Jakarta’s latest fine-dining restaurants are serving up the world’s cuisine on a plate to those hungry for new experiences.
The capital city of Indonesia offers many culinary adventures with distinct settings that separate the city’s crème de la crème from the rest of the crowd. From authentic French and Italian fare to traditional Middle Eastern meals and delectable Chinese and Japanese cuisine, the presence of new high-end restaurants on Jakarta’s busy restaurant scene has injected much excitement into an already vibrant sector.
One of the new kids on the restaurant block is Amuz Gourmet. Helmed by French chef Gilles Marx, this fine-diner off ers contemporary French cuisine served in a classy, romantic atmosphere. “Contemporary French cuis
ine is experiencing constant evolution. The food is much lighter and healthier than it used to be. No more of those rich creamy sauces,” he says.
Among the many must-try dishes on the menu are the pan-seared goose liver (foie gras) and wagyu tenderloin. Also worth raving about is the “Seven Degustation Menu” — seven main courses of the chef’s pure inspiration. Guests can choose the perfect bottle to go with their meal from the wide- ranging wine list.
Seating 56 guests, Amuz’s interior is inspired by the Eiffel Tower’s iron works. Uniquely, the restaurant also displays original paintings by renowned Indonesian artists, creating a blend of the best of both cultures. In addition to the restaurant’s adjoining bar and lounge area, Amuz provides an exclusive private dining room that seats up to 14 guests.
For a light-hearted, nostalgic tour of a little Italy neighbourhood, visit Pesto Autentico. Serving authentic dishes from northern and southern Italy, Pesto features an open kitchen that allows guests to enjoy live food preparation. “The restaurant is indeed a reminiscence of the past where food was almost the single most important form of indulgence,” says Mikko Mastrogiacomo, Pesto’s director of food and beverages.
For appetisers, Pesto has carpaccio di tonno (sliced raw tuna with arugula and lemon vinaigrette), peperoni alla griglia (grilled paprika with black olives) and impepata di cozze (sautéed green clams with lemon sauce). The restaurant’s main courses include a rich selection of homemade pasta made from high-grade durum wheat semolina, as well as ravioli and fettuccine.
Don’t leave Pesto without trying the restaurant’s thin-crust Napoletana-style pizzas, from Rustica (tomato sauce, pork, mushrooms, prosciutto and mozzarella) to Rucola e Parmigiano (tomato sauce, mozzarella, air-cured beef, arugula and parmesan) and Vesuvio (tomato sauce, mozzarella and hot salami).
The tinkle of soft notes played by a pianist and the restaurant’s atmospheric purple-hued interior define d’consulate as a sophisticated dining venue. But d’consulate is more than just a restaurant. Serving authentic Middle Eastern and European cuisine, d’consulate has a business centre and exclusive meeting lounges that are equipped with high-bandwidth video conference capabilities, so it’s suitable for a business meeting as well as lunch or dinner.
Families and groups of friends can also enjoy the venue, as d’consulate provides a karaoke lounge and kids’ corner.
The restaurant uses iPads to replace traditional menus. Guests can learn about the menu prior to ordering their dishes, and they can browse the internet on the iPad while waiting for their meal.
Among the recommended main courses are lamb shank with couscous or biryani rice, black cod fish Turkish-style, Arabic pizza and Norwegian salmon pâté on ciabatta bread. Or for a traditional Middle Eastern experience try shisha, a water pipe with a rich selection of flavours such as apple, chocolate, rose, strawberry and grape.
Nestled in Grand Indonesia, Benihana Village’s Japanese farmhouse-style interior incorporates a restaurant, bar and lounge in a single 1,400sqm venue.
A Japanese restaurant chain that first gained fame in the USA, Benihana was founded by Hiroaki (Rocky) Aoki in New York in 1964. There are now 102 branch restaurants in 18 different countries, and the company continues to be managed by his son, Kevin Aoki.
“To transform the old culture of Japanese restaurants into the elegance of Japanese dining, we serve our customers with a dazzling chef performance preparing their meal right at the table,” says Aoki during his visit to Jakarta. He describes the theatrical cooking techniques of “slice, season and cook” as “eatertainment”.
Spoil your palate with the Benihana Special (steak and lobster), the Jakarta Special (filet mignon, scallops and lobster), or other must- order items such as teppanyaki, robata yaki, nigiri sushi and sashimi.
Craving authentic Chinese dishes? Head for Central Jakarta’s new business district where the hospitality and delicacies of South Beauty await your visit. With more than 50 restaurants scattered across China, the South Beauty Group restaurant chain finally opened their first international branch last year in Jakarta with head chef Qiang Li and his brigade of 11 chefs from Beijing and Shanghai ready to delight diners’ palates with the rich offerings of Cantonese and Szechuan cuisines.
In an area of 1,000sqm that seats more than 300 guests, Jakarta’s South Beauty has private dining rooms, a main dining room and a board room to meet all guest requests. “We create a ‘treasure chest’ that takes our guests to the authentic nature of Szechuan and Cantonese cuisines, not only with our quality food, but also with the ambience,” says Dani Wanandi, CEO of South Beauty Jakarta, pointing out the restaurant’s precious artefacts — snuff bottles, pearls and lacquered Chinese wooden screens, and the ceiling embellished by flying dragons.
Among the chef’s recommendations are rock salad — a signature dish made on the spot with all kinds of vegetables, mayonnaise and egg yolk. The fried and sliced superior beef cooked with stones in hot oil is another must-try. This dish contains five-flavour salad oil heated above 200ºC, then poured into a glass container that has stones from Jialing River in order to preserve the heat.
By Aulia R. Sungkar. Published in Jetstar Asia, April-May 2011.