Koi Kemang: Brunch, anyone?

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Prosecco Treviso Cascine, one of my favorite prosecco

Champagne brunch is one of my favorite things to do when I spend my weekends in Jakarta. I call it champagne brunch but I literally drink anything vino – red wine, chardonnay, cava, prosecco, champagne – name it, I will down it!

Since 2010, one of my favorite brunch places in Jakarta is Koi in Kemang. Koi has witnessed a lot of my life celebrations with friends and loved ones and it continues to be one of my default go-to places. The quality of the food is consistent and the plenitude of red and sparkling wines are always great reasons to visit this place.

For me, Koi Kemang will always be a timeless classic!

Here are some of our favorites from Koi, which we usually order over and over again. These never get old for me.

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Koi’s wheatgrass shot with a slice of orange on the side.

I normally start my meal with a wheatgrass shot and I drink it clean and straight.  It’s a good way to start the meal as wheatgrass is power-packed with chlorophyll, which acts as a neutralizer of toxins in the body. It also improves blood sugar and detoxifies the liver (great when you are just about to indulge on the fizzies!)

Some mix the wheatgrass shot with fresh orange juice, but I just prefer mine straight up.

Although cheese is considered dessert, I normally order it as my appetizer. At Rp150k, Koi’s cheese platter has brie, gruyere and French blue cheese, with baguette on the side, roasted cashews and yummy caramelized onions.

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Koi’s cheese platter: brie, gruyere and French blue cheese, with baguette on the side, roasted cashews and yummy caramelized onions.

Arshad and I normally pair the cheese with either a light, fruity red, a bubbly prosecco, cava or champagne. My top faves: Corte Giara Bardolino from Italy and Trimback Riesling from Arsace, France.

Apart from cheese, we usually share a salad: caesar salad with honey and truffle oil.

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For the main course, we are creatures of habit. By default, I always order the poached eggs with spinach and hollandaise sauce. It’s basically their Eggs Benedict without the ham, since I prefer to eat mostly plant-based.

Aside from the vast selection of wine and their perfectly poached eggs, another primary reason why we keep on coming back to Koi is their steak and eggs.  Arshad has tried steak and eggs from other restaurants but they always pale in comparison. He keeps getting disappointed so the verdict was that if he wants his steak and eggs, we only go to Koi.

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Koi’s medium rare steak and eggs with herbed butter, vegetables and potatoes

For dessert, if you are a first-timer in Koi, it merits to try their dessert sampler, where a plateful of Koi’s best desserts can be had.

My newly-discovered heaven, though, is the flourless chocolate quinoa cake with vanilla ice cream on the side and vanilla sauce. After tasting this, the definition of dessert will never be the same!

After indulging your cravings for Koi’s delectable food, you can go to their second floor to check out teakwood furniture, paintings and other Indonesian fixtures. Koi also showcases beautiful curated Indonesian pieces from local craftsmen and furniture makers.

For all these and more, I’d say Koi never fails to make my Sunday wonderful. I will never tire of going back for more…and more. =)

Koi Kemang’s details:

Address: Jl. Kemang Raya No.72b, RT.7/RW.2, Bangka, Mampang Prpt., Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12730
Hours:  Opens 7am Closes 11PM

Phone: (021) 7195668

Makassar in photographs

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of spending it in Makassar, the fifth largest city in Indonesia. Makassar is the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, which is already near the sea and the equator, thus explaining the city’s hot weather.

My driver for the weekend quipped that if Surabaya had 2 suns, Makassar had 4! That explained why the 6:30am sun seemed to be in its peak like it was already 10 in the morning.

I didn’t get to stay long enough to explore the city and I was there for work, but if there is one word to describe Makassar: seafood. Okay, make it two: sumptuous seafood. 

I wouldn’t mind flying back in of only to taste the fresh seafood once again.

 

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A drone shot of Makassar: aerial view courtesy of Arshad’s brand spanking new drone

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Fresh crab with salted egg yolk from Rumah Makan Seafood Apong

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Fish parape 2 ways: with spicy sambal sauce and sweet caramelized onions

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My favorite appetizer: seafood otak-otak with the spicy sauce on the side

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My Sex and the City cocktail being prepared at Aston’s On 20 Bar and Dining Sky Lounge

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Cocktails at Aston’s On 20 Bar and Dining Sky Lounge of Aston Hotel

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Cocktails at Melia Hotel’s The Society

Container Turf: There’s a New Kid in Town!

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La Familia in Container Turf on a Friday afternoon

There’s a reason why us Southerners no longer bother to go to Makati or BGC to hang out. Aguirre Street in BF Homes, Parañaque, in particular, will always have something new. I get surprised every time I go back to Manila that there’s a new restaurant or bar opening in my ‘hood.

Last week, I went back to Manila for my annual executive check-up. Since this requires fasting, I was famished by 4pm. The family decided to head out to get some quick snacks so I can quell my rumbling hunger.

It was a perfect opportunity to hit the latest food park in our street: Container Turf. We’ve been meaning to go every time I’m in town but the place was always packed! Not a surprise since there were loads of options to choose from in Container Turf. It was teeming with a lot of interesting concessionnaires, so much so that we had to go around twice because we can’t make up our minds what and where to eat!

For drinks, there is a bar at the center where cocktails can be had for P150-P250. I was happy to get a chilled glass of white wine for P150!

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Bella in front of Swig and Guzzle

I happily paired my white wine with Fromagerie’s cheese fondue, which is around P450,

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Cheese fondue from Fromagerie

serving 4 persons. Fromagerie also offers grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, which are nice vegetarian options that I’ll definitely try when I come back.

Arshad, on the other hand, tried the raclette cheese with potatoes and chicken on the side, which was interesting, but preference-wise, raclette is better paired with steak. Who am I to say that, though? I quit meat for a year now. LOL!

The family also tried the nachos from El Chapo’s, the meatless pizza from Ayan’s and Red Buffalo Wings Express’ spicy buffalo wings.

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Container Turf boasts of a 3-storey space where families and groups of friends can hang out to try different kinds of cuisines in one location.

During weekends, the place can be backed. I noticed that people started to pour in as early as 4pm. By 5pm, it was already tough to get seats!

Food prices are quite reasonable, from P150 – P450, which is definitely not bad in terms of price points. It also has Happy Hour, Buy 1 Take 1 promos for off-peak hours or during sunset. With the price this reasonable, no wonder most of the customers are millennials and teenagers!

As for Mi La Familia, let the photo below tell you of how they find the food park. My Mom wished that it had healthier options, though, since a lot of the choices were also deep-fried. I’m glad that there are vegetarian options, but I also wish that they had more. It’s a consolation that some concessionnaires were willing to take the meat out for me and replace it with more cheese or something else.

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La Familia enjoying our grub at the Container Turf

Here are some of the other interesting stalls at the food park. They have Indian, Korean and Indonesian cuisines, too!

The verdict: for reasonably priced food and booze in the area, it’s definitely highly recommended, although the market is skewed towards the younger gen and the (feeling) millennials. My friends and I are already planning a visit as soon as I’m back in town!

You can find more information on Container Turf below:

Address: 238 and 240 BF Aguirre Avenue, Parañaque
Instagram: @containerturf
For other reviews about Container Turf, check these out:

I ate my way through Lisbon

A month ago, Arshad and I made our way to Lisbon, Portugal to meet his parents and spend a few days together with them before we continued our journey to Spain.

Both retired, the preoccupation of both my Mum and Dad-in-law are the two favorite things that I share with my husband: travel and food. Yes, we intend to follow their footsteps when we are older, but for now, we will remain to be green with envy when they call to invite us for a week in Brazil or a month’s visit to my sis-in-law in Melbourne (Dad, limited vacation leaves!).

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Bella with Arshad and her in-laws in Cascais, Portugal

Lisbon was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. I didn’t expect much from the city, since I was really looking forward to Madrid and Barcelona, more than anything else. When I got to Lisbon, though, and as we made our way to the suburbs of Sintra and Cascais, I didn’t realize that I was in for the food trip of my life!

There were so many things to gush and rave about Lisbon, but the most memorable for me was the FOOD, thus the 2kg. weight gain after the trip. All worth-it calories, if I may say.

Both Mum and Dad were game to try the food, desserts and wine, and most of our photos captured us eating our way through the city of Lisbon and its equally charming suburban areas.

Here are some of the memorable local food and restaurants that we tried, savored and yes, in some instances, repeated, which completed the journey.

When in Lisbon, include these gustatory delights in your checklist of must-try food:

1.  Sardines, sardines and more sardines.  There is no escaping sardines in Lisbon. I wanted to remain pescatarian even when traveling, and Lisbon being a sardines country was something that I embraced and celebrated the moment that we touched down.

Sardines is everywhere. You’ll see sardines grilled, served as tapas, canned or part of a pasta dish or risotto.  Traditionally, sardines is served grilled, with rustic bread or boiled potatoes and fresh greens on the side. My personal favorite is just straightforward grilled, copiously drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. Heavenly!

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Grilled sardines with boiled potatoes and fresh greens on the side

Another take on it would be to just put it on top of grilled rustic bread with grilled tomatoes and herbs with fresh salad.

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Time Out Market’s take on sardines drizzled with extra virgin olive oil on grilled rustic bread

Sardines is also great for souvenirs and giveaways to friends. Both Jakarta and Manila, where we come from, are very big on souvenir gifts for friends and family (do not dare go home without anything!) and canned sardines is a good idea for “pasalubong” or “oleh-oleh.” We bought canned sardines and pate’ for friends and family.

Sardines can be had everywhere in Lisbon, but I particularly liked the one that I tried in Sintra’s Restaurante Cafe’ Paris at the Praca Republica.  The sardines was HUGE, fresh and not too salty. The availability of tables al fresco was a plus for me, given the great spring weather during our trip. It was just nice to eat sardines with chardonnay while watching people go by!

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Bella enjoying her sardines al fresco at Sintra’s Restaurante Cafe’ Paris

 

Here’s how to find Sintra’s Restaurante Cafe’ Paris:
Address: Praça República 32, 2710-542 Sintra, Portugal
Hours: 9AM–10PM

 

2. Seafood. Of all kinds! Lisbon was teeming with fresh fish and other seafood. I just can’t have enough of Lisbon’s fresh seafood. Since they are always fresh, they are prepared simply: grilled or pan-fried and drizzled with a lot of olive oil.

Lisbon is Europe’s only capital city along the Atlantic Coast, lying in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic ocean. Being a coastal city, it boasts of fresh fish and seafood and most restaurants will have a “fresh catch of the day” in the menu.

I tried the bacalhau, cod, prawns and grilled octopus tentacles. Personally, I favored grilled octopus, as it is my quintessential favorite and the big prawns on risotto.

For fresh seafood in Lisbon, I highly recommend Nune’s – Real Marisqueria. Everything we ordered was fresh and the fish was right off the tank. They had warm, rustic bread on the side with luscious butter and several good wines that can be paired with the fish and seafood. You can find Nune’s in Rua de Bartolomeu Dias in Lisbon and for reservations, it’s very easy because it can be done online through The Fork.

Here are the details of Nune’s – Real Marisqueria:

Address: R. Bartolomeu Dias 112, 1400-031 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours: Open everyday · 12PM–12AM
Reservations: thefork.pt

 

3 .  Pastel de Nata or Portuguese egg tart from Pasteis de Belem. You can get pastel

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Pastel de Nata from Pasteis de Belem: photo from TasteIt.pt

de nata or Portuguese egg tart pretty much anywhere in Lisbon, but I highly recommend that you buy it only in Pasteis de Belem. Once you have tasted the egg tarts from Case de Pasteis de Belem, all the other egg tarts will pale in comparison.

Just a quick trip down historical lane: the pastel de nata is believed to have been made by the Catholic nuns in the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, which stands just across the road from the Case de Pasteis de Belem. These sumptuous pastries were the means to raise funds for the monastery’s upkeep and maintenance.

Pastel de nata is a custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon or sugar. Mind you, there is a LONG LINE that traverses outside the cafe’ so it takes a lot of patience for these to be had. Arshad and I had to line up for it, but believe you me, the line and the wait are worth it.

Pasteis de Belem has been selling pastel de nata for more than 150 years and this is something that you cannot miss if you find yourself in the area of the Belem district.

The cafe’ is open everyday. Check out their details below:

ADDRESS:
Rua de Belém nº 84 a 92
1300 – 085 Lisboa
Portugal

E-MAIL:
pasteisdebelem@pasteisdebelem.pt
apoioaocliente@pasteisdebelem.pt

4. Salad with goat cheese and ice cream. Yes, you read that right. It was my Dad-in-law who discovered this at Lisbon’s Time Out Market, where the greens are topped with fresh blueberries, very light and creamy goat cheese and a dollop of ice cream. I tried it and immediately fell in love so we had to go back to Time Out Market so I could have it for myself. Salad never tasted this good and decadent!

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Since I’ve mentioned Time Out Market several times already, here’s how to find it:

Address: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa, Portugal

Hours: Open everyday · 10AM–12AM

 

5. Vegetarian dishes. Despite being a sardines and seafood country, there are restaurants that will serve delectable vegetarian dishes. I’ve tried mushroom and truffle risotto but I was biased towards the vegetarian lasagna that I had at Lisbon’s Carmo Restaurant and Bar. Several restaurants will also accommodate requests for some of the dishes to be “vegetarianized,” and will be willing to replace the meat with mushrooms and vegetables.

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Cheesy and creamy vegetarian lasagna from Lisbon’s Carmo Bar and Restaurant

Aside from the vegetarian dishes, one notable vegetarian-vegan-friendly condiment is their chili oil. I’ve been to several restaurants with this heavenly bottle of spicy oil, filled with red chili and garlic. The bite is superb and I drizzled it on anything: my lasagna, risotto, sardines, etc.

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Chili oil with a bite: just a few drops and you already get the spice in your mouth

I found both of these in Lisbon’s Carmo Restaurant and Bar:

Address: Largo do Carmo 10, 1200-049 Lisboa, Portugal

Hours: Open everyday · 8AM–12AM

Reservations: thefork.pt
Overall, Lisbon is teeming with must-visit beautiful places. But for me, I’d always remember this beautiful yet underrated city because of the delectable food it has to offer.

 

Will I ever consider a second serving of Lisbon? Definitely! And next time, I’ll make sure I have enough time for the other interesting places in Portugal. =)