FJ Bistro interiorFJ Bistro

Since my move to Jakarta in May 2014, I have had enough time sampling the local offerings to get a relatively good feel for the food scene here. In a nutshell, there is a lot of choice, a high turn over of restaurants but overall some fantastic dare I say Melbourne class restaurants and cafes on offer. You will be surprised to know that many cafe’s have been inspired by and modelled on the Melbourne coffee scene. Currently there are about 5-6000 Indonesian students living and studying in Victoria so it is no surprise that they look to replicate Melbourne’s cafe standard on their return back.

Indonesia like many Asian cities, has a big mall culture, so it won’t be a big surprise to stumble upon an amazing café or restaurant during a trip to your local mall (like mini Chadstone’s as opposed to plazas). Having said that if you are on a food hunt, like any city you do have to travel to particular places to find the specific spot you are after.

kemang viewThe view of Kemang from my apartment

I live in Kemang which is an expat suburb. It is one of the few areas in Jakarta where you can walk the streets (kind of),  resembling the closest thing to ‘strip shopping’ I’ve seen. Usually footpaths in Jakarta are riddled with holes and uneven slabs of concrete, which often exposes the underground sewers of Jakarta – not a pretty sight!

Being in Kemang, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to café’s and restaurants, which is why a lot of my favourite spots listed below are there. I have an ever-growing list but for now this is my collection of great spots so far. If you are coming to Jakarta for just a few days, I have bolded the places you should definitely try and get to.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSome of the beautiful local fruit on offer

Enjoy and if you need any additional recommendations, please feel free to email me: info@decisivecravings.com.au,

JC x
 

 

CAFÉ’S AND BAKERIES

 

Anomali – a great coffee chain (yes it sounds like an oxymoron but the coffee here is fantastic). Anomali café’s are all really beautifully designed and make a great spot for a freelancer’s office. If you’re looking for a gift to buy for family and friends visiting Anomali’s coffee beans are packaged beautifully.

 

AUTHENTIQUEBreakfast at Authentique

Authentique – really sweet little bakery that make killer treats. I highly recommend their canele, apricot and almond tart and croque monsieur. They have just opened two more locations, one in Kemang and also Cipete, both of which are much larger than the original cafe and great for bigger groups.

 

Café Antipodean – great little café just down the road from Authentique. Everything is really fresh and flavoursome. Their lamb burger is phenomenal and their tandoori chicken and rice is excellent. According to various sources it is one of the best places to get coffee in Kemang. They also have two other locations, unfortunately the most recent one has not been updated on their website.

 

BURGREENSA green lunch at Burgreen’s

Burgreens – recently voted Jakarta’s best vegetarian restaurant (there aren’t a lot of them) these guys make an excellent mushroom burger, as well as mushroom steak and have so many options for vegans and vegetarians. The location is a bit out of the way and is a really peaceful spot, it will provide some refreshing scenery from the normal Jakartan chaos.

 

Casa – Quaint little café and bar above an awesome clothing/lifestyle store called A’ksara. Cute fitout and a small but quality menu of snacks, mains and desserts.

 

Warung Kebunku – this place is a little haven for me. I go once a week or so to get my fix of healthy, organic homemade food. Try their Mie Goreng Ayam, and their Beef and Mushroom meatball noodle soup (Bakso Bintik) – it is ridiculously good.

Note: No air-con, so can get a little warm for non-locals.

 

ERIC KAYSERAfternoon tea at Eric Kayser

 

Eric Kayser – I love, love this place and have taken many friends to check it out. They make some of the best bread you will find in Jakarta along with pastries. They also do great chocolate almond croissants and chocolate chip biscuits.

 

Monolog – apparently the owners of the Monolog café’s have spent some time in Melbourne. When you see it you will understand, it reminds me of a hybrid version of Auction Rooms and St Ali but newer. Try the couscous salad and any of the drinks, I love the Regina Iced Hazelnut Drink. They have three locations around Jakarta, but their cafe at Plaza Senayan is my favourite.

 

Common Grounds – one of Jakarta’s better coffee makers and creators of in my opinion, some of the best poached eggs I have ever had, most certainly one of the best in Jakarta. These guys were also involved with the cafe swap with St Ali back in September.


115
Snacking at 115 coffee

 

One Fifteen Coffee –  when I don’t want to work from home, this is the place I come. So far, it is my favourite café in Jakarta – the atmosphere and setting is open, warm and they make the best soy chai in the city. They also always have decadent little treats to go with your coffee or chai and the staff are super friendly. Tip: if you upload an Instagram post while you are there and include
the hashtag #115coffee with your post you could score yourself a free coffee. Check out their Instagram @115coffee for more details.

Paul Patisserie – a great spot for some delicious French pastries. I highly recommend the croissants with apricot glaze and their eclairs!

Three Buns JakartaThe digs at Three Buns

Three Buns – another impressively decked out eatery by the same guys from Potato Head in Bali. As the name suggests, you can expect a lot of burgers. The new truffled burger is a great choice. The fit out is magnificent, so if you are after some great pics and a decent burger, check it out. You should also check out Jakarta’s Potato Head Garage, located in one of the city’s most luxurious malls. They make a very decent Thai Beef salad and a lot of the great drinks and food from the menu at their Bali restaurant.

 

RESTAURANTS

 

Holy Crab SenopatiA little sample of what to expect at Holy Crab

 

Holy Crab – imagine going into a restaurant ordering your choice of seafood, basting (sounds like Nando’s, I know), then having it poured on to your table along with a bib and utensils to destroy the seafood’s shell. This is what you can expect when you eat at Holy Crab, it can get a little pricey but it is definitely a memorable experience. Also, you must order the Cajun fries the seasoning is amazing.

 

Koko Bogana – this small and charming local restaurant is a must-visit in South Jakarta for authentic Central Javan cuisine. The menu is completely in Indonesian so make sure you have the Google Translate App on hand. Koko Bogana’s menu offers a great insight into the diversity of Indonesian flavours. All dishes come wrapped in a banana leaf and include delicious sides. My favourite is the Nasi Langgi – a steamed coconut rice dish complete with fried sambal, a boiled egg, stewed spiced chicken, tempeh,  and greens. I must also mention that meals here are very modestly priced with most mains from Rp. 25,000. Before leaving make sure you check out their traditional sweets at the counter. Also, a must visit is Pasar Santa (Jalan Cisanggiri II)  around the corner. It operates as a traditional market but up the top on the third level from Thursday to Sunday the next generation of youth and the entrepreneur minded have created their own community and economy. The atmosphere here is incredibly unique and vibrant with hipster Indonesians giving their ideas and passions a go. Picture vinyl stores, cafe’s, clothing stores and stalls selling food truck style foods like creme brûlée, cold drip coffee, hot pots, hot dogs, wraps and more. This is a delight and must for any Jakartan itinerary.

Jl. Cipaku 1 No.2, Kebayoran Baru

 

Le Quartier – a lovely French Bistro with some additional dishes like pizza and pasta (it is very common for the locals to adapt international cuisine ‘creatively’ – see Notes section). The risotto’s and steak are both apparently great but I loved my smoked duck and camembert pizza. Their desserts are incredible including their decadent crepes (easily shared), 6 hour apple cake and spekkules soufflé.

View of Jakarta from KemangThe view of Central Jakarta from Kemang

 

Pizza Barboni – many including myself agree that this is the best pizza on offer in Jakarta. The actual restaurant is small, and very low-key/casual built for eating your pizza and then heading elsewhere for drinks. The margherita, salsiccia and funghi pizzas are all high on my list. They also make a Nutella pizza – without local adaptations! It hasn’t been updated on their website yet but you can also find them at Plaza Festival in Kuningan.

 

Tugu Kunstring Paleis – my sister recently came to visit me in Jakarta and after recommending she go for a drink here she returned home asking me why I hadn’t let her know about it earlier, she loved it! The Kunstring is quite a unique spot for Jakarta, it’s an extraordinary building that used to house the Fine Arts Circle of the Dutch East Indies. It now functions as an arts space, bar, gallery and shop, allowing you to drink and eat while surrounded by some incredible art pieces and well preserved surrounds of a past era. A great spot for food and art lovers!

 

Turkuaz – if you are looking for a restaurant with ambience and a great setting with friends, Turkish restaurant Turkuaz is a great option. They have a whole host of food options and for me the greatest selling point: a Baklava Bar where you can choose from a range of different Baklava (like ones with chocolate in them) and then smoke some Shisha. These guys also offer B.Y.O and are located on a really happening strip where you can bar hop.

Taco Local – this place somehow makes you feel like you are anywhere else but Jakarta, in fact, San Francisco comes to mind. The tacos here are excellent and for me the setting really makes it – Boho/retro Mexican theming fused with bikes hanging on the ceiling and walls (half of the restaurant used to house a bike store so they’ve kept its original feel).

Note: just be careful with your drinks. I found a few suspect plastic pieces in my drink – didn’t effect the flavour but am just glad I didn’t swallow them.

 

Social House – undoubtedly the best café/restaurant (that is not a hotel) to offer all day breakfast/brunch in Jakarta. The actual fit out is really impressive and the food is great. I cannot guarantee the food will always come out quickly or at the same time as your other guests but the food is consistent and you’ll be eating in a great location!

Shabu Nobu Firecracker rollThe Firecracker roll from Shabu Nobu – filled with scallop and asparagus and wrapped in raw tuna

Shabu Nobu – a small but quality Japanese restaurant in Kemang. I highly recommend their Sweet Sapear and Firecracker rolls (pictured above). Do make sure you ask for sauces on the side as they can be very generous.

Jl.Kemang Raya No. 6, Ground Floor, Kemang, Jakarta Selatan

 

Sushi Tei – my other go-to when I feel like smashing some sash. This place is not cheap but the quality is great and it is one of the few Japanese restaurants to offer sea urchin. They also have a sushi train, which is great fun! Several locations across Jakarta and Indonesia.

Union Bistro ribs and martinisThe truffle popcorn Martini and ribs at Union Bistro

UNION BISTRO RIBSUnion Bistro’s famous bourbon ribs

Union – Wow, just wow. This bistro/bar is huge personal favourite. The food and drinks are excellent and the setting is really unique, it kind of feels like you’re in a well-lit version of Francois or a mini sized Cookie. Try the ribs (pictured above) and the fois gras burger – insane! Their bar staff are also very talented and can create some pretty impressive cocktails, I love the Truffled Popcorn Martini (also featured above) – a great combination. Patrons also come in flocks to snag a slice of their Red Velvet cake which is very good! They have also recently released a Red Velvet pie but this is only available at their Grand Indonesia restaurant (note to self!).  Three well chosen locations, Plaza Senayan, Grand Indonesia and Pondok Indah.

Orient Eight The Mulia JakartaThe amazing Sunday Brunch at Orient8 at The Mulia

Orient8 – if you happen to be in Jakarta on a Sunday book in a brunch at this restaurant, which is inside The Mulia Hotel. One of my well seasoned expat friends in Jakarta says that this is one of the highest quality brunches you will find in the City. The times I have been were impressive, a must-do especially if you opt for the free flow alcohol with your brunch.

 

FJS BISTRO TUNA TARTAREThe tuna tartare at FJ Bistro

 

FJ Bistro – Recently renovated, FJ’s Bistro in Kemang exemplifies the interior design prowess of Indonesia’s up and comers in the hospitality industry. However unlike some establishments where the food isn’t as flash as the fit out, FJ Bistro’s menu delivers. Try the duck spring rolls and the tuna tartare. Note, you enter the restaurant through their very cool unisex fashion boutique on the ground floor then go up the stairs.

Jalan Kemang Raya No. 25, Kemang, Jakarta Selatan

Eastern Promise – also known as EP’s, this veteran expat pub is right next door to my place so I have been here many times to watch (unintentionally) the AFL, and soccer matches (intentional). It is a very popular spot for expats mainly because of their coverage of many international sports matches. They are also famous for their curries (who would’ve thought) – which are excellent.

 

Bistro Garcon rare cheesecakeBaked rare cheesecake from Bistro Garcon

Bistro Garcon – there has been a lot of hype around this French bistro because of their French chef who has worked at Michelin starred restaurants. The fit out is fantastic, the drinks are great, and there is a general elegance about the place – a perfect place for a catch up with a group of friends; however the highlight much more than the food are their desserts and cakes! Try the Pistachio eclair and the baked rare cheesecake!

 

DRINKS

 

FJ’s at Colony – this gorgeous rooftop bar is just across the road from my apartment. It reminds me of being at the Rooftop Bar in Melbourne and definitely has a Cookie feel about it. I love this place more for the ambience, view and setting than the food but they staff are all extremely friendly and they serve TWG teas (one of my favourites) so I get by ok. One of their signature and must-try drinks are the Gin Sorbets – like little gin glaciers which are also available at their sister restaurant FJ Bistro.

Suni and I at Dialogue edMy sister and I at a popular spot in Kemang, Dialogue for Instagram poses on their famous stairway

 

Tree House – a cute, local bar that is very reminiscent of E54. It is small and quaint and has a great alfresco upstairs area for larger groups. The drinks are really high quality here, I highly recommend their Espresso or Chocolate Martini’s.

 

Skye Bar – if you are expecting guests in Jakarta, this is one of the places you must take them to during their stay. Located on the 56th floor of the BCA Tower in the Grand Indonesia building, the views of Jakarta are unparalleled. A funky fitout, great cocktails (though a little exy), and breathtaking views of Jakarta that will absolutely impress. Be sure to make a booking unless you want to stand and look at the view all night.

 

Tips while in Jakarta: Sugar is automatically put into a lot of the drinks here. Make sure you ask for ‘gulah pisah’ (sugar on the side), your dentist will thank you for it! The same goes with any dishes that come with sauces, it’s always safer to ask for them on the side.

As I mentioned earlier, be wary of ordering Western dishes. You can often expect what I call a ‘local adaptation’, there have been countless times where I’ve ordered a burger, pizza or sandwich to be presented with an impressively creative but often disappointing version of what I expected with unusual ingredients or just an inaccurate dish creation.

Try to stick to popular items and note what other people have ordered to avoid disappointment. Also, it is very common for the menu item you’ve ordered to not be available, I’m not sure why this is so commonplace but always be prepared to have a second or third option up your sleeve just in case!

 

MONGGO

 

SOUVENIRS

If you’re looking for some unique souvenirs, try Monggo Chocolate, Pipiltin Cocoa, Tulisan (bags and accessories) or some take- away coffee beans from one of the Jakarta’s great cafe’s.

 

 

You’ll also like:

Bali – a Foodie Weekend

5 Ways to eat like a local

Bali – a mini guide

 

Please note that menu items, management or trading hours may have varied since time of review. Our thoughts and opinions are based on our experiences only.