It’s been a good year for Jakarta’s food scene. As eaters here get more sophisticated, restaurants are increasingly focusing on quality of ingredients, creativity and consistency of cooking (instead of simply trying to be trendy). Here’s a list of the best new restaurants we did try this year. We’ve eaten a lot of good food in 2014, but even we haven’t gotten a chance to try every new eatery in town. Let us know which one is your favorite (or if we’re missing any great ones) on our Facebook page!
Howdy Hello Hola Hey Ho! (H5)
We’re big fans of the food at this Southeast Asian eatery located inside Grand Indonesia. Despite the silly name, H5 manages to be both tastier and more reasonably priced than many of the city’s Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. The kitchen produces great banh mi sandwiches (with pork and pate options), awesome curries and satisfying rice plates. (Read our review)
Grand Indonesia Mall, Level 5, West Mall, Jl. MH Thamrin, Thamrin. +62-21 2358 0045. Facebook page
We knew we had to check out this all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue when we heard it was only Rp 99k for lunch on weekdays. Then we went there and found out the food (and especially the meat) included in the package was just about as good as the more expensive places. Since then we’ve been hitting up their grills every opportunity we can. (Read our review)
Jl Wolter Monginsidi No.85. (021) 7264999. Website
Although technically it opened at the very end of 2013, we like Burgreens so much that we had put them on this list. A vegetarian comfort food specialist located out in a leafy neighborhood of Rempoa, the passionate folks behind this healthy eatery know how to make a mean burger without the meat, constructing their patties with deliciously hearty combinations of beans, mushrooms and chickpeas . A very welcome addition to a city without nearly enough vegetarian options.
Jl.Flamboyan no 19, Rempoa, South Jakarta. 878 8200 5070. Facebook page
A brunch and bakery specialist in Kemang, this place obviously caters to lovers of a particular breakfast food. Yes, you can find joyously crispy homemade bacon in the cafes delicious breakfast sets, ground into burgers and even in candied form. But they do a lot of other things really well here, such as their scrumptious scones. You can also bring their bacon and other breakfast meat treats home to cook for your loved ones (or just yourself). (Read our review)
Jl. Benda 1C, Kemang, South Jakarta. 021 7883 8291
Yes, it’s a trendy hipster bar/club in Mega Kuningan that also shares space with a designer sneaker store – but somehow the food is pretty damn good, too. Safehouse not only makes some of the best sandwiches in town, they also handle pork and pasta with aplomb. A healthy assortment of snacks and appetizers work great as upscale barfood as well. (Read our review)
Bellagio Mansion, Lobby Level, Lingkaran Mega Kuningan. (021) 300 505 10. Website
An unexpectedly great addition to CityWalk’s otherwise unremarkable restaurant lineup, this café serves excellent hand-brewed, single origin coffee and consistently great brunch favorites (including superlative eggs Benedicts and breakfast burritos) all-day and every day. The group behind Common Grounds also recently opened up a similar restaurant in Dharmawangsa called Chronicle which we’ve heard great things about but have not had a chance to try yet ourselves. (Read our review)
Citywalk Sudirman, Lantai Ground, Jl. KH Mas Mansyur, Sudirman. 021 25558963.
The Holy Crab
A seafood eating experience unlike any other in Jakarta, you’ll arrive to find your table at The Holy Crab covered in a plastic sheet that will soon be horrifically messy with the sauce and shells of many a delicious seafood creature. No utensils here – this is one western restaurant where you’re expected to eat Padang style. It’s really messy and kinda pricey, but it’s also totally delicious and a lot of fun if you go with a few friends.
Jalan Gunawarman no.55, (Senopati). South Jakarta. 021 29236155. Website
Another celebrity chef setting up shop in Jakarta hoping to grow big with the capitals burgeoning upmarket dining scene, Akira Back’s restaurant does Japanese fusion with more finesse and style than any other restaurant in town, integrating elements of Korean and French cuisine in creative ways. The service and setting are also excellent – just know that you’ll be paying for the experience (and the many top-quality imported ingredients going into your meal). A good place to impress dates or potential business clients. (Read our review)
MD Place Penthouse Level, Jl. Setiabudi Selatan No. 7, Setiabudi, Jakarta. 021 29040777. Facebook page
Everybody was talking about the opening of Ippudo, but in our books, Bankara was the best new ramen restaurant this year. Located in Lotte Shopping Avenue, this storied Japanese noodle house offers the richest, fattiest tonkatsu pork broth we’ve tried in Jakarta. Definitely not for everybody (if you prefer a slightly lighter, more balanced broth, Menya Sakura, also in Lotte Shopping Avenue is also very excellent). But if you love fatty pork, in both tender cha-shu and savoury soup forms, this place is the jackpot.
Lotte Shopping Avenue, Lantai 3, Jl. Prof Dr Satrio, Karet. 021 29889306
From the same guys behind Cacaote, this mall-bound cafe does some seriously good comfort food dishes (mainly consisting of brunch favorites), each given well-thought-out tweaks and additions to give them an extra level of flavor. Also, like Cacaote, St. Germain has some ridiculously rich and beautiful desserts and chocolates that are hard to resist. Plus, bacon pancakes!
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, East Mall, Upper Ground. 021 2358 0018. Instagram
Mie Chino at Pasar Santa
The hipsterfied traditional market has proven to have staying power. Although there are dozens of eateries and food stalls on the second floor of Pasar Santa (and we haven’t had a chance to try them all).Mie Chino is our favorite. They use thick, chewy, hand-pulled noodles and a delicious savory mushroom sauce to make the best mie ayam we have tried in Jakarta. Amazingly it still only costs Rp, 20,000 per portion, but the artisan mie vendor always sells out well before the end of the night, so if you want some, be sure to get there early.
Pasar Santa, Upper ground floor, Jalan Cipaku 1, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. Instagram