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


  1. Sounds totally wonderful food... and the food pictures... so gorgeous!!!

    1. Wonderful indeed. The food photos so-so sel, it was so dark. This is the best I could scrape out of the dimmed light.

  2. I hope to be invited to this kind of food tasting someday, really. Amazing photos as always, Rubs :)

    1. Thanks Irene. We were all lucky to be invited. =)

  3. I think I can hear the food is calling me. :b

  4. I like how you capturing the food, looks yummiest then ever

  5. Hi, I'm planning on coming to Otel Lobby for an anniversary dinner. Do you recall the restaurant having a private room for two? Or perhaps a nice corner for a simple one on one dining experience? Also, I'm very intrigued by the braised short ribs. Would you say it's better than the red snapper though?

    1. Hi A, I don't think there's a private room as I remember, however cozy corners are all over. They've changed the seating arrangements, the seats next to the window in the picture above is perfect for intimate dinner for two.

      Ah, some of these menu are seasonal, and the snapper was specially cooked by Raj Abat who was visiting. If its available, I'd go for the fish. Definitely.

  6. Lobby = berarti di situ nggak ada city view ya? :) Oh yg masak red snappernya Raj Abat? Yaaahhh berarti gak bs di order dong kalo saya ke sana :(

    1. Ada city view. Maksudnya ngeliat jalanan aja sih paling. Haha.

      Yang masak waktu itu Raj Abat. Gak yakin akan available sekarang.


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