Padi at Puri Denpasar Hotel

Sorry, I didn’t take any photo of the salad I ate earlier today.

Padi is THE restaurant of Puri Denpasar (Frenchies, Puri here has the same pronunciation with ‘pourri’, you may now chuckle). The ambiance was “meh”, didn’t hit the high note or  the low one. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the hotel, located in Jalan Denpasar, Kuningan, is frequented by seminar/workshop participants. Can’t put high hope, really.

They serve lunch buffet at IDR 150k (VAT excluded), but I was peckish so I opted salad. I’m not a fan of hotel restaurant’s food, Business hotel food more over, but I do make some exceptions. Not so many hotel restaurants in Jakarta actually worth mentioning, to be honest.

The Balinese Chicken Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette I spotted on their menu poked my curiosity, but they ran out of it. How the hell the most original dish of the restaurant is: 1. one of the cheapest on the menu. 2. ran out of it.

Fine! “I’ll take the Caesar Salad”, half heartedly I told the frowny waitress. She wasn’t so frowny when we entered the restaurant, but began so after learning that my colleague and I are not one of those ladies who lunch. Ha!

Lucky for u, the salad leaves didn’t look dreary, but the for some reason whoever prepared it has deep fondness with garlic. He/she didn’t drizzle the uber-garlicy dressing, it was slathered in.

The leaves were dripping and became soggy in no time. The garlic dressing was so pungent and strong giving the effect of wasabiesque flavor all over my tastebuds (oddly didn’t burn my sinus, though), my tongue went numb.  Felt kinda like I ate a dish prepared by someone who hates me before even know me. Horseradish nut!

Just sharing my experience, if one day you have the occasion to eat there and thinking about my post, just eat a lot of mints afterwards, try not to burp out all those gases and don’t kiss your sweetie for at least 24 hours.  😀

Despite so, I believe in second chances, perhaps the next time I stick with the rice or regional dishes. Besides, restaurant bear the name of the Asian staple.

Trio Cantonese restaurant at Gondangdia Street

“Boy, oh boy, oh boy!”

We finally headed to Trio Restaurant one Sunday noon, only to find ourselves disappointed.

To me, Trio Restaurant is like the fabled Phoenix, an institution, an eternal restaurant (openened in 1940s, mind you) manned by, perhaps, a Wu-Tang trained master cooks– or something.. But nope.

Trio restaurant's façade

The eatery can prized itself as one of the nostalgic restaurants (restoran nostalgia) in the capital. The menu board seemed to have been hanging there for decades, the menu books are written in old Bahasa Indonesia and Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese, not sure), and the pomade-laden waiters looked like they’ve been working there long before their facial lines and grey hairs even appeared.

Hubby and I were expecting to be swept off our foodie feet, with the food they’re serving at least, since the interior was obviously not their strong suit.

I was expecting an old haunt with kitsch diningware, but what we found there was.. all that plus more.

Undermaintained was an understatement in describing the restaurant. It looks as if I could fall apart if its guests sneeze on the same time.

The dark corner made me fear of dengue mosquito would feast of my sleeping baby’s arms and legs.

What bursts my bubble the most, okay, two things that burst my bubble the most were, the quality of the food and costly tab we had to pick up by the end of our lunch.

The sweet and sour pork (Kolobak) and Angsio Tofu on the background

Hubby and I shared two dishes: Kolobak (sweet and sour pork) and Angsio Tahu (Chinese silken tofu with Ang Ciu sauce), and cucumber pickles (yes,  we have to pay for this).

Acar Ketimun

If you’re wondering what Ang Ciu (red wine) is, it’s a cooking wine made from fermented sticky rice. In the west, cooks use Sherry, in the east, we use Ang Ciu (Mirin in Japanese cuisine).

Halal Chinese Indonesian eateries usually dismiss Ang Ciu (because  it’s a non-halal), and replace it with glutomate (MSG) or sugar.. But most likely glutomate, mighty lots of glutomate.  Here, it’s common for diners to ask the cook to “hold the msg”.

Kolobak

Sweet and sour pork is one of our favorite dishes. We were super looking forward to savour it. On the first bite, our excitements ruled out the bizzare taste of the meat. But then the funky taste just keep on returning.

It was just too obvious to ignore.

Then we realized that there’s an obvious staleness on our Kolobak. Determined to be impressed, we finished our Kolobak, only to wake up to an unsettled stomach the next morning. A failing cold chain in extention to the falling  ceilings 😦 😦 :(. Disappointed to no end.

Angsio Tofu

The Angsio Tahu was nothing special. Tofu, despite its appearance, is a very special protein. To have silken tofu reach  its stardom, it has to be brined in salted water for a while. The Angsio tofu was left saltless by the cook, too bad.

Not much to tell about the fruit juices, except that it has too much water mixed into them.

Pink Guava Juice and a forgettable lemony thingy

Verdict!

Sadly the pricey foods  failed to shine. Why the restaurants always packed left me wondering. Were we just being unlucky for having the bad produce on our plate or Jakarta nostalgic diners were very permissives?

The restaurant play this “organ tunggal”-ish songs from circa 1970s. We walked out of there having a couple of sworn enemies– electone keyboard and hi fi with cassette player.

Billed: 100K something for food and drinks.

Food: 4 out of 10 emphasis on taste and price. The quality of the foods are the downfalls of Trio. Wallet was frowning and stomaches were suffering the next day.

Service: 7 out 10 emphasis on attentiveness and warm towel.

Overheard at the dining table: “Isn’t the owner related to the Paramount restaurant owner?”


Ayam Presto Ny. Nita Kelapa Gading Branch

Ayam Presto (chicken cooked in pressure cooker) isn’t an uncommon dish nowadays. But Mrs. Nita (Ny. is short for “nyonya” equal to anglophone’s “Mrs.”) is one of the first one in the business– I think.

She started her business when pressure cooker is still considered as “wild thing” in professional kitchen. What I like about her soft boned chicken is that she use free range chicken, so despite their sizes, the chicken are meaty, fell-of-the bones tender, absolute delish!

The restaurant now also put the current Indonesian fave among the fowl gang — soft boned duck (bebek presto).  Since it was the first time we set foot in the restaurant, we decided to choose the namesake dish: Ayam Bakar Presto with Plecing Kangkung (steamed water crest and Balinese style fiery chili paste–so hot tears will fall down on your cheeks and you can’t even tell if they’re happy or sad tears) and Ayam Bakar Presto with Pecel (steamed vegetables with East  Javanese orange leaf scented peanut sauce).

Ayam Bakar Presto with Pecel

Despite originating from Semarang, Central Java, Mrs. Nita (who is a Chinese-Indonesian from Central  Java) opened her flagship restaurant  in Denpasar, Bali circa 1998.  In case you’re not familiar with the Indonesian history, that year holds one of the darkest chapter of the country.

Throughout the tough years her restaurant business survives and thriving. This is surely a good sign.

Ayam Bakar Presto with Plecing Kangkung

I also tried Iced Turmeric drink. It was a surprise, but can’t tell if it was a good or bad surprise, since it was my first experience.

But personally I found tasting sweetened turmeric odd, it’s officially one of the least thing I’d drink anywhere. My brain is used to associate turmeric as one of the savory taste, not sweet.  Well, just an opinion.

Es Kunyit (Iced Turmeric)

Verdict!

Fell off bones, slender chicken yumminess at bargain prices! The Kelapa Gading branch seems to have regular customers who frequent it during lunch time.

With efficient service, great taste, and price that’s easy on the wallet, I’m not wondering why.

Billed: A bit more than 50K for two plus drinks.

Food: 9 out of 10 emphasis on taste and price. My wallet was happy, stomach and tastebuds were too!

Service: 8 out 10 emphasis on efficiency. Could rate higher if the girls weren’t so pouty whenever they see incoming customers.

Overheard at the dining table: “Wow! The sambal means business. Super hot.” (talking about the Plecing Kangkung).

Nasi Campur Putri Kenanga, Pho24 at Food Lo(u)ver Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall

Another weekend, another mall rendezvous! Yay! Macet! Yay!

This time in Grand Indonesia Shopping Town (or is it city? hmm..)

Ugh! One of my peeves is reading a typo in public.

Grand Indonesia’s Food Lo(u)ver wagged the inner pedantic speller in me.

It’s down right cruel to name a food court after a celebrated museum in Paris AND making a typo too..

First, it’s Louvre not Louver, second, the letter “u” between the brackets is an extra eyesore.

Eventhough mall can get into my nerves sometimes, I love wandering about the food courts. The atmospheres may be a bit bazaary sometimes, but I just love discovering and re-discovering new taste or classic overlooked food.

When I got overwhelmed with the novelty foods, I just hit a mall food court for a plate of familiar dishes.

Super yummy Nasi Campur. The pork satay remains tender and juicy even after it went cold.

Case and point: Nasi Hainan Campur Putri Kenanga. Took me back to my childhood when my mom used to take home a box of Nasi Campur Kenanga. I wonder if the stall owner and the Nasi Campur Kenangan owners are related. I enjoyed my plate despite the busy atmosphere.

Hubby had a bowl of Pho from Pho24. The broth was clear and enriched with fragrant aromatics such as corriander leaves and chillies, and the meat (beef unfortunately) cut paper thin.. In short, perfect. Not a heavy lunch but not too light. Enough to give us the energy to wander the mall some more.

Before ordering, I saw that the Pho24 stall has Vietnamese coffee dripper. Arriving from the country where coffee drinking and preparing are serious business, we’re kind of tired of drinking sugary 3-in-1 coffee here. Without further ado I suggest hubby having a glass of Vietnamese coffee.

Pho Tai and a glass of hot Vietnamese coffee from Pho24

I always find Vietnamese coffee presentation pretty. Pitch black coffee with white condensed milk on the bottom of a clear glass. No frou frou foam, chocolate or caramel syrup, only good quality coffee served in a humble glass yet its taste deserves an acclaim.

Verdict!

Putri Kenanga:  Love, love, love the meaty pork satay. It remained tender and juicy even when it went colder (took my sweet time taking food pics, catching up with my old budette–‘ssup Tre!, and feeding the little one.).

Pho24: Great presentation, great taste, great coffee!

Billed: Around IDR 90K for two meals and drinks.

Food: 8 out of 10 emphasis on taste. The only thing that stopped the two dishes obtaining the perfect score is the food court presentations.

Service: 9 out 10 emphasis on efficiency on both booths.

Rawon Nguling Kelapa Gading

Where: Kelapa Gading Boulevard, sandwiched between Des Iskandar and Homemade Bakery.

Had: Rawon and Gulai Kambing minus rice, to go.

Billed: Less than IDR 50K.

I never knew why we never eat here before. The soups here are champions! My personal favorite is the Gulai Kambing (curry mutton stew). The meat cuts were super tender,  I was so sure it was mutton instead of goat (confused about the differences? Hang in there, a post about goat vs. sheep is underway(: ). I often avoid goat meat dishes because if they weren’t prepared well, they’ll stink and flush my appetite down the drain. The portion is enough to feed a hungry, cranky foodie.

The Rawon broth was pitch black, fragrant, with big chunks of beef meat swarming about, and served with the standard condiments: bean spouts and a spoonful of sambal so spicy it made you think about your sins.  An additional kerupuk udang (prawn crackers) would catapult the dining experience, however, I’d have to pay an extra IDR 10K (about USD 1.20),  so not that night, ’cause all day driving made me cranky and stingy >:D.

At the door, the restaurant’s poster said that it was started somewhere in East Java circa 1960s.

If you’re looking for ambiance, then this restaurant will fail you, however, if it’s taste you’re after, you’ll leave the place super happy.

Verdict: Mega yumm! The taste profiles were impressive, both the Rawon and the Gulai Kambing.  Will definitely come back to have some more and snap some photos.

Pancious at the Kelapa Gading Mall

Growing up in Jakarta, I spent my childhood until my teenage years in Kelapa Gading. Like most Gadingites, I used to consider Kelapa Gading the center of the universe. Food? Check. School? Check. Hospital? Check. Shops? Check. Mall? Hextuple check! I’m not joking!  Kelapa Gading covers 1.633,7 Ha, and the subdistrict has six shopping malls.

I left Jakarta for Bali and North Africa a few years back, and the economic boom lately gave me a minor (and fortunately brief) relocating shock.  There are more motorbikes in swarming the city streets, and Jalan Boulevard is stuffed by brand new cars, more often than not.

Ok, enough with the long Preambule, on to my foodie notebook.

One Sunday evening hubby, our little one, and yours trully went to see our extended family in Pancious Kelapa Gading Mall (weekend, mall– yes, we’re super typical). Went to Pancious eX a couple of years ago, and it was –interesting.  A small stack of American pancakes with ice cream and some sort of berry syrup (my memory escaped me).

As far as I know, American pancakes are served in the morning, with sweet fruit coulis or syrup, unlike French crêpes which could be either sweet or savory.

Pancious served fluffy American pancakes with a twist, this can be taken as a good or bad thing.

Unfortunately my Pancious Kelapa Gading Mall dining experience was not all that nice. I had the Beef and Blue Cheese pancake. It was cheesy alright, but I doubt they put a humane amount of blue cheese in the sauce. On top of my head, the cook could threw in a hefty amount of cream, cream cheese and a pinky nail portion of bleu, but my sarcastic foodie hunch said that it’s just cream and ready made Kraft’s blue cheese dressing..hehehe. Such a nitpick.

Beef with blue cheese sauce single pancake and Peach juice.

Nice fluffy American pancakes, with blue cheese sauce that would make Scooby tilt his head and say 'meh!'.

Hubby, being a French he is, steered clear the pancake dishes and had Beef Bbq burger instead. He made no comment, but I tasted it.. it was okay with no wow factor.

Pancious' BBQ Beef Burger. Meaty burger with no wow factor.

Verdict!

The Pancious experience was interesting but I think I’d easily choose other restaurants over Pancious.

Where: Kelapa Gading Mall 5, Ground Floor, next to Citibank.

Concept: American pancake with traditional and non traditional sides and garnishes.

Crowds: Family, couple, group of friends.

Food: 5 out of 10

Service:  3 out 10

Overheard over the dining table: “The service here is so bad.”; Customer: “Why aren’t we informed about the complimentary Pancious anniversary pancake?” Waiter: “Because it’s valid only to customers who order more than 250k meals” — there were 6 people on the table spending averagely 50K. Logic gone AWOL.

Bottomline: Clueless waiter and waitresses driving the customers out few moments before the actual closing hour and their body language discouraged us from ordering more food, staying put, or thinking about returning.