Since February this year, Aryaduta hotel has been on a transformational journey to elevate Indonesian cuisine taking it to the next level but stil retain its traditional heritage. The four of us had a lovely dinner at Aryaduta in Karawaci, feasting Chef Marinka’s creation.
But before I go on to describe the meal, let’s just take a little tour of the hotel first. They have a country club, and all sort of facilities from indoor court, tennis court even wall climbing. My favourite is the swimming pool area. The swimming pool area is not the boring rectangular pool you typically find, this place makes you forget that you are just a little further away from Jakarta. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that I was in Bali. The coconut trees. Water splashing. Cool breeze. Gotta love life!
The pool shines even brighter during night time, I like it during the day, but I love it during the night. The pool seems iridescent and the trees create an even more mysterious aura. Just see for yourself if you don’t believe.
Magical isn’t it? Like you’re in a mysterious faraway island and Moana starts singing out of nowhere… “See the light where the sky meets the sea.” Then you start singing along, amused at how a Disney movie can be so relatable in all aspects of life.
Before I realized it, darkness has conquered the sky and it’s time for dinner. We head on to the restaurant to prepare ourselves for the meal we’ve been looking forward to eating all day.
Asinan Betawi, 35K++
The classic Batavian salad served with peanut sauce. The plating is a bit fancier compared to those served in street vendors has quite a spicy kick compared to typical Asinan Betawi. The best part of this dish is the purple pickled vegetable you can taste all the different spices creating a perfect harmony in your mouth. The purple pickled vegetable is the Beyonce of Destiny’s Child, it’s what makes the dish special.
Kerak Telor, 28K++
And the Most Beautiful Dish Award of the night goes to… Kerak Telor. Usually served with tons of coconut, Chef Marinka chose to highlight the taste of the omelette and glutionous rice as the star. What makes this dish dfferent is the mayonaisse on top to give that modern twist. It is more moist and soft in texture compared to kerak telor sold by street vendor that is crispier. Both versions have its beauty, but it’s always nice to see a modern interpratation of a classic dish.
Nasi Goreng Kambing, 85K++
The main dish of the night is lamb fried rice accompanied with lamb martabak, sunny side up egg, melinjo crackers and pickled vegetables. The plus side of this dish is that the lamb to rice ratio is rather generous. They don’t hold back on the lamb portion on this fried rice. And if you still haven’t had enough, the martabak is also pretty generous in filling. Also another plus, is that it has been well-cooked therefore the smell of lamb commonly found in a lamb dish is gone. I was expecting a whole lot of spices and aroma exploding in my mouth, since we started quite strong with the Kerak Telor and Asinan. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of spices you can taste, but with starters that are pretty strong you expect a bigger bang in the entrée.
Es Teler, 25K++
There is always room for dessert. Especially traditional treats like Es Teler. Maybe Kerak Telor won the award for Most Beautiful Dish Award for the night, but this dish will take home the crown for Breakout Dish of the night. Why? Simply because you do not expect it to taste so surprisingly good. I mean, Es Teler is Es Teler right? How else can you elevate it and make your own twist? Turns out, Chef Marinka figured it out. Add a bit of soda for that surprising subtle twist. Also, I love how she used kue bolu (sponge cake) as opposed to normal white bread. It gives the dish even more contrast to the slightly more chewy jelly and soft kue bolu. (PS: Currently there’s a promo: if you snap a picture of your food and upload it on instagram, you get free es teler! #aryadutaxmarinka)
All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening. Enjoyed the cool breeze by the pool until the night, daydreamed a bit about being Bali and feasted until our tummies could not handle it anymore. It was an interesting experience to see how even the most common dish can be made into elevated cuisine with a twist. As I finished the last bite of my Es Teler I read on the menu the title Indonesian Contemporary Menu Series 1 – Chef Marinka, does this mean that there will be a Series 2 and many more to come?
May the journey to preserve local delicacies and traditions with subtle twists live on.