March 18, 2018

Made’s Warung, Bali…the meal falls flat

warung (roadside stall) in Kuta in 1969, to one of Asia’s top 500 finest restaurants by the Miele Guide in 2013, Made’s Warung is the go-to place for decent, reasonably priced local Indonesian food.

Expect an extensive menu filled with traditional dishes from across Indonesia. A comprehensive Indonesian adventure from Made’s burger – burger bun, beef patty, lettuce, onion, tomato mustard, mayonnaise, cheese, beef bacon and chilli dog sauce served with French fries and tomato sauce to Mie goring – fried noodles with shrimp, beef, chicken and vegetables. But is it good? Well, no, not really, as you will discover when you sit down and eat.

It’s been in business for 49 years – so they must be doing something right! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 3, 2018

Sari Ratu, Jakarta…simply too many dishes to choose from!

Immediately after I enter the place, sit down, a lot of dishes were served on my table a minute later.

Classic Padang style, meant putting a bunch of plates or bowls bearing different types of dishes on the table, allowing you to choose what you want. You can choose from beef, lamb, chicken, or sambal-swathed hard-boiled eggs to top your rice; Indonesia’s greatest hits: beef rendang, a spicy (an easy-to-abuse adjective around an Indonesian table), ayam gulag (special chicken in Indonesia curry) and Udang super (lobster) were my favorites. Portions are smallish (not that you can complain about much at this price) because the meat or vegetables are there as an accent, to flavor the rice. If you need something to quench the fire, order one of the Indonesian milk drinks, made with unlikely combinations like milk, grenadine-like syrup and avocado. Or grab a box of Teh Botol, a sweetened dark tea drink.

You don’t have to eat everything they put on the table. You won’t be charged for what you don’t eat. Untouched platters are taken away and served to other guests. Not everybody will think this is a sanitary way to serve food. Your dish may have visited a number of other tables before it lands on yours.

Cholesterol levels be damned. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 27, 2018

Motel Mexicola, Bali…party like it’s the last day!

What’s a better way of enjoying Bali than hitting some of the hottest locations?

The cramped and crowded Motel Mexicola is popular with the locals—a very good-looking crowd. It’s quite charming in its way with a real Mexican feel, from the music through the murals to the altar . There is definitely a buzz.

It was packed with happy people and the service was friendly. So if you fancy a noisy, lively bar, give it a try. Viva Mexico! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 7, 2018

Sate Babi Bawah Pohon, Bali…utterly delicious

Bali is well-known for its pork dishes. A must-try Balinese dish is this pork meat-on-stick.

Tucked away under a tent in Kuta, the Sate Babi (pork satay) here is utterly delicious and that, and only that, is what everyone is here to feast on. The meat is unbelievably succulent and sweet and had a delicious char-grilled flavor coupled with a rich, mouth-coating savouriness.

Really – I’m not hamming it up! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 9, 2017

Bebek Tepi Sawah, Bali…Anything to avoid? walking in to start with.

I probably won’t make any friends saying so but I’m struggling to think of a reason why anyone would want to eat here.

Bebek Tepi Sawah is decent enough if you’re high or 12 years old. The whole menu here is almost entirely centred around the humble duck. The duck which was supposed to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside was anything but. The soup was as plain as plain water can be. Just not worth it.

Psst…tourists: You can get better dish in Bali elsewhere. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 23, 2016

Harum Manis, Jakarta…overpriced-poor-pretentious food

Let us not beat about the bush: this is overpriced-poor-pretentious food.

Despite being a traditional Indonesian restaurant, their menu is in 3 languages – Indonesian, English and Japanese.

The food, like the restaurant’s patrons, looked good from a distance but on closer inspection turned out to be rather unappetising. The prawns were perfectly decent, but the bebek panggang spesial Harum Manis (braised & char-grilled baby duckling over multi-grains) was revolting. The soto betawi khas harum manis (hearty coconut cream soup, filled with beef shank, beef tripe, beef sweet meat, potatoes, tomatoes, green onion, sliced lime and small chili sauce) was not as good as its off-the-shelf equivalents in Hero or Ranch Market.

The food served up in Harum Manis is a disgrace. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


May 8, 2016

Seribu Rasa Seafood & Grill, Jakarta…there will be many next times

Indonesian food is fundamentally earthy and each dish is designed to stuff you full.

Although Seribu Rasa can be categorized as refined restaurant cooking, they do serve hearty regional dishes that taste like great, home-cooked meals. The massive menu here is as diverse as the 18,000 islands on the archipelago of Indonesia, you just need to know what to order.

Start off with the Yangoon crispy duck and the grilled lemongrass chicken is so wonderfully succulent. This restaurant also has a remarkably delicious jimbaran fried fish. As I write this, I am really, incredibly sad right now. Sad like, ruined a favourite tie sad. It’s because I clearly recall the squid omelette pulau seribu and I really, really wish I can have some of it right now. Tumis sayur sambal ebi is also mention-worthy.

There will be a next time. Oh yes, many next times…This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 29, 2016

Bandar Djakarta, Jakarta…perfect setting by night, sauna by day

There are few more satisfying experiences than eating good food by the sea. Sitting on the water’s edge overlooking a jetty, this informal place has amazingly fresh fish and macho barbecuing.

Kerang kampak steam bawang putih (steamed scallop with garlic) was a simple, delicious and low fat dish. The udang bakar madu pedas (spicy honey grilled prawn) were succulent, tender, mouthwatering. The glaze perfectly complements the natural sweetness in the shrimp. Cumi saus telur asin (squid with salted egg sauce) was simple yet flavoursome although a tad dry.

The atmosphere is truly perfect at night. At lunch, it can be stark contrast. You can dine indoors in the airconditioned room, but why woud you come to a place like this to do that? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 3, 2015

Dapur Sunda, Jakarta…surprising, simple and flavourful food

Sunda is a race mainly in western Java, whereas inhabitants in other parts of Java are known as Javanese. Needless to say, Dapur Sunda (Sundanese Kitchen) is well known for its traditional West Javanese menu. That just means it’s saltier than in the east. It’s not much on ambiance, but the food is surprising, simple and flavourful, and the price is reasonable.

This restaurant at Bellagio Boutique Mall closes at 8pm and we arrived at 7.30pm. So the dinner was fast, fast, fast.

Gurame (Gourami) is a freshwater fish native to South East Asia. The crispy dish here was of an acceptable standard. The cumi bakar (Grilled squid) was charred from the grill, giving it that magical barbecue taste. It was soft, tender and clearly as fresh as could be. Also worthy of notable mentions are the udang mentega(butter shrimp) and tahu telor (Bean Curd Omelettes).

Though the dishes in Dapur Sunda can’t necessarily be categorized as refined restaurant cooking, they do serve hearty dishes that taste like great, home-cooked meals. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 15, 2015

Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, Jakarta…not worth the hype, reputation and money

For those of you not on the brink of marriage or buying a house, picking a celebrity chef restaurant is probably the most expensive decision you’ll make this week — and the gastronomic equivalent of an inflated “A” can lead you astray by hundreds of dollars.

A high-speed lift whizz you in seconds to the 46th floor. Wall-to-ceiling windows look on to a, as you might expect, stunning view– if you’re pointed in the right direction and, preferably, sitting at a window table.

Sydney crab omelette, enoki mushroom and herb salad, miso mustard broth is the signature dish. The sweetness of the strips of crab meat shone through the mild miso broth but I wished they could be more generous with the crab meat. The beautifully crispy, tender and delicious crumbed chicken makes a great combination of flavours with garlic mushrooms, coleslaw salad. The crispy pork belly, pickled green papaya salad and tamarind dressing shouldn’t be called that. There are two simple things necessary for crackling: a nice dry rind, and a good thick layer of fat underneath it. I’m an out-and-proud fat-fancier. The tender, melting wobble of it, that satisfying oily crunch – how can mere meat hope to compete? Here the crispy pork belly lacked in visual appeal and failed the “crunch test.” The signature dessert – liquorice parfait 2013 – was certainly unique but I will absolutely not order it again. Luke Mangan’s revolutionary reboot of the lamington – lamington sandwich, coconut ice cream, strawberry sauce – would be a better choice for dessert.

High ratings are often deserved, of course, and I’ve found plenty of haunts that can justify their hype but Salt Grill by Luke Mangan doesn’t measure up at all. It’s a fine place, yes, just that it is not worth the hype, reputation and money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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