..It's a journey after all.. : Food and Travel Blog based in Jakarta: September 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Openrice Gathering : Taiyo Sushi, a place for fusion sushi

BAM! I finally have time to post another review! I have been so busy with my life that I just didn't have the time to sit, relax and write.. Now, let's get started

It was lunch time, I was hungry.. I have been waiting for the sushi fiesta with OpenRice at Taiyo Sushi..
Went out driving alone, it was scorching hot and I felt like a total sweat ball. Not attractive, I know.. A less than 7 minutes drive from my house to the nearest and most favorite sushi restaurant according to me :

TAIYO SUSHI.. Yes, not Taio Cruz, but Taiyo Sushi.. I have actually done a review before about this place. Right after they had finished their renovation, I asked my friends to come and join me for dinner. Twice that week we had our meal in here. We simply found it to be THAT GOOD.. They have a simple concept, really. Fusion Sushi with their signature cheese mayo sauce and that grilled scent of torched topping are the  two things that I found most lovable at Taiyo. 

I was having a sore throat, so I ordered hot ocha even though they have served us with fresh watermelon juice.. 
Clearer view of the Chawan Mushi (12rb). Topped with Japanese fish cake and mushrooms, a bit of spring onions. On the bottom, it was filled with chunks of tender chicken meat.. Warm comfort food indeed..
The making process in the open kitchen.. This is located in the middle of the sushi bar
Tempura Maki Floss (22K). Crunchy tempura with floss.. Simple yet it compliments each other..
Taiyo Special Roll (52K). I personally like this fusion sushi very much. You see how they torched the top and the sides of the sushi. When you put it in your mouth, you'll get the right hint of grilled smell. The cheese mayo is splendid. It literally felt like it just melted down. Plus the half cooked fresh salmon, oh, what more can I say?
Aburi Mozzarella Roll (56K). Another salmon sushi topped with floss. Again this is pure love.. The mayo, floss and cheese are definitely a perfect combination. If you like salty food, dip it into the soy sauce before putting it inside your mouth.. and taste that sweet joy of having something good dancing on your tongue..
Unagi Salmon Special (54K). I love they put the crunchy bits inside the sushi. The salmon, again, literally melted away in your mouth. I personally love this one, but I just wish they've put a stronger kick for the unagi. But other than that, I like it
This is the manager, introducing their new pasta menu
Say hello to Kare Pasta (45K). Beef fettuccine with Japanese curry sauce. If you are a pasta lover, this might be the right dish for you. Talking about fusion, I think this dish is the most 'fusion-ized' dish you can get, Italian meet the Japanese.. It's a bit spicy for me, but again, I can't handle my spicy food..
Spicy Salmon Fry (26K). They use spicy mayo sauce but I didn't find it spicy at all. I love how crunchy yet not so greasy the dish turned out to be. 
I had such a great time with OpenRice and other food bloggers that came to Taiyo Sushi that day. I laughed a lot and I had forgotten the fact that I was actually a bit sick and sweaty. They said the best medicine is laughter, well, in this case, that line was very reliable. But I have to add good food in additional as they have indeed brightened up my day

Click here to check out my first review of Taiyo Sushi : http://elvina-febriani.blogspot.com/2012/08/taiyo-sushi-not-cruz.html

I personally stick up to my first review, I just LOVE this place. The fact that it's near my house, it's delicious and it's new keep me going back to this place again and again. My friends all agreed that this is the place to be when craving for fusion sushi. We were all completely full and belly-satisfied.. If you were in the area nearby, just go give it a try. Order a dish or two and just have a good time enjoying simple yummy fusion..

Jln. Pluit Putera Raya no 17
Jakarta Utara 14450
Phone : 021-6693675

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Blacklisted.. Get your bittersweet dose of caffeine..

"Why did you name it Blacklisted?" That's the first question that I uttered out. It's an unusual name indeed.

1675, the year King Charles II banned coffee houses
That's the reason why.. In the year of 1675, apparently drinking coffee is banned due to some political threat issues. They thought the caffeine in the coffee itself served as a mild opium. Aside from the fact that drinking coffee used to be 'blacklisted', the trend and habit continues to this very day.

Personally, I know very little of coffee. I drink them occasionally (in fact, I enjoy them a LOT) but I never pay any attention to the different qualities that they can pursue. Being invited to Blacklisted last week, was such a HUGE honor cause I feel so enlightened.

The invitation itself came out of the blue. It was almost midnight and I was just laying on my bed, ready to sleep. Suddenly, I received a message in twitter from Ellyna from Culinary Bonanza asking met to join her for tomorrow. I said yes in an instant.. ;p We were also with  Ines from Oh My Good Food

The Menu..
Saxon Wright, the Head Judge for World Barista Championship and coffee expert, is the one who's behind all the formula for the gourmet coffee in Blacklisted. He's such a humble guy and willing to share his views in coffee. He really cares about the tiny little details that will bring out the best of whatever every customer is going to have in their cups.

For starters, I have the privileged to drink a cup of cappuccino made by Mr. Saxon Wright himself..

This is Mr. Saxon Wright. He set the coffee machine and in charge of training the whole staff in every little detailed process.. From roasting, to grinding, to serving it to the customers in a cup of yummy coffee
Making sure there's no air.. Press press press it down
Voila.. My cappuccino is ready to be served.. Full concentration though
"Even a two degrees difference can bring out a different taste in your cup of coffee" said the coffee expert.
The RULES of having a good cup of coffee :
1. From the quality of the bean itself. From the time of harvesting, roasting, grinding, and brewing really determine the final quality and taste of your coffee.. Fortunately, Blacklisted offer you all types of coffee beans from locals to imported ones..

2. The man behind the machine. Every man can bring out different taste of coffee. If they don't understand how to brew coffee the right way, no matter how high the quality of the bean is, they'll just put it to a waste. I, myself, no matter how hard I try to copy the way my Mum makes coffee for my Dad, it will just never taste the same. Which I think, it kinda make coffee brewing perceived as an art cause different people will have their own unique way in creating their one cup of coffee.. Well, that's just how I see it..

Too bad Mr. Saxon was only staying for a while..
I was quite embarrassed actually cause I know so little of coffee, yet Saxon was being very kind, explaining to us in every detailed way possible to make us understand that it's not just about the brewing. They have these jars that can show you the final product of each process, from the green beans to the second cracked beans. 
He also gave us the honor of making Filtered Coffee. He said he drank this every morning and it's the cleanest coffee you can get. It's quite hard to press it down, cause on the bottom, there's a filter paper which will detain all of the unwanted residue. I only pressed it down for a while before I gave it back to him.. 
It almost looked like tea, right? It tasted very acidic, different from any other types of coffee I have ever drunk in my life. Saxon has predicted that we won't be able to appreciate the taste at our first try because the same thing happened to him. But right now, this is what he's having every day.. So, that made me a Newbie ;p
The roasting machine. Again, he's in charge of it. He's also training all of the staffs.. Blacklisted roast their own coffee bean everyday and keep it at least for 4 days(that's how long it takes to get the best coffee after the roasting process) before they grind and brew it. 
We heard this popping sound. It's the first crack! If you were there, oh my God, the smell was amazing!
Final outcome.. Saxon told us to have a bite. It's crunchy and you can smell a strong fragrant of coffee in the back of your mouth. I even consider of having it as a snack.. 
Second of all.. The pastries.. Oh yummy pastries.. :)

The pastries and cakes are made by a Lenotre-trained pastry chef with over 20 years of experience, Mr. Ong.. He's a Singaporean, too bad I didn't take any pictures of him. He's the sweetest humblest, the most comical stranger I've ever met. To be frank, he doesn't even look like a pastry chef and I could easily mistook him as another customer. He also sat down with us and have a little chat behind each sweetness..
Croissant Au Almond (17k). C'mon what could go wrong with a good cup of your dose of caffeine and a bite or two of good pastry. This picture right here, really made me appreciate how blessed I am. It's effortless to enjoy the two combination.. 
They have tiramisu, chocolate banana layer cake, red velvet, opera cake, etc
Fresh baked pastries everyday!

Spaghetti Javanese (48k). Yes, the pasta is green. They use green chilli sauce and shredded of chicken and shrimps. If you are a chilli fan, this is the right pasta for you. In every strand of pasta, I can definitely smell the hint of chilli..

Fettuccine Carbonara (48k) Yummy! It's creamy and at the top is beef bacon. The bacon isn't burned, I simply use the wrong filter while editing this photo (Sorry). The bacon was definitely crispy and cooked to perfection..
Oxtail Fried Rice (59k) They're really generous with the oxtail. I don't usually eat fried rice in cafes. But this one is exceptional. 
Grilled Salmon with rica rica sauce (60k). This menu is from the breakfast list. The bottom part is mashed potato. I super love this dish cause the fish was NOT FISHY AT ALL! And for 60k, I think it's worth it. The top layer of the fish was quite crispy just how I like it..

Banana Chocolate Frappe (35k), Mango Mojito (28k), Homemade Lemonade (20k). I love sour drinks.. I prefer soury drinks with my meals. Mango mojito and the lemonade are the winners indeed.. 
The cakes are about 35k but they also serve different types of desserts, like honey crumble affogato (35k), panna cotta (35k), etc, but the ones on the menu aren't available for takeaways.

The banana chocolate layer cake. YES OH MY GOD THIS IS SO YUMMY I COULD NOT SHOULD NOT WILL NOT STOP EATING IT! I asked Mr. Ong about this cake. He said the sliced and also mashed some of the banana to be put in the whole mixture. And the melted chocolate on the top of the cake is mind blowing. GAH.. I am drooling.. again.. 

The Tiramisu.. I can definitely smell that hint of rum... Creamy indeed
The opera cake.. Different layers bring out different texture.. 
I had such a wonderful time in Blacklisted. The people are warm and friendly. They really care about the food quality and the final product of both on the food and the drinks.. The combination of the meals, the coffee, the dessert is splendid. I will definitely recommend this place to all of you guys. If only the place is bigger or located somewhere more intimate, it'll definitely be my new favorite place to hide myself in everyday. LOL.. But seriously, give this place a try..

Have a cup of coffee of your choice and a slice of cake or other pastry. I hope you fall in love with it just like how I fell in love with it already.. :)

Puri Indah Mall, Ground Floor unit 71
Jl. Puri Agung, Puri Indah, Jakarta
Phone : 021-5823332
Facebook : blacklistedcoffee
Website : www.blacklistedcoffe.com

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Shanghai Trip.. PART 2

Here we go again..

Before I start typing, I just wanna tell you guys how lucky I am to be close to my siblings.. They're like my best friends and to them, I wanna say thank you for coping up and for being my personal tour guides when we were in China. As I have mentioned in my previous entry, I couldn't speak or listen to mandarin. I just know the stupid basics that elementary students know (I think they are smarter than me) : ni hao, wo ai ni, zhe ge, na ge, shen me and so on.. I know, it's quite embarrassing and very frustrating not to be able to talk to the locals.. English is just useless there.. Only a very few people might understand you.. Once I opened my mouth and said something in mandarin, the people will know in an instant that I am an outsider, and believe me, they will rip the hell off of you (when it comes to bargaining). So, my effective tactic is just to keep quiet and nod along because after all, I look exactly just like one of them ;p

The next day... Gloomy Shanghai, it was raining.. Well, it's no cats and dogs, fortunately. Just drizzly enough to make your hair damp. We only brought one umbrella from Jakarta. It's quite funny actually, try to picture this, the three of us, my big sis wearing a light tosca maxi dress, my brother wearing just casual shorts and myself wearing yesterday's blue dress, squeezed together under one tiny umbrella and pacing quickly to find a grab to bite.. If that's not eye catchy, then I don't know what is..

We started early in the morning to have our breakfast. The day before this, we have spotted a cafe called Wagas, just a few blocks away from our hotel. We decided to grab a bite in there before we continue our tourist journey. It was located in the ground floor of an office building and you can easily spot it from the street..

If we were in Indonesia, I would consider their price normal, but since generally everything in China is relatively cheap, so I considered the food in here is quite pricey. But on the other hand, they come in this huge western portion so I guess it's worth it..
This is our fusilli with bacon, chicken, onion, cream and Parmesan (52 yuan). It may looked small but trust me, they really serve plenty of it. The three of us were gobbling for it and the meal survived! There was still left overs when my sister and I decided to give up gobbling.. It's very rich. At first, I thought it needed more salt, but as the cheese started to melt, I think the taste was perfect
This is the Roast beef, gherkin, tomato, onion, gouda, rocket and mustard mayo sandwich wrap (52 yuan).. With Chinese style pickles at the side. lol. It was so huge! And thick. It's a challenge for me to take a bite from this sandwich. 
The best cappuccino I have ever drank in my entire trip. Yes, hands down! They have great coffee!  My big sis is a cappuccino lover. Pretty much any place that we went to, she'll order a cup of cappuccino and this one was definitely one of the best!
The whole area.. They have plenty of cakes as well..
In the afternoon, we were making a few stops for a snack. My sister was obsessed in finding a very specific egg tart in a specific road. But when we went there, it was closed. They moved into a new place near an underground train station.. After walking and walking and walking, not forgetting the rain, my feet was drenched in water. I didn't care about them anymore. My sandals were completely soaked. WE FOUND IT

Just a small shop. They are from Macao and they serve you with the most yummy egg tart EVER! Actually, Lillian Bakery has several branches, we just didn't know..
Original egg tart and cheese egg tart. My sister didn't go for the cheese ones, she's too much in love with the original flavor 
Cute packaging..
SUPER YUMMY. It's soft yet you can feel the outer crust crunch, combined with the mushy egg sweet oh so heavenly sweet bright and fragrant filling in the middle.. PURE HEAVEN I LOVE IT. No wonder my sister was crazy about it
I decided to go for some takoyaki that I found randomly in the middle of a cafeteria..
They made it all at once..
A cute little lounge/cafe to eat sweet bites and enjoy good wine.. hoF. It stands for house of flour. One of my sister's friends who used to study in Shanghai recommended this place to us. Along the streets, you can find many cute bars, cafes, restaurants.
I ordered the one on the right.. The chocolate one..
I didn't even know what these all were, but damn, it tempted me enough to make me press my face to the glass and drool.. (okay I think that's a little bit over dramatic)
Of course, cappuccino again.. 
It's cozy. It's intimate. Only a few were there. I always think this kinda place is somehow romantic for a secret rendezvous. 
30-1 Sinan Road, Shanghai 200020
(Near Middle Huaihai Road)
Phone : (86-21) 60932058
Website : www.houseofflour.com

Actually, before going to hoF, we dropped by into this Hongkong restaurant called CHA's Restaurant. It's only a few metres away from hoF, but the place was so packed! We decided to wait at hoF and had our dessert first while waiting for the lunch hour to pass.. It was a HUGE NO NO! The place was still packed. We got number 80 something and they were still calling number 50 something. So we waited.. waited.. and waited..

I decided to stroll around to the restroom while looking at what people were having on their table. Not forgetting to snap photos.. I think they thought I was some kind of a random weirdo, taking picture here and there.. I just didn't care.. LOL

See that Black&White Milk, when I was in Hongkong, the restaurant there used that brand as well.. Oh and that blue can called Horlicks, I LOVE IT! You can order horlicks at Ah Mei Cafe in Indonesia.. It's like cereal water with just the right sweetness..
Fresh pastries..

Deep Fried Chicken Wing (14yuan) It smells so good! It's really hot and crunchy.. 
Deep Fried Pork Chop with Mayonnaise (39yuan). The name itself is intriguing already! Trust me, it's super yummy! It's sweet and sour sauce is so perfect combined with the mayo. I LOVE IT SO MUCH I PRACTICALLY MOAN WHILE TAKING THE FIRST BITE.. There, I confessed.. -_-
Scrambled Egg with Shrimp (38yuan). It's quite pricey, yes. But the shrimps are plenty and very fresh indeed. It still has that crunch in every bite. I don't know how they cook the egg, but it's still soft and gooey on the inside.. SUPER LOVE. Almost every table ordered this dish and we were curious. Worth every penny.
We ordered the milk tea, it has milk tea ice cubes, so when it melts, it wouldn't affect the taste. Clever.
"We were not that hungry, we just couldn't help it", straight quotation from my siblings..

I think going to CHA'S Restaurant was definitely worth it. Even though we had to wait for so long, the food itself proved that this restaurant is definitely a TOP NOTCH! They have won awards and it's a NO WONDER.. Seriously, you should drop by to this place if you were in Shanghai. I know they serve Hongkong style food, but I have always been in love with Hongkong anyway. All the time we were eating, the three of us were like, "OMG, THIS IS SO DELICIOUS" or "OMG, I WISH MUM AND DAD ARE HERE TO TASTE THIS" or "OMG I AM IN HEAVEN". 

CHA'S Restaurant
Sinan Road Shop : 30 Sinan Road, Luwan District
Phone : 6093 2062

Tian Zi Fang is another tourist spot in Shanghai. It was a French Concession area which has been renovated and turned into a labyrinth some sorts of alley ways of Tai Kang Road. It has several entries and the shops varies from food to arts and crafts. I have always loved ancient concession areas like these. Inside, you may find different bars, cute cafes, and souvenir shops. It's just the perfect tourist spot to spend your day. If I had more time, I'll definitely try the cafe one by one, but since we got only one day, we chose the Teddy Bear Cafe..

Before that, let me just show you pictures of us in Tian Zi Fang..

You can tell this place is really old just from the building
My favorite milk tea in Indonesia is COME BUY. I took a picture in front of it because Jessica Alba has been in here as well. LOL

The place is really packed with LOTS of teddy bears of different sizes, shapes, and colours.. A true teddy bear lover should be thrilled to go in here
This is the wall where you can put notes.. It's so full that it almost reached to the ceiling
We didn't order any food because we were completely FULL. Another addiction, cappuccino. LOOK HOW CUTE IT WAS. Everything is Teddy Bear..
Our table has 4 seats, so this big Teddy volunteered itself to sit by my side.. How sweet of him..
The first floor of this cafe is really cozy but you were not allowed to take any pictures. They really do have so many teddy bear decorations. It's like Teddy Bear museum. The second floor of this cafe is actually where they make their own teddy bears. We were also not allowed to take any pictures there. The weird thing about this place is they serve Thai Food, which I think is a little bit out of the context. It's definitely our sweet escape to be in this place because the weather outside was SUPER SUNNY. Sitting here for a while gave us time to chill in an air conditioned room was really a sweet bliss.. Thank God for AC.

Teddy Bear Cafe
Tian Zi Fang, 248 3 Taikang Road, near Jianguo Road, Shanghai, China

We spent the rest of the day in THE BUND
There, the three of us, tummy full, aching feet.. But somehow we managed to be excited to go to the Bund. It is located in Central Shanghai. We can see the waterfront area and also some of the French Concession buildings..

Before this, we went to that side of the city. We went under a tunnel which is under the river.. 

PRETTY INDEED.. Worth the wait..
French Concession Buildings..
To be continued.. Beijing trip..