The Expert View on Jakarta's Culinary Scene | NOW! JAKARTA

The Expert View on Jakarta's Culinary Scene


Jakarta is a city that never sleeps. As the capital of Indonesia, the city is vibrant, bustling, sometimes chaotic, but always surprising - the same can be said about its culinary scene.

Every week, new restaurants, cafes and bars open and try their luck to catch the attention of Jakarta’s passionate foodies. Some simply vanish into oblivion after some time, while others are able to create some buzz and eventually establish themselves as new go-to places in the city. 

We talked to a couple of chefs and other industry experts to find out what they think about the city’s culinary scene and asked for their recommendations of where to go in Jakarta to have a unique dining experience.

Chef Felix Budisetiawan
Executive Chef The Dharmawangsa Jakarta

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
Jakarta’s culinary scene has exploded in recent years and continues to grow massively in terms of numbers and quality. The people are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to eating. With more restaurants come more choices - each having their own uniqueness and offering innovative creations. But the people in Jakarta still love the local delicacies, and therefore Indonesian dishes are still very much in the game of Jakarta’s culinary scene, with a lot of innovative twists while at the same time still keeping the original recipes.

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
The Dharmawangsa Jakarta. We aim to inspire the competition by consistently sharing culinary knowledge, developing continuous programmes and elevating the value of local food. 2017 is a flavourful year, marked by the rise of the brunch, coffee, and afternoon tea scene. The Courtyard, our alfresco venue, is dedicated to coffee lovers - especially Indonesian traditional coffee - who wish to unwind while lingering over various top rated coffee blends and light treats in green surroundings.

Farah Quinn
Celebrity Chef

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
It’s vibrant: you can find anything from street food to fancy dining. The restaurant scene is definitely growing, offering cuisines from all around the world. Many new places opened up, but a lot of them also didn’t survive as many of the patrons tend to become bored quickly. People here easily get excited about new places and unique concepts - which is important - but I think that the main focus should be on the quality of the food and the service. This should help to keep patrons happy and make them come back.

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
For street food, they should check out places in the Melawai and Blok M area. I myself had a great meal at the new Japanese restaurant Momozen at The Plaza last night. Other restaurants I like include Bistecca Steak, 1945 at the Fairmont Hotel, Turkuaz, E & O and Mr Fox.

Chef Johan Kusnadi
Executive Sous Chef Ayana Midplaza Jakarta

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
I think that it is adventurous, wild and goes beyond borders!

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
Pantai Indah Kapuk in East Jakarta, Kota and Kelapa Gading as these areas offer many different choices and the most unique dishes.

Chef Eko Zulfikar
Executive Sous Chef Raffles Jakarta

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
Living in Jakarta is really exciting because the city offers a wide range of options when it comes to the F&B industry. In terms of local food, Jakarta’s culinary scene still heavily relies on street food. You can find a delicious meal offered by a street food vendor anywhere and anytime in Jakarta. The food, sold for immediate consumption, is prepared by vendors using push carts, carrying baskets or in small stalls and stores.

This concept provides a connection and interaction between the customer and the cooks, which is quite different from the interaction in a restaurant. That is why some restaurants adopt the street food concept into their set up, in order to enable a direct link between guests and chefs.

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
2017 seems to be the year of Indonesian food: everybody is competing to create innovative Indonesian dishes. The idea of local food sustainability inspired a whole new generation of chefs, as well as the Indonesian people’s patriotic pride.

For local street food in Central Jakarta, you can visit Pecenongan while in North Jakarta, the go-to place is Kelapa Gading. In South Jakarta, the most delicious street food can be found in Kebayoran or Blok M. For the high end places, I’d recommend Sana Sini Restaurant in Pullman Jakarta, Lara Djonggrang and, of course, Arts Cafe by Raffles Jakarta.

Chef Gilles Marx

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
Nowadays, Jakartans have a lot of interest in all things culinary, not least thanks to the cooking shows on TV and numerous YouTube channels highlighting food, restaurants and chefs. New concept restaurants are opening almost weekly. People living in the capital are exposed to many different types of food with various origins. In other words, food has always been one of the people’s favourite topics to talk about, with most people eating out daily, from street food to warungs and restaurants and then sharing the best addresses and their experiences. The culinary scene is developing fast, with delivery services making everything much more accessible.

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
The best answer for this is everywhere and depending on what you are looking for. Every district in Jakarta offers street food, a mall or an area where foodies gather because there are some unique restaurant concepts or just good eateries. Since a crowd usually attracts an even larger crowd, the chance is that more good places will soon open up in the same area- so maybe the right answer is to follow the crowd!

Wina Bissett
Celebrity Chef

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
It’s exciting to see new restaurants coming in with different types of cuisines, new ideas, concepts, ambiences, price ranges and tastes. Henshin, for example, is a fusion between Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, with a great view from the top. At the same time, we also have French classics like Amuz, Cassis, Emilie and Japanese steak Angus house that have been around for so many years. We also still have all those Indonesian favourites that continue to stay strong, such as Seribu Rasa, Kaum or Plataran on the high end, middle end places like Satay House Senayan, Akasya Express and more affordable ones like traditional street food vendors. People still want the traditional Bakso or Martabak, and with the presence of Go Food, it is even easier to get anything you want at any time.

Jakarta offers you the freedom to choose whatever you want to eat in a constantly evolving food scene that keeps on developing as the population grows and people’s level of exposure to different types of food widens. It’s dynamic!

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
For me, personally, the best restaurant in Jakarta right now is House of Yuen at the Fairmont Hotel. It serves the best quality food, uses fresh ingredients, provides great service and is a comfortable place to visit with the whole family.

Emmanuel Nelo
Director of Food and Beverage The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place

What do you think about Jakarta’s culinary scene?
In a city as busy as Jakarta, the culinary scene is highly competitive. It is such a diverse scene with a mix of upscale Western and European restaurants and local street food, but I have noticed lately that the rise of the Indonesian gastronomy scene is getting more attention. The concept of embracing local ingredients and talent is what I would like to bring to my property as well.

Where should people go to experience the best of Jakarta’s culinary scene?
South Jakarta has always been my favourite go-to area. Here, people can choose all variants from Indonesian to Korean and European restaurants and can also experience the complete bar scene to finish the day.

Katrin Figge

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