PEr FYI

March 29, 2020

Biku, Bali…decent, but not one to rave about

When I stepped into this buzzy restaurant that’s set in a 150-year-old teak joglo (Javanese wooden house), I wasn’t sure what to expect.

A promising opening move would be the calamari in Balinese curry sauce – served with kangkung vegetable and steamed rice which is so appealingly savoury. If you were on vacation, you would order tray after tray of these. The sop buntut – oxtail soup with vegetable and steamed rice is not a dish that is likely to have been stirred by generations of sainted grandmothers since the dawn of time. The broth is rich yet lightened to springtime levels through tactical doses of lemongrass and cilantro. There had better be nasi goreng at any restaurant that is even playing at being Indonesian. There is, in the Nasi goreng special – Indonesian style fried rice served with chicken sate, krupuk, fried egg, the rice fried just until it crackles a bit between your teeth. It has a gentle but genuine spice undercurrent that would be welcome in more of the cooking. Of course there is Mie goreng – fried noodle with chicken and egg.

Few dishes really come forward as the kind of knockout that everybody will talk about later. But if there are few stars on the table, the contrast of flavors, colors, textures and techniques makes the meal into a memorable ensemble piece. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 28, 2020

Tesate, Jakarta…satay with a difference

I had always thought of satay as basically covered in sweet peanut sauce.

Because I am a man, with a taste for blood, I ordered both of the meat satay. Sate sapi klopo – spiced tender beef coated in toasted grated coconut and Sate sapi Makasar – combination of aromatic beef tenderloin with tangy star fruit sauce. Both the beef had the densest, most satisfying texture. Both had a rich, mouth-coating savouriness, helped by their highly textured and sprightly star fruit sauce and the toasted grated coconut.

It was a satisfying one, and at an unemasculating price – and that’s what matters. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 14, 2019

Majesty Spa, Batam…This was a mistake

Filed under: Activities, Indonesia, Massage, spa — Tags: , , , — PEr @ 5:09 pm

You know when you had a good massage when you leave the spa with a happy, fuzzed-headed sense of calm to the point of feeling slightly zombiefied — to the extent you had to be careful not to walk into traffic.

However, my very first massage in Batam had a sting in the tail. The place itself is clean and neat, and the rate is not that bad. However, the massage was mediocre, to say the most. The masseur didn’t quite know exactly what she was doing. I told her before the massage started that I wanted her to focus on my lower back, neck and shoulders at least 75% of the time as this is where I experience the most pain and the reason I came in. She completely ignored this and barely touched any of the knots in my back.

Overall I was just happy to leave! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 5, 2019

La Favela, Bali…get there

Nightlife can take many forms, but for Balinese and visitors looking to let off a little steam, nothing quite does the job like a night at La Favela.

The setup: There are semi-indoor gardens, artificial waterfalls and ponds, alfresco tables and chairs. Indoors the interior design is really amazing, a real work of art where antique furniture lines its floors, plants seem to be (artfully) overgrown and even old bikes and a Volkswagen van rounds off the appearance. There are cosy, intimate spaces that will have everyone spilling secrets within the hour.

Will I fit in? This is a night out for anyone and everyone, so the crowd is a real mixed bag. Oh, and more beautiful people than at a Victoria Secret’s casting. A word of advice, though: you will probably feel most at home here if you aren’t too far past your early twenties.

La Favela does a fantastic job of setting itself apart from the rest of the spots in Bali. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 14, 2019

Potato Head, Bali…the place to see and be seen

Bali has long been famous as a playground for both the rich and the not-so-rich, easily providing both villas and backpacker hostels so that visitors can enjoy its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters whatever their budget.

Seminyak is by no means the most picturesque part of Bali, but if you’re looking for a place with plenty of bustle, Potato Head should do the trick. It is a big draw for Pretty Young Things who want to party.

Nothing says you’re in Bali quite like having a pizza and drinking a mojito in Potato Head. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 1, 2019

Remboelan, Jakarta…You should order the entire menu

It’s worth noting that the room is packed: with Instagram-happy food tourists, certainly, but also with toddler-towing families and middle-aged midtown couples. Remboelan nails the palm sugar sweets, the clove, ginger and turmeric depths, and the  spice-stoked endorphin highs that make good Indonesian eating.

The ikan gurami sos manga muda nyamleng (deep fried gourami fillet fish topped with shredded young mango, house pickles and house sweet and sour special sauce) is all kinds of brilliant. It is easily the best single Indonesian dish I’ve eaten in over a year. The mie rebus persisiran (house special chicken noodle with special gravy sauce, served with pickles and prawn crackers) is perfectly satisfying all on its own. Even better is the nasi bakar cumi gurih (delicacy from Remboelan. Grilled lemongrass fragrant rice stuffed with “salty baby squid”, stinky bean and chilli). Order many, many portions. Trust me. Then, just when you think the food can’t get any more exciting, along come the soto koya lamongan (shredded chicken, bean sprout, egg and combined in house special chicken with koya powder, “sambal cuka.”

Come with several mates and order pretty much everything. I say pretty much: that’s just like my kind of dinner party. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 29, 2018

Roemah Rempah, Jakarta…there are treasures here

Expect an extensive menu filled with traditional dishes from across Indonesia. Few dishes are truly memorable, but this dessert is an exception.

The sweet richness of pisang goreng gulung saus gula jawa (fried banana roll with plain sugar sauce) is a powerhouse of a dessert. When you’ve got a sweet tooth, this’ll have got you covered.

I’m going back for the pisang goreng. Hell, the other stuff on the menu may not anything to write home about, but try and stop me. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 9, 2018

Tamani, Jakarta…Wagyu fried rice is a showstopper

Two thoughts occur to me, very quickly. The first is that I like this place: I like the buzz. I like the food, very much. The other thought is that I adore the menu, by which I mean the object. It’s a menu with food photographs and very lovely they are, too.

I go for the Wagyu high marbling fried rice. It’s both powerful and soothing. The wagyu taste will linger in your mouth wanting more. I also had the gado gado add on lontong which needs no explanation. Most importantly I am left thinking there are things here I want to come back for, like the sup buntut bakar and nasi goreng special.

Any place with that sort of thing like the wagyu high marbling fried rice on the menu surely deserves my deep respect. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 30, 2018

MOS Café and Dining, Jakarta…burger is just… well, gross

This restaurant is a leading contender for the competition in the horribleness stakes. I hope this restaurant stays open long enough to be featured on the next series of Gordon’s Kitchen Nightmares.

My heart sank, then my blood pressure spiked when I took a bite of that charcoal rich MOS cheese burger. The pate was cold.  Like repulsive just-out-of-a-refrigerator cold.

Consider the service where servers give you the feeling that you should feel lucky to receive whatever you get. When informed of the cold pate, her explanation is that it is meant to be cold because I had wanted it cooked medium rare.

Whatever you think of my food expertise, allow me this: I have been to a lot of places. And I have never in my life take quite so much pleasure in saying no. Don’t bother with MOS Café and Dining. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 5, 2018

Hujan Locale, Bali…Over-order at will, with no regrets

Here it is: The Big One. A place I felt compelled to revisit again and again.

What to have: Crispy squid with chili jam ginger flower lemongrass, Dutch Indonesian salted cod kroket with chili mayonnaise and chili sambal, Sudanese steamed and fried fish dumplings with chili peanut sauce, Chili wood roasted ayam Taliwang stuffed with prawn meat served with cassava chips, Betawi soft shell crab asinan with pickled organic vegetable’s sambal kacang and pink krupuk, “Ayam bakar padang” butterflied whole spring chicken with kandis chili turmeric and coconut served with sambal terasi taucho, Salt grilled whole fish with sambal lemo and kemangi, “Bukit Tinggi itik lado muda” duck leg simmered in green chili and served with fern tip papaya leaf and shredded coconut urap, “Bandung iga bakar kambing” lamb shoulder simmered in Javanese spice and then caramelized in sweet soy tomato and chili, “Gulai ikan salai” house tea smoked fish simmered in Batak curry with ginger flower belimbing wuluh petai and charred leeks, Northern Sumatran octopus rending with star anise fennel and chopped turmeric leaf.

Sorry, I meant everything.

If you’re ever in Bali, you should try to visit this exceptional restaurant at least once. Remember, you only live twice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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