IZAKAYA KAI PLUIT - JAKARTA09.42.00
Adhika and Karen together with the master of tempura, Chef Hitoshi Kimura and Mr. Jason (the owner of Ombe Kofie) opened this gorgeous 2-storey Japanese restaurant at the new Senopati: Pluit. PIK's food scene has always been rapidly growing and changing, but Pluit is starting to become the next hot spot with good amount of cafes and coffee shops opening here, just like the old Pluit when it was packed with independent restaurants. Izakaya Kai was easy to find as it's located precisely across the well-known Chinese restaurant: Siauw A Tjiap and align with Sixtynine Coffee.
The first and second level of the restaurant had totally different concept, vibe and menu. The first level was where the all-day Western-Japanese restaurant resided while the second floor became the Japanese Izakaya restaurant serving various traditional Japanese cuisines such as Tempura (main highlight here), Japanese appetizers, Yakitori, Donburi, Bento, Udon and many more. Expect to find pastas, donburi and bento sets on the first floor as well as the little dessert showcase of the pastry genius: Karen Carlotta. She specially crafted custom desserts for Kai and I honestly did not wish to see this anytime soon in Union as I really wanted this to be the highlight dessert of Kai.
The interior on both floors rang simplicity with minimalist-traditional Japanese feel to it, only with more "zen" and youthful vibe on the first floor and overall traditional Japanese restaurant ambiance on the second floor with mainly dim yellow lighting and wood framing the space. There was this large communal table on the first floor which should be perfect for groups. If you ask me, I probably like the first floor better (and if you're an Instagram bitch you should know they have better lighting on the first floor), but unfortunately they have a strict rule where you can't order the food from different storey of the restaurant. Appreciate that.
For the time being, reservation to dine at their Izakaya restaurant is HIGHLY SUGGESTED as no walk-ins are allowed. I did not know about that but luckily I accidentaly met Mr. Jason (one of the owners) who then kindly arranged me to sit on the second floor.
First floor pictures
If the seats are available, I highly recommend sitting right at the bar for that special excitement watching the live and moving graphic of the Kitchen people :)
I went to Izakaya Kai with my own will and I initially wanted to pay for everything myself, but my bill was all covered by Mr. Jason (thank you very much) who I accidentally met at the restaurant. I just feel the need to be transparent, but opinion 100% remains my own. Price range for the food starts between IDR 40k-IDR 220k.
Cawanmushi - IDR 30k
Their cawanmushi (aka Japanese steamed egg) was very soft and fresh with tiny chunks of chicken and mushroom on top. I don't know how to exactly explain it, but I love the "naturalness" of this dish with overall light flavor and creamy smooth texture. Love.
Yakitori - IDR 15k-30k/each with different amount of pieces for each
I had the Sukune (chicken meatball), Negima (chicken thigh and leek) and Sunagimo (gizzard - but forgot to snap a pic) and I must say that they make AMAZING yakitori. I am not always a big big fan of yakitori but they made them just right with very simple seasoning, but it's actually the ingredient which did most of the talking! The sukune was shockingly good (and kinda restore my faith to Sukune yakitori which I often got wrongly done) and the gizzard was another one that I'd love to recommend: firm and tender, crunchy and chewy in the same time.
Chef Hitoshi Kimura is the tempura master with over 30 years of experience, so I guess it's a little unfortunate if I didn't order their tempura so I of freaking course DID. Had the Assorted Tempura (IDR 120k) which consist of shrimp, potato, beans, cauliflower tots and mushroom. The appearance might look extra simple (kinda little to be honest) and pretty common, but I totally loved it. The coating had the right golden-yellow color and crunch without being overly dry and affected the ingredient inside (sign that they're perfectly cooked), and they were not oily!
One of the traditional ways of having tempura: dip it <3, they also prepared a little amount of salt to accompany the serving.
Nozaki A5 Wagyudon - IDR 220k
This was the dish which I had super high expectation for and ended up being sad as I did not get good impression in return. It did had this fancy and tempting look of it, and to be honest the wagyu beef was delicious and seasoned nicely, but as a customer, I wanted more beef slices to the serving and I feel like overall it's lacking the sauce for the whole rice as only the top layer of rice was coated with the sauce, and when I tried mixing everything in it just making everything tasted a tad bland.
Brioche Bun - IDR 35k
I read some reviews from my foodie friends online claiming this needs to be the must order here, but again, I was left disappointed. I asked some of them whether the buns were served warm on the time of their visit, they all said "yes" and unfortunately I got the exact opposite, my brioche bun with all its filling was very cold, like straight from the chiller cold, hence I didn't enjoy them and there wasn't any flavor coming out, me and my sister honestly only ate one little piece of it. Talk about consistency needing more attention.
I think it's just the matter of consistency, and maybe I am too early to give my opinion about the restaurant when they're not at their readiest, but I genuinely think they can do better and it can potentially be one of the most interesting restaurants in town, and no I wasn't left feeling utterly disappointed, in fact I would be more than happy to recommend you guys to dine here (but remember to book in advance). I am excited and looking forward for my next visit with friends.
Best of luck Izakaya Kai!
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Jalan Pluit Kencana No. 59 (across Siauw A Tjiap)
Jakarta Utara 14450
021 - 2266 3966
1st fl: 11 AM-11 PM
2nd fl: 11 AM-3 PM, 6 PM-10 PM
Average spending for two: IDR 300k
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Map for Izakaya Kai