Friday, September 30, 2016

Worthy Long Queue at Flower Child

Another 'call-me-lucky' moment to start my blogpost, and seemed like it was not only applicable domestically in Indonesia, but also overseas. YESSS, right here in Sydney! So if you're following my previous blog post on The Tiny Giant, which was my very first blog post from Sydney, talking about Sydney cafe for the very first time as well, I'd told you that even weeks before this second visit of mine to Sydney, I'd look for the list of places to visit. One of them which had successfully captured my interest was Flower Child, a gorgeous flowery-decorated cafe resided in Westfield Chatswood. As usual, it attracted my attention due to the stunning appearance of the dishes. I then asked my sister about it and she enthusiastically said that this cafe had the best French Toast on earth! So guess what, it's certainly there residing on my top list of places to try. Go back to the 'call-me-lucky' moment, I was so surprised yet so cheerful that this place was actually located just 10-minute walking distance from the Meriton Chatswood service apartment where I stayed! 

Well-described by its name, the venue was beautifully covered with flowers at each of its corners. This delivered both the elegant and earthy feeling when you sat there, enjoying the place. Despite the abundant number of guests, the venue was not that spacious, causing some tables even had to be located at the 'overflow' space, in front of the main area of the cafe. To describe clearer about how packed the cafe was, the distance between tables was also very close that you might find it not that easy to reach some of the seats. Nonetheless, it still didn't stop the crowd to keep coming there.

Having heard much about the situation, I thought you might have been able to guess how busy the waitresses were. However, I highly appreciated their service as they're pretty quick in handling the guests' requests and serving the dishes. 

At my first visit, I changed my mind and decided to come back at different time since the queue was too long. I remembered having like almost 10 names above mine, which was surely a NAY for waiting. Learning from the experience, I came earlier at the second visit and I intentionally chose weekday to go there. It was still very crowded with almost all tables were occupied, but fortunately I could get one straight away without having to wait for even a single minute! :)

Basically, they were serving arrays of menu, ranging from the sweets selections up  to the savory ones, from the light bites to the heavy main courses. Some of the dishes were changed in seasonal basis, to ensure continuous innovation was maintained. Not only the design that gave the natural ambiance, the ingredients used were also mostly organic. Another great news, they served coffee, pastries, and cakes from the highly well-known The Grounds of Alexandria!

Flower Child Fish and Chips (AUD 22k)

Well, called it mainstream but this was indeed one of the dishes my brother almost always opted for when available. He loved everything fried and he loved any kinds of chips too much. Flower Child's version was Australian Barramundi coated in bread crumbs and fried beautifully into that golden brown color. Though I personally still preferred the batter coated one I usually had in Fish & Co, this one was more distinctive from the fish perspective. It was so moist that it literally melted in your mouth. Additionally, the more special one for me was the red cabbage and pea slaw, which was blended together with the super luscious jalapeno tartar! If only they sold the tartar sauce, I would for sure pack some home <3.

Aussie Beef Burger (AUD 19)

Another almost-always-ordered brunch menu for my family, BURGER. There were actually some choices of burgers available on the menu and we decided to order this Aussie Beef Burger, which was served with fries. As you could see, the layers of toppings were very thick and rich, blending the patty, caramelized onions, beetroot, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, cheddar & mayo. For sure, the ingredients represented the organic theme Flower Child wanted to bring out as it clearly stated in the menu that it used grass-fed beef and sesame seed milk bun. I loved how the bun being so soft and how the beef being so tender and juicy in medium-well doneness level. 

Flower Child French Toast (AUD 19)

Saving the best for the last, I intentionally had this French Toast as the closing to my brunch here. First time looking at the dish served on the table, my jaw was automatically dragged down. It was simply GORGEOUS with that sliced banana, dark chocolate crumbs, baked pecans, and fresh berries on top of the glossy french toast covered in succulent salted toffee and maple syrup (No saliva drop please ;) ). Not stopping there, the most exceptional part of the dish was the banana mascarpone at the middle which was TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! I literally wipe the whole plate (I wish licking was allowed LOL), not willing to leave even a micro-spoon of it there. Every single element in this dish doubtlessly has blown my mind away!

Regular Skim Cappuccino (AUD 4)

I had tried some Australian-originated coffee brands, but this was my first time having the Grounds', which has successfully made me once again fall in love with Australian coffee just the way the other cups I had here did. The acidity and bitterness level faultlessly suited my preference and I really fancied how clean the after-taste was. 

Having tried some of the dishes, I was still not satisfied enough with only visiting the place once. I craved for much more (even now when I'm writing this post, I'm already craving for another one) and I absolutely would come back for their Acai Bowl, Fruit Salad, and all the cakes displayed at the showcase (perhaps another French Toast AGAIN?)! Even though you have to wait to get the seat, trust me every single minute spent on queuing will surely be paid-off :)

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

Thanks for Reading! :)

Address: 391 Westfield Shopping Centre, Chatswood, Australia
Phone: (+61) 
Operating Hours: Fri - Wed 8am - 5pm, Thu 8am - 9pm

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Tiny Giant, A Tiny Place with Gigantic Taste

Australia, the country that never fails to amuse me with its awesome brunch, marvelous desserts, and amazing coffee. Everyday is always an excitement for me to try new places to enjoy these three. If only I could stay longer here, I couldn't imagine how many posts I would have written to describe how much I enjoyed all those palate spoilers.

December last year, the first time I stepped my feet into this country in the city of Sydney to visit my sister who studied there. I also got the chance to travel around  to Melbourne and Gold Coast, where I was mesmerized not only by the touristy places but also the foods! Not even need to wait for 1 year, I again this year visited this country to attend my sister's graduation. To explain how enthusiastic I was in visiting the great cafes and restaurants here, I had started to look for the ones I wanted to visit even weeks before the D-day! I also asked my sister to prepare all the itinerary just to ensure there's no single place missed though I had to admit, some of them had to be sacrificed just because the time didn't permit.

Ok, cut the story short (though it's been quite long, I know LOL), here I was at the very first brunch place I wanted to visit, The Tiny Giant. Located at Petersham area, it was actually not that close to the city center yet you know, with the great transportation mode, every where seemed reachable in this metropolitan city. Reflected by its name, this cafe was actually quite tiny in terms of its space, however, you'd better not underestimate it as you needed gigantic tummy and huge appetite to be able to finish its gigantic luscious dishes. 

I have always fallen in love with how cafes're designed in Australia; huge windows, semi open-air spaces, and natural design; making you feel like go into the nature, allowing natural light to come in, and allowing the guests to enjoy the atmosphere of relaxation. And that perfectly explained how The Tiny Giant's decoration was. Shortly said, AWESOMELY INSTAGENIC!

Service wise, don't even ask! I was even amazed by how friendly most waiters/waitresses were in all Australian cafes. They were very responsive, immediately greeting you and directing you to the vacant table. 

Looking at the menu and the showcase, as always I was drowned into dilemma on which ones I should go for. I simply wanted to order EVERYTHING if only my tummy had enough space to accommodate them all. As you might have been able to guess accurately, for sure I couldn't but fortunately, I have my whole family members to share everything so I could end up ordering some of the dishes, both from the sweet as well as the savory selections.

Croque Madamme

I'm a big big fan of Croque Madamme and Tiny Giant's has successfully turned out to be one of my favorite ones. This dish was always special to me as appearance wise, it might look very simple but taste wise, it's always able to pamper my taste bud. This one was so scrumptious with the crispy toast bread as the base and well-seasoned grilled ham. A big YEAY to the generously given Emmental cheese and the perfectly runny sunny side up! Big big smile on my face :) :)

Tiny Giant Burger

No wonder it's called giant, as the burger was indeed gigantic! Well, for Australians, this size might be called normal, but for me as Indonesian, this was a huge one. At first, I thought the bun would be quite dry, but surprisingly it turned out to be moist! The abundant grilled chicken toppings were tender and yummy. Served with the veggies and parmesan cheese, this could be luscious yet healthy one. Nonetheless, I would only order this one if it's to be shared with others, otherwise you might not be able to eat anything else.

Baked Eggs

Another egg dish and also one of my most-favorite one to order for brunch, YES! BAKED EGGS or what's usually called as Shakshouka. For this Tunisian-and-Moroccan-originated dish, I opted for Chorizo toppings. The tomato sauce itself was nice though I didn't find anything more special than the general ones I had in another cafe. The particular point I fancied from this dish were the large cuts of scrumptious Chorizo which were abundantly spread over the plate.

Sweets after the full courses, essentially tons of head-nods! Passig the long-confusion on which one to opt for, I end up with these two cronuts on my table; the first was quite a new comer, while the latter was the the all-time favorite. For this Strawberry and Meringue Cronut, face didn't lie. I honestly admitted that at I initially ordered it mainly because it looked Instagenic, yet surprisingly it turned out so good! The flaky pastry was impeccably combined with the neither-too-creamy-nor-too-sweet custard. The sweet flavor was then contributed by the strawberry coating and the gorgeous pink meringue on top. On the other hand, the Nutella and Oreo cronut did deserve the honor to be called as 'all-time favorite'. This dynamic duo was doublessly finger-lickin' good. If only calories and diabetes didn't exist, I would have packed a dozen for tomorrow's breakie!

Final sayings, thanks to The Tiny Giant for making me extremely enjoy my very first brunch at this second visit to Sydney. I will surely get back here to try much more from the menu and I really wish it would come some time real real soon. I even have had the dishes I want to try at my next visit, they will surely be the Salted Caramel Timtam Cronut and The French Toast!!

Taste: 8.5/10
Price: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Place: 8.5/10

Thanks for Reading! :)

Address: 110 Audley St, Petersham NSW 2049, Australia
Phone: (+61) 2 8065 4684
Operating Hours: Mon - Sun 6.30am - 3.00pm

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gelato Hangover at Grom

Gelato, well, who doesn’t love it? And if people love it, then call me severely addicted to it. Yes, as crazy as I am into dessert, that best describes how insane I am towards gelato as well. When people say eat desserts when you’re stressed, I basically have it when I’m stressed, angry, sad, happy, nervous; all the time regardless my mood. Because desserts for me are simply essential to keep me alive. Ok, now I might start to be over-exaggerating LOL.

Being a dessert addict, I have always been hyper-excited to try any new desserts. Thereby, when I firstly heard that the well-known Italian-branded Gelato, Grom, was finally in town, I really wish I could have Doraemon’s ‘Anywhere Door’ so that just in a blink I could reach the outlet and be the first to lick the gelato from the cone. Being over-curious, I still remembered the day when Grom’s first outlet at Pacific Place was opened, I straightly went there after my office-hour, standing in the long queue, fighting to have a try. Ever since then, I’m madly in love with Grom.

Just at the beginning of this month, Grom finally expands its wings by opening 2 new branches; in Lotte Shopping Avenue and in Plaza Senayan. Having been to all the 3 outlets, I love the one in Lotte the most. First reason, it’s simply the one located closest to my boarding house and my office, just a 15-minute walk! Secondly, I just love the atmosphere of the outlet as it’s quite spacious and it’s cozy enough to spend long time for chillin’.

A short snapshot for you on how Grom was actually started back then in 2003 in Torino, Italia; so this brand was actually founded by Guido Matinetti and Federico Grom, who intended to serve Gelato in the original way how it used to be serve by their ancestors, and in their view, how Gelato indeed should be served. Being started there 13 years ago, now Grom has already been available in several countries, including France, Dubai UAE, Japan, United States, and Hong Kong.

Talking about ingredient itself, to keep the quality and the taste of the products, the founders established MURA-MURA, the organic farm located in Piedmont, Italia, to produce the ingredients. Grom also guarantees that the products are free from artificial colorings, artificial ingredients, and anything which is not organically made. Even, they do have gluten-free flavors, which are Crema di Grom and Tiramisu, so you now can have them with no worries!

Focusing on Gelato, there are several menus offered in all the outlets in Jakarta, which are Gelato, Fruit Sorbets, Hot Chocolate (Baccio), and Shake. Unfortunately, the shake is still unavailable in Lotte outlet but no biggies as it’ll be there real real soon! Besides, there’s also menu, combining the basic ones, which is affogato, the blend of gelato and hot chocolate/coffee.

Some flavors offered by Grom are Crema de Grom, Extra Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Chips, Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Chip, Nougat, Vanilla, Tiramisu, Coffee, Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Hazelnut, Cherry Cheesecake, Lemon, Strawberry, Mango, Pear and many more. Among those, my top 3 as well as all-time favorites are Crema de Grom (the signature flavor from Grom, mixing egg cream gelato with gluten free corn biscuit and Domori chocolate chips), Extra Dark Chocolate (the one with very strong chocolate taste, which for me is the perfect match to the sweet ones such as Crema de Grom), and Cherry Cheesecake (the flawless combination of cheesecake gelato, biscuits, and cherries). Avoiding the confusion in having to pick the desired flavor, I usually go for the three of them and having them in the cup as you can only go for two flavors for cone. For me, these 3 flavors are impeccable trio as they balance each other! The sweet taste will come from Crema de Grom and Cherry Cheesecake while the bitter one will be brought out by extra dark chocolate. What I love about Grom is it’s not excessively milky as well.

For you who fancy something fresh for your gelato flavor, you can opt for the sorbet. There are also seasonal flavors usually provided and changed regularly. Several weeks ago, Coconut flavor was there and became one of the most favorite. Currently, they had Green Tea flavor and Raspberry Sorbet!

Today, I went for Crema de Grom and Cherry Cheesecake in a cone. However, having had that, my palate still craved for some more then I decided to go for the next round and had affogato. Please do pardon my high sugar-intake and you’re welcome to get jealous now! Well, just FYI I ran for 10k this morning to have this (LOL. Just kidding. I did run 10k but it’s not just to have this). Ok cut the story short, my choice for my medium-sized affogato, which came with 2 flavors of gelato, went to Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Chips and Coffee with Hot Dark Chocolate. This drink was AMAAAZINGGGG and I finished it till the very last drop just in a blink. The thick hot dark chocolate was immaculate and I imagined having a pitcher of it might drive me insane. The gelato came as perfect companions and I indeed intentionally chose Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Chips to give the sweet taste, while Coffee just to give a hint of espresso scent. My friends went for Hot Milk Chocolate as well as Coffee for their affogato, which I also tried, but for me, mine was still unbeatable!

Well said, this second round beautifully ended my sugar-high treat at Grom today. Tons of thanks to Grom for well-spoiling my taste bud and I’m highly excited to come again for their shakes and other new flavors!  

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

Thanks for reading! :)

Address: Lotte Shopping Avenue GF / Pacific Place 1F / Plaza Senayan 3F – Jakarta
Phone: +62
21 2988 9090 / +62 21 5790 0416
Operating Hours: Mon – Sun 10am – 10pm

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Dessert Madness at Izakaya Kai

It’s just several days ago when I saw the very first post of this new comer in Northern Jakarta area, Izakaya Kai. Guess what’s the first picture I saw, which has successfully stolen my heart and hypnotized my brain? Yes, without any single doubt, it’s for sure the dessert, the impeccably gorgeous Red Velvet Chocolate Cake! Looking very familiar, I then found out that this restaurant was actually established by the admirable couple, Adhika Maxi and pastry chef Karen Carlotta, who have been very well-known for their amazingly innovative ideas.

Collaborating with the Tempura Master, Chef Hitoshi Kimura, together they opened this two-storey Japanese restaurant at one of Jakarta’s most crowded culinary spot, Pluit. At the first floor of the venue, there it resided the all-day cafĂ©, serving several Japanese cuisines and Chef Karen Carlotta’s masterpiece desserts. While at the second floor, they had the Japanese Izakaya restaurant, offering various Japanese traditional cuisines like Tempura, Yakitori, Donburi, Udon, and many more. Unfortunately, you could only order the dishes served at the floor where you dined in so if you wanted to try the foods served at both floors, it meant you have to eat at one of the floors first then moved to the other one.

The place itself was a cozy one with simple and minimalist design. For me, the first floor didn’t look any Japanese at all, while the second one indeed served the Japanese restaurant atmosphere with the dim lighting.

Despite the crowd, my friends and I luckily got a table immediately though we didn’t make any advanced reservation. The waitress was quite responsive and quickly directed us to the vacant table. However, when it came to the ordering part, I was quite disappointed with the service provided. It took them quite long to serve the cakes we ordered, while actually they’re just there displayed at the chiller and ready to be served right away. I needed to ask for multiple times before I got them provided on my table. One more thing, I almost didn’t get my most desired cake, the Chocolate Red Velvet, as they firstly mentioned that the cake was sold out, while actually when I was ordering it, they still had multiple slices in the chiller. I was really irritated and straightly complained to the waiter. Providentially, the waiter responded fast by trying to re-check again then provided the great news that they had another 1 whole cake to be served.   

Pork and Salted Egg Yolk Brioche Bun

Shooing my irascibility away, there I was, enjoying the very first dish served on the table, the appetizer which was given as a compliment from Chef Adhika Maxi himself, who kindly greeted all the guests although he was very busy. Well, I guess the name of the dish has clearly told you what it mainly was. This twist of French and Chinese taste was certainly a very delightful way to start the feast there. The combination of the pillowy bun and scrumptious minced pork filling, completed with golden salted egg yolk at the center, were such a perfect delicacy.

Crispy Salmon Soy Orange Donburi (IDR 80k)

From the selection of main dishes, which were various pasta and donburi, our choice went to this crispy salmon since it’s also said as the recommended one. Not only good-looking, the salmon was indeed moist, giving that melt-in-your-mouth moment. Not to mention, the crispy skin which added more happiness into the bowl. Though I couldn’t say it’s the best donburi ever, but I thought it was a quite nice one as the sauces and seasonings were evenly spread throughout the whole bowl.

Kaastengels Cheese Pie (IDR 50k)

Saving the tummy space for my most favorite part, the desserts, that’s basically the main reason why my friends and I only ordered 1 main course. And our dessert madness started with this pie, a blend of soft cream cheese with a hint of burnt caramel on top and kaastengels pie as the base. Simply said, it tasted like the traditional kaastengels which you usually had during occasions like Christmas, New Year or Eid, however this one added the cream cheese as the innovative part. Taste wise, it’s quite ok although nothing really surprised me.

Matcha Chocolate Cake (IDR 50k)

Looking at the presentation, did you just think that this cake reminded you of something? For me it’s big yes. Staring at it for the first time, I straightaway remembered Union’s Chocolate Mint Pie. The first spoon then became the moment of truth. My longtime wish just turned into reality and I was so happy I finally found it. I’d always wished Union’s Chocolate Mint pie could be served without the mint as I was not really into mint and yeaayy, my dream cake was just right here now! I didn’t mind with the matcha flavor that I couldn’t find in this cake, as long as the pleasant chocolate taste was there, it’s more than enough.

Goma Cake (IDR 45k)

At first this cake actually failed to capture my interest, but just in seconds, once it touched my palate I was then proven totally wrong. Bringing out black sesame as its main ingredient, this moist cake was such a fascinating surprise. The black sesame scent was not overpowering, the sweetness level was just right, and the texture was so light, making it a great choice to be enjoyed with your cup of coffee or tea. Even due to its simple yet pampering taste, a huge portion of it would still be gratifying. For you who wasn’t really into dessert or just fancied a light one, I strongly recommended you to go for this as I believed you’d love love love it!

Red Velvet Chocolate Cake (IDR 50k)

Finally, the last dessert to be mentioned and yes, I intentionally put it as the last one to be shared to all of you. Why? Putting it as an analogy, it was the crispy skin to your fried chicken. YESSS, it’s doubtlessly the BEST part of the dessert feast! Well, who didn’t love Chef Karen Carlotta’s heavenly red velvet? For me, it’s the cake that’s never too big to be enjoyed by myself, the sinful indulgence that made every single calorie taken was well-spent. Being successful with the breakthrough idea of Red Velvet Cheesecake, now Chef Karen came with another invention dedicated for the chocolate lover, the astonishing collaboration of the all-time favorite red velvet with the strong rhum and dark chocolate flavor. Every single bite was so damn good that your taste bud wouldn’t be able to resist being spoiled.

Without any single doubt, I can bluntly say that I will go back to this place and can even be one of its most loyal customers, just like how I’m madly addicted to Union. I’ve been a crazy devotee of all chef Karen Carlotta’s marvelous desserts and the ones served here now belong to my top list! Moreover, I couldn’t wait to try their Izakaya Japanese restaurant as well, so looking forward to the next visit and I really hope it would be some time real soon.


Bailey's Mocha Crunch Cake (IDR 50k)

Though it's not as soon as my expectation, I finally made my second visit to Izakaya Kai and this time it's with my dessert sister! Well, she's literally my sister but she has the passion in dessert as deep as I am and that's the history why the name came up. Besides the must-have Chocolate Red Velvet, this time I tried the newest comer, Bailey's Mocha Crunch, which straight-away became my other favorite here. I was a severe addict of Bailey's and this cake unquestionably satisfied me to the fullest with its extra strong kick of Bailey's. It was there all over the cake and the most killing part was indeed the chocolate layer, super intense Bailey's flavor that you could even get that warm feeling in your tummy and all over the body. The mocha sponge cake layer beautifully came as the perfect neutralizer to balance out the whole taste.

Actually, there were some more newly displayed ones on the showcase, which I would surely opt for in the following visits :) 

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

Thanks for Reading! :)

Izakaya Kai
Address: Jl. Pluit Kencana Raya No. 59, Jakarta
Phone: +62 21 2266 3966
Operating Hours: All-day Cafe Mon - Sun 11am - 11pm / Izakaya Restaurant Mon - Sun 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm

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