Friday, December 20, 2013

Namaaz Dining Jakarta

Intro: Baby M's First Trip to Indonesia
SFO - Taipei - Jakarta
Jakarta City Tour & Activities
Namaaz Molecular Gastronomy

For our second date night in Jakarta, my sister recommended Namaaz, which is a molecular gastronomy restaurant.  Having been to Alinea in Chicago, we were excited to try Indonesia's version of molecular gastronomy to see how it compared. All the dishes would be Indonesian cuisine, which would be interesting to me to see how the chef transformed traditional dishes into various forms.

Namaaz takes online prepaid reservations only, and they serve a maximum of 8 people per night. The cost was roughly $100 USD per person.

Namaaz Dining 

There is only one seating per night as they serve everyone at the same time, 7PM sharp. We arrived 15 minutes early and the chef, Andrian Ishak, greeted us at our table. He was very friendly and introduced himself to us and asked whether we had tried molecular gastronomy before. We told him we had been to Alinea before and were looking forward to trying his version. He said he hoped we would enjoy our meal.

Getting excited for dinner

It turned out the chef presented each dish to all the tables personally, which I thought was a nice touch. He started out with this phrase:  "What you see is not what you get."  For each course, he gave us time to taste the food and checked back with us afterwards.

There were a total of 19 courses if I remember correctly, and about half were dessert entree. I won't post all the dishes but will highlight some that was very memorable.

The first course looked like raw sliced meat, not very appetizing. :p  But since he said it's not what it seemed, I braced myself and was surprised to taste something very sweet. It turned out to be dehydrated watermelon which was then rehydrated, and sliced in such a way that it looked like raw meat. The watermelon was served with a traditional Rujak sauce. (Rujak is a popular Indonesian fruit salad).
Watermelon Rujak

The second course was a very interesting take on Mpek Mpek Kapal Selam. The original dish is a fried fish cake & egg, served with noodles, cut cucumbers, and sweet soy vinegar sauce. Namaaz version was a soft custardy egg yolk served with white fish liquid, and cucumber crisp. Very interesting yet tasted very good.

Mpek mpek kapal selam

This dish was Satay with charcoal, and when served truly looked like satay with charcoal. However, the charcoal was actually cassava, and the black chars were actually dried squid ink.  It tasted really great too, very similar to chicken satay, but the chicken here was very very moist.

Chicken Satay and Charcoal

When the chef brought this next dish, I was sure that this was a chicken soup, and wondered why the dish looked so plain. It turns out this was actually fish soup! The actual chicken meat was removed from the bone, and fish fillet was inserted inside the chicken skin. 

This next dish was a unique take on the traditional kembang tahu. Typically this dish includes soft layers of tofu served with sweet gingery sauce. Chef Andrian made the "tofu" look like instant noodles. 

Kembang Tahu "Instant Noodle"

I was so amused when I saw this next dish, which totally looked like a bar of soap! I even thought the towel was edible (turns out it was there just for effect, hehe). So the green soap was actually a white chocolate/mint/butter/biscuit combination that tasted so heavenly. The foam also had a minty flavor to it. I almost wanted to ask for a second serving!! :)

Bar Soap dessert

This next dish totally looked like candle! We were instructed to blow out the flame, and then eat everything including the match. This dish was actually a banana inside with some kind of sweet covering.  The "match" was actually a nut.

Banana "candle"

All in all, we had a very memorable dinner at Namaaz. The dishes were actually quite tasty, and the presentation was very, very clever. It was also very special to me because I could compare the traditional Indonesian dishes to the chef's interpretations.

One interesting thing we noted was that they only served water, no soft drinks or wine/alcohol was available. Probably because the chef wanted us to truly savor the true taste of each dish, though Dan wouldn't have minded a nice glass of wine.

We also inquired about the menu and whether it would change, and he said that they change every "season" which was every 8 months.  Not sure how 8 months constitutes a "season", but ok.

If you happen to be in Jakarta, we recommend checking out Namaaz dining!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tatemukai Jakarta

Intro: Baby M's First Trip to Indonesia
SFO - Taipei - Jakarta
Jakarta City Tour & Activities
Namaaz Molecular Gastronomy

We were looking for some possible places for date nights while we're in Indonesia, and I asked my sister who loves good food as much as I do. She recommended 2 places:  Tatemukai Japanese restaurant and Namaaz. We tried both spots on the two Saturdays while we were in Jakarta. They both turned out to be suprisingly amazing!

For our first date night, I called to make reservation at Tatemukai, which was located inside the Grand Indonesia shopping mall. Tatemukai is famous for their Omakase menu, which is a set Chef's special. The Omakase menu cost Rp. 1.7 million (~$150 USD), which is quite pricey even for US standards, but based on my sister's rave reviews, we decided to give it a try. Originally it was just going to be me and Dan, but then my sister and her husband decided to join too, so it ended up being a double date.

The restaurant was very unassuming from the outside. It had a very unique facade. At a glance we couldn't tell where the door was.

The inside of the restaurant was also very simple--a few "stations" each with a chef preparing the dishes. There's also these wooden carved pieces with messages from customers all along the walls. Some of the notes were really funny (i.e: grammatically incorrect) that we wished we had taken pictures of. One that we still remember fondly said: "You're Rock!!" instead of "You Rock!" LOL

Dan at Tatemukai

The owner, Tate-san, was working that day. He served us the first few courses which were a treat!


I can't remember exactly how many courses there were , but it definitely was enough! The first few courses were all Toro, which seemed to be their specialty. The first toro dish was served with diced edamame, which I originally thought was wasabi. The toro was amazingly fresh and soft, and was lightly seared with a hot metal rod. The second dish was toro with foie gras, which was a lethal combination! It was very rich, buttery, and yummy! The foie gras was probably a bit too much for me (definitely for Dan), but was still delicious. The third dish was toro with ebi, which was also very good. The last toro dish was served in soy broth.

Here's our next few dishes. The uni was amazingly fresh. I usually can't do uni because it has a strong smell to me, but this one was very creamy and had no smell. 

The next few dishes were cooked or slightly cooked:  seared salmon sashimi, grilled mackerel, wagyu with broth, and cooked crab with ebi. All dishes were very simple but super delicious. I think the phrase, less is more, really applied here.

Towards the end of the meal we started to get pretty full, but they had one last dish to really fill you up in case you are still not full! It was a ramen dish, which again hit the spot.

For dessert, they served green tea shave ice with red bean. Again, this was a very simple dish but they just executed really really well!

After the meal, Dan and I looked at each other and said that was probably the best Japanese meal we've EVER had anywhere. Granted I've never actually been to Japan, but my brother in law who has been many times and has eaten at some of Tokyo's finest restaurants said that Tatemukai is comparable.

So, if you ever visit Jakarta - I highly recommend trying out this restaurant!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Jakarta City Tour & Activities

Intro: Baby M's First Trip to Indonesia
SFO - Taipei - Jakarta
Jakarta City Tour & Activities
Namaaz Molecular Gastronomy

Dan's sister and her friend came to visit Jakarta the same time we were there, so I booked them a Jakarta city tour with Gray Line, so they could get a bit of history of Indonesia aside from visiting malls with me. :)

They also did a couple other activities while in Jakarta. Here is Dan's recap:

Jakarta city tour

We started the day headed to Grand Mahakam Hotel where the tour van picked us up around 9AM.  Our first stop was at the National Museum.  We learned about the history and culture of Indonesia and its many islands. Did you know Indonesia comprises over 17,000 islands?

National Museum Jakarta

Our next stop was at Chinatown.  By this time, the rain was coming down pretty hard.  Fortunately, the tour company was prepared and had umbrellas for us to use.  We first went to a Buddhist temple.  It was really smokey, from all the incense burning.

Buddhist Temple

And then we walked through the streets of Chinatown, seeing the various local shops all along the way.  It was so wet and rainy we didn't do much perusing, but it was still neat to see and walk through it.

Chinatown Streets

After Chinatown, we went to Fatahillah Museum which was in old town Batavia.  Batavia was the old city name of Jakarta when it was colonized by the Dutch.  And we could see the Dutch influenced architecture in this area.  We had lunch at Cafe Batavia.  Entrees were priced comparatively high for Indonesia, so we knew were in a touristy spot.


After lunch we had a quick tour at a wooden puppet museum (still in old town), and then our final stop was at Sunda Kelapa Harbor.  All we could see were all the big boats at the dock being loaded / unloaded with goods for shipping to other Indonesian islands.  The tour guide said that a days wages at the harbor was about $5 USD.  It's crazy to think how crazy inexpensive labor is in Indonesia.

Sunda Kelapa Harbor

After this last stop, we were dropped off back at the hotel.  It was a long day, about a 5-6 tour including travel time, but I was glad we did it.  I saw a side of Jakarta and Indonesian culture and history beyond the shopping malls, cheap massages, and tasty food.


A trip to Jakarta for us wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Premiere cinema which is our most favorite way to watch a movie. We were in Indonesia around Thanksgiving where the Hunger Games Catching Fire movie was playing, so we took an afternoon out to watch the movie in Gandaria City Mall. The price was Rp. 75,000 each (around $7 USD). We've covered our experience before here for details.

Traditional Market

One morning we went to a traditional local Indonesian market with Marcela's mom.  It felt like a mix of Chinatown and a big farmers market under one roof--crowded, smelly, and un-air conditioned.  There were local merchants selling all kinds of local produce, meats, seafood, clothes, household supplies and other merchandise.

Our first stop was a dessert shop selling serabi solo.  It's basically a thin pancake wrapped around a sweet coconut filling.  We got a couple fresh off the stove; they were so hot, we had to wait like 5-10 minutes for them to cool before taking a bite.  It was very soft, creamy, sweet, tasty and deliciously yummy.

We also stopped at a food stall that served noodles.  Marcela's mom bought us an order of the fried noodles (kwetiaw goreng) and "wet" noodles (kwetiaw siram).  Both were good, but I preferred the more unhealthy fried noodles.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SFO - Taipei - Jakarta on EVA Airways

Intro: Baby M's First Trip to Indonesia
SFO - Taipei - Jakarta
Jakarta City Tour & Activities
Namaaz Molecular Gastronomy

SFO - Taipei on EVA Airlines Royal Laurel Class

We arrived 2 hours early to SFO as is customary for an international flight, and I carried baby M using the Beco Gemini carrier, which made going through security a breeze since I could just pass through with her. We tried going to the EVA Air lounge but it was super crowded. Honestly, terminal 2 (domestic) at SFO feels actually nicer than the EVA Air lounge. :p We ended up staying only a few minutes in the lounge, grabbed a few bottled waters, and went to the gate for boarding.

EVA Air calls their business class product, Royal Laurel. They actually don't have first class seats. They only have Royal Laurel, Economy Deluxe, and Economy.  The seat configuration for Royal Laurel reminded us of Cathay Pacific: 1-2-1, with the seats at an angle.

We really like this configuration as it gives a little more privacy. The downside was that this type of seating doesn't allow for a bassinet. The seat does lie down flat all the way which was nice. They provided us with a pillow, blanket, noise canceling headset for use, an amenity kit, and slippers.

We decided to take turns carrying and holding baby M all throughout the flight. The first leg from SFO to Taipei was a long one, just over 11 hours.  It was really nice having that extra space to be able to comfortably take turns holding our baby, getting up when we needed to, and lying down to rest when one of us was holding baby M.

This was probably my first flight in a loooong time where I didn't watch any TV or enjoy the dining experience, because I was too busy carrying/holding baby M to make sure she didn't cry... Dan did get to watch a couple of movies though and ate complete sets of meals, he he... I guess this is the sacrifice of being a mom. :p  I must have been too tired and fell asleep during meal time, and by the time I woke up the meal service was done, and I was sooo hungry. So I asked for a snack and opted for the dim sum plate which was quite yummy. Afterwards I was still hungry so I asked for another dim sum plate. :)

Overall the seat, flight, and food were good...although I would have to say traveling with a baby totally changed our priorities and experience. Gone are the days (at least temporarily), where flying business involves sleeping for 6-7 hours, watching movies, and resting. Now our main priority is to keep baby happy at all cost, including less or no sleep for us. Thankfully baby M did pretty well for her first flight! A couple behind us told us how well behaved she was after the flight! Phew...

EVA Air Infinity Lounge, Taipei

After landing in Taipei, we went straight to the Infinity Lounge to get some snacks, shower, and some much needed rest. The lounge appeared to be very new and had a modern/club/futuristic decor to it.

We put our name down for the shower room because there was a waiting list. They gave us a buzzer, and we walked around to look at the food options. We didn't have to wait that long and were given keys to the shower room. The shower room was clean and adequate in size. They provided us with a clean towel, toiletries, etc. The one cool thing I noticed was the heated toilet seat.

We also checked out the Hello Kitty baby room where they provided diapers, wipes, and a nice sized changing table. We also used the room to wash baby bottles. The room could also be used to feed or pump if needed. Overall EVA Airlines scored by providing this much needed room for families!

By the time we each took a shower and got baby M ready for our next flight, the 3 hour layover had passed, and it was time to head to the gate for boarding. It's funny how time passed sooo fast in between flights when traveling with a baby. :)

Taipei - Jakarta on EVA Airlines

The plane from Taipei to Jakarta was noticeably older, with a 2-2-2 seating configuration. However, it was still pretty spacious. The flight was surprisingly pretty full. We got the bulkhead row and they actually set up a bassinet which was pretty useful. 

We were able to put baby M in the bassinet for a little bit which gave Dan and my tired arms a bit of a break. :p

Again, I didn't really watch any TV and preferred to sleep instead while I could.

Service was really good, and maybe a bit better than the first leg. The flight attendants were super understanding of us having a baby. One of the flight attendant introduced herself as a mom and that she would be more than happy to help out as needed which was much appreciated. One of the attendants actually took baby M for a little bit when she was really fussy while I was in the bathroom and Dan was struggling to calm her down.

Total flight was around 5.5 hours, and we were just ready to get to Indonesia! Once we landed, Dan & baby M lined up to pay for the visas on arrival while I passed through immigration and waited for them in the baggage claim area. Our bags were already waiting and we got out of the airport in no time.

Overall, we thought baby M did pretty well for her first international flight! We were really worried beforehand, mainly that she might cry for the whole flight. Thankfully she was pretty good, so hopefully that means more travel as a family in the future. :)

A couple tips when traveling with baby/infant:
  • While in airport, transport the baby with a carrier like Ergo, etc.  It helped us speed up going through security and one less thing to carry/push.
  • Bulkhead row is great because it's closer to the galley in case you need to ask for warm water to warm milk or make formula or quickly go to the lavatory for diaper changes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Intro: Baby M's First Trip to Indonesia

We're back! (sort of)

Apologies for the lack of updates, as Dan previously mentioned, we had a pretty significant life change recently. We welcomed a baby girl, a couple months ago! Which meant no travel for the first few months for us as you can imagine!

For our first post-baby trip, we took the bold step of going to Indonesia to visit my parents. We were a bit worried about how traveling with baby would be, especially considering how far Indonesia is from the US, but we decided to go for it. This would be her very first trip, very first flying experience, and first time out of the country.

Baby M's first flight

We found availability on EVA Airways and booked our flights with Star Alliance miles. We also had to pay a 10% fee for the infant ticket. We looked at either flying EVA or Singapore Airlines, and decided to go with EVA. One of the reasons why we chose EVA Airways was because there would only be one layover connection (SFO - Taipei - Jakarta), versus two connections if we took Singapore Airlines, which was HUGE traveling with an infant.

Our trip was for 2.5 weeks, and we decided to just stay in Jakarta this time--though we toyed with the idea of going to Bali for a couple days, but decided against it. Dan's sister and her friend also came to Indonesia around the same time with us, so we would spend time with them in Jakarta.

Here's the breakdown of our blog post:

Intro: Baby M's First Trip to Indonesia
SFO - Taipei - Jakarta
Jakarta City Tour & Activities
Namaaz Molecular Gastronomy