30 Groups Who Own Jakarta Nightlife

You would be surprised to know that 90% of Jakarta's main clubs, bars, spas and karaokes are in the hands of less than 50 persons and only about 30 groups.

It is quite difficult to know precisely who owns what because there are usually several partners in each business venture. This is a way to minimize the investment cost, to spread the risks and to help with the promotion. Each of the owners brings his network of friends, family, strategic connections and partners to support the business and to make it grow. Within the same group, it is also not uncommon to have several companies (PT) with different shareholders each. 

Another difficulty is that the real owners are sometimes hidden behind a nominee. This is especially true when the venue is reputed for hosting illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution or gambling. The best illustration for that is Tommy Winata who has the particularly of being a nominee who uses other nominees: He owns stakes in multiple companies without having his name mentioned and he owns stakes in companies on behalf of other people too. 

In spite of that, after very long hours of research and enquiries, I managed to get a fairly good picture of the people who own the largest and most famous clubs, bars and restaurants in Jakarta.

My first surprise was to see that the whole industry is dominated by about 30 big groups that can be split into a few categories:

  • The Underground Nightlife Kings: The owners of the infamous nightclubs and bars in North and West Jakarta, usually with strong ties to the Suharto regime.
  • The Post-Suharto Golden Generation: OPCO, Ismaya, Union Group, Potato Head, the owners of these trendy groups, started in the 2000s, are usually young people under 40, sons and daughters from wealthy Indochinese families who studied in the US/Australia. 
  • The Foreigners: An odd bunch, usually behind smaller pubs and bars with a majority of expat clients. Though foreigners are rarely owners, a lot of them work as Chefs or General Managers.
  • The Corporations: Some huge conglomerates own restaurants and bars. MRA, the owner of Hard Rock Café, MAP, the Salim Group, etc.
  • The New Generation and Smaller Groups: Groups that emerged in the late 2000 (All-In, Biko, Immigrant, Ryst).

Note: The list below is probably incomplete and there may be some errors. If you have better information, please take the time to write about it in the comment section below. 

The Underground Nightlife Kings

Alexis Group
Officially owned by Alex Tirta and managed with his son. There isn't much information available about them apart that they are badminton fans. A source working at Diageo Indonesia (PT Dima) told me that the Alexis Group is their biggest client and that Mr. Tirta could be one of their shareholders.
According to a plausible rumor, there are more than one owner in Alexis. Some names that circulate are Aliang or Rudi Widjaja.

Stadium Group
Stadium (closed), Malioboro, Malio Club, Sumo, Nebula, King Cross, Level V, Exodus, Kampus (closed), Rajamas (closed)
Rudi Susanto (also called Rudi Rajamas) is the official owner of the Stadium Group. He is the face that the employees can see and they call him Pak Rudi.  Most likely, he is only the visible part of the business and much bigger fishes are hiding behind this name.

In a study of Jakarta's sex industry written in 2005 (available here), John MacDougall, a graduate from Harvard University writes the following: 

"Rudi Rajamas controls the most lucrative sex industry venues while Apow focuses largely on gambling.  Both of these men are subordinate to Tommy Winata, a man with tremendous authority in Jakarta’s entertainment establishments and districts."

If you speak Indonesian, you could also read the following report from Tempo about the Gang of the 9 Dragons which controls drugs, prostitution, gambling and all mafia activities in Jakarta:"Isi Perut 'Geng Sembilan", May 31st 1999.

The legend that circulated for years about the Stadium was that it belonged to a General in the Indonesian army who was previously a boss at Pertamina. The only person to fit the description would have been Ibnu Sutowo but he died a few years before the Stadium opened. Still, you will see below that the Sutowo clan has a link to Classic Hotel Group, which is linked to several Gang of Nine figures. The son of Ibnu Sutowo, Adiguna Sutowo, is worth mentioning. He is a convicted criminal who shot to death a waiter of a club he owned (Fluid in Sultan Hotel, ex-Hilton, see here). 

Supra Group
Millenium (closed), Mille's, Sun City, Sands Hotel & Spa (closed), Batavia Hotel (closed)
Possible owners: Tommy Winata? Arief Cocong? Cahyadi dan Haryadi Kumala? Rudi Susanto? More likely all of them.
The Supra Group is very mysterious and I am not sure it still exists. On their website, they claim to be the owners of several business entities, among which a bank, an internet provider, etc... 
It seems they have been divesting and that their properties have changed owners: Batavia Hotel has changed name into De Rivier Hotel, Sands was sold to Agung Podomoro Land and changed its name to Sense Spa, Millenium was closed. A friend also told me that Sun City and Mille's are independently owned now.

For Sun City, he confirmed that it is headed by Arief Cocong, an associate of Tommy Winata and a Gang of Nine member.

One interesting thing was to browse the list of the few companies the server of Supra Group is hosting. It comprises KFC Indonesia (Gelael Group, close from Suharto), the Kartika Chandra Hotel (Sudwikatmono from Andika Group, a member of Suharto family) and the Grand Ancol Hotel which is the previous name for Alexis Hotel.

One certainty regarding Millenium Club is that it was founded by Cahyadi and Haryadi Kumala, who are also the owners of Sentul City and the Golden Boutique Hotels. In the latest news, they were imprisoned by the KPK in a corruption case (see here).

There is a possible link beween the Kumala brothers and the Gang of Nine: Millenium was located in Gadja Mada Plaza, owned by Artha Buana Sakti which belonged to Tommy Winata. In a 2006 interview to Tempo, he declared that 6 floors of the Mall were given to his Bank Artha Graha Prima to pay back a debt from Bank Harapan Sentosa. Gadja Mada was then sold to the Lippo Group in 2007.
The following article from Tempo also links the Kumalas to the Gang Of Nine (see here)

Artha Graha Group
Tommy Winata and friends in 2013 (photo: KanalSatu)
Huge conglomerate of Tommy Winata (TW)
Tommy Winata and his family may have shares or interests in several venues, but it is almost impossible to say which ones with certainty. Through Graha Artha, he controls Borobudur hotel and therefore Manhattan Club and Musro Club. He was also the owner of the Bengkel Entertainment Complex so it is very likely that he is the owner of Lucy in the Sky and Roxy Karaoke which replaced it. I have also heard that Sands belonged to him (thus linking him to the Supra Group above). Through his son Panji, he owns Discovery Sky in Ancol. I have heard repeatedly that he was the owner of Golden Crown and the Plaza Hotel Glodok, but a source working there told me the owner is a man named Johny Tan.

Regarding other properties, all we can see are his links with other people such as Arief Cocong, Rudi Susanto, Sugento Prananto or the Supra Group (through Sands). Those links have been detailed in several articles such as this one from the Indonesian Corruption Watch.

A theory is that TW is a nominee himself and acts for even more powerful people, people who were once in the inner circle of the late President Suharto. According to Dr. George J. Aditjondro (read here), the drug traffic in Jakarta was in the hands of the grand son of Suharto Ari Haryo Wibowo, also known as Ari Sigit. He could possibly be behind Tommy Winata as well. 

Something interesting to note is that the Lamborghini Club Indonesia often meets in places supposedly owned by Tommy Winata such as Lucy in the Sky or Ritz Carlton Pacific Place. It turns out that is that a former owner of the Lamborghini company was Tommy Suharto until he sold it after the Asian Crisis.

Classic Group
Classic Hotel & Spa, Terminal 2 and 5, Travel Hotel, FM1, FM7, AJ Brandon
I was not able to confirm the ownership of this group which comprises 3 of the largest bordellos in Jakarta. Ponco Sutowo is a potential candidate. He is the brother of Adiguna Sutowo (see my note about Stadium), son of Ibnu Sutowo, and owner of several hotels in Indonesia including the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta and the Ayodya Hotel in Bali. As with his other family members, he has very close ties with the Suharto family.
As advertised on their website, Pulau Ayer Resort is part of the Classic group. Several sources indicate that Ayer Island belongs to Ponco Sutowo (Click here, from the personal webpage of John MacDougall, cited above, or here, from the Jakarta Post).

If he is the owner of Pulau Ayer, chances are he is the owner of the Ayer Resort also, and thus the owner of the Classic Group.

Another thing I noted was that there is a restaurant named AJ Brandon in all of the group's location. AJ could mean "Adhi Juno", the name of the daughter of Ponco. It is a very indonesian thing to do to name businesses after the initials of family members. 

According to PolitikIndonesia.com and several other sources (here), more people are involved in the Pulau Ayer Resort which used to be a gambling island. Some names that come up are all member of the Gang of Nine such as Sugento Prananto, Arief "Cocong" Prihatna and Edi 'Porkas" Winata, all of whom are close to Tommy Winata.

Alila Group
Budiman and Donny Tjahyadikarta from the family of the owners of Alila Hotels Group are the owners of Illigals and Sparks Hotel. Several people working in the group confirmed this to me.

The Post Suharto Golden Generation

Ismaya Group
Dragonfly, Blowfish, SKYE, Social House, Publik Markette, Pizza e Birra, Fook Yew, The People's Café, Colette and Lola, Magnum Café, Pasta de Waraku, Sushi Groove, Tokyo Belly, Puro, Djournal Coffee, Djakarta Warehouse Project, Ismaya Live
Bram Hendrata, Christian Rijanto dan Brian Sutanto are the three co-owners and co-founders of Ismaya, probably the most famous and largest F&B group in Indonesia. Some sources mention other investors such as Rudy Widjaja.

Domain, Portico, Yellowfin, Koffie Warung Tinggi, Stark Beer, H5, Urbanite Asia, Manna Lounge (closed), Public (closed), Embassy/Wonder Bar/Balcony (closed)
OPCO was founded by Reeza Budhisurya and Yudha Budhisurya who also participated in the opening of Cork & Screw (Union Group) and Score!. Bona and Rama Budhisurya, from the same family, joined later.
Other investors and co-founders of OPCO include Andrew Santoso (also involved in Union Group, Lifestyle Unlimited Group and other ventures: Circa, Mangkok Putih, Single Malt Bali, Meja Bali, Urban Kitchen).
Some venues have partners like Angel Widjaja in Warung Koffie Tinggi.

Union Group
Owners: Jennifer Karjadi, the most visible face in the group ; Andrew Santoso (Also in Opco and Lifestyle Unlimited) ; Winfred Hutabarat (Yale Graduate, also co-founder of Aksara with Arini Subianto and Laksmi Pamuntjak who seems to have shares in Canteen as well) ; Donny Basuki; Michael Wijono, Dani Wanandi (also owner of Jaddi Group, see below).
Will Meyrick, the owner of Mamasan and Sarong restaurants in Bali, is a partner in E&O.

Potato Head Group
Potato Head Garage, Potato Head Pacific Place, Potato Head Beach Club and hotels Bali, Three Buns Burgers, Potato Head Folk Singapore
Owners: Ronald Akili and Jason Gunawan

Red Square Group 
Red Square (closed), Hacienda, Black Cat, The Boutique KTV
Owners: Rachmat Harsono (also part owner of X2), Agus Handojo, Hari Setiawan, Surya Iskandar, Andri Budiono with a foreign management: Paul Counihan (ex Jalan Jalan who also worked on X2), Eddie Cordisco, Yos Malelak. Most likely, it is the same team who developed Prohibition Bar in Senayan Arcadia as well.

Urban Concepts Indonesia and Lifestyle Unlimited
X2, Alibi (closed), Vertigo/X-Lounge (Closed), JackRabbit (closed), X-Ktv, Ippachi, Tokio Kitchen, Urban Kanteen, Yogu, Shabu Tei
Owners: Danny Setiawan (with Andrew Santoso) ; Rachmat Harsono (Family of owners of Samator, one of the largest producer of gas in Indonesia)

Jaddi Group
Owners: Children of Jusuf Winandi, the brother of Sofyan Winandi (owner of Santini Group): Doni Wanandi, Dani Wanandi, Feller Lokanata and Lowrenz Tanuwijaja. Also shareholders are Reimer Simorangkir, Yolanda Simorangkir and possibly Hermansyah Rasyid.

Boga Group
Bakerzin, Pepper Lunch, Sushi Tei, Sushi Kiosk, Rakuzen, Ten Ten, Paradise Dynasty, Master Wok, Canton Paradise, Paradise Inn
Founded in 2002, the Boga group is more into restaurants than nightlife but its owners, Kusnadi Rahardja, David Soong and Sonny Kurniawan, are linked to the above venues.

The Foreign groups

Mount Scopus
Venues: Negev, Balboni, Chateau Blanc, Amber Sky Lounge, The Harvest Bakery
Owner: Australian-Sri Lankan Lal De Silva is the founder and owner of Mount Scopus, one of the most successful foreign-owned F&B companies in Indonesia.

Bugils Group
Owner: Dutchman Bartele Santema

PT IndoErin
Venues: Murphy's Pub and Molly Malone's Pub
Owners: Irishman Killian Murphy and his Indonesian wife Irene Alaydrus Hawadi Murphy

The Aphrodite Group
Owner: Fred Alloysius, a Singaporean-Indian.

Mostly developped by a few expats with the help of local partners / premans (the most famous Karno). Daryl Patton, who passed away in 2011, seems to be the main figure as he was behind Tambora (closed), D's Club (Daryl's Pub), and Top Gun. I could not find who are the current owners.

Regarding MyBar, Hitesh Darbar a British expat used to be the owner but that may have changed.

The Smaller and Upcoming Groups

Baresto Mitra Maju
Immigrant, Rustique, Bistro Garçon, Monolog, De Luca, Olive 
Owner: Chris Darjanto and his father. Other possible shareholders Franky Angkawijaya, Evie Karsoho and Fany Hermawan

Svarna Group
Owners: Vincent and Villysia Sianandar, possibly with other investors.

RYST Group
Publico, Empirica, PB PIK, Baker's Gallery Kota Kasablanka
Owner: Agung Wahyu Nugroho

Beer Garden Kemang, Menteng, SCBD, Radio Dalam
Owner: Mikael Mirdad

Odysseia, Fable, Mirrors Bali, Gardin, Ringmaster Bakery and Donut
Owners: Officially Jason Kurniawan and his friend Feisal Hamka. Due to the young age of the two owners, it is very likely that they benefited from strong connections and money.

Feisal Hamka comes from a reputed Indonesian family and his father is close to Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, the eldest daughter of Suharto also called Mbak Tutut. The daughter of Mbak Tutut and Feisal were both directors of the publicly listed company PT Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada Tbk, the operator of several highways in Indonesia including the Jakarta Inner Ring Road.

Fable is located in ex-Bengkel which presumably belongs to Tommy Winata. The Lamborghini Indonesia Club mentioned above had several parties there. Odysseia is built in a prime location, the same as Paul for which I heard that MAP had to negotiate for several months as the owner of Pacific Place (Tommy Winata through Tan Kian) wanted to keep it for himself (MAP is the owner of Galleries Lafayette and the first client of Pacific Place).

Several owners, one of which is named Novarmi Bakti Massewa. She filed a complaint against the founder of Indoclubber Jack Lapian in 2010 after she was late to pay him his DJ fees. She might be from the same family as Fit Aidil Massewa who was the GM of The Venue in Kemang as well.

Jack Lapian seems to have been involved in several other venues such as V2, X9 club and B1.

The Venue, Tipsy, SHY Rooftop and FKTV are under the name of local celebrity Maia Estianty, the ex-wife of Ahmad Dhani. She probably has other investors. She is linked to Bambang Nuryatno Rachmadi (ex-owner of the McDonald's franchise) and was introduced to Tommy Winata by her ex-husband.

The Corporations and the Franchisers

MRA Group
Owner: MRA Group or PT Mugi Rekso Abasi, founded by Adiguna Sutowo in 1985, along with some friends of him including Tommy Suharto, Soetikno Soedardjo, Dian M Soedardjo and Onky Soemarmo. Adiguna Sutowo, as mentioned above is the son of Ibnu Sutowo who could be linked to Stadium Group and Classic Hotel (See above for more details).

More about Adiguna here: Adiguna, Spoilt Brat of Famed Tycoon.

MAP (Mitra Adi Perkasa)
Paul, Starbucks, Cold Stone, Chatterbox, Pizza Express, Cold Stone, Burger King, Domino's 
Owned by Syamsul Nursalim, the owner of Gajah Tunggal, through Boyke Gozali his nephew.
A corporation within a corporation, MAP is a serial franchiser. They never create concepts, they just import to Indonesia businesses and brands that are popular elsewhere.

PT Makindo (Gula Gulaku)
JJ Royal Bistro, JJ Royal Brasserie, Sugar Gallery
Owner: Gunawan Yusuf
The JJ restaurants are most likely an amusement for some family members of the Makindo group, one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia with strong ties to the Suharto regime.

Otel Lobby, Bluegrass, WWWok (closed), Magenta (closed), Twilight Coffee (closed)
Owner: Gaby Bakrie
Probably more a toy for a wealthy heiress than a real business.

Shangri-La Jakarta
Shangri La Hotel Jakarta and therefore BATS is owned by the Salim Group of Anthony Salim (Indomie among many others). Other investors are the Lyman Group (Osbert Lyman) and most likely the Kerry Group of Chinese Billionnaire Robert Kuok.

Hotel Mulia Jakarta
Owner: The Mulia Group was founded by Tjandra Kusuma and his sons Gunawan Tjandra (Tjan Kok Kwang), Djoko S. Tjandra, Eka Tjandranegara, and Ekman Tjandranegara . Djoko Tjandra is currently hiding in Papua New Guinea to avoid prison time in Indonesia after he was sentenced for embezzling over 50M USD.

I was told by a reliable source that the ex-president of Indonesia SBY could have shares in Mulia. This source has been working for PT Sandua Jaya International, the holding company of Edhie Baskoro the son of SBY.
Conclusion: Gathering information to write this article was very difficult. If you think I made a mistake or a wrong conclusion, please write a comment below so I can make sure I correct it.

I will follow in the next few weeks with another article about the owners of Jakarta's most famous restaurants. 

Photo credit: I took some pictures from the facebook page of the venues listed, if that poses a problem to someone, just let me know and I'll just take them down. 

Online Dating Sites & Apps In Indonesia

I once wrote a review about dating Indonesian girls and where to meet them. You can still read it here: Where to meet Indonesian girls? Most of the information on the review is still valid, but it certainly needs an update on the world of online dating through websites or social apps such as Badoo, Tinder, WeChat, Skoot, Beetalk, etc.

If you are looking for a great girl in Jakarta, online dating is by far your best chance. 90% of the girls there are looking for a stable relationship. Another 9% is looking for money. And maybe less than 1 percent is looking for a one night stand (not the hottest girls usually). The fact that they are looking for a stable relationship does not mean they want to get married straight away. It means they want to feel a long term relationship is possible. For this reason, it may be more difficult for you to find a date if you are not staying in Indonesia and if you do not speak Indonesian.

Depending on which website or which app you use, you can pretty much chat with any type of women you could think of: Students, employees, executives, single mom, etc from any ethnicity or religion. There is such a diversity that it would be hard to generalize. To give you a better understanding, I will describe the specificities of each dating app or website below:

Badoo (Mobile app and website)

Badoo is probably the best dating website to use in Indonesia. They also have a mobile app which is called "Hot or Not". It has a very large number of users, with usually several hundred women online at anytime in Jakarta.

Badoo attracts 99,9% of Indonesian girls, from all background. You can filter girls by age, location, status, body type, etc. Most girls can speak English and many are interested to meet foreigners.

Tinder (Mobile app only)

When Tinder started in Indonesia, most of its users where either foreign or Western educated girls. Its base has now expanded, but it is still the most trendy app to use. For this reason, this is where you will meet the most girls who can speak English and who have well-paid jobs. This is also where the most girls are interested to meet foreigners.

WeChat (Mobile app only)

WeChat has a "look around" feature which allows you to add girls located within a few kilometers from you. If they accept your invitation, you can start chatting with them.

Many ladyboys and prostitutes use that feature so it can be quite annoying if this is not what you are looking for. You will also probably receive a lot of invitations from other guys. Girls using this feature do not always speak English very well. It is popular with the Chinese community but your chances of getting a reply is low unless you speak Chinese.

Beetalk (Mobile app only)

Beetalk users are mostly Indonesian and young. It has a "look around" feature as well which is quite invasive as it tells you the exact position of the people around you. If you use it in popular malls like Grand Indonesia or Central Park, it will probably tell you a list of person within a very close range, sometimes a few meters only.

Few girls using Beetalk speak good English so it is more appropriate for those with a basic knowledge of Indonesian. It is a good app but not the most effective for foreigners.

Tagged / Hi5 (Mobile app and website)

Tagged and Hi5 are the same service since they merged in 2011. It used to be one of the most popular social networks in Indonesia but it is struggling now. It is still a relatively interesting website to try as the number of Indonesian users is quite large. I would say that girls on Tagged are usually a bit older: They made their Hi5 account 10 years ago and they haven't closed it yet.

Skout (Mobile app only)

Skout is similar to Badoo but only works on a mobile phone. The ads are quite annoying so I didn't like using it. It has a fair number of Indonesian girls using it.


All these dating apps and websites are free but you have to pay if you want to get some VIP features. For instance, becoming a paid member will generally entitle you to send more messages, to see who clicked on your profile or to be seen first by girls.

There are probably some scammers too so you should naturally always make sure the person you are talking to is real. I would recommend asking for the girl's facebook or skype.
There are other services that I haven't tried but they might work well. If you have used one of the following to find a date in Jakarta, it would be nice if you could write a comment about it below:

OK Cupid: Popular dating website but I don't think it is available in Indonesia at this moment.

Zoosk: One of the most popular dating apps in the world but I read some negative reviews about their privacy policy so I did not want to try it.

Ask.fm: Very popular social media in Indonesia, mostly with the younger crowd. It is not a real dating website but it is used as such by many Indonesians to make friends or get a date.

Wavoo is an Indonesian dating app which just started. It does not have a very large database of users at the moment.

Setipe.com is an Indonesian dating website which could be promising but it is still new and I encountered some problems to register.

IndonesianCupid.com and AsianDating.com are online dating sites where men must pay to send messages. They have the same database of users as they belong to the same group Cupid Media.

Photo Credit: The photo are from Kucluk Oye.

Top 10 Best Bars in Jakarta in 2015

As promised on my Jakarta Nightlife 2015 review, I am updating the blog with my list of Jakarta's best venues in 2015. 

For more recommendation about the best bars in the city, you can check my review about Jakarta's Best Beer Bars and Beer Garden. You may also want to read last year's ranking: Jakarta's Best Bars 2014.

More rankings coming in the next few days: Best Clubs, Best Spas, Best Live Music.

Regarding this year's best bars, I made the list based on my personal preferences only. If you are a Western expat in your 30s, you will probably find it relevant. If you think a bar should be included here, please drop me a comment and I will visit the place if I haven't done it already.

In this month of April 2015, my favorite bars in Jakarta are:

1) Cloud Lounge
Cloud is the best place for a drink in Jakarta in my opinion. You have good music, good people, good view, good service and good food/drinks. I only wish it could become more wild sometimes late at night.

2) Safehouse
The newcomer Safehouse is small and not particularly pretty, but it may have the best music in Jakarta. Visit it if you are into electronic music (and expats).

3) Loewy
The ever popular Loewy is always happening, especially in the evenings around its main bar. Lots of expats and lot of expat hunters.

4) Potato Head Garage
Potato Head Garage is not always happening, but when it does it is usually for fun events with a great crowd. Visit it on weekends only.

Popular hangout for the cool kids in Jakarta. 

First rooftop bar in Jakarta, similar to Cloud with a slightly less impressive view. The service gets messy when they are busy.

7) BATS and CJs
Band in CJs
Some people prefer BATS, some people prefer CJs. Both are quite similar if not identical: They are hotel bars with live music and a crowd of husbands having fun away from home.

8) E&O
Primarily a restaurant, their bar can be a great place to go for a drink on the right evening. They are serving among the best cocktails in Jakarta.

9) 365
Alternative bar with usually a good music selection and an interesting crowd.

Union in Plaza Senayan
Those places have been around for half a decade now, which is an eternity in Jakarta. They are not exactly bars but they are still popular with upmarket Indonesians who want to drink and hangout.

As you may have noted, there are 14 bars listed above. Indeed, Jakarta's Top 14 Bars did not sound well to my ears. Photo Credit: I took the liberty of taking them from each venue's facebook page.

3 Reasons I Don't Read Indonesian Food Blogs

Before criticizing Indonesian food blogs, I will criticize myself first. Hopefully it will spare me the whataboutery comments:
- My blog is visually not appealing.
- I make grammar and spelling mistakes.
- I don't always take pictures from the places I visit. 
- There are some types of food I don't have much knowledge about (Korean, Japanese food). 
- I make review of restaurants I have tried only once.
- I don't update as often as I should my older reviews
- Etc.

That being said, I will allow myself to look at the work other bloggers are doing in Indonesia. I am impressed by the number of food and restaurant review blogs existing in the country, particularly in Jakarta. Many of the people behind them are really dedicated and I am sure they spend hours preparing their articles every week. I also find that in terms of design, some blogs are absolutely stunning. 

In spite of that, I don't really follow them for the 3 reasons listed below:

1) Increasing number of sponsored reviews
As I was doing some research about Publik Markette, I noticed that 80% of all the food blogs I visited based their reviews on a food tasting event they had been invited to. Even though the bloggers were honest enough to mention they did not pay for their food, it raises suspicions on the sincerity of the reviews they will write. Another issue is that they all experienced the restaurant on the same day, with the same dishes, in an event that cannot be compared to the experience of a regular customer. For this reason, I would consider that all these reviews are irrelevant because they do not describe a genuine dining experience. The only way to make it interesting would be to review the event and then to write about the restaurant separately. Unfortunately this never happens.

2) Focus on the form rather than substance
Indonesian food blogs tend to have a very nice design and excellent photos. They usually use a creative template and each has a unique style. However, when you start reading the content, it is quite basic with very little criticism.  I often feel I am reading an advertorial instead of an actual review.

The truth is that most restaurants in Jakarta are average and a few only are actually good. Yet, reading Indonesian food blogs, it seems that Jakarta is the culinary capital of the World blessed with only wonderful eateries serving amazing food. 

In my opinion, pictures in a food blog should reflect the reality of the experience of the diners. I used to review restaurants using a Canon 5D which was transforming any food into something spectacular. While it was making my blog look nice, I switched to a more simple camera a few years ago because I felt the result was more honest. There is nothing wrong in posting incredible pictures of a restaurant, but again as a reader it tends to mislead people into thinking a restaurant is better than it is.
Quite a gap sometimes between the picture and the reality
I have also noticed that many will use verbiage and exaggeration when describing a dish they have sampled. I read a 200-word paragraph praising a beef cordon blue as if God himself had cooked it. This is even more useless because in Indonesia, there is no such thing as dish consistency. It is almost impossible to get the same dish cooked and prepared the same way twice. Personally I prefer when the reviewer go straight to the point but it might only be me.

3) Limited knowledge of Western food & Wines
I read Indonesian blogs each time I need information about a Chinese or Indonesian restaurant. When it comes to Western food though, I will not use them as a reference. If we look at their background, most of the English-speaking bloggers form an homogeneous group of middle to high class Indonesians, mostly from Chinese origin, who studied abroad. While this does not affect the quality of one reviewer, it means that in terms of diversity, they will tend to have similar opinion and similar taste. Considering Western food, they tend to favor dishes that are more fat or more sweet than the authentic ones for instance. If I wrote about Indonesian food, I would probably not be the most pertinent judge as well.
The Typical Indonesian Food Blogger would say that this is a perfectly cooked hot dog with just the right amount of cheese
The idea behind this article is not to bully or to mock Indonesian Food bloggers. As I said, I really think their work is great and in many aspects, better than my own. I am just listing a few reasons why I don't read them.

If you have a blog and you do not read me, I would be grateful myself to know what I could improve and how.

Dream Ultralounge (Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta)

Dream Ultralounge is a luxury club, restaurant and lounge who had its soft opening in February 2015. It is part of the revamping of the restaurant Moovina, which has been split in several venues, namely Wine Connection and Dream on its upper floor.

Located in Plaza Indonesia, arguably the most prestigious mall in Jakarta, Dream is the counterpart of the Ego Ultralounge/X2 in Plaza Senayan. It is targeting a similar crowd of wealthy Indonesian executives and expats who don't mind spending a few millions a night to entertain themselves. As it is still new, it has not been ruined yet by the tourists and the ayam as Ego/X2 did already a few years ago.

I find their motto "F*ck Water, Drink Champage" to be quite inappropriate considering the situation of Indonesia but it will give you an idea of the mindset of the people inside. If your budget is just a few hundred thousand rupiah and if you don't like wearing high heels, you may want to avoid it.
They have a live acoustic band every evening, followed by a DJ. They promise to bring a guest DJ every Saturday and to hold a themed event every Friday. They also have model fashion shows regularly.
Overall: Even though it is a bit pompous, I still recommend you to visit Dream because of its central location, its décor and its exclusive feel. Depending the evening, the music can be quite good as well. It is also more suitable for 30+ clubbers.

Dream Ultra Lounge
Mall Plaza Indonesia 4th floor - Moovina
Jalan Thamrin Kav 28-30 
Phone number:  +62-21 2992 3999 (fixed line) or +62 (0) 878 8536 8895 (mobile)

Website: Dream Club Jakarta 
Facebook: Dream Jakarta 
Instagram: Dream Lounge Jakarta 
Twitter: Ultralounge Dream Jakarta

Opening Hours: Every day until late. Closed on Sunday.

Note that there used to be a club in Mangga Besar named Dreams.

Photo credit: I took the pictures on Dream's facebook page.

Top 10 Striptease and Sexy Dancer Shows in Jakarta in 2015

Yes, even in self-righteous Indonesia you will find more strip clubs and sexy dancers than in most other Asian countries. Sure Bangkok has its fair share of gogo bars, but women there rarely go full nude in public. In Jakarta, you have dozens of places with daily naked shows for a male public, obviously, to enjoy.

Remember that you are in Jakarta, not in Hollywood. Don't expect a spectacular striptease show with pole dancing, synchronized choreographies and splits, it is usually pretty basic. In most places, you can also book the stripper for a private dance and more depending on the size of your wallet. In all those places, the dancers usually try to get customers to buy them ladies' drinks after they've finished their routine. The price for a drink is between 50k and 100k. If you buy one, you will just get a thank you. If you buy at least 3, you will get a short lap dance. If you buy more than 3, you won't get much more. 

The huge majority of those venues are located in North and West Jakarta in the following districts : Kelapa Gading, Taman Anggrek, Taman Sari, Hayam Wuruk, Gadjah Mada, Mangga Besar, Lokasari. If you stay in Sudirman area, the closest ones will be about 5 kilometers away. Without traffic in the evening it's a 15 minutes ride. 

Following a hard work of research and investigation, here is my list of the Top 10 Best Striptease and Sexy Dancer bars in Jakarta in 2015

1) Tease Club (Full Nude)
Managed by Alex Tirta from Alexis Group. It may be the most sophisticated strip club to date in Jakarta in terms of costumes and choreography. They used to have a live sex show but it was probably too risky. Even corruption has its limits in Indonesia.

2) Malioboro (Full Nude)
Managed by the biggest competitor of Alex Tirta in the naughty nightlife scene, the Stadium group. There are dancers in two areas, the Malio Club with about 8 to 10 girls dancing non stop, and the Malio Spa which is less busy.

3) King Cross (Full Nude)
Managed by Stadium Group as well. Sexy dancers on two floors. The best ones are on the top floors. It is best to arrive early to avoid the crowd (like 10pm).

4) Classic Hotel (Full Nude)
3 floors have dancers in Classic Hotel: On the ground floor, you have the best dancers but there is an entrance fee and the drinks are more expensive. On the 2nd floor and 5th floor, you have a basic dance show in two huge rooms (they are also called Terminal 2 and Terminal 5 as you are given a boarding pass upon exit). You should be aware that Classic is more a bordello than a bar.

5) Club 36 (Full Nude for Indonesian girls, Bikini for Thai Girls)
Wait another hour and you will have the dancers instead of the band
Club 36 is owned by Alex Tirta as well and it is located just next to Jayakarta Hotel. Intimate and usually crowded, you always have about 10 girls dancing on the main bar. It is the only place in Jakarta with Thai dancers.

6) D's Place in Blok M (Bikini in Main Room, Full Nude in private)
D's Place is one of the oldest bars of Blok M. You have a main room with a podium in the middle where girls will do sexy dances in bikini. Those girls are usually quite young and pretty. You also have a more private room, the "corner bar", where you can get a private lap dance from older girls. You can actually get more than a lap dance: D's place could be considered as the only blowjob bar in Jakarta.

7) V2 (Full Nude)
V2 is a small one stop entertainment complex located at the beginning of Gadjah Madah street. If you come from Sudirman, it is quite easy to find. Nothing really special compared to the places mentioned above. They have live music and topless DJ from Eastern Europe once in a while.

8) Golden Crown (Topless)
Inside Golden Crown, you have a lounge with western music with sexy dancers during the week.

9) Diamond (Full Nude)
Diamond Club is a discreet venue located just between Harco Glodok and Lindeteves LTC Mall. Dancers go full nude.

10) Sumo Spa (Full Nude or Topless, I'm not sure)
Sumo Spa in Kelapa Gading is also owned by the Stadium Group. They have a small lounge with dancers.

In case you need more addresses:

List of venues with non-nude sexy dancers:

Play Club in Hotel Alexis

Dreams Club in Plaza Indonesia: I didn't review it yet so I'll be interested to get more information. Apparently they have dancers/models from Eastern Europe.

Illigals in Hayam Wuruk: They have regular events but no nude or topless dancing to my knowledge.

Flirt Bar in Fashion Hotel: Daily - They've had topless dancing on occasion and some Russian TDJ (Topless DJ)

Nebula: Occasionally

Sun City: Daily, during break time of the live band:

Other places with sexy dancers that didn't make the Top 10:
Comfort Spa in Mangga Dua
Galaxy Spa in Fatmawati (Owned by Delta Spa)
CDs Club by Delta Spa
M Star in Mangga Dua
Top 1 Taman Anggrek
Newton in Lokasari
Fortune Spa in Sudirman
MTR in Kelapa Gading

For the following places I'm not sure if there are dancers or not, but it would not be surprising if they do:
Zen Karaoke in Thamrin
Colosseum/1001 in Kota Tua
De Leila in Gatot Subroto
New Medika in Daan Mogot
Bandara in Taman Anggrek

I've probably forgotten a few places, please comment on this list of the best Strip Club and Sexy Dancer Show in Jakarta to help me keep it updated and accurate. Thanks!

Top 10 Beer Bars, Pubs and Beer Gardens in Jakarta in 2015

Starting 2015, you are normally not allowed to buy any alcohol, including beer, from minimarts all over Indonesia. It should take a few months before someone smart finds a way to bypass the law so until then, you'll need to find a friendly and cheap bar to grab a beer when needed.

Beer bars are not difficult to find in Jakarta so to avoid listing 100 venues, I made a choice with the following considerations in mind:

Is the place crowded? Does it have a large choice of imported beers? Is it friendly? Does it have regular events? Is it popular with expats? Is it affordable? Does it have good food? Is the atmosphere appealing?

The more YES I answered to those questions, the higher the ranking. Please comment below if you want to add a venue. 

For those looking for a place to celebrate St Patrick Day's or Oktoberfest, it is a good list to start with as well.
Sorry to that guy for posting this photo. I hope his boss is not a reader.
1) Beer Brothers (Kemang)
Large choice of beers, mixed crowd of locals and younger expats, easy-going.

2) Beer Garden (Menteng, Kemang, SCBD, Radio Dalam)
All their locations are usually packed. Crowd mostly local.

3) Paulaner Brauhaus (Grand Indonesia)
High end beer bar. Good food, large choice of beers including their own Paulaner.

4) Brewerkz (Senayan City)
Singaporean owned. Rather posh and neat. They have their own micro-brewery.

5) De Hooi (Pondok Indah)
Friendly expat bar, many regulars, great food menu.

6) Eastern Promise (Kemang)
Meeting point of most expats in Kemang. Always happening. Good music.

7) Murphy's (Kemang)
First irish pub in Jakarta. Friendly staff and good management.

8) Molly Malones (Senayan Arcadia)
Second irish pub in Jakarta, same owner as Murphy's.

9) De Burse (SCBD)
Same owner as De Hooi and Eastern Promise. Similar concept but more intimate setting.

10) Liquid Exchange (Rasuna Said)
Reasonable prices, good location, eclectic crowd and decent choice of beers.
The following bars and beer garden almost made my list but finally didn't:

Melly's Garden: Uncomfortable
The Barrels in Kelapa Gading - Too much noise from La Piazza Mall
Joglo Beer in Kemang - Not visited yet
Brew & Co Cilandak- No visited yet
Top Gun in Blok M - Too loud, too dirty, too noisy, too many prostitutes
Pizza e Birra - Horrible food
Aphrodite in Taman Rasuna and Mad Dogs in Cilandak - Getting old now
Minus 2 - A bit far in PIK
Double Doors - Not city center
La Bière - Central Park - Not a fun crowd
Jimm's Sports Café and Everest Bar in Bellagio: Almost made it
Bremer in Kemang: Haven't been there in a long time and I don't know if it still exist

Photo credit: Pictures taken freely from the facebook page of Beer Garden and Beer Brother.