A JOURNEY THROUGH SUMATRA & NUSANTARA AT ARTS CAFE - RAFFLES HOTEL JAKARTA WITH WILLIAM WONGSO

12.16.00

First of all, I am not being arrogant, it happens that this month I received so many (when I say "many" I mean almost every single day) breakfasting invitation from restaurants, cafes and hotels. I still don't know the correct way to say "buka puasa" in English, is it really "breakfasting", "breakfast", or "fast breaking", but anyway I happened to turn down all of them (like 99%) and only went to this particular event at Arts Cafe, Raffles Hotel Jakarta. This is my second time going to Raffles Hotel Jakarta, the first time was my sister's wedding (yes she got hitched here), but it was my first time going to the Arts Cafe.

If you drive (or even when you don't), I suggest coming and park at Ciputra World Lotte Shopping Avenue and then go to the first floor to Blacklisted coffee shop, a door located precisely beside Blacklisted will guide you to the main entrance of Arts Cafe. I am no stranger to Blacklisted as I go there at least twice every week. There wasn't any dresscode but people do dress up going here, a sporty casual look will do (no shorts please) and on the day of my visit, they were completely full house (which I am strangely happy about, I hope it's a sign of good business darling).
The event started at 6 PM but this bitch came at 5:30 to take pictures, the staffs were still arranging the food display and that means they were still VERY NEAT and beautiful to take pictures at. They had no problem with people taking pictures of food, I've had bad history with hotel restaurants which wouldn't allow me to take pics using my camera, as simple as that I honestly pre-blocked them and lost interest in visiting them, OK now my secret is spoiled.

Compare to Satoo, Syailendra or The Cafe, space wise, Arts Cafe might be the smallest of the mentioned, but I seriously like how they decorated the space and I believe it's even more gorgeous during the night with dim warm lighting and majorly gold color applied on the deco, it just gave me this vibe of classy, intimate and romantic even though it's not entirely quiet, and for the food display? I think they did a fantastic job arranging everything, it was very neat, simple and details on point without much unimportant stuff happening, OH DID I MENTION THAT OSCAR LAWALATA, the award winning Indonesian fashion designer is in charge with the ornamental matters? Throughout the dinner, I literally went back and forth figuring out what to eat and I was happy to find that the staffs here were very attentive when it comes to refilling the empty stations and make sure there were no dirty dishes everywhere (because again some people acted like they're on a freaking wedding reception), I saw it with my very own eyes.

Ok photos!
There are five main stations here in Arts Cafe (on my visit), the closest to the main entrance would be the fruit and beverage station, followed by the dessert, pastry & boulangerie station, the appetizer and light bites station, the meat station and last but not least the main course station (heavier bites). As the title of this post would explain, I came during their "Sumatra" week and I was super spoiled with various options of delicate Sumatra cuisine (some of them are fusion Sumatra dishes) and mesmerizing thing about all this is that they are the creative and beautiful collaboration between Raffles Hotel Jakarta's executive chef: Daniel Patterson, and Indonesia's very own legendary food icon: William Wongso. Must admit I was a bit nervous prior meeting him. I was just a fat orange and he was Godly.
The dessert station offers generous options of pastries, cakes, local and international sweets such as breads, kolak pisang, sweet rice porridge (bubur kampiun), bread butter pudding (roti seu'oep), steamed coconut dumpling (pohul pohul), kembang goyang, es kopyor (shaved young coconut ice dessert), Tanah Datar lime leaf custard burnt meringue, Siak Pulut brulee palm sugar sauce, Durian Valrhona chocolate tart, Belitung sweet coconut flan, Lampung coffee cold cheese cake, Bukittinggi strawberry financier, Gayo Keprok orange bavaroise & ivory chocolate, Takengon markisa tiramisu, Bakauheni avocado mousse, and Ivory cream kaffir lime filling.
 breads
 dessert condiments
chefs prepping the dessert station
 bubur kampiun (sweet porridge dessert) - right
bread butter pudding
Moving on to the next station: The cold station which features good range of Sumatra inspired light bites making them the perfect appetizer to warm up your palate, here you'll find menus such as: selada daging sereh, selada ayam Aceh, selada nanas pedas, selada kentang timun telor semur sauce, brengkes pepes udang Palembang, seafood bar on ice with condiments, crackers selection, Indonesian lalapan (raw vegetables to munch) and a mini sambal (Indonesian homemade chili) bar. Gotta tell you the chili here was DA BOMB! I tried most of the food here in the cold station and I was really impressed with the freshness of the ingredients, some of my favs were the lobster, raw oysters, selada ayam Aceh, selada daging sereh.
Selada Daging Sereh
 Selada Ayam Aceh
GINORMOUS lobster!
 Tempe cracker (soya beancake cracker). Locals here often munch it right away or have it as a topping to the rice dishes.
 Indonesian traditional prawn fritter (bakwan udang), one whole chunky prawn covered in seasoned flour batter, this one was really good!
 The sambal here is to die for!
Fresh fresh oysters!
The pempek and meat station.
 Grilled mutton
Now we're at the main course aka hot menu station, particularly excited about this station because when you ask me about Sumatra food, my head went straight to Nasi Padang and Rendang, and just like most Indonesian food, it has this rich ingredients included in the cooking process resulting mostly delicious food, and not because I am local but Indonesian food is indeed very delicious, rich and spicy to my liking, no wonder why I miss them in most of my long travels, especially those outside Asia. There was a moment when I was sick of fabulous high grade steaks in London and wanting myself mie tek-tek abang-abang or simply a heartwarming local meatball soup.

There were so many delicious options here I just can't help myself not getting every single of it little by little. Here you'll find options such as bebek sambal hijau (green chili braised duck), cumi saus Padang (squid in Padang sauce), arsik ikan kakap khas Medan, Rendang (Indonesian famous dish of beef in coconut curry seasoning), kari daging kambing (turmeric  spice curry lamb), ayam tangkap khas Aceh, sayur kapau, gulai balak udang, mie Aceh (Aceh noodle), gulai taboh Lampung, udang bakar Balado (grilled prawn in Balado sauce), nasi lemang (sticky rice in banana leaf wrapping), tekwan soup and soto padang. Some of my favs here were the mie Aceh, ayam tangkap, rendang (of course can't say no to this) and bebek sambal hijau.
 Tekwan soup
 Ayam tangkep and bebek sambal hijau
 Udang bakar balado and gulai
Besides the buffet options, guests can also enjoy special food showcase menus curated by the one and only William Wongso. I got the chance to try most of them and while actually trying, he brought us to the background of the meals through his fascinating story. He is actually a very humble human being and loves sharing stories, I noticed he got very excited particularly when talking about Bali, and truthfully speaking, he enlarged my knowledge about food from his trivias, like Empurau fish from Malaysia which is now the world's most expensive fish in the market.
Lads and gents here is Mr. William Wongso
Asam Padeh Mackarel fish Padang
the soup was very refreshing and had this beautiful tangy and sour notes on the soup, but quickly washed out and you ended up spooning for more.
 Sate Padang
Classic Padang satay consisting of "paru", beef and served with Padang sauce, rice cake and fried shallot
Lempah Kulat Bangka with Chicken Wings
Basically chicken wings and mushroom cooked in coconut sauce. The chicken wing was tender and the mushroom was juicy, both match the savory coconut sauce nicely.
Pindang Serani Salmon - since salmon has fat in it, the meat was very smooth, and again, very refreshing soup to match!
Now I understand the art of tonal range and the concept of "you get what you paid" as the last four pictures were heavily retouched due to the very dim and yellow lighting, LOL a little sharing this is!

I had a very satisfying dinner and I couldn't complain about anything since they were delicious, overall my thoughts about Arts Cafe: good food, good service, good ambiance, certainly in my top 5 best hotel buffet restaurants in Jakarta at the moment! While we're still celebrating the month of Ramadhan, you guys CAN ALSO enjoy a lovely dinner here (like I did), and since they're changing the theme weekly, today and tomorrow will be the last day for you to enjoy the Sumatra theme or you can go next time and be enchanted to the Javanese week!

Now I know you're wondering about the price, the buffet price starts from IDR 398k++ for the first seaters (5:45 PM-8:30 PM), the price will be IDR 298k++ for second seaters (above 8:30 PM). If you're planning to celebrate your Idul Fitri here, they're having the EID AL FITRI BRUNCH starting at IDR 498k++ per person and IDR 398k++ for dinner.

Thank you Inka Maris and Raffles Hotel Jakarta for having me at the event, and thank you guys for reading!

Arts Cafe
Raffles Hotel Jakarta
Ciputra World 1
Jalan Prof. Dr. Satrio Kav. 3-5
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan
021 - 2988 0888
Opening hours:
Lunch: 11:30 PM-3 PM
Dinner: 6 PM-10 PM
$$$ (IDR 398k++/person)
Dresscode: sporty casual

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Map for Raffles Jakarta

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