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12 Delicious Indonesian Soups (and Where to Eat Them)

By Tibs →
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 differ

10 Classic Indonesian Food Restaurants in Jakarta

By Tibs →
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 of 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 shop floor.

Bengawan Solo Restaurant (Indonesian/Javanese Food)

By Anonymous →
I rarely go to Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel on Sudirman (it is located right next to Le Meridien Hotel), but I did go there recently because I heard there was a new Indonesian restaurant. The name of the new place is "Bengawan Solo" (it is not related to the popular coffee chain located in many malls in Jakarta), named after the longest River in Java. It is located on the lobby level of the Hotel. I had a great dinner there, I like the idea of having truly Indonesian (or Javanese) food like chicken satay, Sosis Solo, Nasi Goreng, Bebek Goreng, Gurame Bakar or Iga Sapi Asam with a modern presentation you would find in any western restaurant. The decoration of the place is also modern with Indonesian Wayang and other javanese objects. The place reminded me another Indonesian restaurant Seribu Rasa , located in Menteng, but with a more indonesian crowd. I would recommend Bengawan Solo for a business lunch or dinner or if you want take somebody who is in t

Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurants

By Tibs →
I visited the original branch of Bebek Tepi Sawah in Ubud a few years ago. I was disappointed at that time as it was expensive, overcrowded with groups of tourists, and the taste was really unexceptional. I blacklisted it in my mind and considered it a tourist trap. In the past few years, the brand has opened outlets everywhere in malls in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali. I thought that the management may have changed and that it would be worth having another try. I did so in Beachwalk in Kuta. My first impression was not too good. I was greeted by an apathetic waitress that I felt I was bothering. She gave me the menu and left. It took me 10 minutes to get another waiter, more friendly, to come to me and take my order. The menu features all kinds of Indonesian and International dishes with a large choice of drinks. It is so big that I cannot imagine the team in the kitchen is able to prepare them all correctly. Since Bebek Tepi Sawah means "the duck from the ri

Beautika (Manado Food)

By Tibs →
Beautika is the most reputed Manadonese restaurant in Jakarta, and my second favourite after Ikan Tude . It actually started as a beauty salon (hence the name), which was also serving some specialties from Manado. With time, the food became the main source of revenue for the owner and he finally opened a proper restaurant in 2001. The food, as spicy as spicy can be, is mostly delicious and authentic. 2 problems: I imagine that the fish is frozen and I believe they do not serve pork. For these reasons, it won't save you a trip to Manado if you want to experience the original taste... At last, it is way too expensive. My total bill for two people was Rp350,000, and we only had about 5/6 dishes to share.   Overall: I recommend Beautika for anyone who wants to try quality Indonesian food, regardless of the price, in a clean/hygienic setting. The atmosphere is rather functional: Tables and a TV, so I wouldn't advise it for a date or for important dinners.

Seribu Rasa (Indonesian Food)

By Tibs →
  Seribu Rasa is one of the most famous Indonesian/Malay restaurants in Jakarta. Located near the Plaza Indonesia roundabout, it is popular with locals and expats , and it is a good venue to experience some of the food specialties from the different islands of Indonesia. I didn't find that the atmosphere inside was exceptional, except if you choose one of the private dining rooms around the fountain. The main room was actually completely full and noisy when we arrived, and I thought it lacked coziness. Also, we had to wait a few minutes before sitting so do make a reservation if you can (Phone number: +62-21 392 8892). They have a great menu with a picture for each one of their dishes, making the picking easy. The prices are high for Indonesian food, but by international standards it is very affordable. You should not pay more that Rp130k (11 euros) per person for a large meal with drink.

TeSate (Jakarta)

By Tibs →
TeSate is an Indonesian cuisine restaurant located in the malls Plaza Senayan and Pacific Place. It is usually very crowded, even though it is quite expensive in my opinion. I visited the TeSate Pacific Place, where I ordered the Jimbaran Grilled Fish (Rp180k for 400 grams!). The food looked delicious and the recipe seemed creative, but I found it lacked freshness (see the lemon on the picture for instance). For this particular dish, I recommend you to try Baruna Seafood restaurant in Menteng instead. In spite of that, I recommend TeSate to Indonesian food lovers who are looking for dishes more elaborate than those they can find in warungs or street food stalls. Their menu features an interesting variety of dishes and it is indeed a culinary journey through Indonesia. Expect to pay around Rp200k per person for a full meal + drinks. Latest news about TeSate Indonesia on Facebook: Click here .

Ampera (Sundanese restaurants)

By Tibs →
Ampera is the largest chain of Sundanese food restaurants in Indonesia, with so many branches that it would be hard to list them all. I tried the one in Jalan Agus Salim (Sabang), near Sarinah.

Bumbu Desa Restaurants

By Tibs →
Bumbu Desa is a chain of Sundanese food restaurants, popular in Jakarta and in other Indonesian cities. There are quite many branches, at least 27, so I cannot say if the quality is the same everywhere. The one I tried was in Bandung, near Paskal Hypersquare.

Café Batavia (Taman Fatahillah, Kota)

By The Jakarta Team →
Cafe Batavia is a classy, distinguished bar, in one of the most beautiful colonial buildings of Jakarta. A must-do for any tourists or newly arrived expats, it should also provide you with a good opportunity to visit Kota Tua, the historical center of Jakarta. Nearby buildings include Old Batavia's Townhall and the VOC Governor office which can all be reached by foot. The area is currently being renovated as the government has finally come to realize its cultural importance and, though not much has been done yet, a stroll around the (polluted) canal back to the Stasiun Kota is something I really enjoy. For those who are bold enough, I advise you to make a stop in Stadium on the way back, as a way to enjoy another monument of Jakarta!

D' Cost Seafood Cheap Restaurant

By Tibs →
After Warung Pasta , another cheap eating spot is D'Cost Seafood. The brand is quite famous in Indonesia and you will find them a little everywhere, including in Kemang. The outside looks terrible and is closer to a Walmart than a restaurant. But I was seduced by their motto: " Price of a street food stall, taste of a 5-stars". The inside is a little better, but still not much to talk about as it is quite simple and functional. The menu has two pages, one for the food, the other one for the drinks. It is very cheap (click on the photo of the menu below to see the prices), and you can easily have a meal for less than Rp25,000. D'Cost seems to be quite popular with office workers and students. We ordered a few dishes: Baby Kailan saus tiram, Ikam Guram Tim Kecap, Tahu Jepang saus tiram, Udang Pancet saus Padang, etc..

Dapur Babah Elite

By Tibs →
Dapur Babah Elite is considered as one of the best restaurants in Jakarta. However, as it is the case with most of the restaurants belonging to the Tugu Group, while the setting is impressive and worth a visit, the food is slightly disappointing. It is obvious that Tugu restaurants are focused on creating an atmosphere rather than serving fine cuisine. It's ok with me because if the food was better, I think the prices would jump. Dapur Babah Elite restaurant specializes in Peranakan/Babah cuisine, both of which have become quite trendy over the recent years among Jakartans. It is a fusion of different traditions: Indonesian, Chinese, and Dutch. So as I said, I didn't fall in love with the food, but maybe my expectations were too high considering how elegant the Dapur Babah restaurant is. All furniture and decoration come from the private collection of the owner of Tugu Group, Anhar Setjadibrata, who is in my opinion the main reason behind the success of this hotel and res

Garuda Padang Restaurant Jakarta

By Tibs →
Padang restaurants are countless in Jakarta, and you may find one in almost every street of the city (for new comers and tourists, Padang is the name of a city in Sumatra). Most of the Padang restaurants are small street food stalls or simple "rumah makan" (basic restaurants), and unfortunately many expats can be reluctant to try this kind of establishment because the hygiene is not up to their standards. The Garuda food chain is a good way to experience Padang food because their venues are clean and comfortable, while the general atmosphere and the prices remain close from that of the original Padang food concept. After seating, the waiters will bring you about 15 different dishes, the most common ones, but you can also ask for more specific ones. Then you will be charged only for what you eat. Padang food is quite hot, though it's not, as many people think, the spiciest cuisine of Indonesia. If your stomach is fragile, ask for a lot of rice, ayam goreng bumbu, sa

Huize Trivelli Restaurant

By Tibs →
Huize Trivelli, which can be translated as "the House of Trivelli", is located inside a beautiful Dutch-era colonial house built in 1939. The restaurant is more recent (2006), but it get most of its inspiration from this heritage, by offering its customers great traditional Indonesian food, in the setting of an old house full of antiques. As the family of the owner used to have ties with the Dutch elite, the food is also influenced by the former colonizer. You won't eat in Huize Trivelli dishes that were eaten by the masses, but rather the kind of food that rich Indo-Dutch families were cooking. Among such dishes, the most famous is the Rijsttafels , a celebration of the diversity of Indonesian cuisines. Surprisingly, the prices in Huize Trivelli are moderate, making it one of the best value restaurants in Jakarta for such high-quality standards (max 60,000rp/main course dish). You may have to wait for a bit though.

Kafe Betawi (Jakarta)

By Tibs →
Kafé Betawi is a chain of Indonesian food restaurants located in various malls in Jakarta. I tried the one in Plaza Indonesia. Their concept is to sell typical street food dishes in a clean and cozy atmosphere. The prices are low, especially for malls and they are usually popular venues to eat probably for this reason. We had a few dishes in Kafe Betawi:

Kembang Goela

By Tibs →
  Kembang Goela is among the most famous Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta. They serve traditional food from all Indonesia, with a focus on Peranakan cuisine (see Wikipedia article here ). I went to this place by accident, so I didn't have my usual camera and could not take very good pictures. Nevertheless, you should see that Kembang Goela looks quite elegant, in particular if you get one of the semi-private rooms. They have some antique colonial furniture, old photographs on the walls, and all kind of flowers everywhere. I don't advise you to eat in the main room though since it is pretty noisy and lacks coziness. We had a few dishes, but I only took pictures for a few of them:

Lara Djonggrang

By Tibs →
Lara Djonggrang is the most famous of the restaurants belonging to the Tugu group, which is also behind Samarra , Dapur Babah Elite and Shanghai Blue . With its spectacular decoration, it is the favourite Indonesian restaurant of many expatriates and tourists. It is also where they will take their friends/family when they come to visit Jakarta. Food-wise, it is above average both in taste and appearance, and I also find it good-value compared to the overall experience. There will always be people saying you can get better food in some warungs, but you will pay 2 euros instead of 5 euros for your Nasi Goreng. I think the atmosphere, service and food presentation in Lara Djonggrang is largely worth those 3 extra euros.