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Pho 24 (Vietnam Restaurants - Jakarta)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Pho 24 is a chain of Vietnamese restaurants with several locations in Asia. Specializing in Pho, it belongs to a major conglomerate in Vietnam which is also the owner of Highlands Coffee.

I've actually lived in Vietnam for several months and I tried hundreds of street Phos there (Pho is pronounced a bit like F*ck, without the "K" sound at the end).

Even in Vietnam, Pho 24 is not that good and it is expensive. The other major chain, Pho Ong Hung, is much better in my opinion.

The pho in Pho 24 Jakarta does not taste anything like authentic pho. It is bland, the meat is low quality, the bean sprouts are too big, and instead of the usual Vietnamese herbs (long coriander, cinnamon basil), they serve you a kind of parsley that does not add any flavours to the broth. It costs over Rp60,000 including tax, not worth it .

Overall: If I ever return to Pho 24 in Indonesia, I will not order their pho again. For the other dishes, I haven't tried them yet but I would not expect great tasting food.


Pho 24 contacts details:
Several locations in Jakarta, among which:
Gandaria, TIS Square Tebet, Food Court Grand Indonesia, Alam Sutera Boulevard, Mall Kelapa Gading 3, SMS Serpong, Jalan Wolter Monginsidi (Senopati) No 38, PIM (Pondok Indah Mall) 1 and 2, Pacific Place, Senayan City,  Kota Kasablanka, Lotte Ciputra World, CityWalk Sudirman, Central Park, Puri Indah Mall.

Facebook Page (vietnamese language): Pho 24 Vietnamese Food
Phone numbers: See website above.

12 Delicious Indonesian Soups (and Where to Eat Them)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
A common mistake of foreigners visiting Indonesia is to limit their knowledge of Indonesian cuisine to Nasi Goreng and Nasi Padang. Few will taste one of the dozens delicious soups that you can try everywhere, from classy Indonesian restaurants to popular food courts.

Indonesian soups are typically made from some of these ingredients: turmeric, garlic, lemongrass, onions, potatoes, coriander, ginger, galangal, tomatoes and of course, coconut milk. Chicken is the most common type of meat, followed by beef, mutton and fish. Pork soups are very rare outside of Bali.

Sop or Soto?
It seems that even Indonesians are not so sure about the difference between "soto" and "sop". Some friends told me that "sop" are clear soups while "soto" are mixed with coconut milk. Wikipedia tells a different story: It says that traditional soups are called "soto" while modern, western-inspired ones are called "soup". If you know the difference, please help me by commenting below.

If you don't like coconut milk, you can ask the cook not to use any by saying "Jangan pakai santan". Alternatively, you can request your soup to be "bening" (clear).

I have just spent the last 3 weeks trying every possible "Soto" and "Sop" that I could find in Jakarta. That's about 40 to 50 soups. I noticed that the same soup will almost always be cooked in a different manner. Naturally, some venues are better than others so I give my some good restaurant recommendation for each type of soups. 

Sop Konro Makassar

Though the Coto Makassar is more famous, I prefer the Sop Konro. It is a thick, flavorful soup with a big piece of beef rib in it. It is made using keluwak which gives it a black color (similar to that of rawon). 

You can try it in Daeng Tata or in Sop Konro Karebosi (Kelapa Gading). If the taste is too strong, you can balance it using lime juice.

Soto Betawi

Originally from Jakarta, the Soto Betawi is similar to a few other soups that are cooked in a coconut milk broth (for instance the Soto Ayam). Just before serving, you will add green onions, boiled potatoes and fresh tomatoes. It is usually made with beef offals.

You can try in in Soto Jakarta Asen (Jalan Mangga Besar 1) or in Soto Roxy H. Darwasa (one of the oldest restaurants in Jakarta).

Rawon 

Rawon is a popular black beef soup originally from Surabaya. It is similar with Coto and Sop Konro Makassar as it uses kelawak. It is normally served with rice and called Nasi Rawon.

The most famous place to eat rawon is Rawon Setan in Surabaya. If you cannot go there, you can also try Rawon Setan Mbak Endang on Jalan Mangga Besar Raya, not far from Exotis.

Sop Buntut

The sop buntut or "oxtail soup" is usually rather expensive, even if you eat it in the street. Apart from the beef, it may include carrots, potatoes, cloves, nutmeg and tomatoes.

I would recommend you to try Sop Buntut Mangga Besar on Jalan Mangga Besar 1 (yes I spend a lot of time in that area as you can see).

Soto Ayam

Soto Ayam is the most widely available Indonesian soup, and possibly the most delicious too. The broth is aromatic and spicy, with a yellowish tint. It contains shredded chicken, fresh tomatoes, potatoes, turmeric, herbs, small eggs, koya and onions. The Soto Kudus, Soto Medan and Soto Lamongan (see below) are similar.

Best restaurant to taste a Soto Ayam in Jakarta: Soto Ayam Ambengan Pak Sadi (multiple branches in Kelapa Gading, Thamrin, Senopati, etc).

Sop Kambing

The Sop Kambing is my absolute favourite. I can usually smell restaurants that serve it a mile away and I love to try its variations. Popular versions include the Sop Kaki Kambing (Mutton Leg Soup) or the Sop Kepala Kambing (Mutton Head Soup). It is very similar with the Sop Buntut.

My favourite venue for Sop Kambing: Kui Sen Restaurant in Jalan Gajah Mada.

Soto Lamongan

 The Soto Lamongan is a variation of the Soto Ayam. The main difference is that it is a clear soup, without any coconut milk used. It is named after Lamongan, a city in East Java.

There are not many restaurants serving Soto Lamongan. If you don't find it near from where you live, you can go to the street food stall "Soto Ayam Lamongan Cak Kumis" in Bintaro 9 Walk.

Empal Gentong

Empal Gentong is a spicy beef soup from Cirebon. It is made of beef tripes (intestines) cooked in a curry sauce with coconut milk.

The most famous place in Jakarta is certainly Kedai Empal Gentong Mang Darma Cirebon in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta.

Soto Daging Madura 

There are actually several kinds of Soto Madura, with chicken or beef. The one I tried was a dark beef offal and meat soup. It is not my favourite as I find it less aromatic than other Indonesian soups.

I only had Soto Madura once in Tosoto, on Jalan Mangga Besar Raya. They have other branches all over the city as well.

Soto Medan 

The Soto Medan is a variation of the Soto Ayam, with a sweeter flavour. Another difference is that it contains potato croquettes called "perkedel". The one I had also had some noodles inside.

The best place to eat a Soto Medan in Jakarta is near Ancol in Soto Medan Pak Syamsuddin, Jalan Muara Karang Raya No. 17.

Soto Tangkar Iga Sapi

The Soto Tangkar Iga Sapi is similar to Soto Betawi except that the meat used is always beef ribs. It is popular mainly in Jakarta.

The legendary Soto Tangkar Tanah Tinggi is the must-try restaurant for this soup. It has been around since 1938, an eternity in Jakarta (Jalan Tanah Tinggi III No. 54 Central Jakarta).

Soto Kudus

The Soto Kudus comes from the town of Kudus in Central Java. It is a clear broth soup, usually made from chicken or buffalo, served in a small ball in which rice can be added. Its particular taste comes from the heavy use of garlic, fresh and fried.

There are several good venues to eat Soto Kudus in Jakarta. One of the most delicious is Soto Kudus Blok M on Jalan Kh. Achmad Dahlan No. 36.

Photo source: I took all photos myself except for the Empal Gentong and the Soto Kudus. I will add new soups as I try them, especially fish soups (sop ikan). Please don't hesitate to comment below if I made a mistake in my writing or if I missed your favourite Indonesian soup.

10 Classic Indonesian Food Restaurants in Jakarta

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
With the wealth of culture, cooking methods, and variety of spices, it’s not easy to define “Indonesian food” - let alone to come up with a shortlist of the best ones in Jakarta.

Most Indonesian restaurants will specialize on a certain dish or dishes from a certain region - and with over 17,000 islands spread over three different time zones, you can imagine how long the list can get!

The good news is, there are restaurants that do provide a variety dishes from all over the country so you can have a culinary journey across Indonesia in one sitting. Here are some of the noteworthy ones in my book - in no particular order.

Palalada

Fancy restaurant within Alun-alun Grand Indonesia - needless to say, prices are on the higher side. Do drop by their snack shop Waroeng Kopi, though. They serve tasty Indonesian snacks at a more reasonable price further inside the shopfloor.

Lara Djonggrang

Although their website says “Indonesian imperial cuisine”, it is technically Javanese. However, they do feature dishes from the coastal regions of Java which displays distinctive tastes as a result of the Javanese’s cultural interaction with merchants from all over Indonesia as they pass through the harbor cities. The restaurant is also known for its impressive setting.

Sate Khas Senayan

The Starbucks of Indonesian restaurants - with numerous locations spread across town, cozy if somewhat cookie-cutter ambiance, good quality food, and great seasonal menus. They also have a range of Indonesian warm and cold desserts that provides a quick glimpse into what is available across the archipelago.

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis

Another place with impressive setting, also by the Tugu Hotels and Restaurants group. It’s an art space, a fine dining restaurant, a tea lounge, a bakery, and a wineshop within an elegant Dutch colonial building complex. Their Betawi Rijsttafel experience is a must try.

Kembang Goela

Upscale dining in the business district. They serve Indonesian dishes with Dutch and Peranakan influence. Known for their unique interpretation of the West Sumatran dendeng balado and dishes made from indigenous vegetables of Indonesia like genjer and kecipir.

Remboelan

A family restaurant with several locations in different malls in Jakarta. Try their mini version of the famous rijsttafel called nasi berkat which consists of rice with a combination of empal beef, shredded dried coconut, assorted vegetables with spicy coconut herbs, fried fermented bean curds, sautéed fried bean curd, pickles and sliced omelet. Other must try dish is their mangut ikan pe panggang - a traditional dish from Semarang that is seldom cooked nowadays because of the intricate 40-hours smoking of stingrays it involves in the preparation.

TeSate

The upper-class sister of Sate Khas Senayan serving almost similar menus with more generous portion and sophisticated presentation. Several locations in Jakarta’s premium spots (Plaza Senayan, Pacific Place, Menteng) and VIP dining rooms availability makes TeSate perfect for hosting corporate dinners or other private dining events.

Bunga Rampai

The restaurant occupies a building that was once a Dutch colonial residence, dining here is like dining in your fabulous elegant Grandmother’s house. They serve Indonesian dishes with a hint of Dutch influence (think bitterballen, pannekoeken, and such.) The central Menteng area makes it popular for ambassadorial gatherings and private functions of Jakarta’s elites. 

Seribu Rasa

The one restaurant in our list that specializes on seafood dishes. The menu shows a Southeast Asian influence (predominantly Thai and Malay - no surprise here, since it is a sister restaurant of the famous Penang Bistro). Various tasty dishes made using freshest ingredients from the sea. Don’t forget to sample their creative drinks and desserts. 

Warjok (Warung Pojok) Asli

Another chain restaurants scattered in numerous malls across Jakarta. Their dining concept brings not only the dishes served in warungs, but the warung look and feel as well. Popular rice dishes served here are nasi soto ayam, nasi pecel lele, and nasi gudeg. Their serabi kuah panas (traditional pandan pancakes served with warm coconut milk and palm sugar gravy) is a real comfort food.

Note from Jakarta100bars.com:

As I was not confident ranking Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta, I asked Antonia for help. She wrote this review and also another one: Best Chinese Restaurants in Jakarta.

For cheaper Indonesian food options, you can read: Street food in Jakarta.

Thibaud

The Sexy Pool at 1001 Hotel (Bikini Party)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
The Pool @1001 is a new concept developed by the Alexis Group. It is located in the same building as Colosseum nightclub.

Only male clients are allowed in the pool area, where you have sexy dancers and bikini shows by swimsuit hostesses. You can watch them from private cabanas and you can also invite them to spend time with you.

It is not a totally new concept as it already exists in Malioboro or D'Heaven (among few others). The only difference is that in those places, you will see the girls only once or twice at certain times, on certain days. The Pool @ 1001 promises almost non-stop performances and activities.

A few months ago, a bikini party organized by a group of high school students created a bit of a sh*storm (see article from Jakarta Globe). Maybe this is where they got their idea from.

The Pool @ 1001 Hotel (Gentleman Pool)
Jalan Kunir 7, West Jakarta
Next to Taman Fatahillah
Phone number: +62 (0) 21 690 3333
or +62 (0) 21 690 1001

Opening Hours:
From Monday to Tuesday, from 1pm to 3am
From Wednesday to Saturday, from 4pm to 4am
On Sunday, from 2pm to 2am

Museum Bahari (Maritime Museum) Jakarta

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
The Museum Bahari or Maritime Museum of Jakarta is located in the north of the city, a 15-minute walk from Taman Fatahillah. You can also reach it easily from the old harbour of Sunda Kelapa. It is next to the Syahbandar tower and the Pasar Ikan (Fish Market) of Luar Batang. You can scroll down to see some pictures of the things to see in this area.

As its name indicates, the Museum has a collection of objects linked to Jakarta and Indonesia's maritime history. It includes several real boats, some small-scale boat replicas from different regions of Indonesia (Pinisi, Lancang, Gelati), some navigation equipment and tools, some paintings and some photos. You can also read about diverse topics such as the history of spice trade in Indonesia, colonization, boat architecture, the Indonesian Navy, the building of Tanjung Priok, etc.
On the second floor, you have a bit of a strange section with several dioramas representing personalities related to the sea: Famous navigators, explorers, legendary creatures, etc. It might entertain your kids if you come as a family:
The building of the museum used to be a spice warehouse of the Dutch VOC. As such, it is almost as interesting as the displays to understand how the city was born and how it developed.

For non-Indonesian speakers, you will be limited by the lack of english explanations so you might want to come with a tour guide. If you want to visit the museum properly, you need between 2 and 4 hours.

Overall: The size of the museum is rather big and many rooms are not very interesting. At some points I was feeling a bit lost, which is not a bad thing if you are not in a rush.
There are several almost empty rooms....
Some are not empty but you wonder if they are part of the museum or not...
In spite of this, I think it is worth visiting along with other nearby museums in Kota because each of them will give you a small insight of Indonesia's history.

Entrance fee:
Adults: 5,000rp
University students: 3,000rp
High school students: 2,000rp
Discounts on the price of the entrance ticket available for groups of more than 30 people.

Opening Hours:
The museum is from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm.
Closed on Monday and on Public Holidays.

Museum Bahari (Maritime Museum)
Jalan Pasar Ikan No1, Penjaringan, North Jakarta 1440
Phone number: +62 (0) 21 669 3406
Fax: +62 (0) 21 66 905 18

Their website and social medias are the best ways to check if their are any events or temporary exhibitions:
Website: www.museumbahari.org
Twitter: Maritime Museum Jakarta
Facebook: Indonesia Museum Bahari
Email: info@museumbahari.org

Directions:
The museum is rather easy to find if you come from Taman Fatahillah as you just need to follow the canal Kali Krukut on Jalan Kali Besar. On your way, you will pass by several colonial buildings such as the Kota Intan bridge or the VOC Galungan shipwards. If you manage to ignore the traffic and the pollution, it is actually a pleasant walk for Jakarta standards. Here are some photos I took just before and after visiting the museum.
Canal Krukut from Jalan Kali Besar
Kota Intan Bridge
Voc Galungan Historical Building
Menara Syahbandar (Tower)
Jalan Pasar Ikan Luar Batang (Fish market street)
Houses on stilts Luar Batang, Penjaringan, Jakarta
You can negotiate with local fishermen to be dropped at Sunda Kelapa.

11 Spooky Indonesian Statues and Masks

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
While I was visiting the National Museum of Indonesia, I noticed that most of the statues and masks on display were a bit scary to look at, even those supposed to be for decoration or entertainment.

Instead of having the pictures sitting on my computer, I'm writing this post that I hope will make you want to visit the Museum. It is just 5 minutes away from Plaza Indonesia and it does not even costs a dollar to get in.

Here are 11 spooky Indonesian statues and masks. Please comment if I made a mistake in the explanations as I am not a specialist on the topic.

Patung Obler / Obler Statue

This woman statue from Maluku was used to pay respects to the deceased and to serve as a medium of communication between the living and the dead.

Patung Nenek Moyang Korwar (Ancestor Statue)

This status from Cendrawasih Bay in North Papua serves as a mediator between a family and a deceased. It also protects from dark spirits.

Miniature Barong Landung "Jero Gede"

This is an effigy of the Barong Landung "Jero Gede", a favourite figure among the Balinese.

Giant Guard Statue

This is considered to be a guard statue from the 14th Century, East Java.

Ancestor Statue (Papua)

This ancestor statue made from wood, skull, beads and cloth is from Papua and provides protection from the evil spirits.

Bodres Mask

Painted on wood, Balinese Bondres masks depict characters with some sort of disfigurements such as a harelip, a lack of teeth or crossed eyes.

Topeng Buto Cakil (Java)

This mask has giant features and symbolizes greed.

Topeng Jauk (Bali)

This mask is used by dancers to open a Barong Ket performance.

Mrgayawati Carving

This is the detail of the wall carving of a bathing place from Mojokerto, East Java. It depicts a character from the Mrgayawati story.

Topeng Sidhakarya (Bali)

This mask is used during the religious Panjengan performances. This character appears at the end to recite prayers and incantations.

Semar Pottery (Cirebon, West Java)

Semar is a well known figure who has the appearance of a clown but is in fact wise and spirited (photo from the Museum Wayang).