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

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Shang Palace: Shangri-La's Cantonese Jewel

It's perfectly understandable that Shangri-la Hotel is one of the best luxurious hotels world wide. Trying their best to always portray the existence of heaven on earth, the hotel itself brings their utmost professionalism and hospitality to satisfy their customers.

Numerous visits have I paid to the hotel, but that night was meant for a different purpose and destination. And talking about the fictional dreamy paradise of the orient exoticism, it was one of those fortunate fates that brought me to Shang Palace, the Chinese restaurant of Shangri-La. Specializing in Cantonese cuisines, I was invited to taste their Tea-infused menu.

Hanging on to the original luxurious concept of the hotel, this restaurant depicts elegance at its oriental finest. Talking about a couple of jade color imperial guardian lion and lioness at the front entrance, resembling a mythical protection and also keeping the balance of yin and yang. The iconic color red, denoting the lucky shade for the Chinese (and also the one color that unconsciously can increase your appetite, aha!), dominates most of the interior.

Subtle ornaments synchronizing the red dominance
It wasn't long for the food to start flowing on the table. It was a well-organized set courses from appetizer to dessert. 
A very hearty and warming bowl of Corn and Crab Soup (not included in the tea menu promo)
Steamed Bai Ling Mushroom and Seafood with Rain Flower Tea Sauce (78k)
At first glance, I thought the mushroom was minced and combined with the shrimp and chopped scallop filling, finished with a wonton skin in the bottom to create the look of lotus leaf. Well, I was wrong. The bai ling mushroom, which has almost the same texture and taste of a braised abalone, was in fact the "lotus leaf". The rain flower tea, which is a type of green tea harvested from Nanjing, gave a mild aroma, complimenting the sweetness of the prawns without overpowering the natural taste of the seafood.

Braised Bo Lei Duck (68k)
The word umami was the first thing that popped in my head after taking my first bite of this beautiful braised duck. The sweet savory sauce was well infused to the duck meat. Bo lei is basically the Cantonese pronunciation for pu-erh tea. It has a slight depth of earthiness to its after taste. However the natural fat from the duck was a bit dominant and might cloud the infused tea without careful attention.

Glutinous Rice and Fish cooked with Yellow Treasure Flower (58k)
Frankly, I was in confusion defining the tea aroma for this dish. The fact that they used lotus leaf and a bamboo bowl to cook this rice dish, the tea aroma seemed to get lost in between. I couldn't decide whether the fragrant of each bite was coming from the tea or the previous elements. However, it was a hearty lo mai gai like dish, with a twist of fish on top.

It's not just plain glutinous rice. The chef also added extremely soft strands of crab and shallots to the rice. Hence, it has that soft seafood aroma, a much milder version of what usually released from dried shrimps.

Lamb Chop with Golden Phoenix Tea (88k)
 Medium-cooked juicy tender lamb chop, barely has that distinctive musty smell, paired with scrambled egg white. Savory gravy with a blend of golden phoenix tea infusion on the side was just another mark up for the additional idealism of each element. PURE CARNIVORE PERFECTION! Enough said..

On another hand, the plating of this dish also resembles yin and yang symbol. Looking at the position of the lamb chop and the shape of the sauce itself, oh, just one genius way to swoop in an oriental element in a fusion dish.
Chef's Special Stewed Pork Rib, served with Chinese buns (88k)
Not included in the tea promo menu, but I must say that this is one of the must order dishes in Shang Palace. Caramelized thick sauce glazing the tender pork. Kind of reminded me of my Mom's version of stewed pork belly, but this one has a slighter thicker consistency. The smell itself was very intoxicating so I hereby warn you for future drooling...

Chilled Red Tea Jelly with Chinese Pear and Pipa (58k)
A great set of meals won't be complete without dessert. This chilled red tea jelly was light enough to put the right amount of sweet ending for the whole experience. Both additional pipa syrup (usually used for a Chinese cough syrup) and pear have the ability to reduce sore throat, therefore it became a healthy obligation to finish this particular dessert!

Tea-Infused Menu Promo will be available till the end of this month. Also visit Shang Palace for their all you can eat dimsum. Better make prior call for further confirmation.

Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1
021-2939 9580

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Torino Osteria Italiana: something Tribbiani in Gunawarman

An unplanned night stroll in Gunawarman Street and a spontaneous resolution for the growling tummy brought me to end up in Torino Osteria Italiana. To be honest, at first I have no intention of dining there. But then I was attracted by the black and grey logo of the monumental Mole Antonelliana, which is the iconic landmark building in Torino city. As if it wasn’t clear enough (considering the name and the logo), what’s better to acquaint the passersby that this is an Italian Osteria.  
            That classic Italian feel can be immediately noticed from the very first steps I took inside. Combining the broad straightforward square space with square wooden tables, it attributes a simple minimalist ambiance. Meanwhile, the dark green walls, the green plaid table cloths donate a masculine finishing to the whole look.
Complimentary cheese sticks, breads with balsamic vinegar and olive oil..
It's a pity that they don't have any food pictures in the menu. However, they hang it up on the walls instead
The bar and the wine shelf.. Could it be more masculine?
Remembering that this is an osteria (a place that serves simple food and drinks), the whole dining experience was meant to be casual and homey. There’s a reason why I chose the word Tribbiani for the title of this post, as I felt like a Tribbiani gone mad at that point. I skipped the antipasti and moved straight forward to the secondi, while my companion picked a pasta dish for a safer choice. To avoid an ugly fight between two Tribbianis, we agreed to order a pan of pizza for sharing.. (Yes, Tribbiani doesn't share food)

Napoli (65k). Italian tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies and oregano as the toppings..
 We were both in the mood not to play it safe. Instead of ordering a pan with typical ham toppings, the idea of having this authentic anchovies pizza intrigued us. Thin crispy slices of good wooden oven baked pizza, its excellence has put both of us in silence. The infused aroma from the anchovies could definitely be smelled from the very first bite. I distinctively remember how Jamie Oliver said that the aroma from little bit of anchovies can give the whole plate a whole new twist without making the eater realizing that it's there. It's true on some level.

However, the bites would get too salty when you hit the spots where the anchovies were put, as it is a result of the salted process beforehand for the tiny fishy bombs. Despite its uneven salty distribution, this pizza still represents true Italian flavor.

Amatriciana (65k). Imported "de cecco" spaghetti, homemade tomato sauce, pork bacon, fresh Italian basil, and spicy chili 

The pasta was definitely al dente. Meanwhile, the sauce was both very light and subtle. Truly emits how authentic simple Italian pasta supposed to be. As if the cook let each ingredient to harmonize itself without putting too much hand on the process, it was definitely different from the pungent pasta dressing that is usually served in other restaurants.

Triglia Al Sapore Di Mare (95k). Red mullet fillet with cherry tomatoes, white wine, fresh chili,  served with caponatina. 
As much as I like to have something unusual, I regretted the decision of ordering this dish. Alas, I have to admit my disappointment. First, the fish was quite fishy. The di mare sauce, which was supposed to be garlic tomato sauce, was over dominated by the garlic. Hence, instead of finding the balance between the herbs and the white wine, the garlic mostly prevailed. Secondly, for the price of 95k, this dish didn't serve enough justice for my satisfaction. I could score a better sophisticated meal with the same price at other restaurants. 

On the other hand, I love the sided stack of caponatina. Collaboration of cold chopped eggplants, olives, and celery contributed a substitution of what I would call a boring salad. 

It should be noted that we gobbled everything right away. Overthrown with a full belly and happy smiles on the face. It's a shame that I didn't get the chance to try out some of their coffee, though. It was a bit late and I didn't want to make myself alerted for the night. 

Jl. Gunawarman 11A
Jakarta Selatan