I rarely go to Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK) area because it's incredibly far, >30 kilometers away from where I live. I know it's a food paradise with dozens of restaurants trying to outshine each other along the main boulevard itself, which becomes the main thing that attracts people to come. One of the hidden gems is Gastro Alley. So when Ruby from Wanderbites who happens to know the Head Chef personally, arranged a private tasting for us to taste the newest Chef's take on modernist cuisine, I nearly jumped with joy!
So on a bright Saturday afternoon, I teamed up with Mullie & her husband from My Fun Food Diary, Jenifer from Shoegarmama, Imelda Budiman, Eddy from Eshtravaganza, and Prawnche from Food Venturer; and prepared ourselves for an epic modern cuisine tasting journey. Modern cuisine, is just another humbler term for molecular gastronomy, a field that pretty much involves the science of contemporary cooking.
In short, non-scientific ways; it's simply an art on your plate.
Let me take you through our beautiful 7-course meal (drinks excluded), which some of them also acted as new menu previews so they might start serving them to public soon enough:
1. SIGNATURE SALADE
It all started with a simple, fresh, signature salad. A typical Mesclun mix of assorted salad leaves, with balsamic vinegar dressing. Veggies were fresh, and dressing's well balanced but don't cover most of the plate. Also, for IDR 39k I strongly think that it needs more protein, definitely more than 1 tiny half piece of hard-boiled quail egg.
The thing that's kind of new to me was the exceptionally crunchy Parmigiano Reggiano disc (the circle thingy shown on the pic above, turns out to be cheese cracker! LOVE.), and the scattered black crumbs. I couldn't figure out what it was, so I wrote a question in my judging panel sheet:
And few hours later I got the answer via email, from the (too) kind Chef:
The black-coated crispy crumbs are made of dehydrated black olives. We're using a dehydrator to dry our fresh black olives then blitz it using immersion blender to make coarse crumb with texture like soils.
Awesome. I didn't think that he would actually answer my question. Instant-reply rocks!
Second course still belongs to appetizer section. We had escargot poached on top of bed of gremolata and crumbs. Gremolata is basically chopped herb condiment that is typically made using garlic, parsley and lemon zest. This helps a lot to cover whatever smell the snails might release, so yes, this tasted quite well-balanced, although I think the lemon gives too much extra acidic flavor. But IDR 53.000 for a portion with super generous escargot in it, it was well worth the price.
3. GASTRO BURGER
Third course, was a gourmet burger. Overall it was good enough, but I've had better. It has nice and fluffy bun, beef patty that just melts in your mouth, fresh veggies, regular fries, and standard plating. But did you notice? It only has ONE onion ring on the side. I nearly thought someone took the rest of it when I was busy taking pics of other food, lol. I asked again on the sheet, and turns out they said it was intentional:
The onion ring is actually not as a main item, that is why we put only one, only to burst flavors of the meat since meat goes very well with the sweet taste & tangy flavor from the onion itself.
I actually protested because there was 8 of us and we had to split it accordingly :p Yes, I'm a sucker for onion rings I can munch dozens at a time; that's why.
4. NORWEGIAN SALMON
Now we're talking main course. There were two. Both of the main courses haven't made it through the public menu yet, and we're lucky enough to be among the first customers to try them out. First one is Norwegian Salmon done two-ways, baked with crumbs and pan-seared until the outer skin gets crisp, placed surrounding some kind of potato stack with hashbrown-like texture and chunky vegetables on top. You will also see the repetitive usage of both scattered edible "soils" made of dehydrated olives, and then bubbly foam. I was kinda intrigued with the foam, so under the 'Plating' section on my sheet, I asked about them too:
The bubble you were asking for was actually foam made of freshly skimmed milk, thyme, tarragon and we adding some texturas called Lecite du soja, and voila! you got a soap like foam :)
Then I googled, obviously because I'm not sure what he's talking about, lol. Texturas are all about emulsification family, it allows to obtain light and airy texture - which explains the soap-like foam. Lecite du soja itself is the French word for natural emulsifier made from soya lecithin, ideal for the development of air. (I conclude things my own, so if you think this was the wrong explanation, please let me know in comments!). But in the end it all comes down to the taste. Salmon's good enough, although I think it'd be more perfect if cooked one minute less. Potato, which first I thought was pastry, was nicely done!
5. ARTISAN SIRLOIN
Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Right until the moment where this dish was plated right in front of us, I remember I was still shocked in awe just by looking at it. If I didn't mention Sirloin, you might have thought that this was Seared Ahi Tuna!
Some comments from the chef Bernhart Denny Sumarko himself:
One of the most inspiring dish I did during my training period to prepare a world cooking competition called Bocuse d'Or, thanks for the compliment and likes. I guess you got it all what's in this plate.
It wasn't just a beautiful plating, I see so much technique were poured into it as well. To achieve sirloin steak with this level of tenderness and with that redness beauty, they use cooking technique called sous-vide. The meat is sealed in an airtight plastic bags in a water bath for certain period of time, at an exact regulated temperature which usually lower than normal cooking. After that, it only needs to be pan-seared for few short minutes to achieve that charred outer color, and then to be finely seasoned with coarse sea-salt and pepper.
Just look at it! So many bright colors which really brings my appetite. Plated so beautiful that gives surprise in every bite. Who would have thought that they stuffed so many interesting things inside the vegetables? Leeks filled with meat ragout, tomato stuffed with.. honestly, I don't know. This dish was clearly a winning dish for me. If it were Masterchef I'd probably give it 10 out of 10.
6. TRUFFLE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
First comment would be like:
Are they plating it on a piece of broken tile? It's genius!
And then when we actually looked closer, we were like:
Wait, is that... chili powder on top of the chocolate truffle?
Yes. Just who would thought combination of chocolate, chili, and raspberry just... works. The truffle ganache has a very delicate texture, you can fork them along with the white chocolate crumbs & raspberry sauce altogether with no hassle. The addition of two tuile(s) also gave a great finishing look. Overall it's truly an unique experience, since it's my first time eating chocolate with chili.
7. DECONSTRUCTED LEMON CUSTARD
Meet the last dessert. Both desserts were contested in Food & Hotel Indonesia Expo 2013 -and sorry I forgot which one - wins the title for the Dessert competition. This was another brilliant creation, because it's basically lemon custard pie broken down to pieces. You can see all the elements: crumbs that supposedly acted as pie crust, lemon custard filling, and sour lemon drops. The only thing I regretted was that when it came to our table, it's not that cold anymore. I just wished it were refrigerated a bit longer, then it would be a perfect dessert for me since I'm more of a lemon girl than chocolate girl ;)
We had two drinks selection named Seaweed and Rose Shandy. Seaweed is a creation from their mixologist, made with Blue Curacao + Lemon juice + Peach syrup + Peach on a stick (so after all there were no actual seaweeds, haha). It's super refreshing, but mine lacks some ice so it gets too sweet at the bottom. Rose Shandy, it's a sweet beer made of beer + rose syrup with cherry at the bottom of the glass. I'm guessing that the temperature in PIK was too hot that day, that everything they serve chilled, was not cold enough for me. Everything needed to be refrigerated longer ;p
So that's a wrap. I'm glad I made a trip to PIK and greeted with beautiful looking foods and warm hospitality. If someday it opens in central or south Jakarta area, they would definitely attracts more customer because I don't think lots of people go to PIK for semi-fine dining that comes along with quite hefty price tag compared to other restaurants on the boulevard area. But I can tell that the chef(s), both Chef Darmawan and Chef Denny, have a really great passion towards creating a beautiful presentable meal.
Give it a try when you're near PIK area and looking for some western style cuisine!
Ruko Crown Golf Blok D No.23, Bukit Golf Mediterania
Pantai Indah Kapuk, North Jakarta
(On the same row with Ikkudo Ramen)