Blu at Shangri-La Hotel






Blu at Shangri-La is the new fancy lounge of the Shangri-La Hotel, located right next to their huge swimming pool.

The main advantage with it is that you can say to your wife you want to go to Blu, then sneak in nearby BATS which is a lot more fun.

I wouldn't go there for clubbing unless they have special events, but I can imagine it is fine for a few drinks or some light food before BATS. It is more suitable for a woman crowd probably.
Opening Hours:
Wednesday to Saturday from 5:00 PM to 12:00 AM

Blu @ Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta
Kota BNI, Jln. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, 
Jakarta 10220 
Read more >>

Bengawan Restaurant @ Keraton at the Plaza Hotel








If you are a Mexican food lover, you can read my review of my favorite Spanish and Mexican places in Jakarta.

Keraton at the Plaza in Jakarta might be one of the most luxurious and elegant hotels in the city, along with The Hermitage, The Kempinski, The Mandarin Oriental or The Ritz-Carlton. 

They have a buffet with fine cheeses, fresh oysters, and a wide variety of meat. But I came here to taste their "Modern Mexican kitchen". It is a special Mexican menu designed by a friendly Mexican chef (see picture above), struggling everyday to get Mexican products in his kitchen in Jakarta.

I don't know another restaurant in Jakarta serving Fine Dining Mexican food and Bengawan is unique in that sense: Their dishes are colorful, tasty and .... Spicy! I recommend Bengawan for genuine Mexican cuisine cooked by a native Mexican and passionate chef: One of a kind place in Jakarta, with a nice view of the city.

The Keraton being a 5-star + hotel, you should expect to pay rather expensive prices of course.

Bengawan at Keraton at the Plaza Hotel
The Plaza Tower
Jalan Thamrin
Jakarta 10350

Phone number: +62 (0)21 5068 0000
Email: luxurycollection.keraton@luxurycollection.com

Read more >>

Jakarta Nightlife 2014

 

Jakarta nightlife has changed quite a bit since my previous guides: "Jakarta Nightlife 2011", "Jakarta Nightlife 2012" and "Jakarta Nightlife Tips". Before you head out tonite, these are the latest trends in the Jakarta's partying scene:

The new center of Jakarta nightlife in 2014 is in SCBD (Sudirman Central Business District), in the ex-Bengkel area. In 2 years, many bars and clubs have opened there and they attract the wealthy, trendy youth of Jakarta:
To have a drink, try Lucy in the Sky, Potato Head Garage, Beer Garden, Canos in Foundry 8
For clubbing: Fable (Young crowd, Jakarta International School) or Empirica (Upper Class Indo Chinese). 
These places do not have too many tourists or expatriates yet.
Apart from that area, two new clubs worth trying have opened in 2013: Alibi on Rasuna Said (replacing JackRabbit) and the popular Exodus from the Stadium group.

Immigrant was still on top of the game when it closed down for renovation a few months ago. We can expect it will still be popular with a more mature crowd (25-45 years old) when it reopens.

Dragonfly, Red Square (closed) and X2 now attract mostly foreigners and girls looking for foreigners, with a varying proportion of working girls in each (high in Red Square, lower in X2 and Dragonfly). Equinox in X2 is always full on weekends but the crowd is not as upper class as it used to be.

The following bars/lounge/restaurants are usually always busy with expats on weekend nights: Loewy, Bluegrass, Aphrodite, Liquid Exchange, Social House, Cork & Screw, Union, Potato Head, Eastern Promise, De Hooi, Fez, Face Bar, Awan Lounge, Molly Malone's, Murphy's, Black Cat, Melly's, Vin +. Level 5 of Grand Indonesia is nice too with many new cafés like Warung Kopi Tinggi, H5, Ismaya Catering Co.

There are 3 popular rooftop bars in Jakarta: SKYE is the best one with regular events. It is a good place to start a party night and it is busy every day. Cloud is very similar. You also have Awan Lounge in Kosenda hotel but for a younger, cheaper crowd

Hard Rock Cafe has moved for a third time in 10 years. It is now in Pacific Place but it isn't really happening.

Blowfish has been renovated. It is smaller and has become more quiet. Domain as well has some good nights but it is mostly quiet.

Prices have increased. It is not uncommon to pay a 200,000rp entrance fee in the most popular clubs.

Jackrabbit, Luv's Bar and Tribeca have closed. Jaya Pub hasn't and it is still the oldest bar in Jakarta nightlife.

BATS, CJs, Blok M are pretty much the same as before: They have live music, expats and businessmen, and lots of working girls. You can go there pretty much any day of the week and it should be busy. Some other hotel bars are not really happening but they are ok for a drink: Burgundy (Hyatt), MO (Mandarin Oriental).
Tiga Puluh (Le Meridien) and Tempus (Ritz Carlton Mega Kuningan) have live music as well but aren't too crowded.

Bars in Jalan Jaksa change name regularly, but the atmosphere hasn't changed. It is a mix of young indonesians, working girls, professional girlfriends, backpackers, budget expatriates, gays and random people.

7/11 stores are becoming the new cheap bars in Jakarta. On Weekends, they will be full everywhere.

Off the beaten track but very popular too, De Leila is where Saudis go to party in Jakarta.

In Kemang, it is hard to keep track but Nu China, 365 and Triple Nine are still there and crowded. There is a new strip of bars on Jalan Taman Kemang with many recent openings: Umbra, Beer Brother, Parc 19, Liberica, Cowboys Saloon. Hipsters may want to check Treehouse or Cafe Mondo.

In North Jakarta, the music is changing: Techno Kota/ Techno Dangdut/ Funky House is slowly becoming a thing of the past. They don't have it anymore in Mille's and Millenium (but still in Crown, Exotis, Puja Sera). The popular places are still the same: Stadium and Crown are the busiest ones even during the week. (Update May 2014: Stadium is currently closed following the death by overdose of a Policeman).

Still packed as well are Club 36, Malio Club, Alexis, Mille's and Millenium. Sexy dancers and striptease (full naked or boobs only) is the norm in many places: Classic, Malioboro, Crown, Club 36, V2, Emporium, Sumo, etc etc... Even in Stadium during the week...

Prostitution and massage parlours are still operating freely in the capital of the largest Muslim country in the world (Travel Hotel, Classic, Fortune, Malioboro, Alexis, Emporium, Orchardz, etc... basically all the clubs outside of the city center). Drug use is also massive in North Jakarta even though the prices have tripled in a few years.

The only major new nightlife venue in North Jakarta, 1001 (Colosseum) is a surprising success. I consider it to be one of the most impressive nightclubs in the city. Great lighting, great music and good crowd. On the other hand, Illigals, even though it has some interesting events is still rather quiet.

There is also some nightlife that has emerged outside of Jakarta's city center: In particular, in Central Park Mall near Taman Anggrek and in Pantai Indah Kapuk, near Pluit. Those are Cafés/lounges, no real nightlclubs to my knowledge.

Closing hours for the night clubs is very unpredictable. Officially, it is 3am but it seems to change every week. Normally, clubs in the South close at 5am maximum, and clubs in Kota around 7am-9am. Clubs that can be used for afters are Mille's and Exotis. It is very common to rent a karaoke room to keep the party going in some clubs like Stadium, Millenium, Crown.

Since I cannot be everywhere all the time, please drop a comment if I missed something! Thanks a lot!

More pictures of Jakarta Nightlife's new venues (Empirica and Exodus):




Read more >>

The Best Chinese Restaurants in Jakarta

There are probably as many Chinese restaurants as there are streets in Jakarta. To guide you through this maze of culinary delights, we made this list of what we consider are the best in the city. Of course we have forgotten some, so please help us keep this page updated by adding your comments or your suggestions at the bottom. Many thanks, Thibaud.

Ah Yat Abalone
in Golden Boutique Hotel, Jl. Angkasa St, Central Jakarta, Ph: +62-21 612-8833
in Mid Plaza 2, Jl. Sudirman Kav. 10-11, Ph: +62-021/570-7333
High-end dining popular with the older generation. Known for pricey delicacies like abalone, scallop, and  sharks' fin. Dimsum on weekend is quite good but not really worth paying the full price (look for discounts offered by various credit cards instead).
in Kelapa Gading Square, Ph: +62-21 458-66333
in Ketapang, Jl. Zaenal Arifin, Ph: +62-21 634-3030
The undisputed darling of the older Chinese generations, especially those coming from out of Java. Extensive menu featuring all the classics with generous servings fit for the number of people around the huge round tables.
Apollo
in Jalan Gadja Madah no8, Ph: +62-21 6392064
A hidden gem in Jalan Gadja Madah (Kota). You can taste the quality ingredients in the fragrant hainanese rice and fresh clean taste of the chicken broth.
Specialty: Hainanese chicken rice

Atek
in Jalan Tubagus Angke, Komplek Taman Duta Mas, Ph: +62-21 5649115
The sign outside their place said "the best roast pork in town", and they have truly earned the right to boast.
Bubur Ayam Mangga Besar (Bubur Hostess)
Main location in Jl. Mangga Besar I No. 46 A, Ph: +62-21 6280474
Late night porridge place in Kota (hence the nickname : hostess - the eighties indonesian slang for "working girls"). Limited menu available, but people really do come here for the porridge and thousand year egg (telur phitan).
Specialty: Porridge, Thousand Year Egg

in Jl. KH. Wahid Hasyim No. 9, Menteng, Ph: +62-21 3143077
Unremarkable décor, unforgettable food. Since the 1940s, they have catered to the who's who of Jakarta (including former Presidents, high-ranking government officials and celebrities). Oldie but goodie.
Cahaya Lestari/Sinar Lestari
in Jl. Hayam Wuruk no 124, Ph: +62-21 6397528
Old school establishment known for its fish head soup and butter fried frogs, also serves Hakka style dishes - which is  quite uncommon for Jakarta.
in Intiland Tower, Jalan Sudirman, Ph: +62-21 5785 2579
in Mall Kelapa Gading III, Ph: +62-21 4587 6421
in Pluit Village, Ph: +62-21 6667 0189 
Bbq specialties, quite expensive for an average quality.
in Jl. Tomang Raya No. 29, Ph: +62-21 568 1712 / 566 7766 (main branch)
in Jl. Taman Ratu D11 No.18, Ph: +62-21 565 1544 / 565 1548
in Jl. Boulevard Raya Blok I 4 No. 7-8, Ph: +62-21 452 6453 / 452 6526
in Jl. AM Sangaji / Petojo Utara Raya No. 8, Ph: +62-21 633 4187 / 633 3852
in Jl. Bulungan Raya No. 22, Ph: +62-21 724 6900 / 726 0089
A classic favorite, especially for formal wedding banquets. Specialized in luxurious dishes designed to impress your in-laws, like sharks fin soup, lobster with fruit salad.
Chopstix
More than 10 locations in Jakarta: Grand Indonesia, Kemang, Cilandak, Pondok Indah, Gandaria, etc...
Greasy goodness of wok fried street food at reasonable price. Don't bother with reservations, people tend to finish their meal quickly and escape the ever busy tiny space.

Many locations, please check their website.
Elegant dining experience with wide selection of dishes. Multinational chain originally from Singapore.
Specialties: Suckling Pig, Lamian Noodles
in Pluit Village, Ph: +62-21 66670367
in Prisma Kedoya Plaza, Jl. Raya Perjuangan, Kebon Jeruk, Ph: +62-21 5310001
in Jl. Mangga Besar Raya, Ph: +62-21 6594613
Simple tasty dishes commonly found on foodstalls in Shanghai. Variety of noodles, fried rice, dumplings and xiao long bao. Some say their xiao long bao is better than Din Tai Fung's
Specialty: Xiao long bao, Shanghai noodles with clear broth and bacon

in Mall Taman Anggrek, 3rd Floor, Ph: +62-21 5639 679
in Emporium Pluit Mall, Ph: +62-21 6667 6635
Their herb roasted duck offers something different than the usual Peking style duck dishes. A bit on the pricey side but well justified.

Many locations, please see website for complete list.
The place to go for xiao long baos (the yummy dumplings filled with tasty broth inside). Also servers à la carte Chinese dishes with excellent quality, small portions and quite pricey. International Chain originally from Taiwan. Pork available in selected locations.
Specialty: Dumplings (xiao long bao)

in Jalan Kemang Raya No.29, Ph: +62-21 7182963
All-you-can-eat halal dimsum in Kemang under IDR 100K. Good value for money, especially in pricey Kemang.

Fong Tu
in Jl. Pluit Barat 1 No. 1, Ph: +62-21 6696017, 021 6696118
Tasty home-cooked Hakka dishes made from fresh ingredients. Quite difficult to secure a seat during lunch hour since the place is quite small.

in Grand Indonesia Mall, 3rd Floor, Ph: +62-21 23580810
in Gandaria City, LG, +62-21 2900 7897
Chinese roadside foodstall turned hipster by the Ismaya group. Surprisingly tasty although prices quite steep considering the small portions. Try their alcoholic bubble drinks (a twist on the classic bubble milk tea currently trending in Jakarta) .

in Jalan Hayam Wuruk no. 45, Ph: +62-21 625 7272
The Hayam Wuruk institution has seen better days. Still quite popular as a wedding venue but the food is not quite what it used to be.

Hailai
in Jl. Lodan Raya, Ancol, Ph: +62-21 6459868
Located in Ancol theme park complex, the place has seen its glory days in the 80's. Popular wedding reception venue on weekends, chinese businessmen crowd on weekdays.

Hay Thien
in Jl. Boulevard Raya, Ph: +62-21 45841682
in Ruko Pasar Puri Indah, Jl. Puri Indah Raya, Ph: +62-21 58353347
Chinese version of Hanamasa DIY style restaurant, with both steamboat/shabu-shabu and the usual grilling plates available. Good value for money. Poor exhaust system, so be prepared to walk out smelling like your meal.

in Jalan Sunda no. 5, Menteng, Ph: +62-21 310 7868
Located next to Sarinah, the chic minimalist décor and sunlit space is somewhat unusual for a Chinese restaurant. The menu features HK/Macau dishes with Portuguese influence (baked rice, creamy desserts). From the group behind Penang Bistro and Seribu Rasa.

Hunan Kitchen
Jalan Mangga Besar 1 St. No. 61, Ph: +62-21 6252666
Next to Jayakarta, good value Sichuan food with some odd dishes. Close very late which is convenient for clubbers.

in Plaza Indonesia, Ph: +62-21 3983 5100
Specialized in La Mian (hand held noodles) and Xiao Long Bao (dumplings). One of the most popular in Jakarta.

Jiuzhai Valley
in Jalan Marina Raya, Pantai Indah Kapuk, Ph: +62-21 3300 3007
Spicy szechuan dishes cooked by a native Chef, popular with families living in North Jakarta.

Several locations, please check their website www.junnjan-seafood.com
An oldie but goodie. Order anything with their name on the dish and you got satisfaction guaranteed
Specialty: Seafood (Jun Njan sauce squid, Jun Njan braised prawns)

Several locations in Kelapa Gading, Penjaringan, Grand Wijaya Center, PIK, Puri Indah Pesanggrahan, Gading Serpong, Green Bay Pluit, Taman Palem Lestari.
Not sure what glasses has to do with the honey grilled pork, but they sure are delicious! Also serves staples like noodles, porridge, and basic dimsum items.
in Jalan Mangga Besar I no.26, Ph: +62-21 649 2319
The place to go for chinese style porridge. Wide varieties of toppings and side dishes, cheap, opens 24 hours. Serves Pork.
Specialty: Porridge

Jalan Mangga Besar 1 No. 63K, Ph: +62-21 7078 3892
Authentic Szechuan seafood dishes. Spicy and fresh - you can pick and choose from the live ones on display (including the famous sea snails, turtles, and oysters).

in Four Seasons Hotel, Jalan Rasuna Said, Ph: +62-21 252 3456
Expensive. One of the few places to go for Sunday all-u-can-eat dimsum brunch in South Jakarta. Serves Pork.

Lim Thiam Kie
in Jl Kh. Agus Salim (Sabang) No. 48, Menteng, Ph: +62-21 310 0465
Vintage restaurant from the 70's, probably more popular for their steamed buns (bakpao)
Little Sheep Chinese Shabu-Shabu
in Jalan Gajah Mada Raya No. 17, Ph: +62-21 6387 5080
Actually more Mongolian, than Chinese. The usual mix of protein and veggies is available to pick and choose for DIY cooking fun. Mix and match broth with the various sauces available to suit your palate. No pork.

in Jl. Asemka Raya no. 168A, Ph: +62-21 693 0108
in Jl. Batu Tulis Raya No. 37, Ph: +62-21 345 1504
Old school restaurant near Kota Train Station. Prawns with salted egg yolk and crispy baked pork prepared in classic Hakka cooking style. Quite pricey but definitely worth it.

Mandala
in Jl. Wolter Mongonsidi 80, Ph: +62-21 739 8537
Probably the only vintage chinese restaurant serving pork in South Jakarta, next to Santa Supermarket in Jl. Wolter Monginsidi. Consistently great classic dishes such as Nanking Chicken, Crispy Eel with Veggies, and Prawn Spring Rolls
Mangkok Putih
in CITOS, Cilandak Town Square, Ph: +62-21 759 20300
in Wisma Mulia City Plaza, Ph: +62-21 529 71204
in Setiabudi Building I, 2nd Floor, Ph: +62-2152 10548
Quick and simple basics with more localized (sweet) taste profile. Affordable yet unmemorable.
May Star
in Le Grandeur Hotel, Mangga Dua, Ph: +62-21 612 7880
in Emporium Pluit Mall, 4th Floor, Ph: +62-21 6667 6280
in Central Park Mall, LG, Ph: +62-21 5698 5422
One of the best Chinese restaurants in Jakarta. Specialized in exotic seafood, excellent dimsum, lovely dessert. Pork available in selected locations only.
Specialty: Exotic seafood (shark snout, lobster sashimi), coconut pudding

Epiwalk Rasuna Epicentrum, 2nd Floor, Ph: +62-21 2991 2323
Stylish high-end establishment in South Jakarta, usually crowded with businessmen. Features a bar in the middle of the restaurant, which makes it more western fusion rather than authentic chinese. Belongs to Tunglok group, also behind Taipan and M.A.D. It is not related to Ming Village in Senayan City.
Nan Xiang Steamed Buns
in Sultan Hotel, Jalan Gatot Subroto, Ph: +62-21 570 3600
Mainstream dishes with westernized taste profile, a bit on the pricey side.
Oen Pao
in many locations across Jakarta (Radio Dalam, Kemang, WTC, etc), Ph: +62-21739 9763
Halal hawker dishes : noodles with variety of toppings, hainanese chicken rice, basic dimsum items. Lacks the freshness that identifies quality chinese cuisine (noticeable poor texture and color of reheated dishes).
Paradise Dynasty
in Plaza Senayan, Jl. Asia Afrika No. 8, Ph: +62-21 5790 0146
Belonging to the Singaporean Paradise Group, which is behind Taste Paradise, Canton Paradise, Paradise Inn, and which is also related to Boga Group (Bakerzin, Pepper Lunch). It is known for its eight colorful fusion xiao long bao with exotic fillings like foie gras, black truffle, cheese, and crab roe.
Specialty: Xiao long bao

Paradise Inn
in several locations in Jakarta, see website for details. 
Teahouse-style simple yet unique dishes and desserts, casual chic atmosphere. Same owner as Paradise Dynasty above.
Specialty: Double boiled soup, infused tea

Paramount
in Menteng, Jl. R.P. Soeroso, Ph: +62-21 31923111
Legendary wedding banquet venue for upperclass Chinese of the 70s-80s with exotic delicacies like deep fried pigeon and sweet&sour garoupa with lychee. Quite hard to believe that the owner is closely related to the owner humble Trio Restaurant right next door.

Pearl
in JW Marriott Jakarta, Ph: +62 21 5798 8992
Large selection of dishes all-you-can-eat for IDR 365 ++ per pax includes suckling pig and Peking duck. Cantonese food, naturally rather expensive as it is in a 5-star hotel.
Putri Kenanga Nasi Campur
Several locations in Jakarta (Plaza Semanggi, Kuningan City, Central Park, Grand Indonesia, Bay Walk, Kemang Village, Alam Sutera, Lotte Ciputa Mall, Supermal Karawaci, Electronic City, Plaza Indonesia, Emporium Pluit, Mega Glodok)
Fragrant rice topped with all sorts of porky goodness : pork satay, pork siomay, crispy/honey grilled pork, braised pork ear and intestines, ngo hiang (pork rollade). 
Rendez vous
in Jalan Johar, Menteng, Ph: +62-021 31923468
The name might sound French, but it's one of the oldest establishments in old-money Menteng area. Unpretentious setting with vintage red folding chairs, excellent choice of classic chinese dishes. Quite pricey but the generous servings and consistent quality justifies it.

Red Bean
in almost every malls in Jakarta, see website for detail list.
Affordable chain restaurant serving halal popular dishes like sweet and sour chicken, salt and pepper calamary, and faux asparagus soup.
Rose Garden
Gedung Graha Indramas, Jl. KS. Tubun Raya No. 77, Slipi, Ph: +62-21 5367 3235 
Tasty all-you-can-eat dimsum and lunch at affordable price.
Samudra Seafood and Dimsum Restaurant
in BRI Tower II, Jl. Jend. Sudirman kv. 44-46, Ph: +62-21 571 3600
in Jl. Wijaya 1 no.17 Kebayoran Baru. Jakarta, Indonesia. Ph: +62-21 7223 958
in Alam Sutera Living World Mall, Ph: +62-21 2923 9509
Known for their head-spinning variety of dim sums and desserts on their all-you-can-eat buffet. The à la carte dishes are rather bland, although still quite good.
Sense Dining Theater (previously called Sands)
in Mangga Dua Square, 5th Floor, Ph: +62-21 6231 2888
Affordable all-you-can-eat dim sum at below IDR 100K per person. The place is always crowded so be prepared to get aggressive and persistently stalk the waiters to get your orders. It is also the location of a male spa and karaoke.

Shang Palace
in Shangri-La Hotel, Jalan Sudirman, Ph: +62-21 2939 9562
All you can eat dim sum for IDR 288 ++ on weekends covers appetizers, steamed dim sums, fried dim sums, chang fens, and desserts.
Shanghai Blue
Jalan Kebon Sirih 77-79, Ph: +62-21 391 8690
Created and managed by the people of Tugu group (Lara Djonggrang, Dapur Babah), it is more a lounge/bar than a restaurant. Beautiful setting worthy of an epic Ang Lee movie. The updated menu features a quirky Chinese/Betawi/Dutch fusion like Rijstaffels, Nasi Semur, Bebek Goreng Shanghai, and Udang Mabok (drunken prawns) .
Shantung
Jl. Antara No. 31, Pasar Baru, Ph: +62-21 3441415
Established over 35 years ago, this humble place is a piece of history. The owner hails from Shandong Province and till now his granddaughter still serve the traditionally prepared kuotieh (pork dumplings).
Specialty: Pork dumplings (kuotieh) - fried/steamed/grilled
Siaw a Tjiap
in Jalan Pancoran 60 for the good branch
Old school establishment with several branches around Jakarta, although with somewhat inconsistent quality between branches. So always opt for the original one in Pancoran.
Sinar Medan
in Jalan Batu Ceper No 42, Ph: +62-21 345 5959
in Jalan Boulevard Raya No 22-23, Ph: +62-21 458 58545
in Jalan Gading Selatan no 22-23, Gading Serpong, Tangerang, Ph: +62-21 564183
Underrated no-frill place serving excellent seafood dishes. The spicier taste profile shows the Medan influence and sets it apart from the other chinese restaurants.
Singapore Kwetiauw Kerang
in Jalan Pluit Selatan Raya No. 61, Pantai Mutiara, Ph: +62-21 662 3232
in Jalan Purworejo No.28, Menteng, Ph: +62-21 391-7789
A North Jakarta institution, the place is always crowded with families. Don't let the extensive menu divert you from the true shining star : What else? Singaporean Clam Kwetiauw.
Soup Restaurant
in Plaza Indonesia 3rd floor, Ph: +62-21 39838220
in PX Pavilion @ St Moritz 1st floor, Ph: +62-21 583 56063
in Lippo Mall Kemang UG Floor, Ph: +62-21 2952 8353
in Senayan City 4th Floor, Ph: +62-21 7278 1331
The healthier side of Chinese cuisine, serving herbal soups and steamed dishes highlighting functional ingredients like ginseng, ginger, and lotus root
Specialty: Samsui Ginger Chicken, Double boiled healthy soups, Deep fried venison
South Beauty
Thamrin Nine-Podium, UG, Jl. M.H. Thamrin, Ph: +62-21 29937227
Fine dining establishment serving spicy szechuan style dishes
Sun City
Lindeteves Trade Center, 6th Floor, Jalan Hayam Wuruk N°127, Ph: +6221 6220 1900
One of the fancier establishments in Kota Tua. Mostly booked for wedding banquets. Have VIP rooms with karaoke and a men's spa. Serves Pork.

Surya Rumah Makan
Jalan Raya Bogor No 54 (near Kramat Jati Plaza), Ph: +62-21 809 6039
A hidden gem - probably the only Chinese restaurant that serves pork - in East Jakarta (near Taman Mini). Old school, no frill pork fried rice, fried noodles and fuyunghai is the must have here.
Ta Wan
19 branches in all Jakarta, see website for full list
Affordable family restaurant with rich flavors. Also known for their porridge.
Specialty: Three flavor porridge, Tahu lapis (layered tofu)

in Hotel Mulia, Jl. Asia Afrika Senayan, Ph: +62-21 5753271
One of the few places in Jakarta where the fanciness of the décor matches the quality of the food. A must try, especially if you're dining with VIP guests to impress. Serves pork. Possibly the best Chinese restaurants in Jakarta.

WTC Mangga Dua, 6th Floor, Ph: +62-21 3001 8877
The mecca of dim sum establishments. Impressive settings, great variety of dishes. Part of Tunglok group (Ming, MAD)

Taste Paradise
Plaza Indonesia 4th floor, Jalan M.H. Thamrin, Ph: +62-21 2992 3838
High-end Cantonese style cooking. Quite tasty but rather over-priced. Part of the Paradise Group (Paradise Inn, Paradise Dynasty, Canton Paradise).
Specialty: Sharks Fin soup, Cantonese style Foie Gras

Teo Chew Palace
Pluit Village Mall, Festival Walk, GF, Ph: +62-21 6683 688
Typical Teo Chew dishes (less salt/pepper/oil used, mostly steamed/braised/poached) focusing on the fresh seafood ingredients.
Specialty: Yin Yang porridge, steamed dishes, teo chew yam/taro desserts

Easily found in all major shopping malls in Jakarta (see list here). A bit on the pricey side but well worth it. It has a more sophisticated version called Grand Duck King.
Specialty: Peking Duck

The Mango
Citos, Cilandak Town Square, LG, Jl. TB Simatupang, Ph: +62-21 021 75920269 
Modern Chinese bistro popular with the South Jakarta non-chinese crowd for its halal dishes and casual chic setting.
Tian Xi Traditional Roast Duck and Seafood
Senayan City Mall, LG, Ph: +62-21 7278 1532
Halal chinese cuisine in Senayan City. Good clay-pot dishes, quite pricey.
Tien Chao
in Gran Melia Hotel, Jalan Rasuna Said, Ph: +62-21 526 8080
Cantonese and Szechuan dishes elegantly served with some interesting seasonal twist like dragon fruit or mandarin orange incorporated to the dish. One of the few hotel restaurants that serves live crabs. Impressive set menu for Chinese New Year at IDR 788,000++ per pax.
Trio
Jl. Soeroso No29A (Gondangdia Lama), Ph: +62-21 319 36295
A stubbornly vintage place from the 40's (no air con, no frills). Don't let the modest setting fool you. They serve the tastiest dishes in town (ham fried rice, prawn springroll, crispy eel with veggies) and the menu features unique Dutch-Chinese fusions like Huzaren Sla (fruit salad with ham and cheese).

Most of the content of the review was written by Antonia... You can contact her through Google+ here.

Photo credit: Taken from https://www.facebook.com/JunNjan/. Don't forget to add a comment about your favorite Chinese restaurant in Jakarta at the bottom!
Read more >>

Nikki Beach Bali

Nikki Beach is planning to open its 11th Beach Club in the World in Bali in the second half of 2014. The famous brand already has locations on the hottest beach destinations worldwide such as Mallorca, Marbella, St Barth, Phuket, St Tropez, Miami, Ibiza, Koh Samui, Cabo, Marrakech. Founded by an American, Jack Penrod, the concept of the Nikki Beach is to be as bling bling and ostentatious as possible. A look at the pictures from their other beach clubs (above and below) will give you an idea.

Even though the prices and style of Nikki Beach Bali will probably not suit everyone, it is still a welcome addition to the island. We can expect it to make the Nusa Dua area a bit less sleepy in terms of nightlife and events.

Other luxurious beach clubs that you may want to check in Bali: Ku De Ta, Sundara, W Hotel, Potato Head, Cocoon...

Nikki Beach Bali
Sofitel Nusa Dua
Lot N5 Nusa Dua Tourism Complex
80363 - Nusa Dua, Bali

Phone number: +62 (0) 361 8492888 (Sofitel)
Email: info@sofitelbalinusadua.com

Facebook: Nikki Beach Club


Photo credit: All photos taken on Nikki Beach facebook page.
Read more >>

Expat Communities in Jakarta

The population of Jakarta is predominantly made of Indonesians from Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi or any of the other islands of Indonesia. The first ethnic minority would be Indonesian Chinese. Expatriates represent a fraction of the population, with the main communities being Japanese, Korean, American, Australian, and European.

Expats in Jakarta are spread in the whole city, but as each community tends to stay in the same areas and frequent the same spot, it is possible to get a general mapping of where they live and hang out:

- Indians in Jakarta (Expat or Indonesians): Many live in Pasar Baru or Sunter area. You will find them in clubs like Immigrant or Cloud or in one of the restaurants listed here: Indian restaurants in Jakarta.

- Japanese and Korean Expatriates: Most live in South Jakarta in Kebayoran Baru area (Pakubowono, Senopati, Dharmawangsa, Pondok Indah). Many offices from Japanese companies are located in Thamrin or in the Northern part of Jalan Sudirman so there are quite many Japanese/Korean restaurants there too. There is a Little Tokyo in Jalan Melawai (Blok M), which is a combination of Japanese restaurants and karaokes.

- Americans and Australian Expats: With the Australian School and Jakarta International School being located in South Jakarta, many American and Australians live in the Kemang/Pondok Indah area. Even though Americans are one of the main nationalities in Jakarta, they are not so visible. Most often, they will go out in 5-star hotel bars/restaurants, expats bars in South Jakarta, in Blok M (Jalan Falatehan), X2, Red Square.

- Arab (Saudis): Saudis I've met in Jakarta come mostly for tourism. Many come to enjoy drinking alcohol and meeting with girls, far away from their wifes. Jakarta is usually a stop on their way to Puncak. In Jakarta, they will hangout in Cikini area (Arabian Tent Cafe) or in Gatot Subroto in the club De Leila.

- European Expats in Jakarta are not a single community, but since each nationality is small, I prefer to group them: You will mostly find them in Kemang, Cipete, Pondok Indah, and in the Golden Triangle (Surdiman, Rasuna Said, Mega Kuningan). Naturally, they will hang out in clubs in those areas, particularly X2, Red Square, Immigrant, SKYE and all the expat bars.

- Indo Chinese are not expats obviously but still I wanted to include them on this listing: They are to be found mostly in Pluit, Pantai Indah Kapuk and Kelapa Gading for the wealthiest. In Glodok, the Chinese Glodok are supposed to be from a lower level. You will find them in many places in Jakarta, for instance Sun City, Club 36, Empirica, Da Fu.

- African: I haven't been there in a long time so I'm not sure if it is still valid, but in 2007 there was a small Nigerian community living in Jalan Jaksa/Wahid Hasyim area.

- Russian expats: I have rarely seen Russians in Jakarta except in Dragonfly and SKYE. According to my taxi driver, there are two big Russian expat compounds in Senopati and Tebet.

Warning: This post is full of generalities and stereotypes. It is not a scientific study about Expats in Jakarta, but merely observations I made while living here. I would be more than happy to receive your comments.
Read more >>

Salsa, Tango and Latin Dancing in Jakarta

Salsa has been popular in Jakarta since the early 2000s.  You can actually dance and listen to Latin music any single night of the week in selected bars, clubs and restaurants in the city (see the lastest schedule below). 

The best Salsa nights in Jakarta are run by two teachers who have lived in Indonesia for many years now, Luisa and Damaris. They have contributed to the building of a passionate Salsa community, which is made of both locals and expats. 
Luisa
Damaris - Please note the woman wearing a jilbab next to her
Luisa & Elkin warming up the crowd in Ritz Carlton
Damaris
Most active participants are women, usually from upper level class and educated. There is such a lack of male dancers that the few that are available can be paid to become dance partners. If you are looking to meet great ladies, learning salsa in Jakarta is an excellent idea.

Salseros tend to dress up, especially in high-end venues such as the Ritz-Carlton. For girls, wearing high-heels and a dress is almost always a must.

Latin nights are usually preceded with Salsa classes hosted by Luisa or Damaris. Luisa is Colombian and she teaches Salsa in the Puerto Rican way, sometimes with her fellow countryman Elkin. She also knows Argentinian Tango. Damaris, who is from Cuba, is naturally teaching the Cuban way, with her Indonesian partner Chris. In general, you have to pay to attend Luisa's classes, in which you can get a more personalized approach. With Damaris, it is free but you will only get the basics, in group sessions.

Once the class is finished, you will have a DJ or a Live Music night. Typically, the latter are the most crowded and the most happening. The best bands in Jakarta for Latin music are Los Morenitos and Primavera. Both are similar and they have a large repertoire: Salsa, Tango, Merengue, Bachata, Kizomba, etc...

The following list of Latin Nights in Jakarta is up-to-date as of May 2014. It will probably be different in 6 months since the hosting venues change regularly. To get some information about the location of the classes and the latin nights, I invite you to email Luisa directly (lucha2807@yahoo.com) or to visit her website: Salsa Class Jakarta. Damaris post updates on her facebook page: Damaris Morales Salsa.

You can also email Indah (indah.ramadona@gmail.com) who helped me write this article (and she can give you tips on belly-dancing too!).

Monday
Salsa dancers go to Hotel Neo Melawai in Blok M, in the bar called Bite & Beer (BnB). It is headed by Damaris with Chris. Classes start at 7pm and the DJ at 8.30pm.
You can contact Bite & Beer at +62-21 2966 1400 or visit http://melawai.neohotels.com.

Tuesday
On Tuesday, the place to go to is the Tex-Mex restaurant Amigos in Bellagio Mall (Mega Kuningan). It is hosted by Luisa and the music is played live by the band Los Morenitos.

Wednesday
Damaris  teaches in Hacienda in Senayan Arcadia, again with Chris. It is then followed by a DJ.

You also have Luisa who host a salsa/tango night in Yeyo on Jalan Senopati (Kebayoran Baru) with the band Primavera. Classes from 7pm to 9pm, music until 1am.

Yeyo Senopati
Phone number: +62 21 7228129
Email: yeyo.rsvp@gmail.com
Facebook: Yeyo Jakarta

Thursday
You have two events, one with Luisa and one with Damaris.
Damaris is in Only One Club (often called O1) in FX Sudirman, 5th Floor, with the band Los Morenitos from 8pm to midnight.

Luisa is in Tempus (ex-Mistere) in Ritz Carlton hotel in Mega Kuningan with live music from Primavera. The entrance fee to Tempus is 100,000rp. Classes are from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Primavera plays until 1am.

Friday
Several persons told me it is the best night for salsa in Jakarta. There is only one place to my knowledge, Amigos in Kemang (be careful there is also one in Bellagio) from 9pm to 1am. They have classes before that from 6pm to 9M (including classes for children from 6pm to 7pm). It is hosted by Luisa with Los Morenitos.

On Friday night, there is another Latin night hosted by Let's Salsa Indonesia (see below) with Iono and Rony Noor. It happens in Warung Bang Hoody on Jalan Pejaten Barat Raya (near Australian International School) starting 7.30pm. The DJ plays lating music, zouk and kizomba.

Warung Bang Hoody (WBH)
Phone number: +62-21 4083 2934
Email: warungbanghoodyjkt@gmail.com


Saturday
Saturday is usually good also. It happens in the Caribbean restaurant Aruba in Pasaraya Mall (Blok M). It is again hosted by Luisa with Primavera band. Classes are held from 7pm to 9pm and the band plays until 1am.

Aruba restaurant
Phone number: +62 8 57 77 80 80 86
Email: info@arubajakarta.com
Website: Aruba Caribbean Jakarta

 Sunday
On Sunday, it starts at 6pm in the new branch of Hacienda restaurant in Pondok Indah Mall 3, you have classes by Damaris with live music from the band Los Paraguas.

If you are interested in salsa classes only, another alternative is to learn through "Let's Salsa Indonesia". They do not have a foreign teacher and they have mostly Indonesian students. They also organize events on a regular basis. Apart from Salsa, they can teach Bachata, Merengue, Reggaeton, Line Dancing, Rueda de Casino, Kizomba and Tango.

Other dances are becoming popular in Jakarta: Samba, Zumba, Flamenco, Pole Dancing, Burlesque, etc... If you have some information about events or classes, do not hesitate to share below! 
Read more >>

Air Asia: Why it is the Worst Low-Cost Airline?


I am surprised that Air Asia can still get the title of "World's Best Low Cost Airlines" in 2013 considering it is by far the worst company and the one company I always try to avoid when flying in Asia.

It seems like AirAsia is so good with its marketing and advertising that people are brainwashed into thinking that they are receiving a 5-star service when flying with them. I hear people excited about taking AirAsia, when the truth is that they will pay more for sitting in a super tiny seat without any food or service and probably departing late.

AirAsia is more expensive than any other low cost airlines in Asia while it does not give back any thing to its customers. Obviously, they do cut on their services and operating costs but the money saved with this rationalizing is not used to decrease flight ticket prices, it is just more profit for the company. I applaud with both hands at how smart it is.

I would accept the level zero of service provided by AirAsia if they were more cheap than anybody else. This would be my reward for accepting such a shame service. But it is the contrary that happens.

My problems start with their website. It is the trickiest and most dishonest booking website that I have ever come across with.

If you use flight comparators such as skyscanner, you may have had this problem of clicking on an AirAsia flight because it seemed to be the cheaper options, and in the end realizing that when you add the taxes, the fuel surcharge, the luggages, the seats, the meal, the check in fee,  the payment fee, the priority seats, and the priority boarding, it ends up being more expensive than Singapore Airlines.

Avoiding to pay additional charges will require your full attention: For instance, if you don't want to have AirAsia Insurance, you have to refuse once, and then cancel your refusal. Tricky? Canceling your seats is so complicated as well that I booked them inadvertently at least 3 times... Same with the priority boarding that I forgot to un-tick...

Charging for additional fees is the specialty of AirAsia and its most lucrative business. They will find any possible way to make you pay additional fees. You want to add additional luggage weight to your booking at check in time? This will be charged beyond reasonable. You want a bottle of water on the plane? Take out your wallet. All other companies will give you something free even though they are cheaper: Lion Air for instance do not charge if you request a special seat and they allow 15 kilos of luggage for free. Sriwijaya will give you a free snack (very limited but still), Citilink lets you choose your seat for free, etc...  Within the price range of AirAsia, you can actually often fly with regular companies where the service is beyond any comparisons.

With AirAsia, no only do you get nothing free, you also get less for what you pay for (unless you pay more).

When you arrive at the airport, you will notice that AirAsia is the only company that forces you to check in with a machine instead of a human. If you do not check in online, you will have to pay an additional fee. The company would probably reply that it helps keeping its costs low and its prices lower, but the prices aren't lower. They are higher. It is an additional constraint on passengers that is increasing AirAsia's margin while not benefiting to the customers. Maybe one day Executives at AirAsia will find a way to make passengers clean the plane by themselves...

Let's talk about space now: I am a rather tall guy so I'm sensitive to the space between seats in an airplane. All low-cost companies are usually uncomfortable, but AirAsia beats all records. If you are more than 180cm and you didn't buy priority seats with extra leg space, your flight with AirAsia is a torture. You have to fold or squeeze your leg so that you will miraculously fit in the tiny space. If you are more than 190cm, I do not believe you can fly in those seats. If you are more than 190cm and you ever managed to fit in an AirAsia seat, please give me your testimony below.

AirAsia usually flies from and to second class airports, not the main ones. This is true in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok. Those airports are low-cost with less comfort, less shops and restaurants, and more queuing and disorganization. If you have to connect to another flight, unless it is another AirAsia flight, you will lose precious time running from one part of a city to the other.

Air Asia is very very often late and it is not just a personal impression. Just have a look at flightstats.com. You will see that some routes like Denpasar-Jakarta are on time on average 29% of the time only... Try to get any kind of compensation or excuse from a delayed flight and you will understand what is the meaning of low-cost services...

At last, the flight attendant of AirAsia are obviously recruited on their generous looks and it makes for a pleasant flight if you are a male like me. In terms of skills and attitude, they are probably on average more snobbish and arrogant than with other low cost airlines. Comparing them with flights attendants from regular companies like Singapore Airlines is a blasphemy. In terms of skills, I am not so sure but you should probably wish that nothing goes wrong during the flight...

My conclusion:

Personally I always avoid AirAsia because I consider that they are priced as regular airlines while offering the lowest standard of low cost service.

Be smart when you book a flight and check what is the real final price you pay and what kind of service are offered.

I would say book with AirAsia only if you can get a real promo and if you are flying without luggage, and without any need for extra services. You may also be sensitive to the safety issue as the record of the company doesn't show any deadly accident (but you may want to read this article though: Accident with AirAsia).
Read more >>