The Best of Jakarta: Food, Drinks, and Stores You Can’t Miss
After over a year of eating and drinking my way through Jakarta, as well as tons of exploring, I thought I would share some of my favorite places to eat and drink with all of you — because you never know when you might end up in Jakarta.
Chloe helped with this list, so many thanks to her for sharing many meals this year. I’ve provided website links where possible and any interesting stories as well. Jakarta may not have much in terms of sights for tourists, but it’s a wonderful place to share a meal with friends.
Best Cup of Coffee: Anomali Coffee (branches around Jakarta, including Jalan Senopati and the Setiabudi Mall). This is my favorite place to get a strong cup of Joe that isn’t the instant powered stuff that is so popular here. You can order by the cup, comes with a French press, based on Indonesian regions, Aceh, Sulawesi, Java, Papua, Flores, Toraja. I’m partial to Toraja. Also a great place to sit in A/C, use the WiFi and get some work done. A cup of coffee starts at Rp 23,000 ($2.40). Also for the more adventurous, you can order a cup of the famous luwak coffee, the beans pass through the digestive tract of civets!
Best Indonesian Lunch Place: Putri (corner of Jalan Cikajang and Jalan Cipaku II in Kebaroyan Baru). This place is great for lunch with wonderful plate varieties with lots of goodies. Try the juices, especially the mulberry. Chloe got me hooked on this place and almost every time I order the nasi opor ayam (coconut milk chicken curry) with nasi merah (red rice). For dessert try bubur manis (sweet porridge). This area is also fun to explore after you eat. Lunch will set you back around $3-4, but it is quality Indonesian fare.
Best Street Food: Menteng FTS (located immediately beside the Formule 1 Hotel on Jalan Cokramintio in Menteng) this spot features dozens of vendors and is one of the cleaner street food spots in Jakarta. You can order lots of Indonesian classics from sate to martabak. Bring some friends.
Best Street Seafood Stall: Santiga Seafood Stall (Jalan Bendungan Hilir, aka Ben Hil) is a great place to get some grilled fish or some spicy black pepper crabs. The place is always lively with musicians coming and going and people devouring mounds of seafood. Here’s a piece that we ran in the Jakarta Globe all about it.
Best Chinese Food: Liyen (Jalan Asemka Raya) around the corner from the Bank Mandiri Museum, this Chinese restaurant offers a good selection of dishes. Try the honey pork, you won’t be disappointed. Mandala Restaurant on Jalan Wolter Monginsidi is a close second, I love their asparagus crab soup.
Best Japanese Food: Izakaya Taichan (Jalan Melawai VI/5, Blok M) offers up delicious sushi and a mostly Japanese crowd. It’s located in Blok M’s slightly seedy “Little Tokyo,” so it makes for an interesting place to walk around at night.
Best Korean Food: Chung Gi Wa (Jalan Dharmawangsa III, No. 2, near Blok M). Delicious Korean food with a Korean countryside chic décor. The grilled meat and kimchi were tasty. Next door is a Korean grocery store. This was one of the more reasonably priced Korean meals I’ve had in Jakarta. Around $10 a person when splitting with friends.
Best Brunch: Koi (Jalan Kemang Raya No. 72) in Kemang has good burgers (OK, not a brunch food) and an amazing brunch menu. I love the poached eggs over spinach and smoked salmon. Pricer, brunch with drinks will set you back about $15 a person. But sometimes you just want a good Western brunch.
Best French and Cheapest Glass of Wine: Java Bleu (Jalan Cikini Raya No. 15) is a French restaurant in my price range. There are higher-end ones in Jakarta that I haven’t tried, so I can’t actually say that Java Bleu is the best. But I enjoyed the food, and it won’t set you back more than $10 or so with a glass of wine.
Best Italian Food: Pep e Nero (multiple locations), Trattoria (Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan) and Il Gusto (Jalan Mahakam II, No. 1). All three places offer up good Italian food from pizzas to pastas. Price range is around $10 a meal without drinks.
Best Upscale Indonesian Restaurant: Payon (Jalan Kemang Raya 17). Wonderful setting that is nice and quiet. A good place to bring visitors to have their first taste of Indonesian cuisine.
Best Peranakan Food: Meradelima (Jalan Adityawarman No. 47). A beautiful restaurant that serves peranakan food (Indo-Chinese-Javanese fusion) in an old house artfully packed with knick-knacks. This is good place to take your parents or go on a fancy date. See an article about it here. I love the fish dishes here.
Best Steak: Super Steak (Jalan Dempo 1 in Kebaroyan Baru). An unfortunately named but wonderful place (with great, affordable steak; dinner and a beer will probably run you a little over $10) run by a really nice family. You eat dinner in their front yard (literally); be prepared to spend a few hours chatting with Windu (the owner), his wife, and Windu’s adorable dad. Here’s a Jakarta Globe review I wrote.
Best Balinese Food: Samarapura Resto (Jalan Tebet Timur Dalam I No. 43). The Tebet neighborhood of Jakarta is a hidden gem that reminds me a lot of the Central Java town of Jogja. I’ve never seen other foreigners when I’ve gone to this area to eat. It’s a lively place at night with lots of young Indonesians hanging out. Samarapura Restaurant is a nice place to pretend you’re not in Jakarta and eat some Balinese food. Very reasonably priced. Dinner from $3.
Best Dumplings: Santong Kuo Tieh 68 (Jalan Pesanggrahan). Delicious (and non-halal!) Chinese food in Glodok, across the street from a cool market and close to one of Jakarta’s oldest Chinese temples. The pork dumplings here are a must.
Best Old Ship Warehouse: VOC Galangan (Jalan Kakap Penjaringan). Up North near the port, this is a cafe in a restored 17th century Dutch East Indies Company warehouse. The food is mediocre, but the ambiance is worth is.
Best Xiao Long Bao: Paradise Dynasty: The Legend of Xiao Long Bao (Plaza Senayan Mall, Jalan Asia Afrika No. 8). Not only does this restaurant have an epic name with a colon in it (really how many restaurant names have you seen with colons?), it serves up delicious xiao long bao. Set in Plaza Senayan Mall, this is a pricer option, but well worth it.
Best Ice Cream: Ragusa (Jalan Veteran 1). Old-school ice cream parlor; a choice wholesome Jakarta date spot for years. Try the “spaghetti ice cream” and the noodles that are sold from a kaki lima right outside. Here is an interview with the owner. A close second is the over-the-top Magnum Cafe in Grand Indonesia Mall on the 6th floor. This cafe takes the simple chocolate ice cream bar to a whole new level.
Best Place to Drink With Locals: Melly’s Garden Bar and Restaurant (IBEC Building, Jalan KH. Wahid Hasyim, No. 84-88) Located a short walk from Jalan Sabang and Sarinah Mall, this is an outdoor beer garden and restaurant that is among the best deals in the city. Watch out for hourly tequila shot specials.
Best Bar With a View: Social House (Grand Indonesia Mall) and Sky Bar (Jalan Thamrin, on the 56th floor of the Menara BCA building). Both places are pricey, but if you’re looking for a place with a view, they are your best bets.
Best Cocktail List: Union (Plaza Senayan Mall). Sit at the bar and order off their extensive cocktail menu (your cocktail will be made with flair by an adorable bartender who will carve roses out of strawberries and give you free cotton candy!). Try the cocktail made with pletok, an Indonesian ginger beer that was allegedly one of founding father Sukarno’s favorite drink.
Best Old Dutch World Feel: Cafe Batavia (Taman Fatahillah). Located in a beautifully restored old Dutch building up in the Old Kota area of Jakarta, Cafe Batavia is worth a look for its ambiance. Have a drink and pretend you’re back in the 1920s.
Best Spa: Bale Bale (Jalan Cikajang in Kebayoran Baru). Sorry gentlemen, this spa is strictly for the ladies. The hair cream baths here are fabulous and won’t set you back more than $8. A great place to get pampered and escape Jakarta’s mad streets.
Best Places to Buy Indonesian Designer Goods: Manekineko (Epicentrum Mall in Kuningan), The Goods Department (Pacific Place Mall), and Damn! I Love Indonesia (FX and Grand Indonesia malls) are great places for picking up souvenirs, from T-shirts to key chains and stickers. All are a little pricey, but you’re supporting local designers.
Best Place to Buy Fabrics: La’ Mode (Jalan Tebah II No. 5-6 H, Pasar Mayestik) Want to have your own clothes made? This is a great store to look at fabrics. The staff speaks English, knows how many meters you need for garments and is not pushy.
Happy eating, drinking and shopping to all!