Review: Union (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Courtyard @ Ground Floor
Plaza Senayan
JL Asia Afrika No. 8
Jakarta 10270 Indonesia
+62 21 5790 5861
http://www.unionjkt.com

After a whirlwind trip to Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, I’m now back in Jakarta. It’s been great visiting those places (especially Hong Kong) though dealing with mild food poisoning this morning certainly wasn’t fun (my fault – I bought nasi lemak in Singapore and ate it while it was still cold as soon as I back to Jakarta). Now that I’m somewhat rested, I thought I’d churn out another post – this time I’ll be writing about Union, a café in Jakarta.

wp1

My cousin Boris took us here last weekend immediately after our buffet lunch at The Café. Union claims to be a ‘brasserie, bakery and bar’ in one, though it seems more like a Parisian café to me what with its romantic foundations and pretty green trees outside.

Its logo font also screams out ‘HIPSTER!’ which kinda makes sense since, according to the website, the café supposedly aims to be a twentieth century bistro (huh?). Despite its identity crisis, it is always packed – we were unable to score a table when we rocked up that Sunday afternoon.

Pandan donut (approx. AUD$2)
Pandan donut (approx. AUD$2)

Union boasts an interesting selection on donuts at the counter, including the cheese-filled donut (Indonesians love cheese – blame the Dutch). I ordered a pandan donut, which had the slightest tinge of green.

In all honestly, I couldn’t taste any pandan flavour. Secondly, the texture was more brioche than donut – in fact, it was pretty much like eating a buttery donut-shaped brioche bun. Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course, but when you buy something being called a pandan donut, it’s fair to say that you’d expect to get something that would vaguely taste like one!

Hummingbird cake (approx. AUD$6)
Hummingbird cake (approx. AUD$6)

Boris loves Union’s peanut butter and jelly cake but unfortunately there was none left. He decided to get the hummingbird cake instead which was good value at approximately AUD$6 given its size.

wp4

Yep, it was so big that we managed to get three slices out of the one big cake slice…

The cake was super moist and not horribly sweet, thus making it one of the better hummingbird cakes I’ve had. Thumbs up.

While I’m never ordering another donut from here, I can definitely see myself sitting by the window with a slice of cake and coffee on a rainy day – I just need to make sure I’m there before it gets too packed.

Review: The Café @ Hotel Mulia Senayan (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Senayan City
JL Asia Afrika Senayan
Jakarta 10270
Indonesia

Greetings from Hong Kong!

I’m currently travelling for the next two weeks but because I’m awesome, I’m going to try and blog as much as I can in between bouts of stuffing my face with street food and dodging ‘how come you’re not married yet?’ questions from nosy Indonesian aunties.

From this point on, I’ll start documenting my foodie adventures rather than wait until I get back to Melbourne. The last time I did it, I never ended up finishing my posts. Shame on me.

So anyway, yesterday the family and I got invited to lunch at Hotel Mulia, one of the pimpiest hotels in downtown Jakarta. Hotel Mulia is home to a few fancy restaurants and I visited one last year, Table8. This time we were going to The Café, an upmarket buffet restaurant. Despite the heavy rain and despite Jakarta’s horrific traffic conditions, we somehow made it only 5 minutes late.

Unfortunately for us, our table was not ready so we had to wait 10 minutes in the lobby. Once we were called up, we were told that we weren’t allowed to take any photos of the restaurant and the food. That sucked if you were a DLSR-toting food blogger – not that it stopped me from using my iPhone to take a few sneaky shots!

wp1

There are as many buffet stations here as there are Louis Vuitton handbags. While most places have their buffet stations in the one place, the stations here were scatted all over the place. In fact, the ‘Western food’ section was so hidden that I would not have realised it was there but for my nosy brother who had a bit of a wander around the restaurant.

wp2

Oh look! There’s my uncle! And dad!

wp3

My first plate was a Japanese and dim sum affair, just the way I like it. We were sitting with the family of the guy who my relatives are keen to set my cousin up with (she was conveniently sick yesterday and didn’t attend this lunch, hah). The guy (let’s call him S) was there too and he telling me off for eating yum cha when I had all week to indulge in that sort of food in Hong Kong. Yeah whatever, mate. Sif tell me what to eat! Especially since the har gows were actually quite good – definitely better than most I’ve had in Jakarta!

The sashimi wasn’t the freshest I’ve had but it was good for buffet quality. The tuna tataki, however, suffered from having too much pepper on it. I’m not sure if that was the way Indonesians prefer to eat tataki, or whether the cooks were trying to mask something. Hmm.

wp4

S then made a comment about how my siblings and I throw everything together onto our buffet plates. For example, why mix Indian food and chicken buns together? He said that it must be an Aussie thing but I’m not sure as I’ve always ‘done’ buffet restaurants like this? In contrast, his first plate was an all-Japanese affair, his second plate had chips and burgers and he saved his final savoury plate for the Indonesian dishes. I might be doing it wrong, but whatever.

wp5

How’s this for an even more random buffet plate? I had bresaola, prosciutto and jamon along with dahl. I also had some coconut rice wrapped in banana leaf from the Indonesian food section but the line to the actual Indonesian dishes was friggin’ long so I went without, hah.

wp6

Say what?! Angasi oysters from all the way in Australia?!

wp7

You actually had to walk across the hallway to another room for desserts. And even though I’m not big on desserts, I couldn’t help but be impressed at the range. They had everything from gelati to eclairs to little cake, both European and Indonesian.

I grabbed a green tea ice cream from the freezer along with two Indonesian favourites, profitjets (Dutch pancakes) and spekkoek (or kue lapis/Indonesian layer cake) covered in chocolate. They were all excellent.

I may only have three had not-so-full plates (and one dessert plate) but I was pretty full – no dinner for me that night! I’m not sure how much the buffet was per person so I can’t say whether dining at The Café is good value for money. Nevertheless, The Café is better than most buffet restaurants I’ve been to and the har gow dumplings are better than most in Jakarta.

Duck King, The (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Central Park Podomoro City
1st Floor, Unit 116
Jl. Let. Jend. S ParmanKav. 28
Jakarta, Indonesia
+62 21 5698 5620
www.theduckking.com

I’ve often said in the past that I don’t come across too many decent Chinese restaurants in Indonesia. That said, the Duck King franchise serve up some not-too-terrible Peking duck and yum cha dishes and I was glad to have tried it one Sunday afternoon after church.

Even though I’ve only just heard of Duck King, they’ve actually been around for 10 years. Starting off in Jakarta, they eventually regurgitated several ducklings in cities such as Bandung (represent!) and Surabaya. I can see why this chain is popular; not only do they cater to Indonesia’s large Muslim population by going pork-free, they also whip up some decent dishes.

My uncle Charlie tried to make a last minute booking one Sunday afternoon, only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked. But when the person on the phone realised that it was regular diner Charlie on the line, a private room suddenly became available. And that is how 14 members of my family ended up sitting on a large table overlooking the brightly-lit Central Park shopping centre.

wp1

I love how yum cha restaurants in Jakarta start you off with the most random nibbles. We enjoyed fried anchovies at May Star, for example, and sambal (chilli) beans here at Duck King.

wp2

We started off with some delicious fried prawn wontons. The waitress was kind enough to cut them into little pieces so we can all have a nibble. I suppose the non-tight arse thing to do was to order more servings but c’mon, we’re talking about my family here…

wp3

Duck King’s dim sum dishes range from Rp. 18,800 to Rp. 31,800 (AUD$1.88-$3.18), making them reasonably priced. We started off with the classics: chicken feet, ginger prawn wontons and fried taro dumplings.

wp4

Then came the siu mai. The ones here are made with chicken and shrimp, in accordance with the restaurant’s ‘no pork’ rule. They weren’t bad, but I really do think that siu mai tastes a lot better with pork.

wp5

The lo mai gai (sticky rice) is mum’s favourite yum cha dish and Duck King did a commendable version. They came in pretty small parcels here, which is good if all you wanted was a nibble.

wp6

I couldn’t say good things about the xiaolongbao (pork soup) dumplings, though. Filled with chicken mince (but no broth!), they didn’t quite taste as amazing as the pork version did and the skins were gluggy.  I also found them a bit too sweet for my liking.

wp7

The fish congee was alright, though a bit more ginger would have transformed the dish from okay to pretty, pretty good.

wp8

Char kway teow… hmm, not what you’d usually find at a yum cha restaurant (then again, what was a duck restaurant doing serving yum cha anyway?!) but these were lovely. There were lots of noodles! There was wok hei! And there were lots and lots of shrimp.

Duck King, as its name suggests, do a wonderful assortment of duck dishes. Their menu boasted Teow Chew-style duck and Nanjing salted duck and deep fried duck, all tantalising options. Because we’re boring though, we stuck to the Peking duck. I can’t remember how many ducks we ordered but because my family aren’t big duck eaters and because we had a bunch of other dishes to devour, I think two ducks sounded about right. Each duck is Rp. 278,000 (AUD$27.80) which makes it on par with Peking duck in Melbourne (essentially, this means that Peking duck in Indonesia is relatively expensive).

wp9

The Peking duck was nice enough, but it didn’t exactly blow me away. While the meat/skin/fat ratio was spot on (though some of the females in my family did say that there was a bit too much fat), the skin was a tad too sweet – that alone kind of spoilt it for me.

wp10

My brother doesn’t like yum cha dishes very much. So whenever he’s around, we always order some sort of beef dish from the a la carte menu. On this day, we ordered the honey peppered beef which he lapped up happily, while the Chinese greens provided some much-needed vitamins.

wp11

Surprisingly, our har gow (prawn dumplings) arrived pretty late. The skins were on the soggy side and they were pretty small, but we ate them anyway.

wp12

My brother also wanted sweet and sour fish. In Indonesia, gurame (a native white fish) is popular in Chinese restaurants. Due to the floods, however, the region’s gurame stock was pretty low so we had to make do with flounder. It’s not my favourite fish, especially when it’s being served with a heavy sauce like this, but everyone else seemed to like it.

wp13

Our final dish was the zhaliang, or char liong, as they called it here (fried Chinese dough sticks wrapped in steamed rice noodle rolls, FYI). The zhaliang at Duck King was a steal at Rp. 21,800 (AUD$2.18), a fraction of what we normally pay in Australia. Unfortunately, Duck King did a terrible version. Like May Star’s zhaliang, the dough sticks at Duck King were fried in old coconut oil, giving them a nasty aftertaste. And what, no Chinese greens on the bottom?!

wp14

Oh, and our egg custard tarts were burnt. WTF was with that?!

In saying all that, we all had a lovely relaxing time at Duck King. Some of the dishes may not have done it for us but hearing stories of cousin Boris passing out after drinking way too much tequila and my Oma thinking that he had died more than made up for it. Duck King’s Peking duck may not be as delicious as the ‘other’ duck king Simon Lay’s Peking duck. You’re also better off finding better yum cha offerings in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. But if you’re in Jakarta and craving duck or prawn dumplings, Duck King would probably be the first place I’d tell you to go to.

Social House (Jakarta, Indonesia)

1st Floor East Mall, Grand Indonesia
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.1
Jakarta, Indonesia
+62 21 2358 1818

A lot of people find it strange that shopping isn’t on my list of favourite things to do. What? A girl who doesn’t like shopping? Sadly, it’s true. On any given day, I’d rather eat rotting whale carcasses than spend hours at Melbourne Central looking at and trying on clothes, making small talk with shop assistants and carrying bags of shoes that I’ll probably only wear once.

If Melbourne’s malls bore even a remote likeness to the ones in Jakarta, however, I probably won’t be as much of a hater when it comes to shopping. In Indonesia’s capitals, the palatial-sized malls are filled with treasures in every corner. From standalone Christian Louboutin stores to xiaolongbao kiosks to multi-storied Timezones (what, they still exist?) to ice skating rinks, they have it all – and we’re only talking about the smaller malls here.

Grand Indonesia, in Central Jakarta, is one of the bigger ones not just in the country but also in Southeast Asia. In fact, it’s so big that it’s actually made up of two separate malls: East Mall and West Mall with a bridge between each one. Throw in a hotel and a residential complex by the Kempinski group, a 58-story office tower and lots of designer boutiques and world-renowned restaurants (Benihana, anyone?), and you’re pretty much set for the whole day. This complex also happens to be owned by Indonesian clove cigarette manufacturer PT Djarum which just goes to show how lucrative the tobacco industry still is in Indonesia.

One of my favourite bars in Jakarta, Social House happens to be in this very mall. Oned by the Ismaya hospitality group, it’s an all-day restaurant, wine bar with a wine shop attached if you wish to take home any of the 300 varieties available. When I first visited in 2009, it was located inside the Harvey Nichols department store. In 2013, however, Harvey Nichols was no longer there and due to the construction works, it took my sister Janice, my cousin Abigail and myself a while to navigate the intricate web that was Grand Indonesia’s East Mall redevelopment.

Social House is open from morning right through to the late night. When we rocked up just after 3pm on a weekday, we were just keen for some shared plates and Social House’s famous lemon iced tea that we enjoyed by the jug-loads all those years ago. Unfortunately, we were told that only the bar menu was available so I wasn’t able to enjoy the lime-cured kingfish sashimi that I had last time. Not to worry.

wp1

Because this bar is where a lot of gweilos congregate, the staff here speak fluent English. At night, this bar is full of American expats and pretty young things but during the day, it’s mostly young travellers wanting to take advantage of Social House’s free wi-fi. We were fortunate unfortunate enough to sit next to a group of loud Queenslanders who happened to stopping in Jakarta en route Bali for a surfing trip. Of course.

wp2

I absolutely adored the cute message that was printed on each napkin.

The normal lunch and dinner menus are divided into ‘east’ and ‘west’ sections with dishes to represent both Asian and European cuisines. You might want to order a Vietnamese beef and papaya salad from the east section, for example, and get your partner to try the burnt butter gnocchi. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that luxury (damn that awkward 3-5pm timeslot) so we settled on a BBQ chicken pizza from the bar menu.

wp3

Comprising of chicken pieces, mushrooms, BBQ sauce and mozzarella (Rp. 85,000/AUD$8.50), it wasn’t bad but for a restaurant of this quality I did expect something way better than only slightly better than Domino’s. Hell, I don’t even know why we agreed on this pizza as I normally shun pizzas with BBQ sauce on it.

wp4

Janice was keen on a slice of red velvet cake (Rp. 65,000/AUD$6.50) so we grabbed that too. Layered with cream cheese frosting and topped with crispy almonds, it made for a better alternative to the effking rainbow cake that seemed to be all the rage when we were there. Both Janice and Abigail liked it a lot, but I found it a bit too sweet (man, I’m such a killjoy haha).

wp5

This is what we came here for: a jug of Grandma’s homemade iced lemon tea (Rp. 115,000/AUD$11.50 for a jug). Janice and I fell in love with it the first time all those years ago. We loved that it was so zesty and fresh, perfect when you’re in hot and humid Jakarta. We also loved the crushed mint and the sugar cane stick that came in each glass for that extra bit of sweetness. For some reason, we weren’t as awed by the tea this time around. For me, it was a case of too much sugar and not enough lemons while Janice could have sworn that we got a bit more tea for our buck last time.

In the end, we were a bit underwhelmed. The food wasn’t as amazing and our tea did not blow our minds. The bill was Rp. 289,000/AUD$28.90 which, for a jug of tea, a small pizza and a slice of red velvet cake, is expensive by Indonesian standards. Mind you, this included sales tax and the ‘compulsory service charge.’ We were better off going to Grand Indonesia’s food court (which is actually impressive in itself) and eating kebabs there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that Social House is fab. I love its chilled yet sophisticated atmosphere. I love the friendly staff members and the fast service. Moreover, I like that there is not an ounce of snobbiness in this place (which is a bit of a surprise considering that a lot of high society Jakartans can be fickle). However, I would not come here during the 3-5pm period. Instead, go for the proper lunch or dinner experience or even better, wait until it’s really late and just enjoy a few glasses of wine while trying hard not to eye-roll at bogans.

May Star Central Park (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Central Park Mall
Lower Ground Floor, Shop 103-103A
Jl. Letjend S. Parman Kav. 28
Jakarta Barat
Indonesia
+62 21 569 85422
www.maystargroup.com

Yum cha is not usually high on my list of things to eat when I’m in Indonesia. I don’t like to sound like a jerk but when you’re blessed with so many amazing yum cha restaurants run by Cantonese in my side of Melbourne, yum cha made by predominantly Hokkien-Chinese Indonesians pale in comparisons. I’m a Hokkien myself and while we dish out some beautiful Sino-Indonesian dishes, yum cha just ain’t one of their talents.

So when my aunty Emi, my family and myself came across an Indonesian yum cha chain, May Star, one afternoon in Central Park Mall, I had to roll my eyes. My parents were also not terribly keen and my brother was looking longingly at the Carl’s Jr stall across the mall.

wp1

But then we saw the ‘pay 1 get 2’ signs all over the place! The offer was only valid on weekdays and between 3pm – 5pm. It was 2:55pm at the time so we did what pretty much every second Chinese-Indonesian family in Jakarta were doing that afternoon: we waited outside the restaurant.

wp2

The restaurant was empty when we rocked up before 3pm. As soon as the clock struck 3pm, however, it was packed to the rafters. Ah, God bless Chinese-Indonesians.

Rather than the crappy artificial pink prawn crackers we normally get back home sometimes, we got fried anchovies. Way, way better.

At May Star, you don’t get the full yum cha treatment where trolleys full of steamed delicacies come at you. Instead, the format is pretty much order-from-the-menu, which is fine by me. We decided to order several dim sum to share.

For a place that was swimming in waitresses, our food took a while to arrive. After 45 minutes, our tummies were filled with probably litres of chrysanthemum tea but no actual food. Our plate of fried anchovies had long disappeared. When we asked a waitress why the food was taking so long, she said that heaps of kitchen hands and chefs called in to say that they couldn’t come because of the flood. That was fair enough but I did find it odd that the waitresses had no issues coming in. I also reckoned that she could have told us that earlier on.

wp3

Our food did come though. What I do like about May Star is that they use pork when a lot of Indonesian yum cha restaurants don’t. I thought their siu mai was pretty good – I especially liked that they put bits of prawn in the filling to give it that extra dimension.

wp4

The har gow were also decent, can’t fault them.

wp5

I was excited to see xiaolongbao on the menu. They weren’t the best I’ve had – I found the filling a bit too bland and the dumplings didn’t contain nearly enough soup – but they certainly weren’t horrible.

wp6

We also had wontons in chilli vinegar sauce. Called ‘sui kiaw’ in Indonesian, these wontons were similar to the ones I make at home though I would have preferred the sauce to have more bite and less vinegar.

wp7

These pork dumplings were the only ones I didn’t like at all – they were very oily and the skins were soggy. Next.

wp8

I can never remember what these called (I usually call them ‘sweet sesame… things’.) but I won’t be ordering them again if I ever see myself at May Star again. They were not only dry but that shade of yellow kinda freaked me out (and no, it’s not my lack of white balance-ing skillz!)

wp9

Better were the ham siu gok (deep fried mocha balls), though more pork inside would have made them greater.

wp10

Mum’s favourite yum cha dish is the lo mai kai (steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf) and May Star did a very good version. In fact, mum reckons that this was her favourite dish that afternoon.

wp11

My brother may have had his eye on a Carl’s Jr. burger, but not before ordering his favourite yum cha dish, the wu gok. They were okay, but my brother wasn’t satisfied (he found them too dry) so off he went to Carl’s to get their equivalent of a Whopper burger with a side of onion rings (okay fine, it was me who went there to order it because he was too much of a wuss to order in Indonesian).

wp12

The zha liang was definitely the most disappointing dish. Not only were the doughsticks small, they were also fried in reused coconut oil which meant that they gave out this nasty smell and aftertaste. I usually love eating this dish but after one little portion, I couldn’t touch it anymore. Gross.

May Star may not have anything on Puma’s new collection or Melbourne’s yum cha restaurants (and if they ever serve a zhaliang like that at Tai Pan, Dragon Boat et al, imagine the uproar) but for an Indonesian yum cha restaurant, it’s actually decent. Okay, so the whole waiting thing really sucked (but understandable given the circumstances, I guess) and there are some dishes I’m going to avoid like Suharto’s family next time. But for the most part, it’s alright.

I still haven’t told you the best bit, though. When we took into account the discount and added up the ‘compulsory service charge’ and sales taxes, we only paid AUD$24 for six people.

Calais Artisan Bubble Tea & Coffee (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Mall Taman Anggrek
Lantai 3 Unit 306B
Jl. Jend. S. Parman Kav. 21
Jakarta Indonesia
+61 21 5609 963
www.calaistea.com

Disclaimer: libishski and her family were guests at Calais Artisan Bubble Tea & Coffee at Mall Taman Anggrek.

I’m not much of a dessert person but people are normally surprised when I tell them that I have a weakness for bubble tea. I used to have it 2-3 times a week but when Gong Cha opened on Swanston Street, I was drinking it every second day. So when I found out my cousin, Jess, bought a Calais  franchise in Jakarta, I was excited.

Calais is a newish bubble tea franchise in Indonesia – because we needed another one of those in a country that’s saturated with lots and lots of bubble tea franchises. The franchises include my favourites, Chatime and Gong Cha, both of which I can get in Melbourne. So what makes Calais different?

wp1

It sells pink balls.

By balls, I mean tapioca pearls of course.

Calais also prides itself as being an artisan bubble tea franchise, so you get fancy flavours such as ‘rock a salt’ tea (which I believe is the equivalent to Gong Cha’s awesome milk foam tea) and toppings such as fresh fruit pieces and mango pudding.

wp2

They also do coffees but because their main focus is on bubble tea drinks, the shop’s coffee-making skills are left unpolished. Thankfully for them, help was on the way in the form of my lovely sister Janice who was once upon a time ago, a barista. After showing the staff how to brew a non-sucky latte, they served two cups to my parents with black pearls in them.

wp3

Meanwhile, I ordered a bubble tea. Overwhelmed by the choices on offer, I panicked and chose a regular roasted milk tea with pearls, though in hindsight I should have tried one of their ‘rock a salt’ teas. Oh well, never mind. At Rp. 19,500 this was equivlant to AUD$1.95, making it much cheaper than a can of Coke. Although I did find it a bit too sweet for my liking and although I received black pearls instead of the pink ones I requested, I couldn’t really complain – after all, it was on the house (and even if it wasn’t, it was cheap).

While I prefer Gong Cha’s milk foam teas any day, I would actually choose Calais over Chatime Indonesia (which, for some reason, isn’t as good as Chatime Australia). I like the variety of flavours and having more options when it came to toppings. I also liked their cute logos (yes, I know moustaches are friggin’ everywhere now but still) and the positive messages they print on each cup is a lovely touch.

With more than a handful franchises around Indonesia, I don’t see Calais dying a quiet death. Although this entry might SEEM like a shameless plug for my cousin, rest assured it’s not and just try Calais for yourself if you’re in Jakarta.

I-Ta Suki Central Park (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Central Park
Jl. Tanjung Duren Raya
Jakarta Barat
Indonesia
+62 21 569 85580

Tonight marks the first post of my Indonesian series, which I’ll be covering over the next couple of weeks. Very soon, you’ll be reading about how I went to a Colonial-style Dutch bakery in Bandung, how I kept marvelling at the fact that AUD$60 fed six people at Din Tai Fung in Jakarta while the same amount fed only two in Sydney and how excited I am about Indonesia’s growing organic food movement.

The ten days I spent there silently suffering in 90% humidity, gorging on beautiful street food and copping Jakarta’s worse-than-usual monsoon floods just seem so far away (especially now that Melbourne’s approaching winter, boo). So here I go in my attempt to bring those memories back by starting off with the first meal I in Jakarta… which happened to be a Japanese sukiyaki (hot pot) restaurant.

After spending several hours after landing at my aunty’s house catching up on lost gossip time with my other aunties, grandmothers and cousins, we worked up a bit of an appetite. My aunty Emi decided that she’d take us all (by us, I meant my siblings, my parents and myself plus various sundries who just happened to be there for the ride) to the local shopping mall, Central Park. Now Central Park was only in its infancy the last time I was in Jakarta so the sheer size of it now amazed me.

wp1

I-Ta Suki sells itself as an ‘original Thailand restaurant’ though sukiyaki is a Japanese concept. They also offer wontons on the menu so I’m not too sure where the Thai thing comes from. I-Ta Suki is all about healthy eating and their selling point is fresh organic vegies from their own farm. They then keep up this holistic theme with a ‘natural-themed design’ restaurant (i.e. wood everywhere) to create a feeling of being outdoors.

wp2

The process is pretty simple. You sit on a table with one or two hot pot stations, depending on how big your party is – in our case, we had two. You choose the broth base (we had one plain chicken and one spicy) and then head off to the fridge by the counter and choose your ingredients.

wp3

In the past, I struggled to find fresh green vegetables in Indonesia. So imagine my delight when I saw all this greenery.

wp4

Yep, even the noodles were green (gotta love spinach noodles).

wp5

Once the ingredients are gathered and tallied at the counter, it was time to cook. It didn’t take long for the food to cook and soon, we were silently slurping on our noodles, vegetables, fish balls and whatnot.

wp6

Here’s a photo of my bowl that’s been filled with fish balls, prawn wontons, sliced beef and noodles.

I later found out that they had an a la carte menu full of apparent Thai dishes such as ‘Thailand-style chilli fried fish’ (ah, so that’s where the Thai thing comes from). They also offer prawn dumplings and xiaolongbaos (oh why wasn’t I told this earlier on?!). In all seriousness though, people only come here for the sukiyaki, which I reckon, was simple, yet delicious and filling. I wasn’t sure how much the bill was exactly but a figure of approximately AUD$4-5 per head sounds about right, making it a cheap and healthy meal for anyone wanting dinner before a 10pm shopping session (one thing I miss about Jakarta is being able to shop that late at night).

In the end, I didn’t care whether I-Ta Suki markets themselves as a Thai restaurant or a Macedonian restaurant. As long as they keep serving cheap* comfort food like this, I’m happy!

*by Australian standards, anyway.