Jakarta’s culinary scene is deliciously diverse, but not a lot of restaurants are willing to take the huge risk of going for something truly unique. The eateries on this list can all claim to be one-of-a-kind in the capital, so if you’re looking for something truly different for your next dinner, one of these oddballs may be what you’re looking for.
Warung MJS (previous Mbah Jingkrak)
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Tucked away from the main streets in Setiabudi, this restaurant not only features a fantastic selection of delicious Javanese dishes (their speciality is Ayam Setan – Chicken with Devil’s Hair) but also some truly unique decor. Set inside a house built in 1959, the deceptively large interiors are charming and whimsical, with antiques and knickknacks every which way the eye can see. In addition to the main Taman (garden) room replete with moat, there are also themed rooms including one for Wayang (shadow puppets). Highly Instagrammable.
Jalan Setiabudi Tengah no.11, South Jakarta, +62 21 5252 605. Website
The brainchild of chef-owner Andrian Ishak, Namaaz is unique in its uncompromising approach to molecular gastronomy. For one thing, this is one of the only restaurants in Jakarta to require advance reservation (and with only 28 spots open every night, you should book well in advance).
And while Andrian’s approach to fusing Indonesian cuisine with molecular gastronomy is playful (the website notes it’s “fun” dining, not fine dining) the Rp 1.25 million price tag for dinner is not messing around. But for that price you’ll be getting an epic 17-course meal made up of Andrian’s one-of-a-kind creations, with new menus offered every 6-8 months.
Jl. Gunawarman No.42, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. +62 811-1557-798. Website
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This family-friendly theme restaurant in Plaza Senayan really committed to its jungle theme, with waiters dressed like safari rangers and plenty of cute animatronic animal models hanging out among the trees. The food is generally just fine but kids will certainly get a kick out of this place.
Plaza Senayan, Lantai 5, Jl. Asia Afrika, Senayan, South Jakarta. +622157906082. Website
If the kind of unique you’re looking for is crazy rather than cute, then King Cobra restaurant in Mangga Besarmay be your poison. There are actually quite a few places around Mangga Besar where you can partake in the drinking of snake blood, but those are usually roadside stalls. King Cobra is one of the few brick and mortar establishments where you’ll find such “exotic” fare, and, in addition to shots of blood from freshly killed snake,s you can also get snake satay as well as dishes made from other unlikely animals such as lizards. As disgusting (and cruel) as this may all sound to some, to others who believe in certain schools of Eastern medicine, consuming such creatures can be seen as good for your health.
Jl. Mangga Besar Raya No. 93C, Mangga Besar, Tamansari, West Jakarta. +62 21 6296087
Another controversial restaurant, Pingoo’s star attraction is its aquarium full of undeniably cute Humbolt penguins. What is questionable is whether such an attraction constitutes animal cruelty, as local animal rights activists have protested the restaurant on several occasions.
According to a press release from the restaurant’s management, Pingoo has met all the necessary environmental and regulatory guidelines in order to get the proper permits to house and exhibit the penguins and all the animals penguins are monitored closely by animal keepers from Taman Safari and their habitat is cooled to an appropriate temperature. The penguins housed in the restaurant were born in Taman Safari as part of their penguin breeding and conservation program and is operated in conjunction with the Jakarta Aquarium, which is also located inside Neo Soho mall.
Pingoo used to have a required minimum spend for each table but have since gotten rid of that rule, although guests still need to purchase some food or drinks.
Neo SOHO Mall, Ground Floor, Jl. Letjen S. Parman, Tanjung Duren. +622127893422. Instagram