PEr FYI

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…

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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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May 25, 2014

Sate Mak Syukur, Jakarta…the satay was meh, so don’t expect something amazing to happen here

So I really love Indonesian food, and this was not one of my favorite experiences

The satay was meh, so don’t expect something amazing to happen there. Between the beef or the mutton, I got the beef sate skewers here.  They were coated with a cloyingly thick yellow sauce that I really didn’t care for.  The yellow gravy is made from rice flour mixed with spicy offal broth, turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, galangal root, cumin, curry powder and salt. The satay here is not really my thing. They would probably be good if freshly grilled, but they tasted like they’d been grilled and refrigerated. Soto Ayam is basically chicken soup and it’s very popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. There are various adaptations of Soto Ayam in the region. I am not a fan of the one here.

I’d probably have to be pretty desperate – as in NO other food options around – to return. Not the worst Indonesian food I’ve ever eaten but not good enough to eat there again. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 26, 2013

Kafe Betawi, Jakarta…affordable soto betawi that is fairly good in every spoonful of soup

If you feel like having local food but don’t want to go to “warung” (or food stall), Kafe Betawi is a perfect alternative for you minus the ambience – watching the food street sellers prepare and cook the food directly in front of you on their carts.

Soto Betawi is native to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Unlike the other types of soto which normally have quite clear or transparent yellowish broth, Soto Betawi has a more curry-like flavour due to its use of coconut milk. Made with beef meat or beef offal and cooked in a cow’s milk or coconut milk broth, fried potato and tomato are then added for extra oomph. It is usually served with a plate of steaming hot, fragrant rice. The ones served here in Kafe betawi is rich, aromatic and fairly good in every spoonful of soup. Not life-changing stuff, though.

Prices are very affordable and the service is fast and friendly. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 28, 2013

Dapur Babah, Jakarta…food that doesn’t match up to the ambience

Dapur Babah is truly an eye-opener. The bustle of modern Jakarta disappeared as we stepped through the doors of this restaurant, to find ourselves in a borderline kitsch but cosy old-style tea shop, with antique tea sets, and photographs of Babah families on the walls. Babah is the term used to describe the Chinese migrants who intermarried with the locals and settled here during the early 1400s. Over time, they assimilated Malaycustoms into their lives, and created a fusion culture of their own. Malay influence is very strong in their clothing and food, but they have also retained their Chinese heritage.

 I honestly wasn’t that impressed by the food. We ordered a host of dishes, but nothing stood out for me. For instance, we tried the Nasi Goerih Bebek which was fried rice with duck. The duck… was… well… DUCK! I really think you could just put duck over a fire without any accompaniments and it would still taste great.

More than just a restaurant, Dapur Babah also brings to life an all-round experience of the rich Peranakan culture,  providing an even more complete feast for the senses. However, it’s not the place to get the best meal in Jakarta. This is the true truth as  I say it as it is…

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March 29, 2013

Pondok Laguna, Jakarta… the tahu kipas and gurame goreng is as good as it gets!

Super homey and authentic Indonesian spot with rich wood panels where you eat accompanied by the pleasant sounds of the flowing fountain and waterfall. I love this place! The food is so good, the portions are generous and the prices are amazing.

 The tahu kipas (seafood friend beancurd) was the texture of a fried potato but had the yummy flavour of seafood. Go ahead, tell me how that’s not awesome! The ikan gurame goreng (fried carp fish) was ridiculously good and offered up a sense of redemption for over eating. It’s not that it all was less than healthy, for me it was more feeling guilty for having crammed so much tasty things into one sitting. Though the cumi-cumi bakar (grilled squid) was a bit light on taste, the Udang pancet lada hitam (grilled black pepper tiger prawn) was amazing too. The chili sauce accompanying everything was spicy, and worked perfectly with the grilled/fried items. Mmmm, damn, I’m getting hungry all over again.

I am seriously saying that the food is as good as it gets! I’ve never been less than 100% satisfied upon each visit. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

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