Jakarta: Sari Ratu | Plaza Indonesia

It’s a rice table, is it not?

We didn’t want a repeat of last evening’s mistake – leaving too late, and getting caught in the worst of Jakarta’s notorious jams. So, we decided we’d have an early dinner, to in my mom’s words, “enjoy our hotel room”. I didn’t have a problem with that, although I really wanted to return to H&M’s formal menswear section and buy the entire store (we’re missing this in Singapore!!!) but hey, it was a couple of hundred metres walk away, and I didn’t think my mom would agree to make the trek back again, anyways. For our final dinner in Jakarta, we returned to once again, having Indonesian cuisine.

It’s likely that many non-Indonesians would probably mistake our dinner as rijsttafel, borrowed from the Dutch word that literally translates to “rice table”. Indeed, the meal presentation is very similar, but I suppose the major difference is in its motivation; opulence and indulgence. The Dutch deviced rijstaffel to enjoy Indonesia’s wide repertoire of dishes, as well as to impress onto visitors the exotic abundance of their colony. This however, snapped at Sari Ratu, is something that’s closer to the local variant. It’s nasi padang.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, there are two types of serving for nasi padang. The pesan (ordering), is the one we Singaporeans are most familiar with, and is more common, even within Indonesia. The other, particularly common in dine-in nasi padang restaurants, is the hidang (serve) style, where dishes are served directly to the table. The selection includes a wide variety of small dishes such as curry fish, beef rendang, fried chicken, sambal and begedil. Customers take – and pay for – only what they’ve consumed. That means you can go in, and eat like a pauper, or feast like a king, perhaps unintentionally if you’re unaware of the serving style.

It’s an interesting concept, and I must admit it’s quite fun and communal. The food was really very good, and it was fun to dine amongst the locals.

Sari Ratu’s actually present in Singapore although it’s albeit served in the pesan (ordering) style. According to their Facebook, they’ve one outlet at Pahang Street, and will open a second and third outlet at Lau Pa Sat and Lucky Plaza (damn, seems like Lucky Plaza is the choice mall for Indonesian chains to open their restaurants… Yay, the Indonesians are taking over. For personal reasons, seriously personal – I had a really horrible Filipino maid – I find it very hard to come to terms with having Filipinos within my sight) soon.

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