East meets West as a concept sounds cliche — overused in the truest sense — but in this case it is an intriguing venture, an opportunity to enjoy a sumptuous range of Southeast Asian food in a very French-inspired ambience.
Hotel Mulia Senayan in South Jakarta provides the venue for such a nostalgic adventure with their newly opened restaurant “Orient8″.
Occupying what was the Samudra Suki, Orient8 serves not only Thai, Vietnamese and Singaporean but also mouthwatering French cuisine, ranging from Traditionnelle Soupe a Poignon (French onion soup with gruyere croutons), Salade de Crabe au Melon Phillipon (Dungenes crab salad with French melon) to Tournedos rossini (grilled beef tenderloin with pan-seared duck liver).
The adventure kicks off as soon as one steps inside as stacks of antique-looking travel bags are right at the door, as if to state that the journey is about to begin.
Inside the 715-square-meter restaurant, Buddha statues are on display, together with funny Mao Zedong and Napoleon photographs. The tables and dining sets were especially made to look classic.
Oriental and classical music played alternately. Portions are geared to the individual — rather smallish — to ensure the diner’s culinary journey is one of careful and appreciative tasting.
“…and also to encourage them to order more,” hotel spokesman Adeza Hamzah quipped. He was speaking during a quick tour for journalists Tuesday.
Orient8 seats 240. Those who want more privacy can opt to dine in one of three private rooms — the Louis, Marie or Coco, Adeza said. The Louis, inspired by King Louis XIV of France, has a capacity of 20. The Marie (from Marie Antoinette) has the same capacity, but can be partitioned for a smaller group. The Coco (Chanel) will seat 40.
Each room is distinctively designed. While the Louis is more dark and masculine, the Marie leans toward femininity. The backs of the chair are accented with light blue since “Marie was known to be a lover of the color blue,” said the hotel’s communications director Romy Herlambang.
The Chanel-designed Coco room displays cover pages of old Le Petit Journal on one of its walls.
The restaurant seems to be serious about taking its customers on a journey. A set menu named “8 on 8″, for example, changes everyday so no one knows what he/she will have when ordering. “It’s a surprise,” Adeza said.
But for Tuesday’s tour, the journalists were having shrimp mousse on sugarcane, spring roll with beef and crispy vermicelli for appetizer. After that, they could opt for the Vietnamese “Pho” soup, Chinese clear soup or Thai hot Tomyam soup. With small individual portions and of a delicious taste, the food disappeared quickly. The main course was Vietnamese Hanoi grilled fish, Thai prawn curry and French beef with red wine, with crunchy cake for dessert.
The Orient8 is indeed vying to deliver to its diners a sensational “Memory of a Journey” experience. It’s always in the eye of the beholder when it comes to taste buds but this one is on the record — on the record — the Thai prawn curry is quite a kick that might send me back there again — and again.
Hotel Mulia Senayan
Jl. Asia Afrika, South Jakarta
Tel: (021) 574-7777
#The Jakarta Post’s “On the Town