Jakarta, capital of Indonesia is home to over ten million people and is a regular destination for millions more who pour into the capital from its provinces. Something that a visitor soon notices is the majority of these masses of friendly, smiling people are devoted food enthusiasts. Restaurants are legion in the city, with traditional warungs, the ever popular Masakang Padang and lima kaki food stands scattered from one side of the massive, sprawling city to the other.
Not surprisingly, Jakarta offers an array of upscale culinary options that incorporate the best of the archipelago’s traditional cuisine (which is vast and diverse) with Asian, European and international dishes. The vast, internationally-minded middle class which emerged along with democracy in the late 1990s are largely the cause of this. This demographic, concentrated in Jakarta and millions in number demand an array of excellent restaurant options, and this is reflected by the plethora of fine dining venues available in the city. The competition is stiff in this market, as Indonesians will not accept luxury at the expense of food quality, but demand both at the highest qualities when it comes to upscale restaurant experiences.
Such a competitive environment has generated incredible dining options that have to be seen to be believed. I enjoyed one of these amazing Jakarta dining experiences a few weeks ago in the The Ritz-Carlton, located in the upscale central neighborhood of Mega Kuningan. As it was a Sunday, I inquired about the brunch options and was delighted to find that a brand new food experience had been launched that day. It is called The Royal Brunch and it certainly lived up to its name!
The Ritz offers some of Jakarta’s plushest, most luxurious surrounds and attentive service to suit. In fact, after half a year living in Indonesia’s capital I would go as far as to say it boasts the best service in town. Before beginning the amazing culinary experience that is the Royal Bruch, I was greeted by friendly, professional and attentive staff who saw that I was seated comfortably and looked after immediately. A live band played relaxing, Sunday afternoon tunes in the background and I felt the week’s stress melt away. Despite the Ramadan conditions which have emptied so many of the city’s restaurants during the day, the venue was slowly filling up.
Perhaps the professional and friendly atmosphere of the restaurant helped keep up numbers. Even the Ritz’s Chef de Cuisine, Jordi Bernus, was on hand to greet myself and the other guests. He is a friendly Spaniard who relocated from Barcelona to Jakarta, bringing amazing Iberian cuisine with him. The jamon offered by the brunch is a reminder of this and a rare treat in Jakarta, where certain remote foreign delicacies are still hard to find.
The brunch itself is a feast served with an array of wine and free flowing Moët & Chandon. It is certainly not for anyone on a diet! In fact I recommend skipping dinner the night before and perhaps exercising just prior to the meal so that it can be finished. That being said, don’t be put off by the scale of it. The menu is as follows:
– Alaskan King Crab (served with Avocado Canelloni)
– Crispy Pork belly or Bomba Fried Potato Balls
– Jamon Iberico ‘Pata Negra’
– Lemon Rose Sorbet
– Prawn Carpaccio
– Pan Fried Duck Liver
– European Black Mussels
– Porcini Truffle Foam
– Suzuki with Hokkaido Scallops or Pluma Iberico Pork or US Prime Striploin
– Cheese Selection
– Molten Chocolate Cake or Crema Catalana
It is imperative to arrive early in order to ensure enough time to work through the courses. Keep in mind that the staff are very generous with portions and drinks, so be careful of making the same mistake I did by eating too much too quickly! Luckily I was able to make it to dessert and enjoy the meal in its entirety.
All in all, I highly recommend this brunch as an excellent Sunday afternoon activity with friends. Given the free flowing wine and the ingredients, I would also say it is value for money.
The Royal Brunch is available from 12pm-2.30pm every Sunday. It costs 1.25 million rupiah plus taxes.
Special thanks to Rachmalia Nikijuluw, Marketing Communication Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta Hotel and to Mr. Nagesh Chawla who provided the pictures and valuable information for this article