Friday, May 25, 2012

Jakarta Food Diary

It was my third day in Jakarta, and except for a few items  in the breakfast buffet, I have not eaten anything Indonesian. And so, even though I was stuffed from dinner and the coffee and cake afterwards,  I resolved to correct this oversight back at the hotel by ordering room service (it helps that the prices were not very prohibitive, I think). I ordered this

Nasi Goreng Kampung -traditional fried rice with prawns served with chicken satay, fried eggs,
and fried country chicken. Nasi goreng is said to be the national dish of Indonesia
I was almost done when I realized I left the dip, together with a vegetable side dish, at the tray. It was like eating roasted pig without the liver sauce, LOL.
This is what I ate during my first breakfast at the hotel. I tried to eat healthy.
I bit into my papaya before realizing I forgot to take a photo.
I tried their version of lumpia (Filipino fried spring rolls). It was spicy!
The next day I sampled Indonesian food. I like the spicy deep fried crackers made from melinjo nuts--emping--similar to the Philippine kropek.
A sliver of emping at the bottom left.
The hotel provided Mentos candies during the workshop. I almost cracked a tooth when I bit into one--the outer layer was almost as hard as regular candy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jakarta Diary--Going Japanese

One thing I notice about Jakarta, or at least Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, is the proliferation of Japanese restaurants. On my second night, where hours before I made a presentation during a blackout, we went to Pasta de Waraku.
One side of the restaurant was a photo op waiting to happen.
One of the better pasta dishes I tried--squid, octopus and spicy cod roe in wafu sauce. It's also my first time to eat pasta with octopus. The squid was buttery soft, the octopus gave an interesting texture, firm but not rubbery, and the cod roe and wafu sauce tied everything together. Wafu typically consists of soy sauce, rice vinegar and vegetable oil.
I went back for more the next day, even though I know it's not good to repeat dining places. I had salmon calppacho, thinly sliced raw salmon. Yum!
I paired the seafood pasta with red miso
with the oreo shake.
Both were just okay.

We also tried coffee here at Ninety-nine Restaurant, located at the mall's basement, near Ranch Market--the upscale grocery where I saw snakefruits.
One wall used live plants as wall accents.
The banana caramel cake was just right--creamy, not too sweet, and perfect with coffee.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jakarta Diary--the View on the Way to the Hotel

At first glance it was as if I never left the country. Jakarta, or what I saw on my way to the hotel, looks so familiar.
Until I noticed the driver was seated on my right.
One of the interesting landmarks near the airport.
This reminds me of trips via expressway to Pampanga, a province north of Manila.
This wouldn't look out of place in Makati, the country's central business district. The skyscrapers, though, seem grander.
Jakarta is an hour behind Manila. We arrived around 5 pm, just in time to experience the gridlock, Indonesia-style. Again, this reminds me of home.
Our hotel is located near the Selamat Datang (Welcome) monument, featuring statues of a man and woman on a pedestal. This was built in time for the Asian Games in the '60s.
The monument, near the hotel, was fitting, as I slept in the embrace of a city that is both familiar and unfamiliar.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jakarta Diary--Hotel Kempinski

By now you already know i have a fondness for nice hotels. Like what I said to my colleague earlier today--there are two things that I require when I travel: nice digs and food that represents the place, and I'm all set. We were booked at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, formerly Hotel Indonesia, the first five star hotel in Indonesia. It is linked to the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, one of the largest luxury malls in South East Asia.

I have no idea what the hotel was, much less its provenance, and so when when we checked in and I saw the lobby, I was impressed. This is how my room looks like.
This is where I prepared my PowerPoint presentation.
I like it because when the lights are on everything's bright and cheery, helping me stay awake. Unfortunately, on the day of my presentation, Jakarta plunged into darkness. Goodbye PowerPoint. The show must go on, so I talked without the help of a mike and air-conditioning. More of this in a later post.

I particularly like this design element behind the work table.
My room has an unusual tub. Unusual in the sense that it doesn't look like most hotel tubs. Sayang, I wasn't able to use it.
I love the toilet--it's Japanese. It senses your presence, lifts its lid pronto, warms itself automatically, the works. I wanted to bring this home.
This is where I took my breakfast. Beautiful!
Part of the lobby.
One of the design elements along the hall.
I love a hotel that uses real plants.
On my last day, I asked a hotel staff to take my picture at the lobby. This is the best picture he took, tee-hee!
More next time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jakarta Diary--Travel Jitters

With only barely a week's notice, I found myself being sent to Indonesia for a best practices workshop with some of our counterparts in the region. I won't bore you with work details--suffice it to say that I was excited when I learned of this trip. I stayed for a year in Irian Jaya, Indonesia when I was in pre-school. I don't have memories of Jakarta, the place where I'm going, but it's always nice retracing your way back.

Another reason why this trip is special is that it's my first out-of-the-country trip for the year. Last year I went to Macau with two of my friends, and for the most part I relied on them for the travel details. Now, even though I'm with one of my superiors, I'm basically on my own.

I was in the NAIA Airport early Tuesday morning. The place was already abuzz with activity, with check-in lines snaking from here to there. I was wishing the airport was brighter and more airy. I tend to worry about the whole thing, but I breezed through check-in and immigration, and I had ample time waiting at the boarding lounge. I killed time improving my Spanish with my smartphone app, and before I knew it, we were being called to board.

We were booked in a Singapore Air flight. I'm partial to PAL, the national carrier, but it has a thing or two to learn from Singapore Airlines. The inflight meals for a start. To this day I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of our breakfast.

We were supposed to catch a connecting flight in Singapore's Changi airport, but since we arrived late (our guess), and baggage transfers take time (their official line), we were transferred to a later flight. We were given 20 Singaporean dollars for lunch.

If I'm going to be stranded in an airport, I'd choose Changi airport, voted one of the world's top airports (click here). They say that if you're going to showcase a country, one of the things you should develop is the airport. The airport's bright and airy, and laid out simply. I love the souvenir shop--not all the items were tacky, and I made a mental note to buy one of the figurines of the elephant conservation campaign the next time I visit.

For lunch I had the dry Tai Wah Pork Noodle. It had pork, pork liver, meatballs, and dried cuttlefish.The sauce was spicy, which was good, but the dish was a little gamey for my taste.
This was the stalls I chose my lunch from. I decided not to go to the usual eateries I could find in Manila.
After a couple of hours we arrived at the Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta) Airport, which reminded me of the domestic airports of Zamboanga (Moorish details) and Laoag (the red bricks). This is one instance I love about holding and ASEAN airport--one less queue to fall into.
More Indonesian posts soon.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dining is an Experience at Ka Lui's

Probably the best known restaurant in Puerto Princesa City is Ka Lui's Restaurant. Be sure it's part of your city tour package. If not, book a lunch or dinner a day ahead. By the way we go to the restaurant via tricycle, which looks different from those of Manila.
I didn't know what to expect when we got to Ka Lui. Things took on a fast clip in April, preventing me from doing some online research. I think it worked better that way--not knowing what lies ahead. I was an excited kid when I saw the signage.
At the waiting area, we were made to remove our shoes. This reminds me of what we do when visiting neighbors in my mother's hometown.
Remember old picture books depicting stylized indigenous wooden homes? That's what I felt when I entered the restaurant--gleaming wooden floors, spaces filled with curiosities, naif art everywhere.
We fell in love with our table decor made of mangoes, and red and unripe bananas. It was a photo-op waiting to happen.
And another.
Last na.
We were fortunate to meet Ka Lui himself, who made sure dishes came out okay before leaving the kitchen.
Installation art made of bananas, papayas, and coconuts at a corner near our table. I was sorely tempted to pluck a banana.
While waiting for the food, we took to more cam-whoring. I was gunning for candid in this shot.
For starters, we were given a plate of seagrapes tempered with a dash of calamansi.
We ordered crabs, among others. For the rest of what we ate you can read it here and here.
For those who eat crabs with their hands, like me, you'll be directed here
to reach the washing area.
After dinner, we were invited by Ka Lui to see what lies at the back of the restaurant. Art was everywhere.
This is my favorite: a picture of a lady beckoning by the women's toilet.
A curtain of red peppers in front of the restaurant was another photo op hard to resist.