Spending a short stopover at Jakarta? Let us guide you through some quick highlights of the Big Durian for you to pencil in your itinerary.
Visitors looking to take in the local sights and sounds of Jakarta ought to drop by the petak sembilan area. Dubbed the Jakarta’s Chinatown, petak sembilan is a bustling district filled with road-side hawkers, indoor markets, heritage buildings and temples. A few of the traditional Chinese temples and residential houses in the district have been around since Dutch colonial times, with charming architectural elements such as swallow’s tail roofs. Take a stroll, grab a bite, enjoy the unique charms of Jakarta and admire the scenery.
Within walking distance from petak sembilan is the kota tua, loosely translated as the old town. Kota tua was the original walled settlement of the Dutch, when Jakarta was established as the de facto capital of the Dutch East Indies trading company between the 17th to 19th century. Many of the heritage Dutch-style structures have been restored and converted, such as the original post office building (now a modern art museum) and the former court of justice (now a fine art and ceramic museum). Some of the original buildings remain to this day such as the oldest surviving church in Jakarta – Gereja Sion as well as the popular Café Batavia restaurant.
For guests looking for a modern take on Indonesian cuisine, do drop by the highly acclaimed Kaum restaurant. Conveniently located in central Jakarta, Kaum serves up a variety of dishes inspired from tastes and ingredients that Executive Chef Antoine Audran came across in his journey across the archipelago. Our favourites include ikan goreng sambal kecombrang – deep-fried fish served with torch ginger chilli relish and udang bakar madu – grilled prawns served with pickled spicy pineapple. Both are perfect sharing dishes best enjoyed with bowls of fluffy white rice.
Our recommendation for visitors in search of something more traditional is the Pagi Sore restaurant which serves Padang food. With no outlets in central Jakarta, it is a bit of a journey to make the trip down to one of its locations. Rest assured though, we guarantee that the food is well worth the travel. Padang-style restaurant is often overwhelming to first-time diners. The restaurant’s waiters stack endless platters of food buffet-style on individual tables, where guests can pick and choose what they would like to eat. We like the classic combination of ayam goreng (fried chicken), rendang and perkedel (potato fritters).
For those looking for a sky-high drinking venue, drop by Henshin at The Westin Jakarta, the highest bar-restaurant in the city. Henshin serves up intoxicating potations paired with delicious authentic Nikkei food. Come early, for the restaurant and bar gets filled up quickly in the evening by the city’s socialites as well as Jakarta’s corporate power-brokers eager to unwind after an exhausting day in the office. The bar is well-stocked and the mixologists are eager with drinks recommendations, what more can you ask for?
UP IN SMOKE
Located smack-dab in the middle of Kuningan business district is the newly opened Up in Smoke bar and restaurant. For those who like their cocktails with pairings, the head mixologist Julian is more than happy to accommodate. With stints in acclaimed bars across Europe, Bali and Singapore, Julian’s cocktails are the real deal. Practically every single component of the cocktails is house-made, from syrups to coconut milk chocolate. Don’t be a stranger, pull up a bar stool and ask for the specials.