The media entrepreneur and founder of online lifestyle magazine Manual Jakarta shares his insights on Indonesia’s irrepressible capital.
For Indonesian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Kaum by the Potato Head Group—order the wagyu sate maranggi and anything with seafood or fish. The seasonal cocktails are interesting too; I recently tried the Cici Petak 9, a gin-based concoction inspired by Glodok, Jakarta’s Chinatown. For home-style Peranakan food, Restoran Trio (Jl. R.P. Soeroso No. 29A) in the Menteng area is a classic. It’s been around for more than 70 years and the service, music, and decor hasn’t changed in decades. Hunter and Grower in Kemang is a new venue that repackages traditional recipes into something modern; its deconstructed sayur asem salad tastes very authentic.
The store at Kemang’s Dia.lo.gue gallery stocks a wide range of clothes by high-quality local brands. One of my favorites is Sejauh Mata Memandang, which has turned batik into something more casual and relevant. Another is Sukkha Citta, an up-and-coming fashion brand that works with village craftswomen to create really beautiful pieces that stay true to Indonesia’s woven heritage. As for home decor, local ceramicist Ayu Larasati has collaborated with Canaan, a concept store from Bali, to create Unearth (Jl. Gandaria 1 No. 63) in a space above One Fifteenth Coffee. You’ll find everything from clothes and napkins to tableware, candles, and body soap.
It’s an easy walk from the MRT station at Blok M to M Bloc Space, a disused banknote printing plant that has been transformed into a den of independent stores and eateries. It’s a great alternative to the mall and accessible to people from all walks of life. If you want to explore a traditional neighborhood, go to Glodok. I’ve been to Chinatowns all over the world and Glodok is really something special; start out at Kopi Es Tak Kie, a kopitiam famous for its iced coffee and mixed pork rice. Elsewhere in town, pop-up markets have really been thriving. One of the newest and fastest-rising is Semasa. With a well-curated selection of lesser-known makers, it is held every few months in beautiful but underappreciated heritage buildings, places most people wouldn’t normally go.
This article originally appeared in the April/July 2020 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Jakarta Journal”).