Jakarta is calling

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I suddenly love this bustling city of Indonesia. Beginning to fall in love with Jakarta once again even the numerous times I visited here purely for the nightlife in notorious Kota. I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of me if I were living the sordid lifestyle I had shortly after my stay in Europe. After all, I was a retired circuit party boy.
The first time I visited this city is when I was a little boy, I was 12. My dad is Javanese while my mom is an Arabic descendant. It was vague. I hardly knew any of my relatives in Jakarta or somewhat they have migrated to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore just after the second World War. The city has indeed prospered over the years but it has character.

The second time I was here was for a business trip and the third time I was here was a surprise gift from a good friend as a birthday present. That year, I did not go on a holiday for well over 14 months and he decided that would be a great gesture for me to take a break. Being the workaholic that I am, I only took a short 4 days break to this city of life.

A friend, Jessica took me to this hip and happening café smack in the middle of nowhere. The coffee I must say it’s better than Starbucks. The ambience, people, and the circulation of Indonesians are close-knit culture. Everybody knows everybody. The Indonesians are all about aesthetics. Everything revolves around it. The clothes you wear, the bag you carry, the shoe you wear, the car you are being chauffeur in and the address you lived. The first impression is the only thing you get, made a so-so first impression, forget it. Why are you fat? You are the lazy bottom line. You lazy to do something to yourself, therefore, you’re fat and chances are you are lazy to work or procrastinate a lot of tasks you’re meant to do. So there’s go your future job from a job interview or how rather they would judge you. That’s how it is here. If you’re a good looking girl from a good family background and with a good university, you are most likely to have been pair up with a good husband with family’s wealth. In my opinion… This is how I view it as an outsider into the world of Indonesian’s elite socialites.

And now, I am here again in Jakarta for the wedding of the year at Mulia Hotel at Senayan City. It was grand and it was a night to remember as the Instagram came flooding in at #togijessica hashtag. Here is pretty much like in New York when a girl coming of age is being debut into society with a debutante party. Same goes with announcing of wedding bells across page 6 of the Jakarta Posts. The marriage or rather a business partnerships of the two families are arranged and merged. Forging a fabulous new breed with each generation and so on and so forth.

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Designers Prêt-à-Porter are the quintessential essence of this series of happy events. Pretty much like a red carpet event or a fabulously put together black tie event. The world is of great vast contrasts of the poor and the filthy rich. 

Dessert cafés and hip restaurants are really the deal here. Although back home in Singapore there’s lots of places to eat, in Jakarta it’s a lifestyle. The palate of restaurants that blooms in the city one after another had become a place to be seen and spotted and perhaps being discovered by someone. I enjoyed my brief stay immensely and it was a good getaway from my slightly monotone routine.

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#restaurants #travel #dining #wedding #lifestyle #ootd #designer

Chasing a Michelin Star

I must admit I have a delectable palate and a soft spot for French cuisine. The food movement in Paris is rather relaxed and more spontaneous now rather than conservative. The chance of having the Michelin Star add on to your credentials each year put real pressure on the Chef in question. Food should be served comme il faut, as it should be and the service is done exactly as it should for the time it is being served, it’s kitchen chemistry. The first time ever I dined at the L’Atélier de Joël Robuchon, it was a victory dinner treated by my big boss. It was splendid. Michelin Star dining at its finest.

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Appetizer: Steak Tartar of salmon and trout with caviar with white truffle oil dressing.

Remember Monsieur Bernard Loiseau? The chef who’s afraid of losing his 3 Michelin Star status that he committed suicide by firearm. It happens during a lunch service at his restaurant. He was the most celebrated chef in France. Bernard Loiseau established Bernard Loiseau SA in 1998 and was the first-star restaurateur to establish the concept of having one’s restaurant incorporated and traded. At the time of his death, he was the only French chef traded on the stock exchange. I remember in one of his cooking demonstrations that he prepared frog legs with parsley and garlic purée. That is so French and his oeufs en cocotte is such a classic. Michelin has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of its inspectors. Many of the company’s top executives have never met an inspector. Unlike the food critic for magazines nowadays, most would recognize them as they might have read their editorial intro page complete with a mugshot of their profile photo.

Bernard Loiseau is the only French chef traded on the stock exchange…”

But food should not be so comme il faut as they have seasons and certain ingredients are not always available all year round. The idea of losing his Michelin Star was unbearable for him and it gets into the minds of these chefs and their relentless pursuit to be perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist.

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A mandatory shot before I enter the premises.

“Food should be served comme il faut, as it should be and the service is done exactly as it should for the time it is being served, it’s kitchen chemistry.”

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Me in my Tai Tai get-up hahaha being touristy on set.

I managed to wake up at 4 am in the morning catching an early flight to Hong Kong seeking my Michelin Star. Well, they are serving truffles this season and I have made my reservations 3 months prior well in advance. With my Tai Tai get-up, I am ready to paint Hong Kong town red! Having arrived at the airport at 12 pm in the afternoon, all I wanted to do was sleep in my hotel suite, I was so exhausted. Note to self, no more morning flights please. I have planned my whole holiday around this.

A telephone call rang at my suite sometime next confirming my presence. I delightfully say yes and began to plan my day and my #ootd. When I arrive, I was slightly early and Micheal was to take care of me for the whole haul. He was a fair and handsome Hong Konger that has some French accent when he spoke English. There was something eloquently debonair about him. As soon as I knew that he speaks French I jump at the first opportunity. We converse in French throughout the meal. He was very attentive and he was verbally expressive. I had to cleanse my palate with a glass of champagne before I had my appetizer of steak tartar with caviar and white truffle oil. A main course of canard with foie gras and a bowl of his signature mashed potato with rich French butter and crème fraîche  oh la la… finishing my sweet endings with au chocolat truffles medallion with chocolate sauce so delicately woven like lace on linen over the fudge. To my surprise, I had some candied aniseed coated with gold and silver leaves after dinner with coffee, a sight that I have not seen since I was living in Paris. Mr. Robochon really takes this to the next level. That my friend is a truly classic French dining.

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The open concept kitchen is always non-stop busy.

Having globetrotting around Asia and dine at the various Joël Robuchon brand, I cannot deny that their food is comme il faut (as it should be) and according to a Michelin Star standards. You find perfection in our own ideology that is maintained throughout the brand. It has that certain je ne sais quoi in their foods. For now, Joël Robuchon restaurants is here to stay until someone new is taking over offering a unique plate.

#finedining #travel #hongkong #frenchcuisine #designer #galavanting #française