Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 7 Wonders of Jakarta Culinary Festival 2010 Blogger's Dinner

Jakarta Culinary Festival is an annual epicurean festival that runs for a period of one month. Brought to us by Ismaya Group, this festival features prestigious International chefs, vintners, and local culinary stars. Now, in its second year, JCF continues to deliver excellence and capture the hearts of gourmet connoisseurs throughout the city. Putting an emphasis on quality, the festival aims to promote Jakarta as the go-to culinary and travel destination in Southeast Asian.

On the 30th of November, the last day of JCF, a special session was held for aspiring bloggers and I was one of the lucky few who was invited. The session took place at the Pop-Up restaurant & bar located on the fifth floor of Grand Indonesia - West Mall. An exquisitely designed space, the restaurant was built and operated for one month only during the festival.

Co-managed by, the official food portal, and supported by Foodtography, the official photographer, the session started with a talk-show with a panel consisting industry insiders such as Mr. Ivan Sielegar, the co-founder of; Mr. Erza S.T., a  food critic, writer, and contributor to The Jakarta Post & Elle; and Mr. Himawan Sutanto, a food photographer from the Foodtography agency. Other than the talk-show, we were also treated to a sushi-making demonstration from Chef Hugo Adrian, the executive chef of Blowfish Kitchen & Bar, and a seven-course gala dinner prepared by celebrity chefs.

The Talk-Show Panel from left to right: Mr. Himawan Sutanto, Mr. Ivan Sielegar, Mr. Erza S.T., & Mr. Yudha Perdana as MC.

      Chef Hugo Adrian giving a demonstration and instructions in sushi making to the participants.

Good foods and good friends made for one awesome evening. The food was meticulously prepared and there was no bad dish out of the entire meals. The companies consisted of sophisticated and interesting persona who kept the conversation flowing as the waiters periodically poured wine into our glasses and served us with martini. Now, here is my two-cents about the food:
The 1st course. Cold Appetizer. Balinese Chicken Salad with Coconut Vegetables and Sambal Matah. By Fahmi Widarte - Corporate Chef of Rotaryana Prima.

The meat was cooked evenly, but personally I would have liked it better if it was a little bit more tender and juicy. However the firmness of the meat provided some contrast and consistency when eaten with the salad underneath. Some attendees found the dish to be too spicy but I found it to be just right for my taste. The aromatic spices and peanut sauce did give complexity to the flavors but the spiciness was a little bit palate-numbing at the same time. The presentation was delicately beautiful.

The 2nd course. Hot Appetizer. Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek in Sweet Miso. By Hugo Adrian - Executive Chef if Blowfish Kitchen & Bar.

This was my favorite dish out of the entire meals. I would fore-go all the other dishes if I can have this dish six more times. The beef was cooked to perfection. The sweetness of the caramelized radish perfectly complimented the saltiness of the meat. The radish was as equally a star of the plate as the beef. Both components literally melted in your mouth and with the light and airy miso soup, they all created a fusion of flavors so gratifyingly titillating. The presentation on this one was masterful. Simple, bold, and focused. In this case, less is definitely more.

The 3rd course. Soup. Authentic Sultan's Tomato Cream Soup With Foie Gras. By Agus Ishermawan - Head Chef of Ismaya Catering.

This was not a bad dish. It got a lot of flavors. It just wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I wished the soup had  had stronger tomato flavor. The cream was too heavy. And the texture of the foie gras was off. This was definitely something that I'm not used to. I couldn't finish the dish. It was surprisingly satiating and I got to save room for other dishes  :p

The 4th course. Pasta. Red Shell Pasta With Duck Ragout, Pine Nut, And Rocket Salad. By Gianfranco Beltarmo - Italian Chef De Cuisine At Casa D'oro, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta

The dish had robust flavor and the fact that the pasta was served with duck ragout gave a nice twist to it. The texture of the dish felt like a deconstructive lasagna. I was expecting the pasta  in the dish to be cooked more al dente since the last two dishes we had had been more on the delicate side, so I was expecting something that I could dig my fork and knife into. I  also thought that the pine nuts and rocket salad didn't add anything to the dish. The portion was too little to have any effect on the overall texture of the dish and as the result, it became a one-note dish.
The 5th course. Fish. Chilean Sea Bass Seasoned With Lee Kum Kee Ginger Oyster Sauce. By Sofyan Joshua - Technical Culinary Chef of Sukanda Djaya.

Basically, the flavor of Chilean Sea Bass is mild, so it really was up to the sauce to give the dish any extra flavors. And the oyster sauce, oh what a feat! I didn't taste much of the ginger flavor in sauce and of course, it would have been nicer to have that little smack from the ginger to add a little bit more complexity to the flavors, but the sauce itself already hit all the right notes for me. Again, I was expecting a dish with more consistency and instead I wound up with a delicate dish. Chilean Sea Bass has high fat content and can still retain a lot of moisture even when it is cooked long enough  as was the case with my dish. I found that my fish was a still little bit too oily and the sauce was liquid, so it was like eating sunny-side up egg on soup. The oyster sauce was the only saving grace of the dish and I wished I had just a tad bit more of it on my plate. And the dish will probably improve if the fish was pan-seared first. But, that was just my personal choice.

The 6th course. Meat. Short Rib, Truffle Demi Glaze, Charcoal Oil, Glazed Carrots, Potato Hot Foam, And Nuts Fake Cous Cous. By Ignacio Virgen Jimenez - Chef De Cuisine of Potato Head.

Finally, this was the dish that I could dig into. The meat was cooked perfectly. Tender and juicy. The truffle flavor translated nicely and wasn't overpowering. The glazed carrots was crisp and sweet,  the potato foam was creamy like melted mozzarella cheese, and together with the cous cous they all gave complexity and different textures to the dish. The only issue I had with the dish was that the meat was just a little bit too salty. 

The 7th course. Dessert. Green Tea Cake Ala Tropicale. By Rinrin Marinka - Artistic Chef.

I always love a good green tea cake and this was not an exception. Dessert is my favorite part of a menu and I'm always looking forward to a good dessert, so my expectation was high. Fortunately, this dessert didn't disappoint. I really enjoyed the texture of the cake. The outer layer was crispy and the cake center was well balanced. Not too moist, not too dry. I was afraid that the cake was gonna fall apart as I sliced the cake  through the hard shell of the outer layer to the cushy center, but it didn't. The presentation was beautiful, however it could definitely do with a few components off the plate. The mango and the baked apple didn't add anything, if anything they just shifted the focus away from the much more essential components. The passion fruit jus, on the other hand, was brilliant. It provided just the right acidity and refreshing touch to make this dish truly Ala Tropicale. And the green tea powder just further accentuated the flavor which was exquisite.

Again, I must remind you that I didn't think that there was any bad dish. Clearly, a lot of thoughts and efforts were put into creating these dishes. All of them were delicious and I would order any of them again if I go to one of the chefs' restaurant and see it listed on the menu. These are just my subjective opinions based on my personal taste. Maybe you could compare my thoughts with my fellow bloggers' who attended the session with me and form your own conclusion. I'll provide the links to their blogs below.

The atmosphere at the gala dinner.

I would also like to express my gratitude to all the parties involved to make it one memorable evening. Thank you Ismaya,, and Foodtography. We ate, we drank, we learned. And to my fellow bloggers, I had such a nice time with you and it was a pleasure meeting you all. I hope we could meet again in the future and share some more interesting stories about food and writing.

The wonderful chefs who made all the magic happen.

Check out my fellow bloggers:


  1. WOW! This post is definitely something. Like the way you describe the food van. Detailed and drooling at the same time. haha =)

  2. Thank you :) You took really amazing shots of the foods. A picture's worth a thousand words.


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