Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kunstkring Menteng : Afternoon Tea Time With Kue Bluder

Before And Now
Many of us heard of Kunstkring as the ex-Buddha Bar without knowing further what is this tongue-twisting place has got to offer. As I get curiouser and curiouser, life handed me the lemon. That was the opportunity to meet and chat with the owner. Without hesitation, I made a lemonade out of it and I got myself hooked. So when one of the most influential food blogger, Inijie, made it to Jakarta, I can't help to show him Kunstkring.

Built in 1914, this building is made to raise the art scene. A place for Dutch artists to gather, exhibit their works from painting to musical performance, and also to learn their craft. At its golden years, it was once a host for world class paintings such as Van Gogh's and Picasso's. You can imagine the importance of it back in the day. However as the world moved on, the building went through a few different episode of adaptation. Once it was an immigration office, then it was idle, then a bar, and another idle years. 

Back To Its Origin
Tugu, the same group that brings us Lara Djonggrang, Dapur Babah, and Shanghai Blue took over the management of Kunstkring and decided to repurpose it back to its original mission. It is now a restaurant, a cafe, an art exhibit, and also a function hall for all things art.  

The restaurant is separated into three main areas. The Diponegoro Room, the main dining area that displays a 9m painting of the time when Diponegoro got arrested. The Suzie Wong Bar, is a more dimmed, lounge theme area to chill. Inspired by the popular British American movie in the 60's, they took the original movie painting (the one they hang in front of cinemas) and let it shine in one of the walls. Last, The Bread & Coffee Corner. The name kinda explains itself. 

Tea Time
Since it was afternoon and they have their famous Roti Bluder in stock, we decided that tea would be a perfect companion. What makes it interesting is that this particular bread is still hand made in Blitar and flown to Jakarta daily. 

The bread is so fluffy soft that you just want to tear it with your hand and stuff it in your mouth right away. Have it warm and you'll notice the smell that reminds you of home cooked pastries. It comes in two flavor: chocolate and cheese. For me personally, the chocolate rocks better than the cheese.

As for the tea, a selection of leaves from German dominate the menu as well as the classic ones. We shared the Christmas Punch as we were looking for something that's more masculine with that classic, fruity, spicy twist. Don't miss out on the butter cookie that comes with it. It's one of the best I've ever had. 

Both food and drinks made quite an impression for me. Added with great hospitality from the staffs, and the green surroundings, tea timing at their al fresco area is definitely something I'd look forward to again. 


Jl. Teuku Umar No.1 
Menteng, Jakarta
Ph: 021-3900899

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bakmi Lontar Bangka : Jakarta's Noodle Kind of Breakfast

Ever had one of those hungry days when all you ever wanted was resorting to familiar-easy-to-please kind of food? Those foods that you know for sure won't disappoint you? That.

Bakmi Lontar falls in that special shortlist. Comfort food that you can rely on. It doesn't mean it will suit every tongue though. But I have a sense a good amount of noodle fans will enjoy this as much as I do, especially those who are more inclined to small thin noodles. Yeas, I'm in the #thinteam. Reasons are many. One of which is that I don't like hard to chew, rubbery kind of noodle. Plus the thinner it is the less guilt of having heavy dose of carbs in the morning. *burp* 

As shown in the foodporn above, spread on top are crumbles of grinded chi-pork. Yes, that's my personal ultimate blend of chicken and pork, the best of both world combined.

What I would recommend you to take the maximum pleasure of Bakmi Lontar is to eat half of it without any additional seasoning, and then slowly pour in sambal tauco at the amount of your liking. At the beginning you'll get to enjoy the original salty-savory dominated dish, and when you let tauco comes to play, you'll have all sweet, salty, savory, sour, and even spicy. In short a party of flavors in a bowl.

If one noodle is not enough to fulfill your hunger, I'd suggest you to take Tahu Kok as your second main course. Not that it is the best one in town, but more to have a better variety of what Bangka original cuisine is like. The broth is light in form but tasty in flavor. If you noticed the tofu is coupled with a layer of fish cake. Stood alone the dish not particularly special, but again when sambal tauco come to the rescue, it suddenly raised to another dimension. Much much better enjoyed together than apart.

Further, to have all Bangka goodness in full circle, why not take home a pack of kemplang as souvenir? It is unlike any other crackers in Indonesia. Its hard to chew, takes a few extra gum muscles, but its worth the extra munching energy.

Are you a noodle lover as well? Let me know if you're into #thinteam or #thickteam. ;)

Indonesian Food FTW!

Fellexandro Ruby 
Food Conversationalist


Bakmi Lontar Bangka
Jl. Lontar Timur Raya No. 15 (Tanjung Duren)
Jl. Muara Karang Blok O-6 Barat (Just across Permai School)
Telp: 021-92920901

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kedai Tjikini : A Hideaway Showcasing Indonesian Coffee & Food

Cikini, one of a few area in Jakarta that still store the remnants of old Batavia. Take a walk along Cikini Raya and you'll find pieces of history scattered here and there. Gedung Joang that keep Soekarno's first official presidential car. The house of the famous painter, Raden Saleh, and many others. It's no wonder that you'll bump into tourist often.

Kedai Tjikini is one of the newer cafe on that street that has these tourists as regular patrons. What's interesting is that it tries to blend itself with the Batavian surroundings. Showcasing old architectural design, simple wood interior, a line of traditional Indonesian food and selections of single origin coffee. I've been coming to this place mostly to snack, chat over drinks and desserts. They happen to sell the original Ragusa ice cream which save me the trouble and the queue for the same nostalgic pleasure. 

That morning, me and fellow foodie, Jie decided to explore on the food. Upon a glance, we both agreed that the two most eye catching menu was Lodehawe and Nasi Goreng Belacan (Belacan Fried Rice). On the side, Jie, the coffee geek also had Aceh Gayo served in french press.

As much as I want to tell you about the coffee, I'm still a noob in that department.  I'll let Jie to do his part. ;). What I can say is that its not often you find a restaurant that serve Indonesian food as their main course, and serve it really well. Kedai Tjikini has quite an ambition to make that happen but they need to push it a little harder. All the orders came in just enough waiting time. Warm, freshly cooked, but just not enough taste. 

Belacan Fried Rice (IDR 33K)

Lodehawe (IDR 37K)

Fried Chicken, Tempe & Sambal Kecombrang (comes with Lodehawe)

Lodehawe, appears to be a coconut milk based soup, but lacks the savory sweet flavor. The round of vegetables topping that comes with it (jackfruit, long beans, corn, and melinjo) also does not play together to create excitement. Enjoyable but rather plain. The thing that saved the dish was the fried chicken and tempe that comes with it. Although the chicken is not seasoned, dip it in the kecombrang sambal and there's the guaranteed comfort. The fried rice on the other hand is a people pleaser. Belacan contributed a lot to the equation, and the fact that our Indonesian tongue had it for breakfast helps too. 

All in all, Kedai Tjikini has the potential to rise and I personally support those who put an effort to highlight Indonesian culinary. But whether it can stand on par with the historical culinary gem around the are from the likes of Lontong Cap Go Meh or Gado Gado Bon Bin is still a long way to go. 


Fellexandro Ruby
Food Storyteller

PS: All photos are taken by Jie's NX300. Shared the camera, took shots in turn. Thanks heaps Jie.


Kedai Tjikini
Jalan Cikini Raya No. 17 
Opens: 9AM - 12PM 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Berthillon Paris : Legendary Ice Cream With A View

Imagine sunny Paris.
Imagine blue sky.
Imagine walking on the bank of Seine river sipping the warmth.
Imagine breathing in the chilly air.
Imagine doing all that with your significant other ... with Paris' legendary ice cream in hand.


Berthillon. Started in 1950 and made famous after being founded in the 60s by none other than Messieurs Gault & Millau, it has become a must visit place if you pass by Notre Dame and walk to île St-Louis, one of the two natural island on Seine river.

Lonely Planet ranked it #23 of 1566 things to do in Paris. As for me it was an obvious thing to do as an ice cream lover and a sweet tongue. Its been in my trix even before I landed in the city of lights. Plus the heat was right that afternoon, so we headed there with no hesitation and a heartful of expectations.

The queue is always long no matter what time of the day. A green signboard is hanged on the front facade with hand written flavors on it in gold paint. It has so many interesting flavors that deciding can be quite a tedious task. Hmm.. How about wild strawberry sorbet? Wait! There's ginger caramel. Oh, here's something fancy. What's agenaise? It sounds exotic. The drama continues and the next thing you know you're on the front of the line and still paralyzed by the amount of choices. I finally went with wisdom of the crowd, pear sorbet and the butter caramel gelato.

Both was fantastically rich in flavor. It was as if munching on real pear. Refreshing. Same goes to the butter caramel. The creamy base made it somewhat heavier and bolder, yet still light enough to enjoy one full scoop altogether with the cone without feeling bloated afterwards.

I took the scoops to the banks of the river. Enjoyed it slowly, feasting both my tastebuds and my eyes with the view. I then took the stairs down the road and sit on the concrete chair, relaxed with no thoughts of work, looking at life and the people passing by. It is probably one of the simplest joy of Paris.

Or maybe life is really that simple? We humans, made it complicated. With what, you ask? Ehm, our selfish wants and desire? Now, that something to ponder until my next post.

Stay chilly,

Fellexandro Ruby 
Glacier addict


Berthillon Ice Cream 
31, rue St-Louis-en-îlle (4th)
Closest Metro: Pont Marie
Closed: Monday, Tuesday, Second half of July and all August.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Going Nuts For Cronuts! - The NY Hype Has Come To Jakarta

It is Dominique Ansel, the man who single handedly created a worldwide hype on this particular cross breed between croissant and doughnut right from his bakery in New York City.

It is sold for $5 (before tax) apiece, and they usually only make about 300 cronuts per day. But it doesn't stop people from trying. Or is it the exclusivity that keeps people starving in curiosity. Thus, willing to go the extra mile to try. Why the extra mile? Because to get your hands on them, expect a queue for as long as few blocks, as early as two hours prior to opening time! Exactly why I decided to skip it on my last #WanderUS trip.

From NYC to Berlin to Singapore, this viral sensation finally hits Jakarta in the name of Kronut. Yep, Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop has got to come up with a new name as Cronuts is apparently trademarked. Well prepared, Ansel. A step ahead for world domination.

On my first try, I must say, it is just as I expected. MO's Kronut is airy as a croissant should be, well layered, a result of skillful bakery technique. However, it feels like it's freshly made but been sitting for quite a while that it loses its flaky crunchy feel. The vanilla cream hides itself in between the layers, and might just be perfect for those who likes toned down sweets. I'm a sucker for patisserie, however kronut doesn't strike a special chord. At IDR 30.000 / piece (including tax), I could easily find a substitute dessert. Or I'd rather pay a little extra for a more fulfilling sweet indulgence.

That being said, let's make a bet then. Do you think cronuts will stay here for a while or will it fade out soon? Words on the street, Union and Publico has come up with contending cronuts. But my guts tells me this trend are not here to stay. Are you with me?

Cheers, and stay tuned for London & Paris stories soon. ;)

Fellexandro Ruby 
Food Conversationalist & Photographer


Cinnamon / Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Jalan Jenderal Sudirman (Bundaran HI)
Ph: 021-29938820

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shake Shack : NYC's Must-Eat Burger

I have a newfound love for this patty-in-between-bread dish and I'm glad I had my eureka moment in the capital nation of burger, United States. What started as a quick way of tricking lunch so I can fit in my tight schedule of wondering around the depths of San Francisco, eventually turned into a fascination. The variety of buns, patty, sauce, filling, fries. The flavor. The character of each burger. I mean, man, what we have in Jakarta is nothing compared to those in the States.

I ended up trying 7 different burger joint on my last trip. Shake Shack here is worthy of mentioning first simply because of its superstardom. Almost everyone I know who've been to US recommends it.

Having visited their location in Madison Square Park and tried their signature Smoke Shack burger, I must say it lived up to its reputation. I finally understand what separate the good and the mediocre. That is, they are serious about all things that make up the burger. Now, let's break it down to its part:

1. The Bun
Shack Burger is sandwiched with two buttered grilled potato bun. Word on the street it's an East Coast favorite bun sourced from Martin's Potato Rolls. I personally prefer a much crunchier bun, this one is on the very soft end of the scale.

2. The Bacon
Niman Ranch all natural applewood smoked bacon. Crisp. Flavorful. Enough said.

3. The Cheese
In the spirit of burger as comfort food, Shack Burger is topped with a typical American Cheese. It does well to add saltiness, creamy texture and of course the melt-effect.

4. The Patty & The Sauce
If you notice, a good burger joint will insist of having the meat cooked medium rare to keep the beef juice in good portion. For me, that's the only way to go, and Shake Shack does exactly that. The result is an intense flavor combo between beef and the sauce. Shack signature sauce is mayonnaise based with their 'secret sauce' that has been refined a few times. The goal was to give a little bit of each flavor to the tongue: sweet, salty, bitter, smoke and spice.

The result is a burger so good that it is greater than the sum of its parts. With so much attention on detail, it's only natural that this $8.80 burger made such a hit in US. It even has branched out to London where they opened their first stall in Covent Garden. Location is part of their success recipe, I must say. It is a very relaxing experience having good food in between tall tries, sunny weather and chilly breeze of spring air. I totally recommend this.

Speaking of Covent Garden, I shall leave you Biters with this post, and off I go for two weeks journey in the land of Shakespeare, Puddings and Shepherd Pie. Wish me luck as I travel to scour for the best food & experiences around.

Tune in to my twitter @Wanderbites. Who knows I might live tweet from Heston Blumenthal's Dinner. ;)

See you in a bit, lads.

Fellexandro Ruby 
Food Photographer & Conversationalist


Southeast corner of Madison Square Park
Near Madison Av. and E23rd St
Subway: N/R or 6
T: @shakeshack

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gado-Gado Bon Bin Cikini: Serving You Since 1960

They were around when Orde Lama changed to Orde baru.

A tweet from NatTravelerIndo streamed through my timeline this morning : "Cikini, Sudut Kota Lama Yang Terlupa."  Or in English : Cikini, The Forgotten Part of Old Town.

While that might rings true for the generation above me, I have just recently discovered this area through the beauty of food. Lontong Cap Go Meh Cikini was one of the rare find. This time, it's the joint nearby: Gado Gado Bon Bin.

Bon Bin was short for Kebon Binatang, the street name it's on before they changed it to Cikini IV. The place has been around for more than half a century and still maintains its classic beauty. Chinese incense on the beaten-worn-out walls. Wood tables and red chairs that resemble a typical home style Chinese restaurants. The half rounded ceilings. Most importantly the dynamic duo, Ngkoh Gado-Gado & Ncik Gado-Gado, one prepare the food, the other one handle the cash.

Ancient. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

One portion cost you IDR23k without lontong, and IDR25k with lontong. Three times the price of any street vendor gado-gado around the area. But I guess it's the premium people are willing to pay for nostalgia, brand, and taste.

Before. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

After. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The first thing you'll notice is the softly grinded peanut sauce. Words on the street they use cashew nuts, thus the rich flavor that sets it apart from normal gado-gado. It was interesting at first, but after a while the lost of texture was too obvious. I will still opt for the much coarser sauce in usual gado-gado. Sorry, Koh. It did impress me, although not for long.

Better hygiene? At least less hand germs. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The rest of the dish wasn't particularly superior in taste, but the fresh ingredients was very noticeable. It's another kind of hygiene level over here. One that would definitely not include hand germs.

Besides that, it is a very fulfilling portion eaten alone. I would suggest having it shared, and use the additional space in your belly to try the next door lontong cap go meh or asinan. If you're around the area, might as well.

Wanderbites Verdict: Somewhat fancier gado-gado. Cashew nut is a plus. Try for curiosity.

Until our next food safari,

Your fellow Ngkoh


Gado-Gado Bon Bin Foodporn Style. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

Gado-Gado Bon Bin
Jalan Cikini IV No. 5
(Formerly Jalan Kebon Binatang III)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lontong Cap Go Meh : Cikini's Legend

Lontong = Rice Cake.

It is Google's literal translation of what it's made of, but I don't think it describe the features of this traditional Javanese dish fully. Lontong comes cylindrical in shape, usually wrapped with banana leaves, and steamed until the rices are mushy and somewhat cohesively sticky. It is the alternative for rice in many local dishes.

Lontong Cap Go Meh is one of the variety. It is a crossbreed of traditional Chinese and Javanese culture. It begins as must have dish after Chinese New Year celebration, now it has grown to be a popular menu in Indonesian restaurants. 

That particular afternoon I was bored with waroengs. There's a limit to the amount of scrambled eggs and tempe orek that you can force feed yourself. I called a break to the routine and decided to consult my Makan Sutra guide, the very first Indonesian version, written and curated by our own Arie Parikesit. I was lucky to be in Cikini area that afternoon. The stars were aligned right, it is as if the universe was conspiring to bring me to this place. Funny, I just happened to have a sudden craving for lontong cap go meh. Off I go to find Cikini IV. 

The Original Street Name (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The old skinny grandma greeted us in her weak little voice. Took the effort to get up from her station, brought the menu and asked what we would like to eat. I have a sense she's been around on that chair for years, if not from the very beginning when they put the original store sign. Yes, this joint has celebrated its 50th anniversary years ago. You can imagine the amount of nostalgic story Jakartans can relate to here. 

As for me, it was my first encounter, and I must admit it was a pleasant one. 

Halfway in preparation. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

A plateful of Legendary Lontong Cap Go Meh - IDR35K (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The lontong was everything I ever expected of. Rich sayur lodeh, flavorful tempe orek, juicy chicken breast, spicy telor pindang, and beef empal. Generous toppings for IDR 35k. 

The only setback for me was the broth which I personally think could be a bit more thicker and creamier. I guess I can blame the rise of gas price for their attempt to cut cost and therefore bet on the somewhat more inferior broth. The rest of the plate was delightful. Still funny to have acar hidden underneath the pile of food. And the irony is no matter how hard I tried to run, I eventually came across eggs and tempe orek again here. You two just love me that much, eh? That's okay. I have enough love for everybody. 

Lessons Learned
A well attempted variety killer I must conclude. I guess it is necessary to go out of the monotonous day-to-day activities once in a while. I personally think routine is counterproductive to creativity. We need a bolt of newness, a dash of salt if you always have sweet, a little rain in a long summer stream. Something to get us off our comfort zone. For me it can be as simple as new food. It allows us to feel again and eventually trigger new things in our synapses, resulting in fresh ideas and many good ripple effects. 

Ah, I'm blabbering. I. Must. Stop. 

Until next food safari,

Fellexandro Ruby 
Food Photographer & Storyteller


Opor Ayam. Tempe Orek. Lodeh. Empal. Generous (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

Lontong Cap Go Meh 
Jl. Cikini IV No. 1

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Koultoura Coffee : Power Brunch on a Lazy Saturday.

It's Saturday.

The sun is playing hide-and-seek amongst the clouds. The clouds looks awfully bored in pale grey and broke white. No little drops of water from above, but the residual cold atmosphere is enough to keep you glued to bed. If you could you would put Bruno Mars' Lazy Song as the morning's soundtrack, but then again, you're just too lazy to do that.

You go back to lala-land for another hour or two until your belly growls for food.
Too late for breakfast, too early for lunch. It is the perfect time for yet another power brunch.


Koultoura is my new destination for brunch after Antipodean.

A new joint in Taman Ratu, Jakarta Barat sets itself apart from its surroundings. It creates a world of its own, really. From the facade that brings fresh color to the neighborhood, to the sort of food it offers. From its sophisticated hang-on-the-wall water purifier to the geeky-level coffee. It's almost as if it packed in a whole new culture to shine, just like the name suggest. This place bleeds hipster, coffee, and passion.

I had The Hangover Cure (IDR 45k) and Croque Madam (IDR 45k) as recommended by the cheerful lady behind the counter, Kinsky.

Hang Over Cure (IDR 45K) - Taken w/ Samsung NX300

Croque Madam (IDR 45k) - Taken w/ Samsung NX300

Both dish were surprisingly enjoyable and we didn't need any flavor enhancement of any sort. No salt, no chili sauce, no pepper. It was all in good balance for our palate. My hash-corned beef-egg was a treat, the only complain was the rather small size. On the other side of the table, my belle looked like taking quite a delight on the rack of burnt toast, melted cheese, ham and poached eggs. Plus point: the home made looking bunch of wedges / fries. Minus point: it gets mushy real quick.

Life's a Journey Indeed. - Taken w/ Samsung NX300

Don't you just love the cups? (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

On the drinks, I would recommend its Ice Chocolate (IDR 25k) if you're a sweet tongue. The Chai Latte that we had was worth trying too, although le belle did mentioned it wasn't as strong a 'chai latte' as she preferred. She likes it bold. A little longer on brewing the chai would easily solve it out though.


The big question: Would I come back to Koultoura?
Answer: Hell yeas, in fact I'm going back there today. ;)

Sunlight & Shades. Love this corner right here. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

I personally enjoy the energy of this place. I can imagine sitting in one corner, catching up on my readings, or working on one of my blog post. It sorts of feed you with enough creative trigger as well. The artworks spread all over the walls, the magazine selection, and most importantly the choice of songs. Rest assured, no Sabrina here.

More than a brunch place, this could easily be my work spot. Try it, and let me know what you think on Twitter @wanderbites.


Food & Travel Storyteller / Photographer

Koultoura Coffee
Jl. Taman Ratu Raya Blok AA2 No. 33
(If you can find Saung Greenville, you can find this near the Pizza Hut)
Ph: 021-29520310
T: @Koultoura

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thorough Bread at The Castro : Almond Croissant FTW!

If we take a step back and take time to observe the stories of many successful food place, we will start to see connecting dots and overlapping pattern. One of them is signature dish and I don't think I will ever get bored in promoting how significant it is. It's the sugar that attracts the ants. It's a woman's specific appeal that gets a man hooked.

Have you ever been to a restaurant just for a plate of dessert that you really love?
Have you ever traveled so far just for that talk-of-the-town burger?
Have you ever waited in a queue just because you can't not have your favorite meal?

If you answered yes to one of them, then you probably know how I feels to this humble bakery in the Castro area, San Francisco. This 'rainbow' area is fascinating for me because it has so much colors, vibrant, and decorated with stylish shops and bars, not to mention the old Victorian houses.

Thorough Bakery is one of them that pulls me to this area. As you might have notice, I'm such a sucker for patisserie. I searched on Yelp on what could accomodate my craving. Discovered Thorough Bakery and man I made the right choice.

I would definitely come back here just for the Almond Croissant. It was beyond any croissant that I ever tasted before. If you drop by here, you'll see that among other pastries, it is the fastest item to run out. Almost every table here will take an almond croissant with them.

Flaky crunchy exterior as it should be, it has a hidden layer inside that gives the sweet tasting caramel-like flavor. If you take a closer look, you'll notice it is also topped with some sort of sugar icing. Have that with the burnt-smelling almond. One bite, and I bet your current threshold for good croissant will be raised to a few bar higher. Have it warmed, and another bar is yet again, raised.

It is one of the things I miss the most from the whole #WanderUS trip. And I blame Leia (that's how I name my NX300) for taking such pretty shot that drools. I myself can't help it. If you know any good almond croissant in Jakarta, do let me know!

Coming back to where we started, that's how powerful a signature dish can be. If you allow me to take it to the extreme, learn from Rotiboy. One product. One price. Look at how many branches they have. And there's no sign of stopping. That's something for you, foodplace owners to ponder while thinking of your next strategy.

In the mean time, let me know which menu from which foodplace that gets you coming back for more. Tweet me at @Wanderbites.


Fellexandro Ruby 
Food / Travel Storyteller & Photographer


Thorough Bread & Pastry
248 Church Street,
San Francisco
(Between 15th Street & Market Street)

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