We’re Jakarta’s first underground restaurant serving home-cooked Dutch comfort food. From…
In the midst of commercial food industry, one idea emerges from Maria Bouma, a thirty something woman from Jakarta who is passionate about food. “A restaurant is good but nothing beats a good home cooked meal,” she says. “Besides, more often than not, a restaurant lacks the personal touch and the ability to mingle and socialize with other patrons. You would usually come with your own friends and family, enjoy the meal you have ordered and then go home. There is not much room for meeting new people.”
So Maria and her Dutch husband came up with the idea of Jakarta Private Dining, using the concept of an underground restaurant which is already known in a few other countries in Latin American, as well as in Canada, Hong Kong, UK and the United States. “It’s between a commercial kitchen and coming to your friend’s place for a dinner party,” Maria explains. Their specialty is Dutch food, and if you can’t guess why then… well I can’t help you there.
They first launched the first dinner event on Saturday, 2 March 2013 at their residence somewhere in South Jakarta. Following the success of the first dinner, they held a second one on the fourth week of March, which I had the opportunity of attending.
As starters, they served Aspergersoep (cream asparagus soup) with choice of garlic bread or croutons. Or both, which I opted for. The soup was very well seasoned, and it had loads of asparagus chunks. I thought the soup could be slightly thicker, but taste wise it should not change much.
The main course was Zuurkoolstamppot met Spek en Rookworst (sauerkraut-mashed potato mix with bacon bits and smoked sausage - kosher version was made available). The zuurkoolstamppot reminded me of the one I had at the Kessels residence on my last night of holiday in Limburg, Netherlands in 2003, the only difference being the overly zealous pepper. The sauerkraut (sour/pickled cabbage) was home-made from scratch and I must give my thumbs up for the result. It was not too sour yet retained sufficient amount of tang to be worthy of its name. The overly zealous pepper was due to a little accident, but they managed to do a good job of damage control so that it was edible, even yummy.
The desert was Tiramisu. It was smooth, fluffy and light. It was not too sweet, which is a good thing especially in a culture where ‘very sweet’ is often preferred and served. It was however milder - therefore very children friendly - than my favourite version by my friend’s wife, which has a stronger coffee and liquor taste. Keep in mind though, that this comment comes from a ‘coffee-crazed alcoholic’. A few words of caution: do NOT breathe in when you put it in your mouth. That’s what I did on my first bite and I paid dearly for it.
All in all, I enjoyed the food not only because it was very palatable, but also for nostalgic reasons. What I thought was missing from the whole menu would probably be some greens, but in general, I had a positive culinary experience.
Atmosphere wise, it was indeed a different experience. I enjoyed the fact that we were all seated with new people. Other than the hosts, there were only two other guests whom I know: an Indonesian woman working for a realty company and another working for one of the most prominent cosmetics manufacturer. The other guests included a British and French engineer, both from an IT, science, engineering and technical consulting company and a Dutch business development adviser from a Paris-based advertising company. As you can imagine, the topics of discussions to choose from were endless.
What I did not enjoy was the many mosquitoes trying to suck me dry. (Note to self: must bring my own mosquito repellent next time). Next time? Yes, I might come back, depending on how much the next event’s menu entices me. :)
So if you’re bored with the usual restaurant atmosphere, would like to meet new people in a safe and friendly environment, and would like to try out some Dutch food, Jakarta Private Dining could be an option. They even offer to host your private dinner party, either at their place or at yours, so do look them up on their Facebook page.