..It's a journey after all.. : Food and Travel Blog based in Jakarta: July 2013

Friday, 12 July 2013

E&O: The Foodgasm Duet by Chef Will and Chef Palm

That night has turned into more than just a lovely night, the night when I was invited to Eastern and Oriental, which short-named to E&O, a Thai - Vietnamese restaurant. Meeting the other fellow bloggers compiled with reputable and warm hospitality from the host have always been a perfect combo!

How do I say this? It was another ordinary night cramped with Jakarta's traffic. Obviously, I arrived late due to the inevitable circumstance. It was my first time going there and I was instantly enchanted with the dimmed yellow tone which came from the small triangle lamps encompassing the place. It was a no wonder that, although slightly a bit different, it has its own similarities to Loewy as E&O is basically under the same group, also collaborating with Sarong Group owned by Chef Will Meyrick himself. The semi open glass doors/windows, the ceramic walls and ceilings, the eye-catchy bar on one side of the restaurant and the wooden furniture with leather sofas are the distinctive resemblances. What allured me the most was the beautiful table setting. The dark grey streaky plates accompanied by flickering light reflections from a full set of wine glasses, it was almost magical to me as I furthermore got absorbed to the enchantment..

My arrival was also welcomed with three tasting canepes. From this point onwards, you have to tolerate the photos you'll see as they don't share the same amount of lighting and ambiance. It was dark and as far as I am concerned, it was a photo hunt jungle war between the other bloggers and myself. Without a doubt I was a no winner (with my almost average photo skills and unsturdy hands).

Also, the portions served that night might not be similar to the usual portions served on the restaurant as this event was a friendly gathering. The choices of food given to us were plentiful and I am glad some of the dishes were served with smaller portions. *My belly isn't getting any toner*
Pork Belly with Tamarillo and Tamarind Sauce served with Nam Pla Prik (thai chili and fish sauce) - 190k. The others have been eaten and I was left with four of these. I gobbled up the whole thing at once and the flavors literally burst in my mouth. Salty and fresh over the succulent fatty pork belly, yum..
Betel Leaf with Galangal, Dried Shrimps, Roasted Chillies, Coriander and Salmon Roe - 32k/pcs. The betel leaf served as edible spoons for individual portions.
Chicken and Prawn in Egg Net with Peanuts, Lemongrass, Mint and Pickled Cucumber and Shallots Relish - 65k. Again, my mouth was full in an instant gallop as I struggled to chew in all the goodness. On the left side, it was Pineapple Coriander Margarita (90k), but I ordered mine to be virgin. So far, all the things that went inside my mouth was a complete balanced proportion of sweet, salty and sour.
Moving on to the sitting dinner... Eight menus for one night, divided into seven courses. As if it wasn't enough, the food kept on arriving one by one. Each has a significant taste and uniqueness that left you either mesmerized or wanting more.

Selection of Northern Thai Relishes : "Nam Prik Ong"(chicken), "Nam Prik Goong"(dried shrimp), "Nam Prik Num"(eggplant) and Crispy Tempura Vegetables - 125k. I always think that Indonesians can easily adapt to Thai food. All of the Nam Prik relishes mimicked Indonesian sambal, minus the chicken. One has a saltier taste, one has a spicier hint, and one has a more subtle approach..
Grilled Beef Salad with Green Mango, Shallots, Peanuts, Mint and Nahm Jim  - 90k. The beef was pan seared but the chef also mentioned that it was slow cooked. When put inside, it literally melted after a few bites. Its tenderness amazed me. The sour mango salad alone gave you a kick of freshness. I must say, again, everything was perfectly balanced!
(Southern Thai)Hot & Sour Soup of Fish with Tamarind Leaves, Turmeric, Chillies, Lime Leaves and Coriander - 80k/140k (half/reg). The chef talked a bit about their adventure while traveling South Thailand. Their journey was what inspired this bowl of soup. At first sip, I could feel the warmth streaming through my throat and it stayed there. Not in a burning sensation kind of way, more like a warming gingery-after taste. 

"Choo Chee"(curry) of Crispy Barramundi with Chilli and Thai Basil - 170k. I have to say that this was the star of the show. Despite the fish's average size, the over-all taste was nowhere near average. Explosions from the chili was tangible completed with a hint of sweetness. Let alone the sauce, I think I could be satisfied by the fried fish itself. It was definitely fresh as I sensed no fishy smell. We ate it along with Jasmine rice and Roti Canai(Indian influences). Not exaggerating, the imported Jasmine rice really has jasmine fragrant (I have no clue how the Thai planted their rice).

Massaman Curry of Slow-Braised Lamb Shank with Cardamom, Shallots, Pumpkin and Tamarind - 170k. Rich Rich Rich. That would be my first three words describing this dish. The thick sauce was rich with distinctive flavors from the spices, competing to satisfy your taste buds. The tender lamb shank itself was big and generous with succulent juicy meat.
Twice-Cooked Beef Short Ribs with Sweet Fish Sauce, Cucumber and Nam Pla Prik (thai chili fish sauce) - 220k
Fortunately, I am a big big fan of coriander (I think I ate all the coriander garnishes). There was a reason for the plating of this dish. As you can see, there are two small bowls of condiments. One is ground chili, one is the fish sauce. The short ribs itself was caramelized, therefore has a pungent sweetness. The chef explained, to eat this, you must combine all the elements on the plate. So squeeze the lime all over the ribs, take a fork, pulled the strands of meat, dip it into the fish sauce and ground chili. VOILA, epiphany, ladies and gentlemen.. Pure awesomeness of foodgasm epiphany..
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. That night was no exception. As all the fun was ending, we were prepped with desserts! Jackpot!

Cocoa Ganache with Peanut Butter Palm Sugar Ice Cream and Honeycomb Crumble - 50k. One scoop to the bottom of the glass and you'll end up having all the three elements.
Durian Panna Cotta with White Sticky Rice - 50k. I love love love the panna cotta. As you chew the velvety smooth, not forgetting creamy, pudding-like consistency, the taste grew. Yes, it left a delightful after-taste as if it was growing itself in your mouth. The durian sticky rice was also fulfilling!
Even though Chef Will is no Asian, I can vouch that he knows what he's actually doing. You can definitely see the passion as he talks about his cooking, his love for what he is doing. Let's just say, it won't be the end for this comical super friendly chef. As for Chef Palm Amatawet, who is more shy compared to Will, I would say that he's the perfect side-kick. If Batman and Robin fight evil crimes, Chef Will and Chef Palm continuously make delicious food (yeah, you get what I mean) 
Additional random info : I actually took a photo with both chefs, but it was in Icha's camera. I'll upload it to my instagram once she has the time to send me the picture. 

Menara Rajawali 1st fl.
Jl. Mega Kuningan lot 5.1
South Jakarta
Ph. +6221 29023418
Opening hours: 11am - 1am

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hawaiian Bistro : Native chef serving authentic Hawaiian delicacies

Don't you just love that feeling of visiting some place new? The experience of absorbing all the details that lies upon you. That certain "oh, that's so cute; that's so nice" kinda comments you keep to yourself, maybe you share with a friend or two. Or just simple long conversations with someone you just met. Well, all of what I just typed happened to be my private cognizance when I first visited Hawaiian Bistro (the second time as well).

The eyes tell it all..
I really appreciate all the beach decorations, from stacking 15 years old trunks (perfectly straight 15 years old trunks, just imagine how tough it was to find those trunks) as foundations and wall decorations; putting hays on the ceiling (which made it felt like we were actually in a beach house); putting paintings of dancing lei Hawaiian ladies; till hanging the eye-catchy orange lifebuoys. The wooden vintage furniture with a touch of aquatic colors compliments the whole ambiance, which is another plus point!

I first visited the place at 9 p.m on a weekday. I was tired and sleepy but forced myself to keep my Canadian friend a company. The thing was, at night time, the dim warm yellow tone from the lighting really accentuates the coziness of the whole place. If they put a hammock in the middle of the second floor, I would gladly sleep there soundly. 

On my second visit, which I got the chance to talk with one of the owners, Michael, and the chef, I accidentally lost the sense of timing. We talked almost everything about the restaurant, the food especially. Never have I really put any thoughts about Hawaiian food and never have I been so wrong in my life. At first, I thought the menu was Japanese fusion menu (since the native chef is actually a Japanese-born Hawaiian). Let me save you from all the unawareness. Being an archipelago itself, Hawaii has been a melting pot for visitor's customs. That explains the reason of Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese influence in their food. And that is just to name a few. So if you encountered nori in a spam musubi (pictures below), well, that's just how the Hawaiian originally eats it.

Another thing I like and just discovered on that day was how they also included the little details of Hawaiian culture in the plating. They will serve you with two scoops of rice and one scoop of salad per dish which is actually how the Hawaiian usually serve their carbo. They are also very close with the terms of sharing food. Thus, you'll meet a selection of big plates combos of half and half. Meaning, half of chicken, half of pork, half of beef and it's all based upon your freedom to choose. The Ohana (family) nature is definitely embraced, as I shared all the meals with Michael as if we were related. Lol! (besides, I didn't have to capability to finish all the meals he ordered)

Signature 'Kalakua' Ice Tea (32k), at last not another lemon tea. This signature drink has that fresh new kick from the pineapple sorbet. Refreshing for a hot day indeed!~
Spam Musubi (22k). With a touch of teriyaki sauce in the middle. You can say it's the Hawaiian onigiri. 
Makaha Mochiko Chicken (32k). Fried battered chicken smoldered with a balanced sauce of sweet and savory.
Now, this intrigued me. I was aiming for the traditional dish, other than Loco Moco. So, enter Ko'olau Kalau Pork (52k), another traditional Hawaiian dish. The salty shredded pork was full with intense smoky aroma. Conventionally, they cooked it underground for seven hours. Well, since ain't nobody got time for that, the chef cooked this baby for four hours on the stove and VOILA, same thing! Hah!
Half and Half of BBQ chicken and dori katsu with pineapple curry sauce (58k) with green salad. I personally prefer the macaroni salad (happened to forget to take the picture) which has tuna spread in the mayo dressing, yummy. 

The pineapple curry sauce was definitely something new. You can smell the hint of pineapple scent, but a bit weak on the taste.
Coffee Jelly with Kahlua and Vanilla Ice cream (25k). I shamelessly gobbled this to the very last drop, even after all the ice cream has melted, even when the chef was talking to my face, even when my friend kept calling me to pick her up. LOL. The slightly bitter coffee jelly was a perfect match to the vanilla ice cream. "Mix it altogether", ordered Michael when these babies were put on the table. I hesitantly obeyed (I didn't want to demolish its layers), but OH DEAR LORD, NOT A SINGLE REGRET HAVE BEEN GIVEN ON THAT DAY! It was the perfect dessert to end the day. It was actually the chef's creation and has nothing to do with Hawaii, but this is just one of the simplest thing you got to try, just to make yourself smile..
A fresh taste to taste. Every menu that I tried on that day was a new thing to me. It is definitely a rare thing to see a Hawaiian restaurant in Jakarta, right? Since I have never set foot in Hawaii, this restaurant gave me a glimpse of what's happening on that island. To be able to learn, to know and to exchange information about, not just Hawaiian authentic food, but also Hawaiian cultures really fascinates me on our curious nature as humans.

It may looked simple but going back to the very first paragraph of this entry, I guess, we (or at least I) will never stop learning or encountering new things to keep ourselves fascinated.. That's the real deal of living, isn't it?

Hawaiian Bistro
Rukan Garden House St.
Blok A No.25
Jakarta Utara 14470
P : 29033185
website : www.hawaiianbistro.com

P.S: I would recommend you to go for the authentic classic dishes. Challenge yourself to have something new, taste something different! Your choice might fascinates you as they have fascinated me..