Dear fellow tasters,
Jakarta, the city that never sleeps or rather the city with the never ending traffic jam, seems to never run out of new cool hip places that never stop popping in every corner. And the latest hippest ‘it’ place in town is none other than Otel Lobby, a culinary and mixology establishment located in the annex building of Bakrie Tower, the architectural icon of Rasuna Epicentrum super block.
The first thing that caught my eyes upon entering Otel Lobby was the huge chandelier hanging in a lobby-like interior (thus the name), complete with standing receptionists, big screen projecting black and white movies and a luggage carrier stacked with suitcases. The ambiance was masculine yet sexy with a sophisticated blend of ping pong lamps, faux fur rugs, leather couches, and other details.
With the ‘locavore’ concept, Otel Lobby brings an innovative twist to Indonesian and international cuisines by using more local ingredients in their recipes. The menu is not very extensive but from my two visits there, I’d say I was quite impressed by the quality and consistency.
The first visit was an afternoon stop with some food bloggers to try and share several menu items. We ordered three dishes but the highlight was definitely the beef wellington. The juicy tenderloin steak and mushroom duxelle wrapped in soft puff pastry was simply delicious. An example of the use of local ingredients in the menu was probably in the use of ‘emping’ for crackers in the OTL meatballs which we found to be quite enjoyable. We also shared a lemon and pear souffle for dessert and it tasted pleasant although still a bit runny.
But what I want to elaborate more is the second visit from a dinner invitation, with Erza S.T., Ve Handojo and several food enthusiasts where we had a chance to meet the head chef and co-owner of Otel Lobby, Maya Aldy, who is very humble and passionate about food, cooking, and her work. That evening, we were generously presented with a sort-of informal degustation dinner, of which some items were not in the menu and were specially prepared for us.
We started off with tuna crudo with beets cooked in three ways, balsamic vinegar and fried shallot, a light and delightful appetizer. Then, two items from the bar menu followed, the wagyu spring roll and the mini version of the OTL duck bun. Both were very tasty and biting one piece surely made me want to grab another. Then, we continued with homemade squid ink malfatti with shrimp, chili and squid ink crumb. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and well-seasoned.
We were served two more main courses, both were modification from the ones on the menu. The pan roasted snapper with corn cooked in three ways and orange marmalade was a hit. It was a great mix of texture with a superb taste from the corn pudding and foam, the crispy skin and the delightful fish. What followed was an unusual but delectable combination of braised shortrib with oyster tempura, homemade kimchi, slow poached egg and rice crisps. The tender shortrib, the crunchy kimchi, the half-cooked egg and the crispy rice were not what would be commonly put together in a plate but somehow it didn’t really need long thinking to just dig in and enjoy the burst of texture and flavor.
I was feeling a bit full after all the scrumptious treats but desserts come in the form of homemade ice cream in different tempting flavors: chocolate, jackfruit, raspberry, pineapple, rum raisin, and many more. I think I ate three cones and uncountable licks of them.
Before, during and after the dinner, we also got to try some of Otel Lobby house cocktails. The fruity uva bella, the shocking burning mandarin with hot chili, the subtle herb’n'bourbon with a nice hint of spice, the manly whiskey-based kudus cocktail, and the sweet but deadly mai tai, were some that I could mention here. Too bad we didn’t get to meet the dashing head mixologist, Ben Browning, but we enjoyed the drinks all the same.
Many thanks to Erza S.T. for organizing the dinner and Maya Aldy for welcoming us warmly. I would conclude by saying that if my blog is titled good food and good friends for good life, then Otel Lobby for me has become a good food, good drinks, good place to have a good time.
“Cooking is a noble act of love.” –Maya Aldy
The taster’s notes:
Favorite dish – beef wellington, squid ink malfatti, pan roasted snapper, braised shortrib
What to try next time – anything from the menu is worth a try
Damage first visit around 60k/pax (3 dishes for 6 people), second visit 0, but get ready to spend 150-300k/pax, add another 100k for cocktail (water is free, by the way)
PS: Unfortunately I couldn’t get decent pics from the dinner, so instead I’m putting nice professional photographs of some of the menu items, all courtesy of Otel Lobby. For more pics from the dinner, do visit blog posts by Mel and Daniel, Jenny, and Ruby.