When traveling to Jakarta, or any destination for that matter, definitely try to come with an open mind. Like almost every destination and culture, there is a sense of pride in everything from the people, local shops, cultural garments, historical buildings and of course the food.
My short trip in and out of Jakarta didn’t provide a lot of time to really dive into the culinary scene but it was long enough for me to acquire an essence of the flavor as well as some staples that are customary in an Indonesian household.
On our first night, we had reservations to dine at one of Jakarta’s top 100 restaurants, Dapur Babah. The restaurant pays homage to the history of cultures that resulted from marriages between Chinese settlers and Javanese women which is referred to as Babah. In addition, the Dutch were also present in Jakarta and therefore, diners will experience cuisine that is a fusion of the three cultures. Coconut is definitely an ingredient frequently used from the drinks to the stews and desserts. Tofu is also popular. The highlight for me was the green rice wrapped in the banana leaves. It is easily enjoyed with fried shrimp and stewed vegetables.
Like any destination, food is truly a source of pride. A stroll through the Kelapa Gading Center is a favorite among locals and tourists from around the world. Once inside, different zones present different culinary concepts that serve up a delicious variety. The Gourmet Walk Zone is full of cafes and restaurants, the Food Sensation zone consists of kitchens serving Indonesians cuisine, Food Temptation is one of the largest food courts and is home to eateries serving local and international cuisine, the Eat and Eat Food Market captures not only the cuisines of Indonesia but Singapore and Malaysia as well and Gading Food City and La Piazza offer a taste of the outdoors with cafés, restaurants and live performances.
Seafood lovers will be in heaven while visiting throughout the city. Be your own fisherman as you dine inside the Miniature Park at Bandar Djakarta which boasts some of the best and freshest seafood in the city. Varieties of fish are available to be hand-picked and prepared just the way you like them. Since it is inside the park, it can get busy so plan accordingly.
Throughout the city, you have a variety of street food vendors and small eateries. On the second day, it was lunch at Café Batavia, one of the oldest restaurants in the city. This was definitely a favorite as we walked up the stairs to the dining area only to see photos of some familiar faces on the wall. The art show continued into to the restrooms. Called a “colonial throwback” within the heart of what is now called old Jakarta (Kota), the restaurant is a reminder of the when the Dutch used to occupy the “Dutch East Indies” (Indonesia) and named Jakarta Batavia. A pleasant atmosphere is accompanied by great company and a great meal. It is definitely a spot to put on your culinary itinerary.
Shop and dine at the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town that is home to all of your luxury brands and more great cafes and restaurants. Want a taste of home? Grab a meal at Hard Rock Café Jakarta. Want a new experience, make plans to wine and dine at The Grand Duck King. This is another restaurant that comes highly recommended. First of all, the menu was bigger than any of my old photo albums at home. As you can image, duck was the star of the restaurant and visibly displayed as you enter the dining area. Don’t let the name fool you, there is something here for everyone whether you like duck or not. Seafood, pork, and chicken served in a variety of ways and if you adventurous, you will soon see that you have come to the right place. Meals are served family style on a rotating glass on the table top to ensure everyone gets their fair share. As you leave, you can be entertained by the shrimp in the room where all the fresh seafood is held and watch them jump back and forth from their tanks. Sadly enough, I stood there a little too long watching.
We just scratched the surface of culinary Jakarta but just enough to leave us wanting more. In addition, it whet our palates just enough to warrant another trip back which is what traveling is all about.
If you’re heading to Jakarta and looking for places to eat at, visit Trip Advisor to help make it a little easier.
Photo credit: V. Sheree Publishing