Walk the streets of Jakarta and you will find it almost impossible to not spot a street vendor selling some sort of traditional food or snack from various parts of the archipelago – be it Soto Betawi, Sate Padang, Mie Aceh and much more. Satisfying, rich in flavor and cheap, street food to Indonesians is a tradition, a national obsession, and a culinary treasure.
But, this culinary treasure remains underestimated, untouched and undiscovered by foreign culinary realms. Here to change that are a few upscale Indonesia restaurants that aim to highlight the richness of Indonesian cuisine. Also, expose it to a more global platform by skillfully and creatively merging traditional flavors with modern techniques and quality ingredients, in a high-end setting. So here are seven best restaurants that have successfully graduated Indonesian food from the streets to upscale gourmet standards.
Located on the third floor of the plush Fairmont Hotel Jakarta in Senayan, 1945 aims to elevate Indonesian cuisine to gourmet status, while remaining as authentic as possible to its flavors. 1945 presents a taste of Indonesia’s culinary origins to a global audience with a menu of reimagined favorites and elaborate dishes using precision modern cooking techniques and premium ingredients such as scallops and lobsters. Signature dishes to look out for include the colorful pecel kembang salad, crab cake, foie gras duck timlo, baked stuffed lobster in pesmol sauce, and srikaya soufflé, to name a few.
Address: Fairmont Hotel, Jalan Asia Afrika No. 8, Senayan, Jakarta Selatan
P: +6221 2188 9061 ext: 285
Meaning “clan” or “tribe” in Indonesian, KAUM celebrates unique traditional dishes, inspired by the archipelago’s indigenous tribes and their cooking techniques. KAUM – under the Potato Head family – also works closely with independent local producers in many remote areas to showcase the country’s incredible yet rare ingredients. For example, KAUM uses Amed Bali’s pure sea salt, which is only produced in less than 40 craftsmen in their village. While you can find popular, classic local food in their menu, such as chicken soto, satay Maranggi and batagor, KAUM also serves uncommon, unique yet authentic signature dishes such as prawn gulai Aceh, gohu tuna fish, fried malon quail eggs with rica-rica sauce and bobor daun kelor inside a young coconut.
Address: Jl Dr. Kusuma Atmaja No. 77-79, Thamrin, Jakarta Pusat
P: +62 21 22393256 / +62 813 81715256
3. Kila Kila
Located in Jakarta’s hip and bustling Sudirman Central Business District area, Kila Kila translates traditional Indonesian elements to its food as well as in its modern and chic atmosphere – check out the batik motifs and rattan-like birdcages hanging from the ceiling, for example. From Indonesian staples and comfort food such as oxtail soup, sauteed kangkung, pecel Madiun, nasi campur Bali, and lamb fried rice to a selection of Kila Kila’s signature dishes, like satay Wagyu, grilled short ribs with sereh and carp fish with acar kuning, you get to experience both traditional dishes as well as those with a modern twist here.
Address: Lot 4, Floor 7, Jl Jendral Sudirman Kav. 52-53, SCBD, Jakarta Selatan
P: +62 21 51401484
4. Bunga Rampai
Set in a stunning white colonial house built in the 1900s, Bunga Rampai pays tribute to Indonesia’s culinary heritage through its architectural design and its authentic Indonesian food, served in a semi-fine dining setting. Not all of the dishes served in Bunga Rampai can be found or will ever appear on the streets because their original recipes are from the nation’s ancestors as well as family home recipes – that are specific to certain areas – passed down through generations. Using the finest local ingredients, some of these dishes also use cooking techniques that have been known since ancient times. Aside from some local favorites like grilled ox-tail soup, nasi Buketan, nasi Rebana and nasi Bali, Bunga Rampai’s signature dishes also include sautéed spicy duck, satay Banjar, kecipir salad and Parape fried fish.
Address: Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro No. 35, Menteng, Jakarta
P: +6221 31926224
5. Lara Djonggrang
Inspired by the legend of a stunning folklore princess during the times of Hinduism in Indonesia, this enchanting restaurant showcases the mystical history and transcends guests back in time through its detailed, unique and vintage interior design-almost like a mini historical museum – as well as in its dishes.
You can expect to find simple traditional food such as gado-gado, balado shrimp, chicken tempe kukus and Indonesian grilled chicken, glorified into fine dining standards, as well as unique special menus like Pasar Nelayan, which consists of various seafood including lobsters, oyster and prawns, and Pasar Satay, which serves different kinds of satays from across the country including chicken satay, squid satay, tempeh satay and ox tongue satay, to name a few. There’s also a special menu called Festival Sambal Nusantara, which showcases more than 20 types of sambals from all over the archipelago such as sambal petai from Jawa Barat, sambal tomat from Sunda, sambal matah from Bali, sambal kecap from Malang and so much more.
Address: Jl Teuku Cik Ditro No. 4, Menteng, Jakarta Pusat
P: +6221 315 3253 / +6221 316 0288
6. Nusa Gastronomy
Elevating Indonesia’s rich indigenous spices, gastronomic culture, and resources to the next level is Nusa Gastronomy, situated in a gracious colonial building with strong historical values since 1922. At NUSA – short for Nusantara, which means archipelago – the menu changes nightly depending upon the results of the present harvest and thus, you can expect a different set of creative and dynamic dishes at every visit.
The restaurant also entertains guests with stories about the cultural origins of each dish and ingredient – for example, Sie Kameng is a lamb curry from Aceh in the North of Sumatera Province that is the only local dish to incorporate 23 types of spices. This is because Aceh was one of the main ports to be allocated for Indonesia’s spice trade and thus these 23 types of spices were readily available in Aceh unlike in other cities.
Address: Jl Kemang Raya No. 81, Jakarta Selatan
P: +6221 7193954
7. The Pallas
The Pallas is an architectural masterpiece of 1800m2, which resembles a modern-day colonial Dutch palace decked in the finest of Indonesian vintage furniture, located in one of the buzzing areas in Jakarta, SCBD. The Pallas is a go-to place for authentic comfort Indonesian food served in a grand setting offering everything from a variety of soto dishes, lamb tongseng, nasi uduk to different types of sambals from across the country. Aside from traditional dishes, The Pallas is one of the first high-end restaurants to offer Indonesian cuisine, mainly focused on rijsttafel – an elaborate meal presentation popularised by the colonial Dutch – where a set meal of up to 10 varieties of dishes is served.
Address: SCBD, Fairground 14, Jl Jend. Sudirman No.Kav 52-53, Jakarta Selatan
P: +62811 1132 888
By: Divyha Pridhnani-Bhojwani
For more Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta, go to this link.