Kafe Betawi, Grand Indonesia, Jakarta

Kafe Betawi is one of the most popular casual eateries in Jakarta. And like the ubiquitous Crystal Jade Kitchen in Singapore, you're likely to find them in just about every major mall in the Indonesian capital. The food is rooted in classic Indonesian flavours, but given a modern twist by dousing the spice levels to cater to the spice-averse.

While the food was mostly decent, the fact that they were served tepid tipped Kafe Betawi into the middling grade. Piping hot dishes, especially the soup-based ones, are key to a more outstanding, and memorable meal.

A must-try is the Ayam Goreng Kuning (Rg30,000 for each pc), tumeric-flavoured fried chicken. The chicken was a little on the skinny side, but the flavours were bang-on. It was incredibly aromatic, delightfully crispy and marinated so thoroughly that it was delicious to the bone.

The Soto Mie (Rg42,000), beef noodle soup seasoned with tumeric, tomatoes, belinjau and fried shallots, was lovely in a delicate way, but needed to be much hotter to be properly appreciated.

The Lontong Cap Gomeh (Rg50,000), a whole chicken thigh with coconut milk, boiled egg, poached vegetables and rice cakes, was richly creamy and mildly spiced.

The Pempek (Rg38,000), a gargantuan hunk of fried fishcake, with noodles, root vegetables and a sweet and spicy soy-based soup, was pretty good. The fishcake was very mild, and wonderfully chewy.

The Gado Gado-like Ketoprak (Rg30,000) with soft ricecakes, fried tofu, crunchy beansprouts, blanched vermicelli was slathered in a spicy garlic peanut sauce.

The Tempe Mendoan (Rg15,000) battered fermented soybean patty was fantastic, even if it was served at room temp. It was nutty and clear and light.

The Nasi Ulam Polos (Rg19,000) is markedly different from what I was expecting.The Peranakan version that I'm so accustomed to is a lot more complex and loaded. It's not to say that the Kafe Betawi version isn't nice; it was fragrant and fluffy and delicious on its own. And, it was served steaming hot! Big plus right there.

The Nasi Uduk Polos (Rg18,000), heavily accented with coconut milk, was flavourful and well-matched with just about every other gravy.

Recommended drinks are the Juice Alpukat (Rg22,000), a thick, almost milkshake-like avocado juice; and the Juice Sirsak (Rg22,000) , an equally thick soursop blended juice. I would have liked them icy cold. They'd have been much more refreshing.

Kafe Betawi
Grand Indonesia
Lt. LG – Jl. M. H. Thamrin No.1
Jakarta 10310
Tel: 021 235 80 500 / 501
Open daily from 10am to 10pm

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