Saturday, February 25, 2012

Now Cooking - Otel Lobby

Ever felt that tension, that inexplicable urge to share when you had something good? I did, with Otel Lobby. Despite of the ever-increasing number of food place (and invitations =p) in Jakarta, it has become quite a rare occasion to be in the exact excitement and joyfulness as I had last Monday.

What strike my attention at first was the architecture and the neon lights. Placed strategically in the heart of Epicentrum Kuningan, it stood out with it's industrial facade, and of course the black painted wall. I mean, Black is daring and it made a beautiful contrast with the neighboring buildings and blue after-sunset sky.

Interior wise, it tries to resemble the feel of a hotel lobby with a classic touch. Sofas, grand chandelier, huge front desk counter, and an old monochromatic movie playing on the background. I can already imagine having an intimate dinner here. This spot right next to the window is simply wonderful to serve that purpose and that's exactly where we were seated.

Among us were the hosts, Erza S.T who kindly invited us here, Ve Handojo, which is a dedicated missionary of Otel Lobby (they even have a drink named after him),  and Maya Aldy, the Head Chef and co-owner of Otel Lobby.

To start the dinner, a selection of cocktail were presented. These are the two that I enjoyed the most. They are like water and fire. They contradicts each other in an interesting way, and good to drink in turns. On the fruity end was Uva Bella (gin, green grapes, elderflower, lemon, orange bitters)  and on the spicy end was Burning Mandarin (mandarin, vodka, hot chili, lemon, orange, cranberry). 

 With a note of alcohol on our tongues, the chatty version of us uncovers. One interesting conversation was when Chef Maya tells the story behind Otel Lobby. I always love stories. Your 'why' is your strongest ammunition. "We cook what we like" says Chef Maya in a humble un-condescending way. And they use what the nature can produce at best in their season. This is a challenge to stay creative with the menu, and us, patrons are the ones that benefit the most. We will always get something new every once in a while. In addition to that, almost everything in their menu was self made, right to the ice cream cone that we had as our desserts. They even grow their own rosemary which is used also as decor. Ain't that something?

As the night rolls on, Chef Raj came over and presented us with the first menu, Tuna Crudo with Beets, Balsamic reduction and Fried Shallots. A little Italian touch with the crudo (raw fish), interesting clash of texture with the beets and fried shallots. I liked that the fried shallots is included as it adds a local taste to the meal.

Coming up second was Wagyu Springroll with Cheese and Duck Bun. I really enjoyed this and had to hold back my appetite. I know I could easily finished the whole bucket by myself. Its everything you look for in a spring roll, crunchy exterior, well cooked and well seasoned beef stuffing. Although, I'd like the cheese to be a bit cheesier. Now that's a weird sentence, but you get what I mean. 

Somewhere along this point, Ve was reminded that a special drink was made for him by the chief Mixologist, Ben. And there goes another round of alcohol for a happy belly and mind. We had Baldy Ve, Rum-a-Sutra, and Mai-Thai. Each with its own unique blend. Didn't took photo for these, but you curious-cats can check out my friends blog, Imel Budiman and Jenzcorner for more captures.

Heading on to the main course, Chef Raj came back again and had a plate of Squid Ink Malfatti with Shrimp, Chili & Squid Ink Tempura for each one of us. I find this as my favorite of the night. A wonderful play of texture. Al dente pasta, not so easy on your teeth, unlike our usual (Indonesian version) of al dente. Liked the balanced tension of sweet and savory on my tastebuds.

By this hour, I suppose the alcohol has already kicked in and as the conversation gets crowder, so does the patrons. I recall most of the tables were seated with people coming in groups, having a good time and good laugh just like we were having. In the midst of this, another main courses was served and it started to get really exciting, because it wasn't on the menu, and specially cooked for that night's dinner. Meet Red Snapper with Three Ways Corn and Orange Marmalade Sauce. The fish was everything a foodie could wish for. Perfectly cooked, crips exterior, with juicy and moist interior. The play of corn and orange sauce brought enthusiasm on the plate and most importantly not pretentious. I mean, it's corn man. Made in three ways. You don't need expensive, exotic, weirdly named ingredients. The chef is showing off himself. If Soekarno can say "Give me three youth, and I'll rock the world", then Chef Raj is saying "Give me corn. Yes, plain simple corn and I'll astound your palate".

Also meet Braised Shortribs with Homemade Kimchi, Oyster Tempura and Rice Crispies. It was one adventurous plate. I mean, have you ever imagine having all those ingredients in one plate? I haven't, and it turns out great. Very tender shortribs, you don't need the knife to tear 'em off the bones. What I enjoyed the most was getting the different textures - rice crispies, tempura, and poached eggs - mixed on the tongue.

By the end of the dinner, I was so full with a happy belly. I even had three ice cream for the desserts. You can feel the home-made sorbet and ice cream taste so amazingly different from the casual ones. Three flavors that you have to try, Pineapple, Jackfruit, and Strawberry.

I couldn't believe I wrote this long for one dinner. There, you see the excitement I was telling you at the start. I guess it shows. =) I hope this gets pass on to you and your friends as well. And I hope Otel Lobby stay true to its story, keep the service well as they enlarge. I'll definitely come back for more.

Seriously missing all the food already,

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist & Photographer

Otel Lobby
The Annex Building of Bakrie Tower
Jl. Epicentrum Tengah, Kuningan
Jakarta Selatan
Ph: 021-299-41324
Twitter: @OtelLobby

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Durian Cupcakes - Think Global Act Local!

A few weeks ago, I was summoned to do a photoshoot for Livingetc Magazine.  The assignment was to
manufacture a dish incorporating Indonesian taste or ingredients in a modern context. It was a beautiful group work, all nine chefs bring out their specialties into the table. You can find their recipes and details in Livingetc February issue. Among them, one strike my attention for its sweet indulgence.

Durian cupcakes.

I've never been a fan of durian eaten plainly from the fruit, but I welcome it presented in other form. I love durian ice cream found on streets of Bandung, or that Es Cendol Durian from Sate Khas Senayan. Durian cupcakes has just made its way into this shortlist and into my heart.

Gillian, the lady behind Chantilly Cupcakes started out from plain passion toward cooking and a set of Kitchen Aid. Yes, it was that expensive piece of kitchen gadget that pushed her to do something productive out of it. And in this time and age, we know where we turn to for answer. "Google and Youtube is my teacher", as she mentioned on our convo. After a few trial and error, she finally manage to secure a winning recipe.

When it come out from the oven, a strong scents of Durian was all over the place. One bite and I'm hooked. A sweet buttery taste tingled all over my taste buds. In fact, the cream cheese didn't overpower the Durian, and vice versa. Texturewise, you can definitely feel the fresh Durian meat in the topping mixing well with the cream cheese. "A great intersection of sweet and salty. A treat for the sweet tounged. " I noted on my phone.

As I write about it, I started to drool myself. I better stop now before the cravings idealized into me grabbing the phone and ordering one. But I suggest you do, if you haven't tried it. And when you do, ask for the special hidden menu, Cendol Cupcakes. =)

So long, Sweet Tongues!

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist & Photographer

Munch on my tweets @Wanderbites


Chantilly Cupcake

Monday, February 6, 2012

Now Cooking - Yellowfin Senopati

Upon hearing the name Yellowfin on Twitter, I was hooked right away and been curious since then to try this new establishment located in Senopati. And so on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to give it a go.

As it is with many new foodplace nowadays, their design is well thought of. From the low ceiling, woody interior, placement of the bars, their cute logo until the little hint of yellow in their uniforms. These feast to the eyes have almost become a necessary before the patrons are pampered with the feast in their bellies.

I got myself asking what could be the specialties from Yellowfin who segment themselves as Sake Bar. Aside from their alcohols of course. But I simply couldn't think of any. Might as well go random. I called out the waitress and asked for the current favorites. She suggested the Tonkotsu Ramen (Spicy Pork Ramen) and Tontoro Chahan (Pork Fried Rice). I guess she's playing the safe side. You know, a chinese looking guy starving for food. "Stuff him some pork and you're done!" That might be what's on her mind. Hahaha

Jokes aside, I respected her trying to be informative to customers, and that's exactly what I had.

Hot Tonkotsu Ramen (Lvl. 1) 55k.
Tontoro Chanan. 35k.

The ramen on my tounge's point of view is a hunch above average. I can sense a good mix of flavor on the broth. It wasn't as meaty as Ikkousha though. However, it has the creamy consistency that I favored in Ikkousha. This could be a winning dish, if only they serve more slices of pork instead of giving just .... one slice. I ended up questioning the price tag. 55k.

I filled myself with a lot of expectation from the second menu, only to have myself disappointed again. I wouldn't call it Fried Rice. Oily rice would be a better fit. The rice were overcooked in the first hand, resulting in a very slimy texture, added with more greasy part of pork meat, multiply it with excessive frying oil, voila! I just got myself a plateful of fat. 35k is surely wasn't worth it.

The only enlightenment that afternoon was from the drinks, Ponyo and Apple Ocha. Yes, some of the drinks are name after Studio Gibhli's work. Ponyo is a blend of passionfruit and mango. Refreshing, fruitful and sweet.

Ponyo (Passionfruit & Mango blend) 35k and Apple Ocha 28k

I guess one visit is not enough of a verdict. I'll be coming back soon enough to try their Dinner menu. Hopefully I'll end up with a happier belly next time. The Dinner menu somehow looks more promising then the Lunch menu.

Until then, Tune In, Eat Up !

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist & Photographer

Munch on my tweets @WANDERBITES


Jalan Senopati No. 42
Ph: 021-7220394
Twitter: @yellowfinjkt

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