Thursday, February 25, 2016

International Brunch at Botany Restaurant Holiday Inn Kemayoran

Bluntly speaking, most of the times I feel reluctant visiting any cafĂ© or restaurant resided in Northern part of Jakarta. Well, lengthy distance, inconvenient transport, and for sure heavy traffic! However, call me blessed that last weekend I got a lift to come to this ‘almost untouched’ places for me :) . Besides, knowing that it’s far far away from my place, my friends and I had prepared loonggg list of nearby places to visit just to make sure we got the most out of the time we spent here. So there we were at Holiday Inn Kemayoran, the very first place to satisfy our six hungry tummies.

Located only 6-km away from your probably best childhood spot, Taman Impian Jaya Ancol, this hotel actually provides 3 different dining places. However, each of them is made for different purposes; Infinity Pool and Bar for light snacks and drinks to be enjoyed by the pool, Habitat Lounge for cocktails and coffee, and the biggest one which is also the one I’ve been to, Botany Restaurant, for all-day dining space.

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Botany Restaurant opens daily from 6am till 10pm. The choices of dishes offered range from Western, Japanese, Chinese, and even Indonesian ones. Sometimes, they do pick certain theme in particular day so all dishes served starting from appetizers, main courses, and even desserts, will be coming from one single region. At my last Sunday brunch, I got the chance to try the international one, bringing arrays of foods from various countries.

Talking about the venue, which is able to accommodate up to 146 people, it’s actually not that spacious compared to most all-day-dining spots in other similar 4-star hotels. However, it’s artsy and modern design make it cozy enough for spending times with friends, family, or relatives while enjoying scrumptious dishes. It does accept reservations for usual dining as well as events.

I was delighted with the warm welcome greetings given by the waiters and even the chef! Since my friends and I were served not only with the dishes from the buffet stations but also with the ala carte ones specially prepared by the chef, the chef kindly visited us and enthusiastically explained in details all the ala carte menu he beautifully made.

Ok, now I’ll stop all my lengthy explanation before all of you get bored or fed up with me. Let’s go to the part you’ve been waiting the most since the beginning, yes I HEAR IT! THE FOODS! Starting from the selections from the buffet stations, there were salads, fruits, various steamed dimsum, ramen, numerous Asian-themed meat-based dishes, and several pork-based dishes. I guess the pork ones were the key highlights of the day, still bringing the hype of the Lunar New Year. They served the all-time favorite suckling pig, the Chinese beloved pork leg, and even the infamous Bak Kut Teh. Speaking about taste, I admit that they were really successful with their ‘star dishes’. All those pork-based menu were completely gone just in a blink every time the plates at the station were being re-filled! Well, most of the guests were indeed Chinese so no wonder this spot is the most wanted one. LOL.

Moving on to the ala carte dishes, there were basically 3 main courses and 1 dessert served for us; Calamari, Mushroom Soup, Veal Schnitzel, and Caramelized Banana. Briefly summarized, all 4 of them well-suited my palate. The golden brown calamari came with crispy skin yet chewy texture. The concept of serving it with lemon mayonnaise and chili salt dipping was actually simple and really common, but who cared as long as the taste was enjoyable. Next was the mushroom soup, which was the winner of the day in terms of presentation, putting the gigantic mushrooms by the big round plate. I did love the idea of serving this with the bite-sized puff pastry, letting us to enjoy the soup taste by having it absorbed into the deeply dipped pastry. The veal schnitzel was also a luscious one as it mixed the light and refreshing taste from lemon sauce with the richly seasoned veal and cheesy mashed potato. Another one to be enjoyed was the one coming from my hometown, Makassar, the grilled Caramelized Banana which was mostly known as ‘Pisang Epe’ in my hometown. The chef did mention that he made this dessert as he was inspired by Makassar’s Pisang Epe when he stayed in this city for quite a while. Giving slightly modern touch to the dish, it was accompanied by vanilla ice cream.   
Deep Fried Calamari with Lemon Mayonnaise and Chili Salt
Creamy Wild Mushrooms Soup with Diamond Bites

Veal Schnitzel with Steamed Haricot Vert
Caramelized Banana

If the ala carte dishes looked pretty easy to be found in any other places, the case didn’t happen for the drinks. There were 2 signature beverages served by the chef; both of which were called as ‘Martabak’.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Avocado Tiramisu Shake
The reason behind why this name was chosen was the ingredients of the beverages, which were similar to the combination of toppings usually brought by the highly well-known ‘Martabak Manis’. Basically, they were Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake and Avocado Tiramisu Shake. Both these innovative drinks actually tasted good, but you might need to beware of getting really full after having them as they’re quite heavy.

Having had tons of dishes already, then are we done now? For those who have known me well, you surely can guess what comes next. As a dessert maniac, having brunch buffet without trying the collection of desserts from the station was surely miserable. Well, to be honest the dessert spot had become my center of attention even since I put my first step into the venue, and thus I did save some space GIANT space in my tummy for them *wink wink*. I was so happy that Botany provided generous assortments of cakes, mousses, chocolates, and even various flavors of ice cream. However, I got even faaarrr happier when I noticed that they served deep-fried basket cake a.k.a Kue Keranjang a.k.a Nian Gao. Most Chinese doubtlessly know this but for you who have no idea about it, it’s basically glutinous flour and sugar. It was my forever-favorite snack, which I mostly could get at home only, specially made by my mom. Abundant thanks to Botany restaurant for providing this and delivering it with awesome taste!

In a nutshell, I was delighted by my Sunday Brunch at Botany Restaurant. The foods served, especially the ala carte ones had pampered my tummy really well :)

Taste: 8/10
Place: 7.5/10
Service: 8.5/10
Price: 8/10

Thanks for Reading! :)

Jl. Griya Utama Blok B No.1, Tanjung Priok, Jakarta 14350
Phone: +62 21 2956 8800
Opening hours: Mon – Sun 6am – 10pm

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Heavenly Bloated at Asia Restaurant at The Ritz Carlton Mega Kuningan

Located right at the center of Mega Kuningan business district, The Ritz Carlton is indeed an ideal choice for the business people whose activities mostly take place around here and fancy a luxurious place either to stay or to dine in, or even to do both of them. Not only that, it’s just few blocks away from several well-known shopping malls and casual restaurants. Lucky me, it’s also located just 10-minute walking distance away from my boardinghouse. Call me luckier, I got the chance to have food-tasting with my fellow foodie friends last Saturday there at their Asia Restaurant.

There are 3 dining places available in The Ritz Carlton Mega Kuningan. First one is Lobo which brings out the concept of contemporary fine dining, next is Tempus which basically is a bar and lounge, then the final one which I tried, Asia, which offers all-day buffet. It was actually not my very first time dining in Asia Restaurant. I’ve once been there when I had my office meeting at the hotel and continued having lunch with my colleagues.
Fulfilling my expectation, my friends and I were immediately welcomed by the warm service from the waitress once we got there. We were then directed to the table we chose, which as always was the one close to the window. Having made sure that everything’s complete, she then left us to start our big feast!
Looking at the venue, I could immediately tell that the selections of dishes were like REALLY A LOT! The place was very spacious with many long big tables, allowing the restaurant to accommodate more than 100 people I guessed. It’s much bigger if compared to the Pacific Restaurant and Lounge, the one offering the same buffet concept in another Ritz Carlton hotel located next to Pacific Place. The design itself was classic yet elegant, delivering the luxurious atmosphere of dining in 5-star hotel. There was even a corner for live music, however at that time it’s not available as I was told that they only performed every Friday and Saturday evening as well as every Sunday Brunch.

Couldn’t hold the hunger any longer, I then started to walk around and visited each of the stations to see the arrays of dishes served. Similar to the saying of “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, you also shouldn’t judge Asia Restaurant by its name. Despite it’s called Asia and it did serve Asian foods like Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Japanese, Indian, and Thai; it also provided the ones coming from Western countries like Italy and France. 

Kick-offing the lunch with fresh and raw ones, my choice went to the salad with crispy parmesan cheese from the salad bar, prawns from the seafood bar, and salmon and tuna sashimi from the Japanese station. Besides, I did take some sushi to complete my starter plate. For the salad, the veggies were all fresh and crispy and the dressings mixed with it simply made it an enjoyable combination of healthy food. The most exceptional part of it was the crispy parmesan cheese! It was so good that I wish I could just take the parmesan cheese from each of the salad cup on the showcase *LOL*. Another one I fancied from my appetizer part was the salmon sashimi that was actually served in typical way as in other places, but it’s just hard to stop munching it.     

Moving on to the next one which was coming from Chinese station; the station serving Dim Sum, Chinese porridge, Chinese soup, roasted duck, Hainanese rice, and even Bak Kut Teh. Well, I guessed my pick was kind of mainstream as I chose Dim Sum. Honestly speaking, at first I thought the Dim Sum would just taste so-so looking from its appearance, which to be blunt didn’t have anything special compared to any other Dim Sum. Surprisingly, I was proven wrong by the luscious flavors brought by each item in the wooden tray. Another plus point was the abundant selections of sauces to enjoy with your Dim Sum starting from the sweet less-spicy ones until the savory and spicier ones.

Ok, keep going on, now it’s the turn of the station that I thought was the ‘main course of the main course’, the carving station. From this one I picked the grilled beef with mushroom sauce, which I combined with Nachos and potato chips topped with cheese sauce and other common condiments for Mexican dishes. The juicy and tender beef was properly seasoned as the flavor was not too strong, allowing my taste bud to enjoy it when combined with the mushroom sauce that had stronger taste. Thanks to the cheese sauce, the companions I added by myself here were also coming as perfect complements.

In addition to all the foods I’ve mentioned before, Asia Restaurant did serve many many more to make all the guests heavenly bloated when they left the venue. They included various types of noodles with various choices of broth; traditional Indonesian signature dishes like Oxtail soup, Karedok, Nasi Uduk, Satay, and Meatballs; various types of pasta with various choices of sauces, various types of Indian bread with various choices of curry, various types of bread, and plentiful assortment of cheese.

Having shared with you so many things about the appetizers and main courses, now we arrive at the part, which is mostly forgotten by majority of people or mostly skipped due to too many prior dishes had. Well, if you just said DESSERT, yes you’re absolutely right! Despite the fact that people less prioritized this station, as a dessert lover this was definitely the first one I would check in any buffet I went to, just to make sure I leave enough space in my tummy to try them all. If you did do the same thing as me, then WELCOME TO THE FAMILY! Looking at the desserts station for the very first time, my heart jumped and danced straightaway. Seems like Asia Restaurant knew me so well that the desserts station was the biggest among all stations and the varieties provided here were also the richest compared to others. Fruits, pastries, sliced cakes, mousse, panna cotta, traditional cakes, chocolate fountain, ice cream, and churros; geez, I got sugar-high!

You might think I was quite over-exaggerating, but I couldn’t deny that it was indeed a huge dilemma for me to pick which ones I decided to end up on my plate. If only my tummy could handle everything, I simply wanted to try all! However, since it couldn’t, so there I was with my final choices. Consuming all these calories, basically I think all of them were so mouth-watering and were indeed sinful indulgence. Nonetheless, the ones to which I was most willing to spend my intake of the day (read: my personal fave) were the silky and moist Oreo Panna Cotta, the scrumptious combination of the base pie and the blueberry jam from the Blueberry Crumble, the classic yet all time favorite Mixed Fruit Cheesecake, and the neither too sweet nor too milky Pistachio Ice Cream!

As always, I always ended my buffet session with super bloated tummy. But this time, I could doubtlessly say that it was a heavenly bloated one!
Taste: 8/10
Place: 8/10
Service: 8.5/10
Price: 8/10
Thanks for Reading! :)
Asia Restaurant @ The Ritz Carlton Mega Kuningan
Address: Jl. DR. Ide Anak Agung Gde Agung Kav E.1.1. No. 1, Mega Kuningan, Jakarta
Phone: +62 21 2551 8888
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun/ Breakfast: 6am – 11am / Lunch: 12pm – 2.30pm / Dinner 6 – 10pm / Sunday Brunch 12 – 3pm
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