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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.

Gran Melia, Jakarta, Nov 2014

Situated in the diplomatic district Kuningan is the Spanish chain Gran Melia. The hotel has been recently voted Best City Hotel-Jakarta at the 25th TTG Travel Awards 2014.  Her neighbours are embassies. For example, right opposite the hotel are the embassies of Singapore and Poland.

The executive rooms of the Gran Melia are called Red Level rooms. They are located on the 14-16th floors of the hotel. Inside the Red Level rooms, there is a long couch that stretches all across the length of the window. In the bathroom, there is a bathtub, a separate shower stall with rain shower. The bathroom and the bedroom is separated by glass. You can watch TV while lying in the bathtub. They provide Etro toiletries.

Red Level guests get access to the beautiful Red Level Lounge located on the 14th floor. The Red Level lounge stands out from other lounges in the Indonesian capital by adopting a luxurious Indonesian decor. Stretching along one wing of the hotel, the long and rectangular lounge affords unmitigated views of the Kuningan area. It has a sloping roof that mimics a traditional Javanese longhouse, complete with faux beams and accented with sparkling chandeliers. Golden Indonesian lattice partitions allows guests to relax or hold discussions in privacy. The golden lattice partitions are perfectly complemented by the patterned golden carpet. The large high back armchairs in golden upholstery invite guests to sink into them and enjoy the food and beverages the lounge offers. The overall ambience of the lounge is Indonesian luxury fit for royalty. Magazines are available for your leisurely perusal.

Other Red Level Lounge benefits:
Complimentary welcome drink
Personalized Express Check-in and Check-out at Red Level Lounge.
Buffet breakfast at the lounge from 6am to 10am daily
Complimentary welcome fruit basket upon arrival
Complimentary 2 pieces of pressing upon arrival
No surcharge for express laundry and dry cleaning
Free local calls (excluding cellular calls)
Complimentary first 2 hours use of meeting room per stay (subject to availability)
Complimentary coffee/ tea and soft drinks all day
20% discount on Business Centre charges (excluding telephones, fax charges, and/ or any service provided by third parties such as translator.

Everyday, at the Red Level Lounge, you get to enjoy afternoon tea from 2pm to 5pm and evening cocktails/ hors d’oeuvres  from 6pm to 9pm.


Besides the buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails offered by the lounge, if you still feel hungry, you can indulge yourself in the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, Japanese restaurant or all-day dining restaurant.

If you are in need of rejuvenation, you may want to try out their gym. They have a good gym (as far as hotel gyms go)—– compact, clean, neat and very adequate. Alternatively, you may want to try out Yhi Spa. Perhaps you might liken their Javanese massage (available in 60 minutes, 90 minutes or 120 minutes). The Javanese massage features long smooth strokes and firm pressure that will relieve muscle tension and improve muscle circulation.

There is also no shopping, no 7-eleven nearby. There is a Starbucks in the building next door. The nearest mall is Mall Ambassador which is 10 mins away by taxi. Regardless, the hotel staff tells me it is the nearest 5-star hotel to a highway.