ereveld menteng pulo

5 Must-Visit Places in Jakarta beyond Shopping Malls – Part I

HOW WALKING TOURS CHANGE THE WAY I SEE JAKARTA

My hometown Jakarta is the capital and the biggest city in Indonesia situated in Java island. Over the years, the 491 year-old city has developed into the busiest, the most populated city in the country due to fast economic growth, and also known for having one of the worst traffic jams in the world. Moreover, overloaded shopping malls overshadow the city’s historical elements. I even had no idea where to take my friends from overseas when they visited Jakarta besides shopping malls. The only historical spot I know is Cafe Batavia in Kota Tua (literally means old town), nothing else. What a shame!

Thanks to the growing trend of walking tours in Jakarta, organized by Jakarta Good Guide and Wisata Kreatif Jakarta for instance, not only are foreign tourists able to explore each area of Jakarta without traffic jam. But also for Jakarta residence like me, walking tours introduce alternative ways to enjoy the city other than hanging out in shopping malls, from visiting survived historical buildings turned into museums, Dutch heritage railway station, culinary spots until places of worship from different religions.

After joining walking tours since 2017, it’s a wake up call for me that I have very little knowledge about the rich history and diverse culture in my own city regardless how many years I’ve been living. To be honest, it’s been an interesting experience related to my travel life. I have become somewhat addicted in participating in the tours and it’s been my 8th time already and still counting.

Indeed, Jakarta is not only about shopping malls and it doesn’t necessarily take a thousand miles or land somewhere far far away to call it travelling.

MUST VISIT SPOTS THAT ARE NOT SHOPPING MALLS

Of all the places I visited, mostly with the troops from Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, these are my favourite places of interest in Jakarta you should not miss, that are definitely not shopping malls:

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis

Tugu Kunstkring Paleis, originally named Bataviasche Kunstkring, was created by a Dutch architect Pieter Adriaan Jacobus Moojen from NV. Bouwploeg, the first property and architecture firm in Jakarta during the Dutch colony period. It was opened in 1914 to hold fine and decorative art exhibitions. Van Gogh, Chagall, Picasso and Gauguin paintings were among other finest works exhibited between 1939 and 1943.

After 1942, the function changed into the Islamic Council of Indonesia main office, immigration office, until Buddha Bar that brought a controversy. Since 2013, Tugu Hotels and Restaurants Group renamed it into Tugu Kunstkring Paleis and transformed it into a fine dining restaurant serving Indonesian and peranakan cuisine. The Dutch rationalist architecture style building also provides cafe, bar, wine tasting, gift shop, ball room and a balcony.

kunstkring
Diponegoro Room at Tugu Kunstkring Paleis

Exhibiting antiquity inheritance from Oei Tiong Ham, a sugar trading tycoon, the old glory of Bataviasche Kunstkring has returned. A golden gate (for real) and other precious artifacts from 2 Surakarta Kingdoms and a 9-meter-painting of “The Fall of Java” by Anhar Setjadibrata (the restaurant owner), inspired by Raden Saleh painting, decorated Diponegoro Room. The original memorabilia of Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president, is well-kept in Soekarno room on the 2nd floor, a private dining room occupying up to 25 guests. Each room has its own unique name inspired by prominent people in Indonesian history, such as Diponegoro, Soekarno, Multatuli, the owner’s favorite movie, Darna, and a legendary Greek god, Hercules. The bar name, Suzie Wong, is inspired by a famous novel by Richard Mason in 1957.

The 3-storey building has an elevator to comfort those who are not willing to climb the stairs to the top. If you take the stairs, observe the walls along the way as it displays nostalgic pictures of Tugu Kunstkring Paleis dated 100 years ago.

The fine dining restaurant plus gallery has a free entrance. All you have to do is to try their refreshing mocktails, such as Meik Wei Meik Wei, the best-selling Grand Rijsttafel Betawi, etc, and take your time as much as you like to see all the invaluable antique collections in each side and corner of the room.

Museum Taman Prasasti 

Museum Taman Prasasti (Inscription Museum) was built in 1795 and little known that it is also the first public cemetery in the world. The land was inherited by Van Riemsdijk, the 30th governor-general of Dutch East Indies, for the last resting place of Protestant prominent people and government officials, such as Marius Hulswit (the architect of Cathedral Church in Jakarta), Olivia Mariamne Raffles (the first wife of Thomas Stanford Raffles, a Lieutenant General of Dutch Indies during British occupation), Dr. HF. Roll (the founder of STOVIA, School of Medicine, now University of Indonesia (UI) and many more).

The cemetery was closed in 1975 and all the remaining bodies of the deceased were taken by their families. Since July 9, 1977, it has been transformed into a museum.

museum taman prasasti

What makes the open air museum so particular and funny at the same time is that the former Protestant cemetery looks like the Catholic one, which is more lavish because of the abundant of angle statues situated almost everywhere in the neighborhood and a Jesus Christ statue on top of Kapitein Jas’ grave. This happens due to lack of understanding the differences between Catholic and Protestant although both religions are derived from the same root, Christian religion.

Despite the misconceptions, I think the statues enhance the beauty of the museum and has become one of favorite locations for photo hunting and pre-wedding photography.

Ereveld Menteng Pulo

While Père Lachaise in Paris and Okunoin in Koyasan are popular cemeteries for tourist attractions, many Indonesian people still think otherwise about cemeteries. Dirty, slummy and haunted are the first impressions when they heard about it. I can’t blame them, though, since it’s unfortunately the fact that there are still many cemeteries in the country are untreated because of bad management and ignorance. Nonetheless, visiting Ereveld Menteng Pulo may change stereotypes about cemeteries.

Ereveld Menteng Pulo is a war cemetery managed by The Netherlands War Graves Foundation (OGS), to provide a resting place of over 4000 World War II victims between 1942 and 1945, both Dutch and Indonesian nationalities, against Japan. To reduce the amount of Ereveld in Indonesia from 22 to 7 cemeteries, victims from outside Java island were reburied in Ereveld Menteng Pulo between 1960 and 1970. Unlike other war cemeteries, most victims are civilians, including children, who died from Japanese concentration camp. Only one-fourth of them were on military duty.

ereveld menteng pulo
Ereveld Menteng Pulo with Simultaan Church and Columbarium as background

Compared to other 6 Ereveld in Indonesia, Ereveld Menteng Pulo is the most beautiful of all. A lotus pond outside Simultaan Church and Columbarium, a place to store ashes of 754 Dutch soldiers. Assorted flowers in several spots within the 29,000 square-meter land. Seats with a shelter to protect visitors from heat and rain. My first impression about Ereveld menteng Pulo is that it’s a very well-maintained and peaceful garden in the middle of a concrete jungle. There’s a moment that I forgot that I’m still in Jakarta. Also, I heard that it has a magnificent view to catch the sunset, too.

The challenge when the cemetery is open to public is to educate the locals to break negative perceptions about a cemetery and realize that it’s a potential tourist destination when they help maintaining its cleanliness and comfort by avoiding the bad habit of littering and vandalism.

Candra Naya

Situated behind Novotel Jakarta Gajah Mada Hotel, Candra Naya was built somewhere around 1807 or 1867. It is a former residence of Major Khouw Kim An, the last Major of the Chinese (Majoor der Chinezen), a leader of Chinese society during the Dutch colony period from 1910 to 1918 and from 1927 to 1942. Therefore, the building was also known as the Major’s House. After the major’s passing, the house was rented to Sin Ming Hui Association in 1960s, holding many social-oriented activities, including Sin Ming Hui Photographic Society, the oldest photography community in Jakarta.

After the prohibition of the three-syllable names (aka Chinese names) in Indonesia, Sin Ming Hui Association was renamed into Tjandra Naya Social Union, whose spelling has changed into Candra Naya.

candra naya

The demolition of the 3 original buildings at the back side of Candra Naya by Modern Group in 1993 to build Green Central City, a superblock of apartments and offices, raised protests from heritage conservation groups. Finally, the only survived part is the front side of the house, consisting of a living room, semi-private room, room for maids, concubines and their children and the gazebo.

Apart from historical visit, Candra Naya is also a popular place to chill out with friends and family. There are seats available outside the rear entrance, facing the pond and fountain. Around the neighborhood, there are several restaurants, such as Kopi Oey (Peranakan food), Token Resto (Taiwanese restaurant), and Fubar (Chinese restaurant).

Museum Maritim

Museum Maritim, or Maritime Museum is situated in the neighbourhood of the port of Tanjung Priok. Starting its soft opening since December 7, 2018, Maritime Museum exhibits the history of maritime in Indonesia over the centuries, from Majapahit, Sriwijaya, Mataram Kingdom until modern times. It includes the role of Indonesia in international spice trading until an interesting and less-known history of where the usual term of “celengan” (piggy bank) comes from, that eventually related to how Majapahit Kingdom introduced a habit of saving money in a piggy-shaped container (piggy bank).

To be honest, it is so much better than I expected and has reached the next level, just like those in developed countries. The layout is visually comfortable, spacious, including the reading room where visitors can take a rest and read provided books and magazines. Dioramas and historical artifacts have better quality compared to those in other museums I’ve visited in Jakarta. The simulator of a ship, where you can get a chance to be a helmsman, is one of the most interesting part of the museum. Don’t forget to visit the rooftop as well, where you can see the top view of Port Tanjung Priok and its surroundings.

maritime museum

THAT’S NOT IT

If I don’t mention other beautiful places in Jakarta, it’s probably either because I haven’t visited them or I don’t have proper images to show you. So, there will be the second part of this post. Remember, Jakarta is more than just shopping malls. So, stay tuned!

 

 

 

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Turning a Travel Article into a Personal Guide with GPSmyCity – Part 2

Indeed, it’s possible! But, what is GPSmyCity and what are the benefits for travelers?

GPSmyCity is an app providing articles covering over 1,000 cities worldwide. Once you install the app either on iOS or Android through www.gpsmycity.com , you can download each article for free and read it in the future without internet connection.

All articles are embedded with GPS map that will function after upgrading with a small amount of fee. There’s no need to ask anyone for a direction or read a conventional map on your own any longer to find a place you want to go, that will save a lot of time and cut the hassle during your journey. The best thing about it is that the GPS works even when you’re offline. Isn’t it great?

After traveling for many years, I realize that wi-fi connection is one of the essentials you don’t always get easily when you’re abroad, except depending on hotels and cafes or data roaming packages that may break your bank account. So, I believe that GPSmyCity is a breakthrough app for travelers like us.

Therefore, I’m happy to announce that my articles:

5 Hida Beef Dishes You Should Try in Takayama Old Town – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/5495 Indian Vegetarian Restaurants in Pasar Baru, Jakarta – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/5491How to Spend an Evening in Shibuya beyond Shopping – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/5483

are ready to launch on GPSmyCity.

During the first week of the launch, GPSmyCity will give away one of my articles, Indian Vegetarian Restaurants in Pasar Baru, Jakarta – https://www.gpsmycity.com/blog/5491 , and users will be able to upgrade the app for free.

Remember, the giveaway is available only until February 11, 2019.

So, get the app now to access both iOS and Android versions on www.gpsmycity.com !

 

gps

Here are the Winners of Free One Year Subscription to GPSMYCITY

May I wish you all a very happy new year and thank you for reading and / or following my blog.

Actually, I would like to reward my new and existing followers with a prize. Last May 2018, in collaboration with GPSmyCity, I launched a giveaway contest to win a free one year subscription (worth $18.99/year) on walking tours and travel articles that work for iOS and Android users for 10 winners.

^2F89C7F21

Therefore I feel somewhat guilty this new year because I haven’t announced the winners of the contest as a gratitude. Probably, most of you have forgotten or think the contest is just another pep talk. I get it and so sorry about that.

Without further much ado, here are the 10 winners (drumrolls, please…..):

  1. healingpilgrim @healingpilgrim
  2. pedrol @worldwidepedrol
  3. harrienijland @harrienijland
  4. dewinielsen.com @dewinielsen
  5. getsetandgo @getsetandgo
  6. Len Kagami @lenjourneys

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks again for being my loyal followers. To claim your prize, please kindly register a GPSmyCity user account through the following link:

https://www.gpsmycity.com/member/index.php?do=acc_reg

In that way, the GPSmyCity crews will be able to activate your membership. After thatme as well on the comments below this post to inform your active email address used for your registration.

Last but not least, please let me know how you experience on using GPSmyCity in terms of improving the quality of your travels.

 

sushi

5 Hida Beef Dishes You Should Try in Takayama Old Town

Situated in mountainous Hida region in Gifu Prefecture, Takayama is best known for the main access and the closest city to Shirakawago and Gokayama, UNESCO Heritage Site listed villages known for their gassho-zukuri houses. Don’t make Takayama just a transit city, however. Spend a day or two instead, strolling around the morning markets and  Sanmachi Suji, a quaint old town with beautifully preserved shop and private houses over 300 years old, made of high quality cypress and cedar wood. Everything you’re looking for is literally there along the way, from souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, jewelry stores, snack shops until a must to try signature food which is “inevitable” anywhere in Takayama: Hida beef.

What’s so particular about it?

Hida Beef comes from a black-haired cow breed grown in Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. It’s one of the highest quality meat, specifically the marbling. Marbling fat texture is responsible for great taste, as it protects the aroma, tenderness and juiciness of the meat from escaping.

You actually can get Hida beef anywhere in Takayama, not just the old town, but it’s an ideal way for those who don’t have much time to travel too far from the main attractions to chase the beef.

Nonetheless, if you only relate Hida beef to beef steak, you got it all wrong. Since I didn’t specialize my visit on trying all types of Hida beef dishes, I was happy enough that I managed to try 1 beef steak and 4 non-steak menus. Mostly, I had them to go to save time and money, therefore I didn’t have to sit down and get tempted with all the additional menus like sweets, shakes and fries.

a. Hida Beef Bun

At a glance, it looks like a Chinese bun or ba pao, which is true. The differences lie on the Japanese inscription on the surface of the bun and the Hida minced beef inside, not just any kind of meat. The meat sauce is probably shoyu-based, which is very common in Japan. But the juiciness of the meat is top notch, while the role of the savoury sauce is neither dominate nor conceal its real taste, except to enhance the already good quality meat.

At Kihachiro Beef Bun, you can get Kihachiro’s Beef Bun, using no other than Hida beef labelled as “premium” for ¥ 500 ($ 4.50) and it’s totally worth it. Other options are matcha and red bean bun, black sesame and red bean bun and sweet pudding.

takayama

Beef Bun and Cafe Kihachiro. 29 Kamisannomachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0846. +81 577-62-8811

b. Hida Beef Burger 

It’s indeed an American style burger with beef patty made of Hida beef. So what’s so special about it, as you may ask, and I don’t blame you for that. But still, I recommend you to give some spare capacity of your tummy for this one. The size of the burger is rather smaller than usual, yet the taste of the patty is fresher and more juicy than those of McDonald’s, plus additional caramelized flavor because of the home made barbecue sauce coating its surface. Apparently, Hida beef makes ordinary food extraordinary. For ¥ 800 ($ 7.20), it’s a bit pricey because of the size, but it’s worth it.

hida beef

takayama

Hanamizuki Cafe & Restaurant. 2-48 HommachiTakayama 506-0011, Gifu Prefecture. +81 0577 33 0123

c. Hida Beef Nigiri

My curiosity arose when I saw someone bringing sushi on a cracker plate. When I realized that it’s Hida beef sushi, I sacrificed my impatience by being in (long) line with the crowds. I ordered the basic menu, Hida Beef Nigiri ¥ 500 ($ 4.50) , as seen on the picture on hanging board.

I got 2 pieces of the Hida beef nigiri sushi placed on the rice cracker or senbei, whose sushi rice is nearly invisible (except from the sides) since each of them is covered with Hida beef slices brushed with sweet sauce on top. It’s moist, juicy with hints of blood taste since I have it medium. I love the taste although it’s a bit chewy for me. In my opinion, it’s medium rare. May be when it’s medium, it could be less chewy but still juicy. Nothing really particular about the taste of the crackers other than light savored, as it’s not expected to overpower the sushi taste. Nonetheless, it’s a unique experience to have crunchiness collides with firm and sticky sushi, which is probably not obtainable anywhere else.

You can have it with additional Hida beef maki or sushi roll besides the nigiri ones on the cracker place since its maximum capacity is 3 pieces of sushi, but of course it costs more than ¥ 500 ($ 4.50). More premium grade options could be around ¥ 700 ($ 6.30) to over ¥ 1000 ($ 9).

sushi

Sakaguchiya. 90, Kami-3-nomachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu, 506-0846. 

d. Hoba Miso Beef Steak

When I was staring at clippings attached on an announcement board at Guest House Ouka, one of the guest house employees greeted me, asking me if he could help me with anything. Indeed, I was looking for a recommended Hida beef restaurant and everything written on those clippings sounded tempting. Finally, he advised me to visit Suzuya Restaurant. A lot of tourists visit it and they love it. Additionally, one of his friends work there. Okay, this could be a subjective opinion, but there was no harm to try.

I ordered its best selling menu, Hoba Miso Beef Steak Rice set. It’s the 65 gram sliced Hida beef steak grilled on hoba leaf with miso paste, mixed vegetables (shimeji, shiitake mushroom and spring onion) that comes with rice and tea for ¥ 1944 ($ 17.50). I admit, it’s an affordable rice set with quality taste. It takes 6 to 10 minutes until the meat reaches the medium level of rareness. When the tender and juicy meat blends with the lightly fermented and savory taste of miso paste, it’s fantastic!

In fact, Suzuya was the only restaurant where I dined in a complete relaxation and cozy atmosphere, without eating while walking and snapping pictures here and there. I mean, who could enjoy eat hot and sizzling grilled meat on the move? The service was excellent as the waiter, the guest house employee’s friend, was super friendly. Surprisingly, he understands a few words of Indonesian language!

takayama

takayama

hida beef

Suzuya Restaurant. 24 Hanakawamachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0015. +81 577-32-2484

e. Stewed Hida Beef

Only the A5 grade, the highest grade of Hida beef, does Rokujuban use in all the menus, from skewers to stewed beef. I took the Standard Hida Beef Stew for ¥ 800 ($ 7.20). It turns out that the soup reminds me of Hungarian goulash soup that I love so much. The only thing that disappoints me is that about 50% of its content is the fat that I dislike the texture, although it is undoubtedly contributes a lot to its rich taste. Other than that, it’s a great choice. Suppose you like poached egg in your stewed beef, just add another ¥ 100 ($ 0.90). Or, if budget is not the issue, you can try the most expensive menu, Hida Beef Stew in a sealed pouch for ¥ 1300 ($ 11.70).

If I knew that there would be a lot of fat in the stewed beef, I would rather get the skewers instead, such as Hida Beef Meatball Salt for ¥ 500 ($ 4.50), Standard A5 Loin for ¥ 600 ($ 5.40) and Special A5 Loin for ¥ 1000 ($ 9).

Perhaps, you’d like to conclude your dining experience with local sake, why not? Rokujuban offers it for ¥ 500 ($ 4.50).

takayama

takayama

hida beef

Rokujuban. 60 KamisannomachiTakayama 506-0846, Gifu Prefecture.
+81 577-33-2683

In addition to those I mentioned above, other Hida beef dishes that deserve to be on your bucket list are the deep fried versions, such as Hida beef croquette and Hida beef katsu. However, I didn’t try those because I’m allergic to any kind of fried food.

Make sure you don’t leave Takayama without trying Hida beef unless you’re a vegetarian, a vegan, a pescaterian or simply not a meat lover.

briyani rice

Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Pasar Baru II: Gokul Vegetarian Resto

A few months after dining at Waytuki Vegetarian, I revisited Pasar Baru (previously spelled as Passer Baroe, literally means New Market in Indonesian), known as Little India, since most Indian settlements in Indonesia have been establishing their life and business since the 19th century.

However, finding Gokul Resto, an Indian vegetarian restaurant, was purely accidental. At first, I purposely returned to Galeri Jurnalistik Antara because of my assumption that there’s a cafe restaurant on the other side of the exhibition room. Stupid me, there isn’t. It was just an office space for Antara News Agency employees.

Damn, I was starving! I entered Pasar Baru area, passing the eclectic Passer Baroe gate to find something to eat. A few minutes later, I noticed a music store on my right side and a neon box mentioning “Wijaya Musik” and the other one below mentioning “Gokul Resto”.

gokul resto

It reminds me of what Wisata Kreatif Jakarta tour leaders said about an Indian vegetarian restaurant we couldn’t visit because it’s closed on Sundays and finally we ended up dining at Waytuki Vegetarian on that day.

But today’s Wednesday. So, it must be open!

I came inside Wijaya Music Store building, asking for a confirmation from one of its employees if Gokul Resto is open for real. Having said “yes” to my question, he showed me an elevator on the left, separated with a tempered glass door, telling me that it’s located on the 4th floor.

After reaching the 4th floor, it was unexpectedly quiet and didn’t seem like a well-known restaurant everyone recommends. Minimalist was the key of the dining room, accentuated by Roman style pillars attached on the walls. To deliver more comfort for the guests, the blinds covered all the windows to avoid direct sunlight during the daytime.

gokul resto

“Good afternoon.” A short, lean woman with a yellow veil greeted me.

Despite my confusion, I was happy that I came at the right time. Since most guests are employees in the neighborhood, office break time and after hour are the peak hours. Simultaneously, Gokul serves many delivery orders from huge online delivery services like Go-jek and Grab. Gosh, I was glad that I missed those busy hours.

gokul resto

At 4 pm, lunch time is over and dinner time hasn’t arrived yet. It means that my food would be first come first serve since nobody but me was at the restaurant. She passed me the menu. Like Waytuki Vegetarian, Gokul also serves wide variety of vegetarian version of Indian food, from panner tikka masala, mutton curry, tandoori roti, masala dosa, chicken briyani to cheese uttappam. However, Gokul has more Indonesian dishes than Waytuki, such as nasi bumbu Bali (Balinese style mixed rice), mie godog Jawa (Javanese style noodle soup), siomay (steamed dumpling) and more. Average price for main courses is between Rp. 35.000 and Rp. 55.000 ($3 and $5) per pertion.

Focusing on trying its best-selling dishes, my preference went to a separate menu highlighting Claypot Briyani Rice Set Menu, served with Indian style rice crackers or papad, and side salad. The options are vegetarian, chicken, panner, kofta, and mutton, starting from Rp 55.000 ($4.5), serves for two. But in reality, a lot of customers can finish it themselves without sharing. For sure, all kinds of meat are 100% vegetarian made of soybean.

gokul resto

I would go to mutton briyani (Rp 75.000 or $6), as I couldn’t get enough with it after going to Waytuki . I had no idea whether I could finish it all by myself or half of the portion would be to go. It didn’t matter at all. Same story for the drinks. I chose the best seller, which is mango lassie (Rp. 25.000 / $1.5).

The beauty of dining in off-peak hours is that it didn’t take long to wait for my orders to arrive on the table. My mango lassie and the salad side dish, consisting of sliced onion, tomato, cucumber, lime, green chili, yogurt sauce, and papad came first.

mango lassie
mango lassie

The mango lassie truly deserves to be everyone’s favourite, as it was fresh and not too sweet. Next, I dipped the papad in the yogurt sauce. The sourness of creamy yogurt balanced with earthy and herbaceous spices made it tasted heavenly when paired with the lightly salted papad.

I wondered if I should do the same with the salad dish, especially the green chili and onion. She confirmed that my guess was right. Indian people are used to dipping all those veggies in the yogurt sauce. Well, I tried to be like them by squeezing the lime, sprinkling its water evenly on the veggies and dipping the cucumber and onion in the yogurt sauce (but not the tomato and chili because I don’t like them). The combination of cucumber and yogurt was fine, yet it surprised me somehow that raw onion actually matches very well with the sauce, although I couldn’t finish the onion in the end.

gokul resto
the chips and salad condiment

Not long after that, the mutton briyani arrived. I noticed the different appearance between briyani rice in Gokul and Waytuki. At Waytuki, the briyani rice is golden brown when served. On the other hand, the one at Gokul is white with hints of saffron yellow colour, sprinkled with parsley and spring onion. The main spices are buried under the basmati rice. To get the golden brown coloured rice as it should be, you have to mix it yourself or ask the waiter to do so. I chose to mix it myself.

briyani rice
before

Harmonious blends of nutty, earthy and herbacious notes on the rice was something I love the most from the dish. Honestly speaking, briyani rice at Gokul is more savoury than that at Waytuki. Although I like both of them, my preference goes to the one having more intense taste of the spices like Gokul.

Not sure whether I was too hungry or the rice was too delicious, I finally managed to finish the briyani set menu meant for two!

briyani rice
after

I don’t know know about you, but in my perspective, the combination of briyani rice and mango lassie feels too rich in my mouth that I really need water to gargle to remove their excess taste. May be I should have ordered unsweetened tea or just plain water next time when ordering any kind of rich taste food.

Regardless the latter personal opinion, it doesn’t change the fact that I was really satisfied with the quality of food and drinks at Gokul Resto and I definitely would like to come back someday to try other menus offered.

Gokul Resto

Address: Jl. Ps. Baru No.12, RT.15/RW.4, Ps. Baru, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10710

Opening Hours: 10.30 am to 7.30 pm

Phone: +62 21 3521949 / +62 21 3810492

 

Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Pasar Baru I: Waytuki Vegetarian

Established in 1820 during the Dutch conquest, Pasar Baru (previously spelled as Passer Baroe, literally means New Market in Indonesian) is one of the oldest shopping districts situated in Sawah Besar sub-district, Central Jakarta. Being the melting pot of different cultures, from Chinese, Dutch, Indonesian and Indian, the area is so-called Little India, since the majority of Indian settlements in Indonesia live there running textile business.

Pasar Baru is an inseparable part of my childhood memory back in 1980’s, where my parents usually bought me black Bata shoes for school uniform and household goods long before shopping malls replace its role as hip places to hang out. I hadn’t been there for the last 15 years, not knowing what’s in there recently, until I signed up for Little India Food Tour with Wisata Kreatif Jakarta (Jakarta Food Tour) Nonetheless, the last trip of the tour was my major reason to join: dining in an Indian vegetarian restaurant I had never visited. Hopefully it would become my new favourite place to eat.

Surprisingly, the rest of the tour members couldn’t join until the last destination of the trip for some reasons, which was so unfortunate. All I can assure you is that it happened not because the tour didn’t run well. In the end, I was the only one left with Ms. Ira Lathief (the founder of Jakarta Food Tour), Ms. Hening Paramita and 2 other Jakarta Food Tour tour leaders.

Previously, an Indian Vegetarian Restaurant named Gokul Restaurant was the designated place to have a dinner, yet since it’s closed on Sundays, finally Waytuki Vegetarian became its replacement.

vegetarian restaurant

Situated behind Pasar Baru shopping complex, Waytuki is a South Indian style vegetarian food operating since 8 years ago. Its interior is spacious, cozy with eye-catching wall paintings dominated with yellow colour, depicting scenes of serenity in Asia, that look like landscape in Indonesia rather than that in India, such as lake, mountain, rice fields, elephants and all that.

restaurant

When it comes to the menu, hunger struck us even more. There were many varieties of vegetarian dish, among others briyani rice, alu gobi, makanvala, panner, bhattura in relatively affordable rate. My first impression of Indian restaurants in Jakarta is “pricey” because many of them are created with fancy atmosphere with the tendency of fine and semi fine dining type that elevates the price, even more expensive than those in neighbour countries like Malaysia and Singapore.

Nonetheless, my visit to Waytuki changes that impression. The average price of main courses, such as rice dishes (including package meal), vegetarian meats, panner (cottage cheese dish) cost about Rp. 40.000 to Rp. 50.000 ($3 to $4) per portion. Roti (flat bread) dishes cost about Rp. 20.000 ($1.5) per portion. Masala tea costs about Rp. 15.000 ($1) per glass. And a bottled 600 ml mineral water even costs you only Rp. 5000 ($0.40). Compared to those at shopping malls and office buildings, those meals could cost Rp. 70.000 ($6) and above (excluding tax and service charge) and the drinks price could be 2 to 3 times higher.

briyani rice
mutton vegetarian briyani rice

We decided to share the dishes, so we could try more varieties in one time visit. We all agreed that briyani rice is must every time we visit any Indian restaurant. We ordered mutton briyani rice meal served with curry and papad (crispy thin bread of minced flour), additional chicken briyani rice (Indeed, a portion of rice shared with 5 people is definitely not enough!), garlic naan bread (Indian style tortilla bread with garlic flavour), mattar-panner (cottage cheese with spices and green garden) and masala tea for each of us.

For the rice, there’s a choice of basmati and non-basmati rice. We chose the basmati one as Indians use it in daily basis. I think thick Indian curry is best suited with dry and separate grain type of rice like basmati. Of course, all kinds of meat are man-made since it’s 100% vegetarian.

It didn’t take long to wait for our meals since we came at 8 pm and it wasn’t rush hour. The portion of the briyani rice and the mattar-panner were not that big, but not too little either. Or perhaps we were just too hungry after a long walk in Pasar Baru area. The savoury taste of the briyani rice was a bit lighter than I expected, yet overall it was delicious and just in the right proportion. Probably it’s been adjusted to suit the local taste. Well, Indonesian people are used to with strong taste, but the intensity of spices in Indian food is one level higher, probably there are certain types of Indian spices that Indonesian food never use. Therefore, it could be somewhat shocking if it’s too strong.

The vegetarian meat taste was fantastic and didn’t taste fake at all. Compared to real meat, vegetarian meat has softer texture and much less fibrous than real meat.

vegetarian restaurantI love the mattar-panner, by the way. Cottage cheese has mild flavour that doesn’t overpower the curry sauce. It tasted heavenly when we poured the cheese cubes on the garlic naan bread. As garlic taste was not too strong, it blended harmoniously with the cheese and curry. It was a very heavy dish, definitely, and didn’t take long to make us completely full.

Moreover, we all took masala tea, which is a heavy drink since it has a strong taste from the mixture of herbs and spices and sweetness coming from condensed milk. Eventually, I ordered additional mineral water to gargle and neutralize all the strong taste of herbs from both food and beverage that remained in my mouth for quite a while.

Before we knew it, it was 9 o’clock already, which is their closing time, so we asked for the bill. After sharing all the costs, it turned out that we only paid Rp. 60.000 ($5) each. Not so bad at all. Also, we found out that the VAT was not stated there, so we didn’t need to pay tax. Yes, you read me right! I don’t know how it was possible and I was not about to dig it deeper about it.

What I know is that we enjoyed our togetherness a lot and had a great conversation apart from great food, that initiates the idea of sharing and tagging my posts related to my experience in joining Jakarta Food Tour on their Facebook group in the future.

So, the takeaway from my dining experience in Waytuki Vegetarian? It becomes one of my favourite restaurants and one day I’d like to try their other dishes, especially those I haven’t tried or heard of.

Waytuki Vegetarian

Address: Jalan Pintu Air Raya No.28, RT.6/RW.1, Pasar Baru, Sawah Besar, RT.6/RW.1, Ps. Baru, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10710

Phone: +62 21 3814146

Opening hours: 10 am – 9 pm

 

 

shibuya

How to Spend an Evening in Shibuya beyond Shopping

The early settlement in Shibuya began when Shibuya family built a castle in the area during the Edo Period in the 11th century. Its transformation from a wealthy family residential site to the busiest railway station was marked by the establishment of JR (Japan Railway) Yamanote Line, previously known as Shinagawa Line, in 1885. Nowadays, Shibuya Station consists of over 8 lines and to be honest, it is more than easy to get lost in between.

Fear not, though. What you need to remember when you get off in Shibuya Station is to find the most notable exit of the station, which is exit no. 8 called Hachiko Exit, to reach the city center. My friend and I did that the whole time and it worked.

shibuya
Shibuya in spring

Known as one of the most hectic districts in Tokyo with skyscrapers and their flashing advertisement and video screens, Shibuya is a melting pot of shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. And don’t forget about the crowds too, it’s incredibly insane!

Nonetheless, if you’re not so much into shopping, taking some booze and clubbing (I purposely exclude the “dining” thing because you may some fuel to explore the city although you’re not a foodie), what other things you can do in Shibuya?

TAKE A PICTURE WITH HACHIKO STATUE

Suppose you have watched Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, played by Richard Gere, you should know what’s the story is all about.

hachiko
Hachiko statue

Indeed, the movie is inspired by an Akita dog named Hachiko, owned by Professor Ueno in 1920s. The dog always followed him every time he came to Shibuya Station to commute to his workplace, as well as waited for him there until he returned before heading home. One day, the professor passed away because he suffered from brain hemorrhage and did not return. But, Hachiko’s loyalty to his master didn’t stop there. Instead, he kept waiting for him at the same spot, same time every day for the next 9 years. The story became viral after a professor’s former student told about it to the public, then Hachiko statue was erected in 1934 exactly on the spot where he always waited for the professor. One year after later, Hachiko died from cancer at the age of 11.

Once you leave the station through Hachiko Exit, you’ll find a bunch of crowds on your left side waiting for their turn to pose with the bronze dog statue of Hachiko. The line is always long, especially in high season, yet fortunately the queue usually runs smoothly as they don’t cut each other’s line.

We both are dog lovers, so taking a picture with the legendary dog is a must despite the long queue.

CROSS THE STREET THROUGH SHIBUYA CROSSING

I love the vibrant atmosphere in Shibuya, especially in the evening when all interchanging advertisement images and videos decorating the skyscrapers brightening the entire district, as if they wanted to replace the role of sunlight after it goes down. Both local and international brands are competing each other to get the most attention from the crowds below them.

shibuya
evening in Shibuya

Guess what, the ones that got mine are those with anime characters regardless what the inscriptions say. It’s all written in Japanese and I understand none of it.

shibuya

When the traffic lights from all directions turn red, that’s when a magical moment actually happens. In locals’ and expatriates’ perspective, crossing the street in Shibuya Crossing is just a small part of a daily routine. But for us, being around those pedestrians from various nationalities and races, apart from Japanese, feels like getting lost in translation. We could be either part of the famous movie scene or nothing more than just isolated strangers.

shibuya crossing
men’s turn

Anyways, we really enjoyed mingling with other strangers crossing the busiest pedestrian lanes in the world. Blushing one’s shoulder is inevitable, but cases of pickpocket hardly happen despite the packed situation on street. And hell yes, Japanese people are used to walking straight, fast and being alone among the crowds.

shibuya crossing
cars’ turn

WATCH PEOPLE CROSSING SHIBUYA CROSSING FROM STARBUCKS COFFEE

One of the best places to get bird’s eye view of the crowds in Shibuya Crossing is Starbucks Coffee Shibuya Tsutaya, which is probably the highest traffic Starbucks branch I’ve ever seen in my life. I only can imagine how much they earn per day only from selling coffee. There are other options, too, where L’Occitane Cafe across the street could be your choice, yet Starbucks was the first thing to cross our minds.

shibuya
Starbucks Coffee Shibuya

If you only want to get some coffee to go, you can get it from the counter situated outside the outlet. But, if viewing Shibuya and its surroundings from the upper floor is your number one priority, you should be willing to be in line with the rest inside the outlet on ground floor, so-called first floor in Japan.

shibuya
shiny happy people

Coffee, tea and snacks are treated as entrance tickets to the upper floor to get great spots for photos and video recording. We found our favourite dish, which is not available in our hometown Jakarta: spring vegetables with sour cream sauce. The best thing about it that it’s healthy and suitable for vegetarians.

starbucks
delicious vegetarian food

Once we reached the second floor, all the seats facing the window were full for the reason everybody knows. In fact, about 50 percent of visitors were actually standing, just like us, behind those “lucky” people sitting by the window, pointing their smartphones and cameras attentively to the busiest pedestrian lanes in the world right before their eyes. It doesn’t mean that other seats not facing the window were less preferred, though, as they were completely full as well.

The question when you’ll have your turn truly depends on how much time and patience you have. There are many places of interest in Tokyo and a lot of things you can do in Shibuya, so there’s no way that tourists only spend their time during the stay just to stare pedestrians from above. In other words, they will leave their strategic spot, eventually.

About 20 minutes later, the couple in front of us left. We hurriedly occupied the empty seats and became the “lucky” ones. I was so glad that I could make a video recording of those crowds below me. It surprises me somehow when I watched it back home, I just realized that the Japanese walked so fast, even faster than I felt when I crossed the street together with them, that I thought I edited this video. But I didn’t.

 

WATCH STREET PERFORMANCES

Performances are held best in places where crowds becoming potential spectators are around, and Shibuya totally fulfills the requirement. Street artists makes Shibuya a stepping stone to fame, hoping that one day they will be on air on famous TV stations. Somehow it’s entertaining to watch them after reaching the other end of the street.

shibuya
let me entertain you

Shibuya is also a popular place for TV show or movie shooting location, like the goat man for example. I’m not sure what the show is all about, apart from the man behind the goat mask showed off his muscular body while walking on the street and later on did some silly dancing moves. All the pedestrians around him smiled and cheered him up, anyways. If attention is the main goal of the show, he got it already.

shibuya
goat man on the street

If crowds and flashy ads on skyscrapers are not your thing but you don’t wanna go too far, probably isolating yourself to Meiji Shrine could be a great choice. Other than that, try to go outside those gigantic department stores and mingle with people from all over the world. It truly feels like being in a big party without the need to have an invitation and to pay some amount of money for cover charge! The only building you should get in is the one with a strategic location for a fantastic bird’s eye view of the legendary Shibuya Crossing.

So, how about you? Do you have some other great advise about what to do in Shibuya besides shopping? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts!