Jakarta Itinerary Day 2: Mid-Jakarta
Sorry if you’ve been party-rocking the night before because you’ll have to wake up early today. Breakfast at Soto Madura (Jl. Juanda, No.16; 7am-10pm), north of Monas, early in the morning for some noodles in broth. Then cross the road to Monas (8am-3pm), the giant penis of Jakarta. Tip for crossing the road from a local: You must walk like you don’t care about your life. Just walk at a steady pace, the vehicles will give way to you.
Construction began in 1961 and was only completed in 1975. Known as “Sukarno’s erection,” it is 137m high with a 14m flame in 33kg of gold. You pay 5000 rp to enter base of the shaft to visit an awful National History Museum, the worst museum I’ve seen, showing a whitewashed version of Indonesia’s struggle to independence. To travel up the shaft to the top, you’ve to pay another 7500 rp. The queue to the lift was terrible. Jakarta has the slowest lifts I’ve ever taken, even in its malls. There is only one lift up Monas, and the lift takes 5-10 minutes each time. Everyone tried to squeeze, so be prepared to queue. Wear thick underwear. The view at the top was equally boring. My advice is skip the Monas completely. It is enough to view it from afar.
You’ve to be at the Museum Nasional (8.30am-2.30pm), west of Monas–sorry, you’ve to cross the road again–by 10.15am because volunteers from Indonesian Heritage Society conduct free tours in English every Tue and Thur, second Sat and last Sunday of the month. If there is a museum you must visit in Jakarta, this is it. Built in 1862, it houses an enormous collection.
Not contented to be the giant penis of Jakarta, Monas houses many mini-penises.
Honestly, at this point, we had enough of bad museums, lousy attractions, locals who didn’t know their attractions, the crowd, heat and smog. So if you have more tolerance than us, walk 1km east of Monas to Mesjid Istiqlal, the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia, where USA President Obama once gave a speech. (Fun fact: Do you know Obama lived in Jakarta from age 8-10 and was affectionately known by Indonesians as “Barry”? A statue of him can be found at Besuki Menteng School where he studied.) Across from the mosque is a neo-Gothic Catholic Cathedral built in 1901.
Southeast of Monas are Taman Ismail Marzuki (8.30am-5pm, +62-21-3193-7325), a cultural center of drama, music and dance, and Jalan Surabaya, an “antique street.”
But if, after Monas, you skip the mosque and everything else like us–mosques are everywhere right?–you can take either the bajaj or bus Line #1 to the malls. Start with Mall Sarinah, the oldest mall in Jakarta where young people still hang out and where you can find affordable stuff. Lunch there. Try pecel lele, fried catfish, at a roadside stall. Look for “Pecel Lele” banner near Bakmi GM (Jl. Sunda, No. 9).
Food Around Grand Indonesia
After you shop and don’t want to eat in restaurants in Grand Indonesia and prefer more local flavors, try these. Please check the opening hours with the locals before you go.
1. Soto Jakarta Pak Yus (Jalan Teuku Umar No. 2, Menteng): pictured right, taken by Huccalily.
2. Harum Manis (Pavillion Apartment, Jl. KH. Mas Mansyur Kav. 24, Jakarta 10220, Indonesia; +62-21-5794-1727; 11.30-3pm, 6-11pm) – Variety of Indonesian food in an upscale setting.
3. Menteng Plaza (Jl. HOS Cokroaminoto; 5pm-5am): try the fried rice (nasi goreng or nasi gila) and deep-fried tofu in sweet-spicy sauce (tahu gerjrot).
4. Bunga Rampai (Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro no. 35, Menteng; +62-21-3192-6224) – Variety of Indonesian food in an upscale setting.
5. Sop Kaki Kambing (Jl. Kendal) – Goat soup.
Food in Grand Indonesia Shopping Town
Actually, to be honest, we feel that there isn’t much of a difference of food in “authentic” roadside shops and in chain outlets. Many of these chains can be found in Grand Indonesia and you really don’t have to leave the mall.
1. Forget Starbucks. You get a great view at Warung Kopi, a cafe, within the departmental store, Alun Alun, level 3 of the West side of the mall. They serve traditional herbal teas that old medicinal women used to carry from door to door. Very bitter, but the Chinese believe that bitter medicine works. I drank one and felt better.
2. Under the Ismaya Group, a group similar to Les Amis Group in Singapore, catering to upper-middle class, we love Social House (east mall, 1st fl) so much that we went back thrice! The decor was fantastic, lots of wood, and it had a great vibe. But the food was just average. The wagyu rendang (marbling 9, pictured below) was too dry to eat and I, who never waste food, gave it up. What a waste of good meat. We went back for the drinks. For teetotalers, the Grandma’s Ice Lemon Tea was amazing: ice lemon tea sweetened by sugarcane, with a dollop of refreshing lemon sorbet. For cocktails, go for the tiramisu cocktail (above). Being a Muslim country, the tax on alcohol is high, so alcohol is almost the same price as Singapore. No joke. For lunch, we spent about 580, 000 rp for two. Opens till late night, good for drinks at the bar.
Panna Cotta cocktail from Social House – more potent but less delicious than the Tiramisu.
Warung Leko: Iga Penyat
3. Warung Leko (Level 5, West mall, +62-21-2358-1185) is a cheesy but cute Indonesian chain restaurant in the shape of a New York subway train. They pretty much nailed everything. We ordered Iga Penyet (smashed short ribs), Bandeng Tanpa Duri (fried boneless milkfish) and tao-gay and they were all delicious. Spicy level can be adjusted, ask for the English menu. 185000rp for two.
4. If you’re sick of Indonesian food, The Grand Duck King (Level 3A; +62-21-2358-0834 or +62-21-2358-0845, facebook), a chain restaurant, is quite impressive, offering Cantonese cuisine. A huge restaurant of splendor. The duck was wonderful, fat, tender but not oily but the other two dishes we had, a fish a tri-egg spinach, were lackluster. 410, 000 rp for three persons.
Skye Restaurant & Bar
5. On the 56th floor, Skye–locals pronounce it as “sky-E” like Wall-E–overlooks the city, and the jam from so far above looks like twinkling stars. The decor itself is eclectic, very edgy and industrial, quite like Singapore’s tapas bars. Like Social House and Dragonfly, Skye is under the Ismaya group (seriously, we spent a lot of money on the Ismaya group). Social House and Skye share the same executive chef, Chef Tristan Balian.
We tried 4 or 5 of their signature cocktails–they were all perfectly balanced and delectable, a great start to the evening. But the foie gras had a wet dog stench, so bad that for the first time in a long time, I sent the food back. I puked a little in my mouth and had to chew gum to rid the taste in my mouth.
However, the mains we had were fantastic. Maybe the sucking pig for two (above) can be shared between two Indonesians, but to not two Singaporeans. But tastewise, it was far superior to the suckling pig at Catalunya in Singapore, the restaurant opened by three michelin star chefs of El Bulli. Thankfully, the suckling pig was different from babi guling, in that the suckling pig was more like a roulade, succulent and crispy. The other main, a chicken dish, was also very tasty but could be moister.
The problem I have with the dessert is that there is no option: all twelve or so are cakes. We ordered a Snicker cake, which was not bad, but it was dense and heavy and we wanted something light to cleanse our palates. About a million rp for two.
After dinner, you’ve three options:
1. BAR: If you dine at Skye, proceed to Skye bar, an al fresco 56th bar, with guest DJs and spend the night there, or go down to Social House bar.
2. MOVIES: In every mall, there are cinemas. So if you’re in Grand Indonesia, go to blitzmegaplex, a new and state-of-art cinema, at about 50, 000 rp a ticket.
3. Clubbing: If you’re not tired of dancing the night before (See Day 1 suggested itinerary), I’d suggest you go to Dragonfly on Day 1, and go to X2 today. Because after dinner, you can go to Plaza Senayan, where X2 is, and shop there for a while before going to X2.
Jakarta Itinerary Day 3: South Jakarta
Basically, South Jakarta is all about eating. So if you’re tired, just sleep in and when the time comes, fly back to your country. Or go back to Grand Indonesia area to hang out and finish shopping. If you have time before your flight, you can visit these malls:
Mall Pacific Place
Food in South Jakarta
1. Ikan Bakar Cianjur (Jalan Cipete Raya, no. 35; +62-21-7590-0222; 10am-10pm) – try the nasi liwet, guarme bakar, fried gurame fish, and karedok.
2. Ibu Endang Warung (Jl. Cipete Raya, opposite Epilogue) – try the opor ayam (chicken curry).
3. Colonial (Lippo Mall Kemang-Avenue of the Stars | OD-UG-11, Jl Pangeran Antasari No. 36, Near Kemang; +62-21-2905-6891) – French cuisine
4. Gado-Gado Boplo (Jalan Panglima Polim 4; +62-21-724-8334) – Chain Indonesian restaurant
5. Ayam Goreng Nyona Suharti (Jl. Kapten Tendean No. 13; +62-21-525-4595; 10am-9pm) – Supposedly to be the best fried chicken in Jakarta
6. Adem Ayem (Jl. Slamet Riyadi No. 342) for its gudeg, or jackfruit stew.
7. Pagi Sore (Jl. Pondok No. 143)
8. Santika (Jl. Bendungan Hilir across from the market) – order kangkung and gurame fish.
9. Beautika (Jl. Hang Lekir, No. 1; +62-21-722-6683) for Manado food.
10. Sop Buntut Bogor Café (Pacific Place Mall, level 5; +62-21-5797-3238) – oxtail soup.
11. Bumbu Desa (Jl. Suryo, No. 38; +62-21-720-1244) – a chain restaurant.
Kafe Betawi: Mie tek tek
Kafe Betawi – Ayam Goreng (fried chicken)
12. Kafe Betawi (Kuta Kasablanka, Jl Kasablanka Raya Lt. UG, +62-21-2946-5202) – Another chain shop which is also available at Grand Indonesia. Quite satisfactory food. About 200, 000 rp for two.
13. Saving the best for last. Besides the beef intestines which Huccalily’s Jakarta colleague ta-bao for us for breakfast (so I don’t have the address, sorry), this was the best food I had in Jakarta. Sate Khas Senayan is another chain restaurants and I ate at Kota Kasablanka Mall. Goodness, the ikan bakar (grilled fish) was perfect, so succulent and moist with a layer of crispy char and charcoal fragrance. The sauce and chili were perfect too. We also had ayam goreng (fried chicken), which was great too. 185 000rp for two.
As you leave Jakarta, you may take the advice of Indonesian singer Adhitia Sofyan and “Forget Jakarta”:
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.