Monday, January 30, 2012

Yee Sang Experience at Lai Ching Four Seasons Jakarta

"Tonight was a real feast. Wonderful. An honor to be sharing the same meal with remarkable foodies. Tonight mark the start of this year's highlight."

That's what in my head an hour after finishing dinner at Lai Ching - Four Seasons about two weeks ago. Imagine ten people who are very passionate about food sharing the same table for three hours. Expect a lot of drooling information passing around, an uncountable jokes and laughter toss around, and the cherry on top a series of belly satisfying main courses.

That night, we celebrate the coming of the Dragon Year with Yee Sang, a special meal prepared specifically for the Chinese New Year and only at a select few Chinese restaurant. What's interesting about Yee Sang is that it consist of an array of ingredients, each with their specific meaning. Also, the procedure of serving. Thankfully, that night we had among us, Theresia Widiyastuti, Lai Ching Manager, who having spent few years in China, was able to lead us with the correct procedure.
  • First, we said gong xi fat chai to each other while placing yee sang.
  • Second, she mention da ji da li (lots of luck) as she put orange at the same time. 
  • Third, as she place the pepper, soy sauce, peanut, and sesame, the following mantra was shuang xi lin men which means the arrival of double happiness
  • Fourth, while putting oil and plum sauce, she mention tian tian mi mi (a sweet and easy life full of sweet memory) 
  • Fifth procedure requires saying nien nien you yee while placing salmon which means abundance in each year
  • Sixth procedure is to pronounce the sentence man di wang ching (a year full of gold and glory) and then put the cracker on top of the fish
  • Seventh and the final mantra was to say ta chia i chi law te fung sen swei chi lo hei lo hei which means let's eat together and the business will continue even rapidly in the future 
The most interesting part for me was when everyone rise up, put the chopstick in between their fingers and started stirring the food as high as possible together. The belief is that the higher we raise it the more abundant the fortune in the coming year, thus the name Prosperity Toss. The photo above is the damage we end up with after a few seconds of stirring. I must say, chaosly fun! At this point we were too busy munching on the delicious Yee Sang. It was a very good mix of taste (sweet, sour, tangy) and texture.

Added to the fun later that night was the stream of good food that follows. As if a movie, we were taken slowly from one scene to another towards climax. Here's what we had.

Flower Tea
A glassful of tea that blossoms in time as the heat compounds. The tea was not made to please the tongue more than it pleases the eye. Indeed, it was a form of relaxation and recreation.
Braised Bird Nest Bamboo Pith 
A very well balanced meal. Soft on the tongue with a varying texture of gooey soup and crunchlike bamboo pith. It was more on the salty savory end for my tongue though.

Braised Sliced Abalone in Oyster Sauce
Everything you ever expected in an abalone. Cooked into perfection. The only thing missing was another slice of it. One is definitely not enough. =p

Steamed Soon Hock in Soya Sauce
Freshly steamed. Clean and straightforward menu.

Roasted Crispy Pigeon
It was my first time having pigeon. It wasn't weird. I've tasted crocs and bats meat before but this is nothing like other. A quite intense battle happen while I was trying to rip the meat of the bone. But after a few bites I started to get used to it. It was a tasty treat while not that much meat included. =p

Wagyu Fried Rice
As a house special, I somehow didn't find it extraordinary. Maybe fried is just not the way to go with wagyu, cause in palate it kind of lost the tenderness I look for in a wagyu. But as a dish in a whole it was quite satisfactory.

Assorted Mushroom with Garlic
A plateful of shiitake and shimeji shrooms, fried with garlic. Simple yet satisfying to the tongue.

Desserts - Chilled Bean Curd, Mango Pudding, and Gui Ling Gao
Among the three I must say the Gui Ling Gao is my favorite. Not only the health factor behind it, but also the authentic taste that present a good battle between the bitterness of the jelly and sweetness of the honey.

It was a great dinner indeed. One that could only happen with the initiative of Erza S.T and the generosity of the host Mrs. Marlene Danusutedjo. Thanks to you both for preparing such a beautiful night. I'm looking forward for more in my next visit to Lai Ching. The very first one on the list is to try out your Dim Sum. Until then, toast for a year of awesomeness!

I'm feeling lucky already!

Oh yeah, as a foodblogger I needed that with an extra dose of honesty. =)

Smile on, Shine on

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist & Photographer

Munch on my tweets @Wanderbites =)

Lai Ching
Four Seasons Hotel
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said
Jakarta 12920
Ph. +62(21) 252 3456

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tokyo Banana & Macha Mochi - Japanese Souvenirs

What a joy to find a pack of Tokyo Banana at home just when I was expecting nothing. That's the beauty of zero expectation I suppose, whatever comes your way simply surprise you in a beautiful serendipitous way. Just as life ... or relationship ... *ehm* alright let's not get carried away.
Back to Tokyo Banana (東京ばな奈) and Macha Mochi, I'll take you through as I unbox, and see how gloriously packaged these stuffs are. I personally think the idea behind Tokyo Banana is fascinating because:

1. It's not an actual banana
It's just yellow sponge cake in a banana form, filled with banana flavored cream.

2. Putting 'Tokyo' in the name is brilliant marketing.It kinda position itself as the must-have souvenirs if you're visiting Japan. It also conveniently give tourist a boasting right when they return to their countries. Yes, you don't have to mention it, anyone receiving this will know you've just come back from one of the top travel destination in Asia. Now you can put off those smirk in your face. Haha.

Each of these bananas are wrapped in singles then put in a well designed box which then layered with a colorful attractive wrappings. This is definitely an eyecandy. Priced at 1500 yen (approximately 170k Rupiah) for a box of twelve, it is indeed a relatively convenient presents and considerably affordable.

As for the taste, for a piece of snack I love it, plus who doesn't like a present? I think its an ideal snacking device. Knowing the artificiality behind it, it is kind of a turn off, but knowing how they carefully crafted a product such a way simply to represent banana is a turn on. So I'm in between. Then again, anything sweet entertains my tastebud. On the other hand, the mochi felt more real in a way and quite satisfying with the texture play of gooey soft mochi, sweet filling, and powdery matcha.

While we're on this topic, I tweeted about this some time ago. If Bogor is well known for its asinan, thus named as Asinan Bogor. Gresik for its Nasi Krawu. Bandung for Kartika Sari. Balikpapan for Kuku Macan. Garut for Dodol. Semarang for Wingko. Then what it is for Jakarta? Can anyone enlight me?

I find it suprisingly hard to find souvenirs for my overseas clients whenever they come to Jakarta or whenever I'm visiting them abroad. So far I've given out Mangoes. Yes, Singaporeans don't have our kind of Harum Manis Mangoes. I've given out Cimory bakpau susu. I've given out Batik. I once carried freshly fried ayam goreng from Medan Baru. But what is that one thing that says "Jakarta"? I think there's a lesson we could learn from Tokyo Banana and there's a business opportunity here.

Anyone care to venture this? Let me know.

Meanwhile, Xin Nian Khuai Le everyone! Welcome the year of Dragon! Have lotsa angpau!

Thanks to Jeanice at for carrying this all the way from Japan. You rock, cuz!


Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist / Photographer / Entrepreneur

Munch on my tweets @Wanderbites

Monday, January 16, 2012

Antipodean Kemang - Reminiscing Life Down Under

There's something compelling about this place that I couldn't explain. Maybe its the name? Or the simple yet inviting design? Well, what I can definitely say is that being here in Antipodean transported me back to the year I spent in the world down under, Australia.

Runs only by one man behind the kitchen, and one staff to wait on the patrons, Antipodean resembles many of the likewise cafe in Sydney suburbs where customers are expected to self serve. Tiny joint, nine tables inside and two outside. It's a perfect place to have all-day-breakfast in solitude, or for afternoon light reading. With the amount of foreigners visiting this place, I felt even more "out-of-Indonesia" especially when having people conversing in English in the background.


At this particular occasion, I had Eggs with Salmon and Toast, also Sweet Paprika Chicken with Chickpea Salad. 

Sweet Paprika Chicken w/ Chickpea Salad (50k)

Scrambled Egg w/ Salmon & Toast (60k)
Both are equally delightful for my tastebuds. Chickpea is a new thing for me, therefore it added a good dose of excitement into the meal. The chicken is well cooked, not to dry, although I find it boring after several bites. Probably because the marinade they use is very similar to that of kalasan fried chicken. The eggs melt just right with the salmon, I enjoyed the play of flavor between the two while the toast added a good portion of texture.

To fill in the thirst in between the gap, I had Hot Lemon Honey and Original Lassi. I favor the earlier as it's unlike most lemon honey I tasted before. It used a particular type of honey. I couldn't recall what it was, but I reckon it's not local. That makes all the difference. While the lassi is just as what you could expect from any place that serve lassi.

Hot Honey Lemon (20k)
Original Lassi (25k)

There's still so much I'd like to explore from Antipodean. There's the coffee! Oh, and I haven't tasted their Carrot cakes which I believe is one of the favorite. One lady took away two slices. Another table had one slice. And that's it, they ran out of Carrot cakes.

I'd come back just to fulfill my curiosity. And also whenever I feel like recreating the experience in a small cafe in Surry Hills, Paddington, or Leichhardt. If the owner of the foodplace really meant Antipodean as what some people call Australia and New Zealand, then she has accomplished that I suppose. Well done, mate!

You've successfully made me all teary and nostalgic. Man, I miss Sydney!


Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist & Photographer

Snack on my Tweets @Wanderbites


Jl. Kemang Selatan I (Hero Kemang Complex)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Ph: +6221 7192364

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