This is a terrific city for eating out. There are seriously stylish restaurants with international menus in the upmarket enclaves of southern Jakarta like Kemang and excellent inexpensive food courts in the dozens of malls spread throughout the city.
Tasty street grub is everywhere, but one excellent hot spot is Jl Pecenongan, where there's everything from sate babi (pork sate) to fresh seafood. It's about 500m north ofMonas.
And if you just can't face one more bowl of nasi goreng, don't fear, as there's a cosmopolitan choice of exotic cuisine - including Mexican, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern places.
Jalan Jaksa Area
Jl Jaksa has a decent selection of backpacker-geared cafes and a few more authentic places. Breakfasts are often very good value.
KL Village : Deservedly popular new Malaysian place with pavement tables under a covered terrace. Offers great curries (try the kambing masala), Western food, terrific juices and fruit shakes (but no beer).
Memories : Classic Jaksa haunt of fresh-in-town backpackers and seen-it-all expats. There's plenty of Chinese food, set breakfasts (from 19,OOORp), a book exchange and CNN on round the clock. It even has a few budget rooms upstairs.
Blueberry Pancake House : Below the Cipta hotel, this smart little restaurant is good for Indonesian food, pasta and snacks at moderate prices and offers a welcome air-conditioned retreat from Jaksa's steamy streets. The pancakes are only so-so, though.
Sate KhasSenayan: Excellent two-storey air-con restaurant at the northern end of Jl Jaksa, renowned for its superb sate, rawon buntut (oxtail stew) and other classic Indonesian dishes.
ShanghaiBlue1920: A five-minute walk from the northern end of Jaksa, two fine restaurants occupy the same historic building. Downstairs, Shanghai Blue serves masakan peranakan (Chinese and traditional Indonesian cuisine) in a large room dripping with furniture and artefacts rescued from an old Batavia tea house.
G3HB Samarra : The upstairs option has an intimate opium-den atmosphere, with secluded tables, subtle lighting, oriental antiques and a great outdoor terrace (with DJs spinning lounge and house music on weekends). The food here encompasses flavours from the Middle East, Indonesian classics and some of the most creative salads in town.
Also worth a try:
Pappa Kafe:Offers travellers' fare at fair rates under fairy lights. Popeye's flies the flag for junk-food fetishists, serving an assortment of deep-fried fish and chicken.
Kota, Sunda Kelapa & Glodok
Santong Kuo Tieh 68 : For fried or steamed Chinese pork dumplings, look no further than this humble but highly popular little place; you'll see cooks preparing them out front. The bakso ikan isi (fish balls) are also good.
VOC Galangan : Occupying the premises of a beautifully restored ware-house that dates back to 1628, this is a fabulously atmospheric cafe - enjoy a drink or meal inside the beamed interior or on the terrace, which overlooks a grassy courtyard where there's a vintage car and horse-buggy carriage. Manager Derek Courbois runs a tight ship, and prices are very reasonable for dishes Ifcegado gado (13,500Rp) given the setting.
Cafe Batavia : An essential visit if you're in Kota, this historic restaurant sits pretty, overlooking Taman Fatahillah. Its teak floors and art deco furniture make a richly atmospheric setting, though the menu is overly grandiose and seems to be stuck in 1970s nostalgia. As it's often woefully empty you may opt to have a coffee or a cocktail instead.
Cikini & Menteng
Vietopia : Authentic Vietnamese food, including steaming pho noodle broth, and plenty of delicious chicken, beef and seafood mains - green papaya with shrimp is gorgeous. All dishes are moderately priced and delicately spiced and the surroundings are very attractive, with Zen-influenced minimalist decor and bamboo plants.
EBES3 Lara Djonggrang : An attractive selection of dishes from around the archipelago, stunning decor that mixes traditional Indonesian flair with North African charm, atmospheric lighting and a great wine list make this one stunning place to eat.
Lan Na Thai/Hazara/EI Wajh : This four-in-one venue (Face Bar, see pi 12, is also located here) is great for North Indian food, including wonderful tandoori choices in Hazara, exquisite Thai cuisine in Lan Na Thai and delectable Moroccan dishes in El Wajh.
In addition to the following upmarket places Kemang has a couple of excellent food courts. The best of these is the huge Kemang Food Festival, which has 50 or so stalls rustling up roti canai (Indian-style flaky flat bread), Japanese noodles, and Iranian, Arabic and Indonesian food. On weekend nights there's a real buzz here and the place is crammed. Over the road, the smaller Kemang Food Square also has stalls.
WWWok : Cafe-bar-restaurant with a really relaxed boho vibe that's popular with a freelance media crowd and students. There are plenty of sofas and space, pool tables and a menu of Chinese and Indonesian faves.
Payon : This feels like secret garden, as you dine under a delightful open pagoda set well off the road and surrounded by greenery. Payon is a very civilized setting for authentic Javanese cuisine.
Casa : Stylish, modern cafe-restaurant with large plate-glass windows overlooking the happening Kemang strip. There's always a buzz about this place, with quality lounge music and a straightforward menu of pizza, grilled meats, pasta and salads.
Anatolia : Authentic Turkish cuisine with an exceptional choice of mezze (including dozens of veggie dishes), succulent lamb and chicken kebabs andpide (Turkish-style pizza). Belly dancers strut their stuff here on Friday and Saturday night.
Kinara :The mock medieval doors guarding Kinara lead to an opulent interior of grand arches that's an impressive setting for some of the finest Indian dishes in Jakarta - plump samosas, sublime chicken tikka and plenty of vege-tarian choices.
Toscana : Elegant Italian place renowned for its pizzas (baked in a wood-fired oven) and great fish dishes (try the John Dory with red-pepper puree). Also boasts a good selection of Tuscan wines.
Blowfish : Blowfish has a new location in Kuningan, situated 3km north of Kemang, but the quality of its Japanese cuisine (the sushi and sashimi here is sea spray-fresh) remains unchanged. Or if that doesn't tickle your tuna, you can head over to Puro (under the same management) for gourmet Italian food. Both of these places have contemporary decor, steep prices and gorgeous bar areas and are popular with Jakarta's beautiful crowd.
If you're expecting Jakarta, as the capital of the world's largest Muslim country, to be a pretty sober city with little in the way of drinking culture, think again. Bars are spread throughout the city, with down-to-earth (and down-at-heel) places grouped around Jalan Jaksa, swish lounge bars concentrated in Kemang and south Jakarta, and many more places in-between, including a strip of expat bars in Blok M (consult www.jakartablokin.com for more on these).
Note that most bars stay open till around lam or 2am, sometimes later on weekends, and all establishments listed under Live Music (opposite) rank highly as drinking spots.
Red Square : A hip, lively and fashionable vodka bar, Red Square has floor-to-ceiling stocks of Russia's favourite tipple. It even has a walk-in freezer for knocking back slam-mers. There's hip electronic music in the early evening and harder progressive house later on.
Burgundy : One of Jakarta's most upmarket drinking haunts, with spectacularly expensive cocktails, avant-garde decor, a cigar humidor and more beautiful people than you can shake a daiquiri at.
Cork & Screw : Seriously swanky bar-cum-res-taurant with the city's best selection of wine -just choose your vintage from the hundreds of bottles on display. As wine is very heavily taxed in Indonesia, make sure your wallet is suitably stuffed.
Eastern Promise : A classic British-style pub in the heart of Kemang, with a pool table, a wel-coming atmosphere and filling Western and Indian grub. Service is prompt and friendly, the beer's cold and there's live music on weekends. It's a key expat hang-out.
Meliy's : The best bet in the Jaksa area for a couple of drinks, this quirky little place attracts a good mix of locals and Westerners, has cheap snacks and beer (a large Bintang is 22,000Rp), and plenty of loungy sitting areas. It's open-sided (so it doesn't get too smoky) and there's a popular quiz here every Wednesday.
Tabac : Perhaps Jakarta's most unusual bar; the lobby to this place is actually a cigar store, and the bar is located behind a secret entrance (hint: push the door of the telephone kiosk). Inside it's like a private club, all wood panelling and comfortable seating. Pricey (a small Bintang is 40,000Rp) and draws a good mix of locals and expats.
The following restaurants also have great bars:
BloWfish : A very happening and exclusive bar where DJs spin the latest club tunes till late.
Cafe Batavia : The place for a cocktail or just a cool Bintang in north Jakarta.
Face Bar :, this hip lounge bar has plenty of subdued reds and dark woods.
Cafe culture has taken off in Jakarta in the last few years and all the malls have a Starbucks or Starbucks-style coffee house selling extortionately priced cappuccinos and lattes. Yet every humble waning in town should be able to rustle up a cup of wonderfully strong Javanese coffee (ask for kopi Java or kopi hitam) for between 2000Rp and 6000 Rp.
Bakoel Koffie : Occupying a fine old Dutch building, this is a really relaxed and atmospheric cafe, with vintage furniture, art on the walls and lots of little corners with Jakartan professionals tapping away on their laptops. Only the finest beans from Java, Sulawesi and Sumatra are used, and snacks and cakes are served.
Jakarta is Indonesia's most broad-minded, sophisticated and decadent city, with the nightlife to match. The club scene can be nothing short of incendiary. Note that things can be a lot quieter during Ramadan.
The live music scene is also vibrant, with grunge, indie and reggae bands par-ticularly popular with Jakarta's thousands of students.
Check the entertainment pages of Time Out Jakarta or Jakarta Kini for films, concerts and special events.
Museum Wayang : holds wayangkulit and golek performances on Sunday between 10am and 2pm.
Taman Ismail Marzuki : TIM is Jakarta's principal cultural centre, with a cinema, theatres (performances include Javanese dance, plays and gamelan concerts), two art galleries and several restaurants in the complex. The tourist office and listings magazines have program details.
Gedung KesenianJakarta :Hosts traditional dance and theatre, as well as European classical music and dance.
Erasmus Huis : This cultural centre holds regular cultural events and exhibitions.
West Pacific : Hosts indie/alternative bands and also has an extensive restaurant menu. It's below Jaya Pub.
BB's: Really popular with students, this scruffy multi-storeyed bar showcases emerging acoustic, blues and reggae bands. Drinks are quite reasonable, especially if you order beer by the pitcher. Friday night is the big night here; entrance is 30,000Rp.
Jaya Pub : This Jakarta institution has been around for more than 30 years and isn't showing signs of slowing down. Expect an older crowd and live bluesy rock performers.
Nine Muses flub : Upmarket European-style bar-restaurant where the jazz artists, pianists and Latin bands draw an older crowd.
Jakarta is the clubbing mscca of Southeast Asia. The city has some great venues (from dark 'n' sleazy to polished and pricey), internationally renowned DJs, world-class sound systems and some of the planet's longest party sessions (some clubs open around the clock for the entire weekend!). Entrance is typically 50,000Rp to 80,000Rp but includes a free drink. Clubs open around 9pm, but they don't really get going until midnight; most close around 4am.
Centra :A huge club that attracts international DJs on a regular basis.
Embassy : One the most respected clubs in the city, its three levels include the main room for house and R&B, and the basement for techno and tribal sounds.
Stadium : The big daddy of Jakarta's scene, this club has the heritage (established in 1997), the reputation (DJs including Sasha and Dave Seaman have spun here), the capacity (around 4000), the sound system and the crowd. There are four levels, but the main room is where the prime dance-floor action is - a dark, cavernous space of pounding beats full of clubbers in sunglasses. This ain't no disco - alcohol is not the drug of choice, and Stadium has a distinctly underground vibe. Its weekend session is totally hardcore - beginning on Thursday evening and running until Monday morning.
X2 :Huge upmarket club with futuristic lighting, three dance zones (house and R&B/hip hop and trance/progressive sounds) plus a cocktail lounge. Entrance is a hefty 100.000Rp on weekend nights.
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