Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tampopo : Life Lesson From A Bowl of Ramen


Student: Sensei, soup first or noodle first?
Master: First, observe the whole bowl. 
Student: Yes, sir.
Master: Appreciate its gestalt. Savor the aromas. Jewels of fat glittering on the surface. Shinachiku roots shining. Seaweed slowly sinking. Spring onions floating. Concentrate on the three pork slices. They play the key role, but stay modestly hidden. First caress the surface with the chopstick tips.
Student: What for? 
Master: To express affection.
Student: I see.
Master: Then poke the pork.
Student: Eat the pork first? 
Master: No. Just touch it. Caress it with the chopstick tips. Gently pick it up and dip it into the soup on the right of the bowl. What's important here is to apologize to the pork by saying "See you soon.". Finally start eating, the noodle first. Oh, at this time, while slurping the noodles, look at the pork. Eye it affectionately.

(Tampopo, 1985, Juzo Itami)


A short, but probably one of the most memorable scene from my favorite food movie.

It tells something more essential than simply how to savor a bowl of ramen. On one watch, the ramen sensei might appears as a drama king with each step exaggerated into perfection. But I suppose, that's what it takes to remind us that every little thing is beautiful. We just easily overlook it.

I mean, aren't every one of us has a love for food? Or have we forgotten? That is the case when we have a lot of something, we tend to take it for granted.

It happened to me.
As I look at the same view everyday when I was in Sydney, I forgot that it is the same postcard-view that I dreamed of for years before finally arriving there. As we go and hang out with the same people again and again, as we eat everyday, we tend to lose the passion and the love that the ramen master has for ramen even though he has eaten hundreds or probably thousands of ramen bowl before.

It is a call for us to start looking around. Things & people that are close to us. What have we taken for granted? What have we forgotten?

Then, we should start seeing as they are supposed to be seen. Little things that are simply ... beautiful.


Fellexandro Ruby
Food Photographer & Conversationalist

Thursday, August 23, 2012

39, Private, Drinks & Fun.

I'll give you time to connect the dots.

Get it? Nope? Alright, I'll lay it down for you. 

I was abducted one afternoon by a friend whose name I cannot disclose. There were three of them, one oil-taipan and her majesty, one swagmaster with smooth taste and one silent driver with the look of a Hongkong mob. My eyes were not shut but I had no idea where we were going.  I can only recall Marvin Gaye's Lets Get It On in the background, looping on repeat, and that we were going central north. I toned down my voice as I started to feel drowsy. Less than half an hour later, we were at a tall building which look like an oasis in the midst of uncertain neighborhood that surrounded it. 

Empty building. A few stories high. Out in the yard were the trained securities dressed like coming out MIB-II. Would that make me the aliens in weird voice? Sort of. I'm alien to this place indeed. 

Astounded as I have never been to see a great selection of brandy and other sort of liquor, those that are rather hard if not impossible to find in Jakarta. Yes, they were all imported or brought over from overseas at cost for personal consumption. 

It was a little late afternoon, but somehow the mood to drink was right. And swagmaster who happens to be quite a barista / mixologist himself took the chance to show us what he's got. The appetizer of the night was Guinness Draught. Unlike the usual Guinness you found here, it contains lower alcohol content of only 4.8%, while the taste is somewhat light and classier. I wasn't a big fan of black beer until I was introduced to it. Only a big fan would go as far as bringing the agitator needed to prepare this Dublin-made thirst quencher into a true draught. And the swagmaster has it! Including the UK pint! 

Take a look at the video to get an idea of what this awesome thing did to the beer. 

Not stopping at that, the swagmaster was determined to keep his private guests 'afloat' and made us his signature drink, The Chocolate Birthday Cake. Drink it with your eyes closed, and I swear it was as if a chocolate cake was turned into liquid and actually tasted good. 

Chocolate Birthday Cake & Veuve Clicquot Champagne

From there conversations has gone ballistic from the talk of business, to men's ears only, but I suppose it was only natural with the amount of alcohol consumed. The fun & happiness level is in parallel increase to the amount of drinks we had. We broke Thomas Maltus & David Ricardo's theory of diminishing marginal return. Screw economics! In fact, it can only goes up when a little while after, the swagmaster took out the 'green fairy'. Yes, it is none other than La Fee Absinthe Parissien. Once was banned in the US, this particular drinks was popular with Parisian artist, from the likes of Van Gogh. It was a very strong drink (considering the 68% alcohol content), with an intense flavor of wormwood herb and anise. 

La Fee Absinthe - Halfway prepared.

Super. It was. Turned into Yoda, I have. Awesomeness. 

As with a great appetizer, we ended up with a fine closure. He served us this fine bottle of bubbly champagne, the orange label, the one and only Veuve Clicquot

I don't usually mix drinks. You know what happened the morning after when you forced it. Good thing I managed to keep my sanity, and control what goes into my mouth. Even with that, I ended up with a very early sleep at about 9PM. It was a total black out after that. The next thing I know was morning, and that I have to go on my running jog. 

And jog, I did. Still Yoda. I suppose the side effect is still there. 

From the underground, I'm bringing you the one and (might be) only review ever made on this private bar. Location still undisclosed. But you're allowed to get creative. Hint: Lounge 39

Cheers. I mean it really, grab your drink. Cheers. 

(All photos taken & edited using iPhone4).

Twitter: @Wanderbites
Instagram: @Captainruby

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Have A Thing For Muffins (And Kenny Roger's)

Muffins at Kenny Rogers (51k for half dozen)

I have a thing for muffins. 

We might be good friends in the past life. It accompanied me in many hungry mornings and afternoons. More than just filling the belly, it comforts me.  

Gotta love it for its warmth. 

After many muffins, Starbucks, Bread Talk, Muffins House, Kenny Rogers and some other names not worth mentioning, I find the two latter are the satisfier. Muffins House for its wide variety and dedication for this sweet delicacy. And Kenny Rogers for squeezing the best into three options: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Banana Raisins. 

The weird thing is, I find them even more delightful as a dessert to my Quarter Chicken. They are not too sweet. Fluffy and airy. I love tearing the thing in two and smell the scrumptious wave of baked goods in my nose. 

They are my breakfast today. I packed half a dozen of them for 51k yesterday.Took a quick photo session in my basement last night and voila! I hope it turns you on as much as I did this morning. 

Muffins For Two. Yeah, I meant you. 

Chocolate Muffins (Kenny Rogers), Vanilla, and Banana Raisin at the back.

Happy holidays friends. Happy Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating. 

If you know a good muffin, poke me on Twitter @Wanderbites =)


Fellexandro Ruby
Food Photographer & Conversationalist


Kenny Rogers Roasters
Grand Indonesia Lantai 3A Westmall ED1-08
Pacific Place Mall UG-99 Sudirman
Twitter: @KennyRogersID

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ikkudo Ichi Ramen (PIK) : Catching The Wave.

Jakartans, we are spoiled.

While the population is still not over with Hakata Ikkousha ramen hype, not long after came Santouka Hokkaido ramen that cater to less price-oriented foodie. On the other end, many early adopters foodie like me has tasted enough of these thick brothed noodles. It appears though that the long-tail is undefined. As it is with many successful business, new contender will follow up in hope to catch the wave. As such is the case of Ikkudo Ichi and Sengoku who both happen to be placed in Pantai Indah Kapuk.

Let me rephrase then. Fellow PIKsers, we are spoiled.

Funny thing is I don't hear many conversation of Sengoku, while Ikkudo received almost an overnight glory from Twitter to Instagram. I can't help but paying it a visit few days ago, and here's a write up of that first encounter. 

Ambience-speaking, it is an upgraded version of Hakata Ikkousha, complete with the Japanese lanterns, faux trees, air conditioner, more leg room and a lot less noise. However, in the world of foodies, these are all secondary. Taste is king. We come for the food after all. 

Tori Kara Ramen (39k)

I had their signature Tori Kara, chicken ramen with special red sauce, topped with boiled eggs, wakame, and sesame seeds. What fails was that the waiter did not tell me at all that I have the option to personalize my broth & oil level from light to maximum. I had no idea then what level was it, but I suppose its all normal level. 

The broth was splendid. Rich flavor from hours of slow cooking, although I don't see what the red sauce adds other than a notch of spicyness. Personally think it is a little less lovable compared to that of Ikkousha though. But Ikkudo's generous cut of meat is definitely a plus point, especially with the same price tag of 39k Rupiah. I'm having a love-love relationship with both ramen. Haha. 

Gyu Chasu Aburi (48k) aka The Hero!

This might surprise you, the ramen wasn't the hero of the night. It was this Gyu Chasu Aburi (beef chasu torched with fire).  A hefty 48k for five slices of meat is definitely worth it. Well cooked, well seasoned without disarming the beef flavor. Sweet, fragrant, and savory at the same time. 

Man, we are really spoiled. Haha. 

Coming back to the question above. Will Ikkudo will be able to catch the wave as late comers? We can only wait and see. In the mean time, with all the pictures and descriptions, I hope you drool. 

I really hope you drool. Let me know if you do, tweet me @Wanderbites or @Captainruby. Throw some support, that would mean a lot. 

For the love of good food, 

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Conversationalist & Photographer


Ikkudo Ichi Ramen
Rukan Crown Golf Blok D No. 2-3
Bukit Golf Mediterania, PIK
Jakarta Utara
Phone: 021-96628677

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mie Ayam Abadi - For Those Who Likes It Rough!

I've seen Mie Ayam Abadi Muara Karang reviewed at Jenzcorner long ago. Read all the praises in the comment section and how it has satisfy many bellies out there. As nearby Pluitans, its funny to have missed this well known foodplace, but I guess that's what makes us human. We tend to overlook things that are close to use. In my case, it took my lifetime buddy to introduce me to this Asian delight.

It was a rather quiet Saturday, not a lot of people inside the place. I took the chance to raise my appetite by seeing how their bowl of noodle is made. Was surprised how I got my order in a short minute or so. That includes cooking the noodle in the boiling water, draining it, chopping the chicken and pouring the extra bowl of soup. Now that I think of it, it is not that surprising, considering these guys has been cooking noodle all their life, it is almost an autopilot every time they do it. Fancy for our common eyes but rather boring for them I suppose. Let's be pessimistic and say he serve 100 bowls a day, that's 3000 a month, 36000 a year. There's no magic in it, only practices.

Anyway, back to the food.

Bakmi Ayam Abadi - 23k

On my first bite, it was rather thick and took quite an effort to chew. Having raised in Bagan Siapi-api with slim thin kind of noodle, my teeth refuses. But after adding extra chili sauce, my appetite beat it and I finally swallow the whole thing. The chicken for me is generous! Well cooked, well seasoned and complimentary to the meal. Another plus moment is the fresh veggie in an additional soup.

The place itself is a typical Chinese food place with the owner / cook in a tall bar corner with his calculator handling all the cash. An ambience that comes with the food. Oh, and here, there's an additional side show: pirated DVD's. Haha. The seller will wait until you finished your meal and shove it in front you then. How smart that is? They understand that timing is everything. Although I ended up buying none, he got me checking them out even though I don't need them.

To sum up, Mie Ayam Abadi has not up to par with my favorite noodle. A lot of it is because of the texture of the noodle. Nothing wrong, but rough noodles are just not my kind of thing.

What's yours?

Let me know on Twitter @Wanderbites


Mie Ayam Abadi 
Jl. Muara Karang Blok O8 No. 63
North Jakarta
(In the same street with Eaton Muara Karang)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gelare! - Evening Snacking Turned Into Brain Exercise

"Bro, where you at?"
"I'm just about to grab dinner." 
"Where to?"
"There's this seafood place I want to try in Pluit. Next to the place where they sell those huge Chinese vases. Drop by, and let's hang out after."


I was just finished with my photo assignment, when the clock ticks to 7.05PM. Its still to early to go home, and too full to grab another dinner. As spontaneous as I always be, I'm lucky that my good friend is ready on the other line to answer that challenge. I was on a good mood for sweets and somehow I couldn't get waffles out of my mind. A little quick drive and we got to Gelare Pluit which share the same building with Cosi and Marutama Ramen. 

Huge waffle straight up with a scoop of ice cream. 

Have to say it is somewhat overpriced. For 48k + 20k (ice cream) it was a little behind from satisfactory. The waffle was tasteless at best without the addition of whipped cream and maple syrup. Although it was served hot from the pan, it lacked the buttery smell that turns on appetite. 

Despite of the food, good thing I had a good convo. From passion, to challenging the status quo in wedding industry, to wedding ideas to lovelife. I ended up taking a brain exercise on how to market a service without a marketing budget. Anyhow, it was a Saturday well spent. 

To close with, I have to say, A&W waffle still rules. Any of you go share the same experience with me? That you go there for the waffle not for the fried chickens? Let me know if you do. 


Fellexandro Ruby
Snack on my #Livebites tweets @Wanderbites


Gelare - All Natural Ice Cream
(Shared building with Marutama Ramen & Cosi)
Jl. Pluit Putra No. 15 A
Ph: 021-66607125
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