto Balsamico IDR95,000

Lukewarm octopus salad on a bed of rucola, cherry tomatoes and balsamic dressing
Using light, fresh ingredients and flavours, this is a great meeting of the sea and garden. Generous quantity of octopus is first boiled and then left to cool to a lukewarm temperature. The seafood is transferred to a bed of rucola and halved cherry tomatoes dressed with balsamic vinegar and a dash of olive oil. Refreshing! The satiating octopus has been cleverly balanced out by the raw vegetables and the balsamic vinegar.

Risotto Ai Fruitti Do Made E Asparagi IDR98,000

Italian Arborio risotto with mixed seafood, cherry tomatoes and asparagus
The risotto was outstanding. Firstly, garlic is sauteed in some olive oil. Then the seafood is added in and sauteed as well. Finally, the rice and fish stock is added in and some tomato juice is added for that lively vermilion colour. The rice is slowly simmered for 14 mins. When the rice is ready, some butter or olive oil is added for that rich creaminess. The chef claims this is normal Italian food but this is the richest risotto I ever had. The richness fills your mouth in the first mouth. The seafood is also very fresh.

Filetto Di Red Snaper Tricolore IDR145,000

Grilled red snapper served with cherry tomatoes, boiled potato and asparagus in lemon sauce
This is a Sardinian dish. Served on cherry tomatoes, boiled potato and asparagus, the baked red snapper fillets have the colours of the Italian flag- red, white and green as its base. The flavour comes from a buttery lemon sauce. The sauce is a small adaptation for Asian market. In Europe and America, they prefer fish to be dry.

This restaurant is always busy with executives from neighbouring offices. The restaurant buzzes even when lunch hour is over, with many business discussions taking place here. At such affordable prices, this is a hardworking, unpretentious restaurant that delivers better value than it looks.

All prices are subject to 10% government tax and 5% service charge.

Liberte, Jakarta

Located on the second floor of Galeries Lafayette at Pacific Place Mall, Liberte is a relaxed French brasserie that wows diners with flavorful, filling and earthy classic French style cooking.

Reminiscent of a leisurely stroll down the Champs-Elysees in Paris, with the Arc de Triomphe in the distance, Liberte is evocative of the chic and relaxed lifestyle of the French, who always have time for the best food and drink.

Complementing a warm and comfortable interior, Liberte’s menu is built foods which are stylish and elegant yet simple and hearty. The cuisine is undeniably French, utilising both traditional and modern cooking techniques and is partnered with attentive yet unobtrusive service, creating an enjoyable dining experience.

Tarte Flambe Beef

Chocolate Layer Cake

Tiger Prawn with Couscous, Coriander Sauce and Squid Croquette

Popular with the nearby office crowd, when I was there, the brasserie was busy past lunch time with executives from neighbouring offices talking business.

La Luce, Jakarta

La Luce is an intimate Italian fine dining restaurant located in the gleaming and manicured business district SCBD. Helmed by Executive Chef Alessandro De Boni, La Luce wows discerning palettes with innovative creations with the finest ingredients.


Sea Bass Carpaccio with Caviar and Green Apple Powder
The flavour works well. The green apple wakes up the palette and gets it ready for more. The fruit also goes (somewhat) with the lukewarm fish. The dish would have worked better if both the fish and apple were ice cold. That way, it would have been really refreshing to the palette. Moreover, for raw meat and fish, I would prefer if it was ice cold for food hygiene reasons. Also, just the thought biting into lukewarm raw meat/ fish is a little gross. It’s as if it has been left out in the open for some time.

Pan-seared Scallops on Polenta Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Freshly-made Spinach Tagliatelle with Lobster and Sea Urchin
This one is a winner. Interesting colours. Very rich flavour. The seafood is fresh.

Pan-seared Black Cod with Bell Pepper and Hazelnut Mousse, served with Almonds, Bell Pepper and Green Peas

This one works. Bite into the cod with some of the caramelised bell pepper and the saltiness of the fish and the sweetness of the bell pepper balance well.

Grilled Blackmore Striploin with Black Truffle, Pepper, Potato and Asparagus
Ahh…truffle. Its unmistakable aroma was immediately apparent when the dish arrived. Loved the fat content of the beef——- made the beef so soft and delicious.

What I liked most about this restaurant is its intimate ambience. The restaurant is not too big and comes complete with a bar top, a fire oven and beautiful private dining rooms. The restaurant can be a little hard to find so make sure you know the directions and not leave it up to the taxi driver.

Dapur Babah, Jakarta

Dedicated to keeping alive “the art, soul and romance of Indonesia”, Dapur Babah is the off-shoot of a personal project of the founder Anhar Setjadibrata.

When he was a student in Bali and working as a guide on the side, he was often asked by visitors where antiques could be bought. He was sorry to see these antiques go abroad. After forays into medical school and then law school, he became a successful lawyer. Having now the financial clout, he began collecting antiques. Over time, he had amassed so many antiques that he started his first hotel to display his antiques and to keep alive the idea of romance. From his first hotel in Malang, the business grew to eventually include Dapur Babah.

Taking over the space that was a tailor’s shop during the 1940s, each room in the restaurant—– the Babah room, the Sukarno room, the Angela room, was carefully and tastefully curated by the founder himself. The antiques include relics left over from the Dutch East Indies Company and the Ming Dynasty in China. It was impressive to be surrounded by so many antiques.

While pondering the evoked history, diners can enjoy authentic Peranakan cuisine. “Dapur” means kitchen and “Babah” is another word for “Peranakan”, a term that came about around colonial times in Jakarta to describe the fusion of the East and the West; when Dutch-influenced Javanese women married Chinese settlers. As such, Peranakan cuisine is a melange of Chinese, Javanese and Dutch influences. The menu here certainly reflects that. Dishes are organised into Javanese Peranakan cuisine, Chinese Peranakan cuisine and Dutch Peranakan cuisine. True to its name which hints at a homely influence, all the dishes at Dapur Babah are made from traditional recipes passed down through generations, so authenticity is guaranteed.

For an atmospheric ambience and authentic cuisine, Dapur Babah is a great bet.

20130529-31 Shangri-la Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia

“Solid, reliable brand”

I have always been fond of the Shangri-la group.  I remember when I was a little boy, my parents took me to Shangri-la Singapore for dinner.  They had the most beautiful tea cup I have seen – white porcelain with a thick dark green stripe near the top.  There might also have been a very fine gold stripe.  I know, this design is considered very old-fashioned today but I keep looking out for it.  If I see it again one day, I think I might keep it.  Ha!

As an adult, I visit the Shangri-la Singapore very frequently— the great service, the great ambience, the quality of food, it all adds up to great value for money.  I visit Shangri-la’s sister hotel, Traders Hotel too, but not as frequently as I visit Shangri-la  Singapore.

I was excited to be checking into Shangri-la Jakarta. 

I stayed in a Horizon Club room.  A Horizon Club room is an executive grade room. 

First, let’s talk about all the usual basics, which are available in the room —-bathrobe, many, many towels (good!), coffee, tea, kettle, large flat screen TV with many international channels.

Some nice touches about staying at Shangri-la Jakarta and the Horizon Club:

The clock in the bathroom— this is the thing I like second most about staying at the Horizon Club.  Whoever thought of putting a small clock in the bathroom should really be given a lot of credit.  It’s a simple touch but immensely practical.  Imagine you are doing your self-care in front of the mirror or soaking in the tub.  You don’t have to run out of the bathroom or get out of the tub to find your watch.  Immensely helpful.

Speakers under the wash basin— the thing I like third most about Horizon Club.  The speakers are linked to the TV.  Now, I can hear whatever is on TV while I soak in the tub. 

Generous fruit basket—  it’s fantastic for busy executives who don’t have the time to hunt down a supermarket to buy fruit.  Great for a late night snack or late breakfast if you sleep late.  I particularly like kiwis.

Complimentary shoe-shine and suit pressing service—  solves all my worries after a flight where my clothes get all crumpled in my suitcase.

Complimentary wifi— need I say more?  They also have wired broadband.  No need to bring your own broad band cable.  It’s available in the room.

Electric sockets that accept all countries’ plugs— no need to bring your own travel adapter.  Woohoo!

The Turn-down Service— it’s a small thing, but it makes me feel so good.  The staff comes around in the evening with a cart and ask if they can offer you anything.  I usually ask for more bottles of water or more teabags.  If you happen to be out, they lay out a pair of slippers, fold down your comforter and place an orchid on your comforter.  Nice.

L’occitane toiletries— class!

Lighting—  it seems the trend these days is for hotel rooms to cut down on the number of lamps to cut down on electricity bills.  Sometimes it’s so dark my eyes hurt while packing.  It’s impossible to read in bed.  I am glad to report that the Horizon Club rooms are suitably, pleasantly bright.

Gym— they have a pretty good gym.  Not hard-core but sufficient for a short stay – machines, dumbbells, Smith machine.  The best part is that after your workout, you can make use of the jacuzzi.   They not only have the usual hot Jacuzzi, they have a cold pool as well.  So you can perform hot-cold therapy.  I miss Japanese onsens very much.  I was very happy to be able to perform hot-cold therapy at Shangri-la Jakarta.  It felt good! 

The Doormen— these people definitely don’t get enough credit.  They make sure there are always a couple of Silver Bird (Mercedes) taxis on standby at the hotel.  That way, you don’t have to wait for a taxi.  If you want a cheaper Blue Bird taxi, they can call one for you and it usually arrives very quickly.  The doormen never fail to help me with my suitcase.  The best and most invaluable part about their service is that they never fail to ask where you are going.  That way, they can communicate that to the taxi driver to ensure that the taxi driver really knows where you want to go.  This is a god-send service and saves an infinite amount of trouble.   I cannot emphasise how grateful I am for this service.  The doormen are always cheerful and polite. 

The Horizon Lounge on the 23rd floor is where Horizon Club guests have their breakfasts.  The breakfast buffet consists of the usual Western fare (sausages, baked beans, mushrooms), Chinese fare (rice porridge and the side dishes that accompany it, dim sum, fried noodles), bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, cereal, juices, coffee and tea.  Besides the buffet spread, you are also able to order a la carte pancakes/ waffles/ French toast, omelette done to your preference (with hash brown and beef bacon on the side if you want).  I ordered the waffles.  When cold, they were unexpectedly tough and cheap, like they were manufactured cheaply in some factory in a fifth-rate town.  The beef bacon was the streaky sort.  Back bacon would have been better.  I don’t know how they prepared the bacon but they certainly weren’t crispy.  It was kind of wet and soggy.  I don’t think they were roasted in an oven.

From 2-4pm everyday, Horizon Club guests can also enjoy afternoon tea at the Horizon Lounge.  Available are salads, bite-sized sandwiches, sweet confectionery, coffee (latte, cappuccino etc made upon your order) and tea.  Very popular seems to be coffee for takeaway.  The butlers will prepare your coffee upon your order in a paper cup and you can take it away, just like at Starbucks/ Coffee Bean etc.    

The best part about staying at the Horizon Club is the “cocktail” available everyday 5-8pm at the Horizon Lounge.  To call it a “cocktail” is a bit of an understatement.  It is more of a mini-buffet.  (Shangri-la can afford to sell this point more *hint*).  There is soup, bite-size sandwiches, some protein eg sticks of satay, chicken patties etc, sushi, smoked salmon, sweet confections, free flow of wine and cocktails (prepared for you upon your order), coffee and tea.  The reason this is the best part about staying at the Horizon Club is the sheer convenience it offers to business travellers.  After a long day of sales presentations and client meetings, I don’t have the time to go down to one of their fine restaurants for a leisurely sit-down meal.  I have a lot of work to do.  With this mini-buffet, I can take care of my dinner while typing furiously on my laptop (I see many other people doing the same; there are many sockets available).  This is also a good place if you have the time to sip a glass of wine while watching dusk falls on Jakarta through the panoramic windows.  The night skyline of Jakarta isn’t particularly exceptional but it was a nice moment, a nice ambience.  I enjoyed my quiet moment.  If it rains, watch the fury of Nature.  

You might want to try their signature cocktail called “The Traffic’, because, according to one of the butlers, it makes you forget the traffic.  !!!???? Sense of humour? I think I am hooked for life.  The cocktail wasn’t particularly impressive in anyway but the humour is off the charts.  

If you find Jakarta awful or you have been sent here on an assignment you hate, then Shangri-la Jakarta is a very good place as a haven against the city.  The staff (down to the security at the gate) seem reasonably friendly and happy to be working there, which is always a good sign.  This place is 5-star in looks and service.  Solid, reliable brand.