Eat, drink and be merry. Nope the ecclesiastic - to their credit - didn’t get it all wrong. So where to be merry in Jakarta? Well, on that score you have plenty of choice and you could do worse than to check out the city’s funtastical spas (list here). As for the Big Durian’s best watering holes, the number of bars seems to be increasing almost on a daily basis. My faves are here. Eating out is always fun, of course, and a good way to keep your energy levels up in this oppressive tropical climate. Amen.
10. Pondok Laguna. I’m very much with ol’ Kurt Cobain when he claimed that it was “okay to eat fish because they don't have any feelings”. An Indonesian specialty is deep fried gourami, most often served in Sundanese restaurants and accompanied with vegetables and a spicy sauce. Not that different from fish and chips except with rice instead of the chips. A great place for gourami in central Jakarta is the extremely popular Pondok Laguna. Don’t expect to be served gourami as big as this, however.
9. Sederhana. Sederhana is to Indonesia what Mcdonald’s is to the US: a ubiquitous restaurant franchise. Neither are for the health conscious (lots of fat and cholesterol) but Sederhana – a Padang restaurant - beats Mcdonald’s hands over, in my view, for serving such delicacies as Gulai Otak (brain curry), Paru Goreng (fried cow lung) and, of course, the magnificent Rendang (chunks of beef stewed in spicy coconut milk). A meal here will set you back as little as 2 or 3 bucks.
8. Kinara. The best Indian restaurant in Jakarta. Probably. And yep a meal is best washed down with a glass of bintang.
7. Ya Udah Bistro. This German-orientated eatery deserves a spot on my list for their affordable and wholesome grub (the salads are excellent). Watch out for the waitresses though!
6. Banda Jakarta. Best place for seafood in Jakarta and very reasonably priced as well. You select the seafood yourself and then pay a small charge for it to be cooked. The restaurant is located within the Ancol Dreamland Themepark complex and is located right on the bay. Very nice vibe and far better value than the rip-off seafood restaurants in Jimbaran, Bali.
5. A decent western style steakhouse like Outback, Chili's, or Q Smokehouse. Morrissey was well wide of the mark when he claimed meat was murder. Hasn’t he seen footage on NatGeo of the lions scrapping it out in Africa?
4. Gado Gado Boplo. Vegetarian restaurants are difficult to find in Jakarta even though Gado Gado (mixed vegetables covered with peanut sauce) is a national dish. If you want to try Gado Gado at a restaurant, as opposed to buying it from a street food vender, Gado Gado Boplo do a particularly good version of Gado Gado (one of the restaurants in their chain is in the humongous Grand Indonesia shopping mall near to the Welcome Statue). Cheap at only around 3 bucks.
3. Ikan Tude Manado. Insanely awesome Manado cuisine which is both bitter but very hot. Bit like Manado women really…
2. Joyoboyo. Why eat KFC when you can eat Indonesian fried chicken? They have a branch near my house and I am a regular customer. Best served with nasi uduk (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk).
1. Satoo. Jakarta’s number one buffet which makes it to the top of my list for the quality of the food, the ambience and the simple fact that you can eat as much as you like in the four hours or so available to you. Go for it!