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

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Shammah: JS Luwansa's Mediterranean Jewel...

Having been questioned by the five stars hotels, JS Luwansa, a newly opened four stars hotel, promptly had the honor to welcome our President, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, after just being publicly accessible. Not only being strategic due to the location in the midst of Rasuna Said Road, which is one of the office spheres in Jakarta, it is also promising excellent and sincere hospitality services.

Credits to Ellyna from Culinary Bonanza, I had the courtesy to try out a few of their menu in one of the hotel ala carte restaurants, named Shammah. Deriving from a Hebrew biblical word, it has both the meaning of Christian transliteration to be present, which falls into ‘Jehovah is there for a more detailed context and one of the names of King David’s mighty men.  Despite its spiritual context, the restaurant serves exotic Middle Eastern dishes with Asian and European fusions.

Able to be observed from outside, due to being located right next to the lobby and having a majestic see through pillared glass wall, the restaurant has a yellow tone warmth with the dominance of minimalist interior, bright with orange colour. It has successfully accentuated both comfort and simplicity without too much hassle.

Blue napkin ring represents the iconic colour of JS Luwansa Hotel...
Shisha, anyone?
Since it was hosted in the Ramadan month (yes this is such a late post), we were served with Ramadan Set Menu, which was a compilation feast of the favorite dishes in Shammah and new dishes that haven’t even been listed in the regular menu.

I was actually quite glad that we shared all the main courses as they were all family style main courses. Talking about a huge lobster in a plate, a thick slice of beef medallion, yeah, you get the idea, right?

For starters, we had Duo Ahi Tuna (60k) and Country Pea Soup with crispy Pancetta.

A combination of sesame seared tuna with ginger soy dressing and spicy ahi poke with seaweed, shallot, scallion and bits of chili. As much as I enjoyed the approach of cooperating the same element in two different styles, I found my tuna too salty compared to other's. Aside from that, I was very much impressed with the freshness of the raw fish and the balance between the mild heat from the ginger and chili, the alluring fragrance of sesame oil from the ahi poke and the sesame seed from the seared tuna. The sesame seed outer layer and seaweed itself gave a bit of a crunch for the benefit of texture.

Classic pea soup with croutons and crispy beef pancetta. Grainy as a result from the peas blended into this bowl of smooth silky broth. I have never been a fan of pea soup as I have never been a fan of their natural sweetness in liquid form. The others seemed to enjoyed it, whilst my bias continued to cloud my perspective. 

Forwarding to the main courses...

Surf and Turf : Baked Lobster and Mushroom Crusted Medallion with Baby Kailan, Potato Risotto and Red Wine Sauce.
Not just combining meat and seafood as a requirement of a surf and turf, this version came with a more higher standard and a rather peculiar Asian fusion peek-a-boo. A thick slice of tender beef medallion (also known as fillet mignon) and moist lobster, so far everything seemed normal and very western. Then came the kailan and potato risotto, where one comes with a strong Chinese background and the latter sounded like a classic Italian modification. Don't get me wrong, I love the potato risotto, I think it's phenomenally creative. Instead of using risotto rice, the chef substituted it with roughly mashed potatoes. But why the kailan? It has made the impression of putting a half-hearted effort to make it looked fusion. Broccoli makes much more sense.

Braised Rosemary Lamb Shank(128k) with garlic mashed potato, vegetables, and sauce from the braising process
Despite its gigantic size of the shank itself, the enormousness also came from the flavor. The natural thick sauce from the braising process enriched the meat itself. Perfectly tender, moist and exceptionally gorgeous. This has been the guests' favorite order and there's no question in matters to that..

Paella Mixta (120k) : Seared, Braised, Simmered in a Shrimp Saffron Broth with Peas with Beef on the side.
 I was hoping for a 'ready to eat from the pan' paella but this one wasn't such a letdown. Bright orange from the saffron made the paella looked so appetizing.

Mahsawi Mushakala: Selection of grilled tenderloin, lamb chop, and chicken with grilled tomato, eggplant, paprika and rice
 As one of the requirements of a Mashawi plate, they got to have barbecued meat and poultry. Only tried a bit of the tenderloin, though. I was quite amused by the effort of the chef making this dish more Arabic. Instead of serving the meat in skewers, he served the veggies shish kabob style.

Mashawi Bahria : A selection of grilled lobster, prawns, and snapper with grilled tomato, eggplant, paprika and sayadieh rice
Same as the previous Mashawi, only with different types of proteins and rice. The Sayadieh rice has a strong hint of clove fragrant, making it significantly Middle Eastern. 

Green Tea Crepe Cake
Creamy green tea crepe paired with citrus mango sauce. A sweet ending for a sweet tooth, indeed. Though the cream was a bit heavy and too thick for my preference, this slice served its justice rightly.

The night was a round up set of good meals. The prices are soon to be advised and it approximately ranges from Rp100.000-200.000 for the family style main courses. It is advised to make prior call before dining in as Shammah is only available for dinner.

Shammah Restaurant
JS Luwansa Hotel
Jl. H.R.Rasuna Said Kav. C-22
Kuningan, South Jakarta
(021) 29543030 ext. 6699

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Spanky's Ribs and Martinis: Appropriate for children, teens and adults!

Among the variegated Kemang's illimitable selections of F&B,  comes a place called Spanky's. Specializing in American BBQ dishes and big gulps of martinis (it comes in triple jumbo size!), this place is the perfect place to catch a gluttonous bite, to fill your tummy, to enjoy a drink, or simply to gobble the mouthwatering desserts. Yes, this is one of the places in Kemang which is suitable for both kids and adults..

The restaurant bar concept's interior was inspired by the 1920's children's TV series called "Little Rascals". The iconic cast from the show appears in cartoon characters, spread all over the restaurant and even the menu, making it suitable for children (let alone the selections of food). Spanky, which is the name of restaurant, was also a character from the show. Not only that, there are also eye catchy, funny quotes and vintage photos hanged all over the wall. It definitely enlivens the clean melancholy wall. Minus the bar, the place completely has the appearance of a family place to dine in.

Cartoon characters from the show
One of the quotes that I found most captivating...
High ceiling and wood furniture. Vintage, much?
Looking at the menu, you'll find yourself variety selections of bites. Though it's American food they're mainly serving, there are also some fusion dishes such as Mexican and Hawaiian food. The choices of meat itself varied with accompanies of pork in each sections. Their specialty is ribs, but one dish meals for individual portion can also be found. 

Mexican Pork Chile Verde (69k). Slow cooked ample of pork chunks in jalapeno stew served with crispy flour tortilla. 
The soupy meal just has the right amount of mildness and warmth. Can also be enjoyed by kids because it has very little touch of heat. Overall, it's very subtle, yet the jalapeno scent was well erupted in every spoonful intake. However, considering the portion and the fact that it's considered more of an appetizer than a main course, I personally think this is a bit overpriced as I can get other meals with more satisfying portion which almost cost the same. For example, the dish below.. (scroll down at own cost)

Slow Roasted Pork Belly (79k). Served with mashed, caramelized apple cabbage and rosemary mushrooms.  
Each element was really well put together and it complimented one another. The savory pork has the right amount of fat, making the dish not too overwhelming. The flavor contrasted with the sweet apple cabbage, which only enriched the whole plate as a union. The only downfall was the lack of crispiness on the skin (though it looked crispy). If they can make it happen, this dish is definitely a two thumbs up dish!

Spank Me! Sandwich (79k). A Hawaiian pulled pork sandwich served with fried potatoes and BBQ sauce.
 Also available with pulled chicken, but being the number one pork fan that I am, no way I am substituting this with chicken. It was surprisingly huge and generous in portion. The sesame buns was pan toasted and as you can see from the picture, it has that slightly burnt mark, which resulting a rather crispier texture to accompany the tender smoky pulled pork.

Spicy Mac and Cheese (69k)
Going all the way with American classic, a bowl of heart mac and cheese can't never go wrong. This one has no meat but they also serve the ones with bacon and mushrooms or beef and jalapeno. This ultimate bowl of comfort food was creamy enough to make my day. Though the spiciness only came from the chili powder, I think they served enough justice. I am curios about the jalapeno one, though. Gonna try it in my next visit. Warning to those who can't handle creamy sauces, you might find this a bit too heavy.

Making it obvious for the stranger, Spanky's ribs and martinis must be specializing in ribs and martinis. Though I didn't order their two essential features, I still found myself very much happy and satisfied. It may have one or two downfall but I was more captivated with the successful deliverance of each meals.

Jl. Kemang Raya No. 24A
Jakarta 12730

Thursday, 1 August 2013

LIN Artisan Ice Cream: Frozen in Less than 5 minutes

I guess the first simplest thing that I love about LIN Artisan Ice Cream is the fact that you can walk in anytime of the day to have your own little teenie tiny experience of Molecular Gastronomy. Though it's old news to some other countries, Molecular Gastronomy still sounded peculiar to most of Indonesians' ears. Remembering that there is only one Indonesian MolGas chef in Indonesia, it is still considered pretty new.

How many Indonesian people that you know have tried MolGas dishes? Mine was less than 10. I, myself, find it difficult and also, expensive, to have a MolGas experience (Though I have tasted a plate of MolGas dessert by Chef Bodin for free ;p). The most troublesome problem, according to me, is that you can't just have a walk in for a full dining experience. You have to arrange a group reservation for the chef to serve you.

But once again, that's not how it goes in LIN Artisan Ice Cream cafe. The first Indonesian cafe that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze their ice cream. Not only it is made fresh by order, you get to watch the freezing process, which took less than 5 minutes..

That little corner is where all the scientific magic happens!
Minimalist furniture with an industrial urban touch to it..
The outdoor space is definitely more masculine compared to the indoor area.
See? I still think it's a bit cute and chic inside...

Now, now.. Let's get to business. The process :
1. Blend all the natural ingredients into a batter. This one below was the banana sorbet and they really use fresh bananas.

2. LIN is the short form of Liquid Nitrogen. It is basically way cooler than ice. It freezes at -210 degrees and boils at -196 degrees Celsius, how about that? It was kept inside this tank because as soon as it's released to open air, it will immediately boil and evaporate. 

3. The earlier batter was later put in this food processor and in go the liquid nitrogen while the machine is still on. All that smoke is actually the liquid nitro evaporating due the room temperature. Less than 2 minutes later, it has frozen completely. They only have to make sure that it's all mixed together and repeat the process for a little bit while.

"My formula is soon to be perfect.. MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
The banana sorbet(36k). No food coloring so it's not yellow. It really tasted and smelled like real bananas. Although this one is supposed to be a sorbet, it tasted a bit creamy. 
Lemon Sorbet (36k) with little bit of lemon zest. Compared to the banana flavor, this tasted more like a sorbet. Better hurry gobble this one up cause it melts easily!

Smiley Baileys (69k). If you are a fan of baileys, well here you go. It's creamy, dense, and the best part, it has that baileys scent and after taste! 
All of the ice creams were much smoother compared to traditional ice creams, as liquid nitro makes smaller crystallization process. It contains less air than the store bought ice cream which definitely makes it more dense, squishy in a way, a little more chewy I guess. It's a no wonder that the price is significantly different if you compared the store bought ones with these. Also the fact that they use real fresh ingredients for each flavors. I just hope they make new flavors to come!

Note on safety issues : As long as the vapor is gone, it's safe to be eaten. However, I happened to feel a little frostbite sensation on my tongue. It's like having the sensation of drinking soda, but only concentrated on one focused area. I believed that it was resulted from a part of the ice cream which was not properly mixed. I remembered it was a little bit paler compared to the other parts. It was gone after a while and my tongue was unharmed. This means :

I will definitely come back to try out the other flavors. I am very intrigued with Vanilla Choc Rice, Frozen Expresso and the Beer Pong flavors! At least this can be my start before having Heston Blumenthal's bacon ice cream. (Yeah, right *roll eyes for my wishful thinking*)

Flashback :
Remember 10 years ago, when mobile phones were as thick as soap bars? When the only way connecting to the internet was through the phone line? When having a box of floppy disc actually meant something?

Present time:
Now look at what we have. Smart phones with touch screen features in different shape and sizes, WiFi in cafes is a must, and that little teenie tiny SD card which can store up a few gigs of data. It took only 10 years for us to make such vast progresses and human's continuous inventions never stop us from being awed.

This has a lot more to do with not just technology, but also other subject such as MolGas itself. I guess human's curiosity won't just limit themselves to stop there. For another 10 years ahead, for another 10 years of innovation, for another 10 years of food appreciation!

Lin Artisan Ice Cream
Jl. Taman Kemang 1 No. 6
Opening hrs : 11.00-23.00