Jakarta is a city with over 20 million in population with a long history as a trading port since the 4th century. It is one place you should visit at least once in your lifetime. It's a melting pot of cultures, food as well as a good shock to your system. And I do mean a complete shock!
Just like any other city, Jakarta has some really amazing cafés, bars and restaurants. Most of them are situated within malls so it's relatively convenient to have dinner, pre-drinks and then hit the clubs. Some of their clubs are also situated within the vicinity of malls, which makes it all the more convenient.
Not all cab company's are good as their drivers might not know the area well and some of them will take you for a ride around the city just to jack up the meter. Also, some are known to tamper with the meter so be warned.
I stayed some where in the south of Jakarta that was out of the way from all the main hotspots in the city. The only mall closes to where I was in Tebet is Kasablanka hence a lot of commuting to the area’s around.
I was rather impressed with Jakarta. As my first time into the capital, I came with no expectations at all, as I haven't heard much about the capital. My drive from the Airport took about 40-minutes in which I took the opportunity to take in the scenery. I notice that the city did not have many high-rise buildings and it was a rather gradual build up to the city scrapers. But I can see development taking shape and not long from now, Jakarta will have many high rises. For now, I think it's rather nice just the way it is.
I haven’t seen my friends for ages and one of them for more than 6 years! As expected, our stop at Monolog lasted hours. A quick evening kip and we were off to dinner at Samarra, an Indonesian restaurant along Jalan Kebon Sirih Raya in the Menteng district. I am still kicking myself for not taking my camera along, as this place is just stunning! The food is great and not to mention the interior… its perfect for a romantic dinner and the theme is a mix of Arabian décor with Indonesian traits. Almost everything we ordered was fabulous and as always the variety of Satay in Indonesia is vast, and they were all good!
Samarra is not a popular spot with the cab drivers so it worth to mention Nasi Goreng Kebon Sirih to the driver as this little warung is just a stone’s throw away from the Samarra restaurant. I love this restaurant… Absolutely love it! From here the next stop was Hotel Kosenda for after dinner drinks.
As I have mentioned before, Jakarta’s skyline is not all too compact like some of its other neighboring countries therefore you can enjoy the city views from this rooftop. It’s chilled out, good music and the drinks are not too bad. I wouldn’t rate their cocktails an all time high but they are still good. One worth ordering would be the lemongrass mojito. This place also serves a selection of food and opens till 2am on weekends.
Awan Lounge is a lovely spot. Feels like I’m on a rooftop garden, unwinding my week with good music, drinks and ultra comfortable-lazy couches. Talk about a fabulous way of ending your day!
Sunday was rather interesting. We had lunch at Ocha & Bella, an Italian restaurant nestled on the ground floor of Morrissey Hotel. The interior & exterior of this place is really cool and the food, bellissimo! Again, food was fantastic. Think I’m exploring Jakarta on a gastronomical level and for once, I absolutely love it!
The food in Café Batavia isn’t worth it so a drink would do you good and the interior is something everyone has to check out! The building itself is over 200-years-old and it’s covered in pictures of famous people. Now the toilet on the first floor is worth a trip as the photographs in there are pretty cool. I never take pictures in toilets but this one, I couldn’t help it, I had too… it was pretty interesting.
Walking out on the street especially in this square at Kota Tua, be prepared to be stopped by locals for pictures or just a chat, especially if you don’t look Asian.
In a nutshell, Jakarta is an explosion to your senses. Food is one thing but the difference between one to another is amazing. The rich are ultra rich and the poor are really poor. The vast difference is obvious. If they can afford to have Galleries La Fayette and other high-end brand outlets in the city then there must be a market. Along some street, little shabby shops and workshops stand side by side. The poor begging on the streets followed by a Bentley driving down it is something bizzare. The traffic on the other hand is crazy. My senses were taken for a whirlwind ride of calm, stress, smog, peace and an explosion of taste, sights and sounds.
- Monolog (Plaza Senayan) – Great café serving good coffee, food and pastries.
- De Luca – Good wine list and Italian food with a cozy interior.
- Samarra – The best place for an Indonesian gastronomical feast and doubles up as a place for a candle light dinner.
- Awan Lounge @ Kosenda – Awesome rooftop bar, set within a garden with lounge chairs and drinks. The music and vibe is brilliant and you can enjoy the city’s skyline.
- Ocha & Bella - Great ambience and wonderful Italian food. Trust me when I say you won't be disappointed.
- Café Batavia – Beautiful colonial Dutch era building set in the Kota Tua, makes quite a romantic setting for one to absorb and process what makes Jakarta, Jakarta. The Kota Tua itself is a place you should visit and stop by the café for an evening tea.