Urban Chinese restaurant Lei Lo on Suryo Street recently introduced an Asian-American-inspired menu created by its new head chef, 27-year-old Jodie Adrianto.
Previously, the menu leaned towards more traditional Chinese dishes, but according to Jodie, he and his team have now swapped out about 75-percent of the offerings from the old menu. The 45 new menu items include a selection of snacks and appetizers, plus rice and noodle dishes — including rice and porridge bowls — as well as larger entrees meant for sharing, and desserts.
Jodie, who previously honed his skills at Maple & Oak and Yabai Izakaya at Menteng, Central Jakarta, explained his reasoning behind the new dishes, saying: “Patrons of Senopati-Gunawarman areas have become smarter when it comes to choosing food. So instead of highlighting only one type of dish, I decided to expand to more variants. I expanded the flavor profile, from Indonesian, Chinese even Korean; using a mix of French and American cooking techniques including grilling.”
What about the “American” element in that Asian-American influence? “In the US, people usually use the ingredients found in the country, combined with the cooking technique in their cuisine, or adapting their ingredients with [American] cooking techniques,” explained Jodie.
On to the food itself — for starters, we tried the Chicken Charsiu Bao (IDR45,000/US$3) and Beef Belly Bao (IDR48,000/US$3.4). The meats for the baos are cooked through sous vide — that’s what made the Chicken Charsiu nice and tender. The baos make a great appetizing start to kick off your meal.
For those who want to try something a little different, then the Otak-otak (IDR55,000/US$3.9) is solid. Here, the fish cakes are made of steamed and charred mackerel, then dressed with Korean-inspired gochujang aioli, and topped with homemade crispy trout skin and tobiko fish roe for a bit of crunch. We really appreciated the mixture of different textures in this one.
In mains, we tried the Beef Bowl (IDR68,000/US$4.8), which is made using XO sauce and honey-glazed “beef belly,” the same piece of meat incorporated in the Beef Belly Bao. The beef was tender with a nice, detectable amount of sweetness, and we would taste a hint of the smoky flavor. But to us, the pièces de résistance of the mains were the Grilled Squid (IDR98,000/US$6.9) and Lei Lo’s KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) (IDR92,000/US$6.5).
The Grilled Squid was surprisingly soft and tender — not tough or overly chewy at all. While that part is pretty much the same as any good Indonesian-style grilled squid, here, Jodie swaps the usual sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) with a smoky palm sugar glaze. The KFC was a treat, too, especially for avid Korean-style fried chicken eaters: It’s crunchy and juicy, and oozes with the signature sweet and spicy flavors of gochujang sauce.
As for dessert, we tried Lei Lo’s Berry Mascarpone Cream (IDR45,000/US$3). It’s a rather light dessert: the base is a cream and mascarpone cheese mousse that’s topped with strawberry coulis and speculoos cookie crumble. The cream was light and airy, balancing the sweet and tart notes of the strawberry puree, as well as the earthy spices from the speculoos bits.
All in all, we think Lei Lo’s certainly on to something, and going in an interesting direction with this new Asian-American concept.
As far as we can tell, most of the Asian restaurants occupying the trendy stretches of Gunawarman, Senopati, and Suryo Streets are either Korean or Japanese, with some Vietnamese and Thai — or fusion versions of these cuisines — thrown in for good measure. At Lei Lo, we like that patrons can get a taste of more than one type of cuisine under one roof, and some dishes, like the otak-otak, are really original in their combination of many culinary elements. Plus, most of the menu items are under IDR100K, which is an affordable price point that could also set Lei Lo apart from their competitors in the area, in terms of price.
Lei Lo is at Jalan Suryo No. 15, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta
Open daily, 10am-4am
Phone: +62 21 806 020 45 ext. 486
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