Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gastro Alley PIK : It All Comes Down To The Food

All the fancy decor, the money spent on interior design, the branding concept, the logo, the high end music station, the fancy plates, knives and spoons won't matter in the end. Because in the end, it all comes down to the food.

Sure, we appreciate beautiful well crafted comfort. We understand you need something to attract people to your place. But more often that not, these supporting acts are put on the main stage, while the food become somewhat an additional side show just cameo-ing the place.

It's what's happening in most restaurants in PIK. As a resident nearby, I find it hard to get good food. There's only a handful of decent ones. I'm glad to add one more to that noteworthy list: Gastro Alley. Not only that they pay attention to the ambience but more importantly they take their food seriously. Spend a few minutes and chat with the chef / owner than you'll capture the immense passion behind every dish he created.

Here's a few of what I tasted on his invitation the other day:

Cola Chicken Wings (IDR 37k)
See the beautifully glazed skin? That's the work of sugar sweetened soy and coke. While the flesh might not weight that much, but the flavor is an acceptable trade off.

Mushroom Soup (IDR 31k) & Clam Chowder (IDR 33k)
Both soups did a good job appetizing the tastebuds. On a detailed note, the first one was wonderful with the coarse-grounded tidbits of shrooms and the truffle oils is the cherry on top. A tidy bit salty to my liking though. While the clam chowder, is a smoother option in both texture and flavor.

Penne Vodka (IDR 49k) & Spaghetti Bolognaise (IDR 47k)
Again, the earlier is somewhat superior to the latter. The touch of vodka into the tomato, cream, & cheese sauce made it stand out to the already al-dente pasta.

Terrific Wagyu Tender Steak (IDR 169k) & Serious Wagyu Sirloin Steak (IDR 139k)
This is what I would recommend if you have an extra cash in your wallet. Both steak are cooked just on the right edge of medium. Juicy with all the goodness of a beef, texture-wise and flavor-wise. Sous-vide cooked rarely goes wrong I suppose. The tenderloin however is a personal favorite of mine. I love the experimental nature of this dish with the addition of melon slices. Surprisingly it matches the meat well when eaten together. Have it as it is or mix it with the mushroom / red wine sauce.

Classic Burger (IDR 53k) & Gastro Burger (IDR 56k) 
I kinda forgot which is which, but they are equally good. Remember our mantra? When in doubt ... Get both! ;)

Espresso Creme Brulee (IDR 39k) & Cheesecake (IDR 40k)
If you fancy the kind of dessert that's not too sweet, this is tailored for you. Cheesecake made intentionally to bring out the cheese more than the sugar. With the texture that's coarser and less dense than the common cheesecake, it is yet another twist from the chef. The creme brulee was a miss though.  It was so watery due to a slight change in recipe by the sous-chef. I guess Gastro's kitchen is just made that way, its more play than work in there.

Well as you might have noticed from the fine print, things that are good does come with a price tag. Some might be fine with it, but they are not for daily consumption for most people. I rest that case for you to decide.

I look forward to more of foodplace like Gastro Alley in PIK. The one that would rather put a menu off the list temporarily just because they're best supplier for quality lemon is out of stock. The one that would take into considerations the amount of calories, mix of flavor and texture before devising a menu. And finally the one that would value honest opinion from the patrons rather than a sugarcoated comment. Because of one reason, that it all comes down to the food.

Signing off, tune in to my tweets @Wanderbites.

Fellexandro Ruby
Food storyteller & photographer


Friday, November 23, 2012

Mama San Bali : All That You Can't Leave Behind

Dear Biters, I'm trying something new. I know, I get bored easily. But I hope you see this as improvement, or at least a good thing to break away from routine. Here's the debut of what I called "pictorial review". Yes, text review is crafted and embedded in the picture for ease of reading.

And I guess nothing more appropriate to try this new media on the remarkable lunch I had at Mama San on my last trip to Bali. The street food chef, Will Meyrick has astound me once again with his Asian cookings.

Without further adue, I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think, shall I do this more or do you prefer the usual review. Poke me on Twitter @Wanderbites ;)


Fellexandro Ruby
Food & travel storyteller / photographer

Mama San 
Kitchen, Bar & Lounge 
Jalan Raya Kerobokan No. 135
Ph: 0361 - 730436
E: info@mamasanbali.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Soto Ceker (Chicken Leg Soup) Kuta : Second Dinner in Bali.

When you're in Bali, it's past dinner time but your belly is sending a hunger SOS to your brain, what do you do?

No, you don't call 500-600. That thing ain't gonna satisfy your appetite. I mean, you're in one of the most exotic island with thousands of local delicacies to explore. Let me tell you what qualifies as a proper second dinner / late supper. 

Meet Soto Ceker (chicken leg soup). Situated near pasar Kuta, the area is well known for several culinary spots like Nasi Pedas Bu Andhika. Soto Ceker also happen to be one of them. Had it once last year, but I forgot the exact location. As me, Jie, Leo & Jenz scour for them, we stumbled upon two different place. A few minutes in the discussion, we decided to have them both! This is how food bloggers roll. When in doubt, eat all of them.

The first one is unbranded. It bears no signboard as I recalled. There's a glass booth with bakso ayam hand painted on them, but nothing more. The easiest way to spot it might be:
1. Look where the crowd gathers. Because this place is effin' packed with people. It might be due to the following cue.
2. Ask for the price. If its IDR 7.000, you've found it.

This one is a straight simple bowl of soto as the base flavor. Supposed to be made from boiling chicken in stock / water thus the rather cloudy soup. But somehow I doubt that the savory feel comes entirely from it. My gut feeling says a hefty amount of MSG was at play. That might explain the seemingly unquenched thirst as the side effect.

The feet were all just as feet supposed to be. Subtly slick & greasy. Easily chewable. It is probably the most overlooked part of chicken that turned out to be quite a feast. I know people who have a fetish over chicken feet. Are you?

However, I find that the second soto, Soto Ceker AA is a lot more festive compared to the one above. It added flavors not found in the first one. Let's call it Soto Ceker 2.0. (You IT geeks who read this is having twice the foodgasm now, right?)

Soto Ceker 2.0 has extra veggies, extra fried onions for toppings, and did I mention the soup? It is thicker with hints of turmeric, probably resulted off of the chicken. The chicken if you notice is yellowish, spiced similar to ayam kuning that's usually goes to be fried. It is also more easily crushed in pieces. I reckon from a longer period of slow cooking. With all that complexities, it brings a different taste to the tastebud. It is only natural then that the price is twice of the earlier. IDR 13.000 is still a lot worth it.

To sum it up, if you are looking for cheap eats, go for the earlier. If you're looking for something more pleasing go for the latter. If you want to go 'foodblogger style' eat both. =D

I'm signing out, but you could tune in on Twitter for live delicacies @Wanderbites

Hail cheap good food & second dinner!

Fellexandro Ruby
Food & travel storyteller / photographer

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Tuck Shop / Cornerstore at Seminyak Bali

"Buongiorno, Principessa. Come stai? Spero che tutto va bene in toscana."

"Oh amore mio, vorrei che tu fossi qui con me. Il cibo in bali è incredibile. Il tramonto. Il tempo. Il ritmo. Tutti questi mi fanno ti manca di più. Ti amo..."


Percakapan ini bukan yang sesungguhnya diucapkan, dan bahasa Italia-nya pun tidak benar adanya. Google translate did all the work. =p Kalau di kuping gue mungkin hanya terdengar Buongiorno lalu sisanya spaghetti al fungi penne marinara pizza de la margherita dan aiueo nama-nama pemain sepakbola lainnya. But this guy is real!

Kurang lebih atmosfir seperti ini yang bisa ditemukan di sudut-sudut jalan di Seminyak, Bali. Tuck Shop misalnya. Diposisikan di perempatan antara Jalan Laksmana (Oberoi) & Petitenget, coffee shop yang juga menyediakan menu sarapan ini padat dikunjungi bule Australia yang kerap kembali karena vonis the best flat white (slang Aussie untuk espresso yang dicampur langsung dengan susu panas instead of foam seperti layaknya cappucino) in Bali. Ditambah lagi dengan desainnya yang simple & casual, I swear I could be in Manly beach if I just forget the surrounding neighborhood.

Pagi itu, gue & Jie bertekad menelanjangi area Seminyak berbekal skuter sewaan (plus helm yang super apek), dan kamera DSLR. Tanpa mengetahui letak pasti Tuck Shop, off we go, shades on!

Setelah pusing-pusing beberapa kali, perut kosong yang sudah berbunyi tampaknya menjadi radar yang cukup baik, kami sampai dan siap makan!

Gue pesen Carrot/Beetroot juice dan Panini with smoked ham, tomato, rocket, & avocado. Sementara Jie sang coffee aficionado asik menyeruput Cappucino, pesanan yang terulang terus everywhere we go and eat in Bali. Buat gue, sarapan emang paling pas di sini. Ingredients yang dipakai terlihat & terasa fresh, made to order with least seasoning, sehingga rasa yang muncul benar-benar kombinasi dari tiap komponennya. I feel healthy just by eating here. Bahkan di jus-nya gue bisa mencium wangi rumput sebelah. Saking organic-nya, efek samping muncul satu jam kemudian dan lima jam kemudian. Yes, hari itu saya BAB sampai tiga kali. Jadi buat yang jalan-jalan di Bali dan kesulitan pencernaan bisa mampir ke Tuck Shop. =p

Kalau notice, tempat ini juga dinamai Cornershop karena ada pojokan di dalam yang menjual beberapa brand pakaian pria & wanita yang sudah dikurasi. I love the items, but damn they are expensive. Untungnya sarapan pagi itu masih affordable di kantong. Total damage sekitar IDR 70.000 untuk kedua makanan yang saya pesan.

Would I come back to this place? Yes, but only for breakfast (dan mungkin kalau mau mendapatkan suasana internasional, plus inspirasi & wi-fi).

Gak pa pa yah sekali-sekali gue nulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia? I hope you enjoy. ;)
Yang mau ngobrol" bisa di komen bawah atau toel gue di Twitter @wanderbites.

Makanlah sebelum makan itu dilarang,

Fellexandro Ruby
Food & Travel Storyteller / Photographer

The Tuck Shop 
Jl. Laksmana (Oberoi) 10
Seminyak, Bali

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Raj Abat Cooks : All Porked Out

My first meeting with Raj was earlier this year at Otellobby. I can still recall that night and my three ways corn particularly. Me and a few friends went home with a happy belly. Reminded with an experience that was nothing short of delicious, I was excited upon receiving another invitation to a pop-up dinner at Alex's, Kuningan. 

Why Alex you asked? There's a reason for everything, read the title again. Yes, it's a swine night, and this Italian food place happen to have an amazing wood fired oven to bring out the best of our meat. Raj was going all the way to please our tastebuds. 

Before heading to the main show of the night, we had pizzas, spaghetti pestos and grilled potatoes as our appetite kickstarter. The latter speaks to me the most, perfectly cooked and well seasoned. I'm always a fan of potatoes with skin on. 

Few minutes after, the highlight of the night arrived. Having prepared in double-digit hours, the three waves of suckling pig we had was super tender on the inside, succulent and still crackling crispy on the skin. Added with Raj's special sauce, together it orchestrate a sinful collection of fatty flavor. I ended up having two plateful of them and was so full that I had to hold my belly muscles to prevent it from showing off the bulge. I couldn't stop thought, I took my third plate, but halfway the alarm was on, I have reached my peak, the point of diminishing return. It started to feel bland. Too much of something is never good. I stopped myself to prevent going further into dissatisfaction. 

Just when I thought that was it, Raj came back with the dessert. This is the moment where I amazed myself. As it turned out, I could still squeeze this one in. The quote is proven to be true "there's always a space for dessert." This pistachio ice cream was a sweet closure after a long savory treat. The fruits that accompany it successfully freshen up the palate. 

Had enough with the food, I went into conversations with fellow diners. Was glad to met The Diplomatic Wife and listen to her stories. As equally interesting was digging the stories behind Raj's tattoos. There you'll find all the five taste: sweet, savory, bitter, sour, and spicy. There's also duck & octopus, some of his favorite kind of meat to work with. NY as his hometown and the picture of Philippine on his right arm. 

Back in the days he was so tired of people referring all asians as Chinese, so instead of shouting his neck off, he decided to put it on his arm. Yes, a proud Filipino who have made it in the States. They say, if you made it there, you can make it anywhere. I have a feeling he'll do alright in Jakarta. Soon enough, he'll have his own establishment here. Can't wait to see, feel, and taste Raj Abat cooks on his own kitchen. 

Until our next pop-up or whatever, 

Fellexandro Ruby
Food & Travel Storyteller / Photographer

Munch on my tweets @wanderbites

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Detention Room PIK : Being Detained Has Never Been This Good

"There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate."

I practically lived by the quote this afternoon. I called out my college friend who hasn't been in touch for quite a while. The last time we met was in a wedding where I would be busy queueing for kambing guling while he's out there picking up chicks. That being said, we have a lot to catch up. Detention room sounds like a perfect place for two former sophomore badboys. 

Stories upon stories was brought up while sipping on Hot Milk Chocolate. One that particularly interest me was how he's a changed man now. That and also the fact that the cocoa was served at right temperature and wasn't powder based. Meaning, it's melted from pieces of chocolate bar. This resulted in a creamier texture than your instant Cadbury or the popular malaysian Kakao. 

Hot Milk Chocolate - IDR 30k

This friend of mine used to be a verbal hard-headed spoiled punk. I remember I used to be the one preaching him, now the wheel has turned. To hear his life-changing encounters in a much mature tone is good news. As good as this BYOB Burger (yes, you could build your own burger here!).  Mine was a soft bun burger with single beef patty, topped with onions, cheese, and BBQ sauce. The only thing missing for me was the lack of texture play. If only there's an option for crispy pork bacon topping, it would've been heavenly! 

Oh, did I mention the wedges on the sides? Skin on baby! I've always been a fan of potatoes. I even had an extra platter of Fries Nation. It's a mix of shoestrings, curly fries, and wedges. All in one bowl. And for IDR 24k it is definitely worth it. 

BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) - IDR 40k/50k/60k

Fries Nation - IDR 24k

As we munch on, I couldn't get my attention out of my friend's Deep Fried Chocolate Bar. I had it the other day, you could see the picture on my twitter @Wanderbites. I could still recall the sweet sticky Snickers bar half melted on the inside with extra chocolate dressings on the outside. It was sinfully scrumptious, although I believe the world is still divided into two, Team Snickers and Team Mars. I'm on the second team. That means, I'd still vote for deep-fried Mars bar in Australia's Bondi beach anytime of the day. Which side are you on? 


Are these too much for lunch? Not at all. It is worth every space in my belly and a two hour well spent. Remember what Dono-Kasino-Indro said at the end of their movies: "Makanlah sebelum makan itu dilarang."

Bye now Biters. Don't forget to let me know here or on twitter @Wanderbites if you're on Snickers team or Mars team. ;)

Fellexandro Ruby
Food & Travel Storyteller / Photographer

Follow my culinary hits and misses live on Twitter @Wanderbites


Detention Room
Ruko Crown Golf Blok D/28
Bukit Golf Mediterania, PIK
(Arah terusan waterbom, belok kiri, menuju pintu tol lagi)

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