Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 11 July 2013 • Blog
This thought came to me when I was chillin’ at a cafe in Jakarta: Ever wondered why there are so many Mexican and Italian restaurants in Bali? I have. It puzzled me why you’d travel so far and eat the food you could easily get at home, and tasted better, too. I also don’t get why Jakartans love to eat at Warung Italia so much, in Bali. Whatever happened to “nasi campur”, “bebek bengil” or “lawar”?
But then I remember that we dined at Warung Bali in Phnom Penh for no specific reason, and we also eat the finger lickin’ good KFC in so many places we travel. Okay, now I get it. Food is to be enjoyed. It’s not ALWAYS to be taken too seriously. And if you want to travel like a local, well.. Locals do eat food outside of their localities.
And for that reason, we are picking 5 of our favorite cafes or restaurants in Jakarta, none of them are known for (or even serve) any original Jakarta food. However, we don’t want to spill the beans all at once. So we’re posting about a cafe in Jakarta every Friday.
Shall we start with…
I’ve been wanting to visit Greece for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t got around to it, yet. So I was very excited with the opening of El Greco, a Greek restaurant, in April, 2013.
It only took me a day after the grand opening to sit there and awe at the Greek interior design. Painted in mostly blue and white like the typical pictures of anything Greek, El Greco even has one of those traditional windmills at the entrance. But the Greekest of all in El Greco is the chef.
A ponytailed man in white chef uniform came to our table. He talked in English with a thick Greek accent, explaining and showing photos of the menu they provided with tongue-twisting menu names. Gyros, Tzatziki, Sutzukakia, uh.. yeah, those names. And the Indonesian waitresses’ capability of pronouncing those names amazed us!
The food was yummy. Mumun went crazy over the olives in the Greek Salad, and that was the first time I could actually like olives. Somehow, to me, the taste blended well with the rest of the dish. In my later visit, I had another salad here, called Tonosalata. It’s mixed with tuna, without olives, and was also de to the lish!
The chef, who later we found out the name was Panos, then showed us how coffee is made in El Greco. Turns out, they have this special coffee maker, where they use sand to heat the coffee in a mug. Both the coffee maker AND sand were brought from Greece. Awesome! I think this is the only cafe in Jakarta, out of so many, that has this kinda of coffee maker. The coffee had a distinguished smell, which was similar to the sand. Aaand, Panos was so enthusiastic in telling us about the Greek yoghurt, he gave us a small cup of complementary yoghurt. The yoghurt was thick, had a tint of sour unlike plain yoghurt, and mixed with honey. Mumun liked it, but it was too sour for my liking.
But, oh! The ice cream! Home made ice cream. For now they’ve only provided chocolate and vanilla flavor, but you can pick out of 4 toppings. I had the dried berries topping and the crispiness was just right to top over the sweet smooth ice cream. Mmh!
All in all, I loved the place. It’s also a nice change to introduce a new palette for you tongue. It’s not often you find a Greek restaurant in Indonesia. The ambiance, the interior design, the accent and the food, it was like a make-believe that I was hanging out in a taverna!
What is your favorite restaurant or cafe in Jakarta?El Greco Gourmet Cafe Ground Floor B-103, Setiabudi One building Jalan HR Rasuna Said (informally known as Kuningan street) South Jakarta Phone: 62 21 521 2272