More Than ‘Just’ a Burger

This is another post from the “Stories from the West” project which I am doing with Dixie. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This month’s topic is “food” and I am sharing some stories about American food. Read Dixie’s here and hope you’ll enjoy our stories! 🙂

To be honest, American food did not appeal to me at first. Although I have visited the country a couple of times as a tourist, I barely ate American food except burgers. I mean I love burger and fries, but they seemed so…. ordinary compared to Asian food! 😛 It took me a while after I moved here to be familiar with more types of American food, and here are some of which I’ve grown to love.

Biscuit and Gravy

A biscuit to me used to be what Americans call a cookie. You know, the crunchy sweet flour-based snack that sometimes comes with a variety of fillings, strawberry jam or vanilla icing. In America, a biscuit is a flour-based dish with a softer texture, similar to bread, mostly unsweetened and normally eaten for breakfast, or as a side dish for your meal. Confused? I was too!

I had my first bite of a biscuit when I was eating breakfast with the family in a classic American diner. I ordered American breakfast – described as eggs (your style), pancakes, hashbrown and sausage/bacon. What I didn’t realize is that the meal came with a side dish – biscuits or English muffin. Here’s what it looks like.

The gravy here is actually different than the brown gravy that I knew. The gravy is made of milk and has a more creamy texture than the brown gravy. Besides being served at breakfast, biscuit and gravy is also a perfect companion for a Southern-style fried chicken meal. Anyway, I’ve grown to love them so much that I can eat them anytime. 😛

Fried Chicken Meal

Speaking of fried chicken…. the first thing that I can think of is KFC. Yes, it is an American fast-food chain, but in Indonesia, I was so used to eating KFC with rice – it’s just the best. Here, fried chicken is commonly eaten with fries, biscuits (yes!), macaroni and cheese, corn, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw. I mean, you can choose one, two or all side dishes mentioned… it’s your call :))

Image source: https://www.kfc.com

Barbeque

Barbeque is used to describe a kind of meat cooking technique, which is over a fire. This is surely my favorite American food, well I’m a meat eater so it’s only predictable 😛 There are several barbeque styles, which vary by state. I am yet to try all kinds of barbeque style, but so far I love Texas bbq, especially the beef brisket. (In LA you need to try SLAB and if you were to visit San Diego, Phil’s BBQ is your go-to place).

Pies

Since I spent a year in England, when I think of Pies I think of savoury pie – chicken pie, beef pie, or shepherd’s pie. But here in America, when you hear people talk about pies, it’s usually the sweet one.

Think of apple pie, blueberry pie, key lime pie… and the list is endless because you can actually put any fruits/jam that you can think of! Pies are commonly eaten as a dessert, especially during a celebration, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you asked me, I still prefer savoury pie over sweet pie, but of course, I can’t say no to a warm apple pie! 😀

By now I have listed a couple of American foods that I like. Now if you ask me, so what do Americans eat on a daily basis? Actually, since I am living in California which is a melting pot of cultures, people here eat a lot of food from different countries – primarily Mexican and Asian food. However, if I were to answer that question only with American food, I think this should give you a good picture.

Breakfast

Like I mentioned above, a typical American breakfast that you can order in restaurants consists of eggs, sausage/bacon, hashbrown, pancakes, and a side dish of biscuit/toast/English muffin. Sounds a lot? Well, they said breakfast is the most important meal of the day! But actually, breakfast at home is not that fancy – We usually eat cereal, toast, or pancakes/waffles.

Lunch

Based on my observation so far, Americans don’t usually eat a lot during lunch. Sandwich is a common meal – I guess it’s quick and simple because most of us are busy during lunchtime. A typical sandwich that you make at home would have deli meat, cheese, and lettuce, eaten (mostly) cold or hot. I also see that most restaurants here offer lunch specials during lunchtime. It is basically a smaller portion of their main course menu, which comes at a lower price.

Image source: https://www.usda.gov

Dinner

Dinner is the time where families gather and eat together. This is where each household would serve a full meal. It is common to eat meat like steak or meatloaf, with salad and potatoes. Come to think of it again, a lot of American food that I see are influenced by other cultures. For example, mac and cheese is a dish that is influenced by Italian pasta, while Fajitas (also a common dinner menu) is influenced by Mexican food.

So… turns out that American food is more than just burgers and fries! 😀 Food here comes with a lot of influence from other cultures especially in a diverse state like California. But still, there are noticeable features that make American food unique. There is a lot of other American food that I am yet to try, especially local delicacies that vary by state. Now tell me, which of the food I mentioned above that you would like to try the most? 🙂

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DON! DON! Pondok Indah

That one Saturday afternoon, I was doing some errands in Pondok Indah area when I found this restaurant, located almost hidden in Pondok Indah Plaza 2.

You can instantly tell that DON! DON! is a Japanese restaurant just by looking at its door. They placed a menu board outside the door so potential guests can have a peek at their menu, and that’s exactly what I did.

Continue reading “DON! DON! Pondok Indah”

Not Your Ordinary Burger Place

A couple of months back, there’s a viral video floating around my Facebook timeline about a new concept of McDonalds, called McDonalds Next. Located in Hong Kong, it was said to be the first in the world, one of a kind.. and this is the kind of news that would excite my brother and I 😀

So it’s very much predictable that we put McDonalds Next in our itinerary. It is located in Admiralty MTR station, which is just 1 station away from Wan Chai – where we were staying. So, we went there for dinner on our second day.

Continue reading “Not Your Ordinary Burger Place”

Holy Smokes! 

That Tuesday was not an ordinary one. I had two meetings in two different locations; each far from each other. Knowing Jakarta and its traffic, you must imagine that it was not a pleasant day for me. At first. Not until I managed to reach Jl. Wolter Monginsidi despite its dreadful traffic to eat at this newly opened restaurant.

Yep, Holy Smokes is located at the corner of Jl.Wolter Monginsidi, very close to KFC. With the undergoing construction, that road is hell-ish during weekdays, especially dinner time. It took me 2,5 hours to get there from Gatot Subroto area. Crazy right?

So, I arrived there feeling cranky and very tired. I greeted my friend who have waited an hour for me (sorry!), and she told me to order at the cashier counter. I was then greeted by a friendly staff and browsed the menu.

Menu board

The Menu

The counter

My choice that night was Brisket and Ribs Dinner combo for IDR 150K. It includes 1 slice of brisket, 1 piece of rib bone and 2 sides. I chose Mac & Cheese and Homecut fries for the sides. I also ordered bottomless softdrinks for IDR 22. Overall it was a quite pricey dinner for just myself, but I decided to give my bank account (and tummy, of course) a break that night.

They told me to wait at my table and come back when my food’s ready, so I did, with high expectation. In between waiting an chatting with my friend, I managed to snap these pictures:

Smoky BBQ Sauce

Refillable drinks counter

Sitting area

Finally, after around 15 minutes of waiting, my food was ready!! I was called using a remote buzzer and made my way to the pick up counter immediately after it buzzed. I was so excited! (mainly because I was hungry hahaha).

My food was ready!

My meal that night ❤

Ooooh~

Judging only by the looks, the meal looked very promising. The meat looked tender and juicy. Even the sides looked appetising. Guess what, MY MEAL WAS BOMB. Sooooo goood! Like predicted the meat was juicy, perfectly smoked. The BBQ taste was apparent in the perfect amount. Not too heavy, not too soft. So far the best BBQ joint in Jakarta, a decent substitute to Phil’s BBQ in California.

Holy Smokes
Jl. Wolter Monginsidi No. 27
Jakarta 12180
(021) 722 1795

*opens daily from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm

Super Steak

Hidden in a residential area in South Jakarta, lies a restaurant which sells nothing but steak, called Super Steak!

The restaurant is located in someone’s garage, it has nothing much to offer in terms of the place – no fancy interior, plush sofas, not even AC! It offers only basic tables and chairs, around 20 seating maximum. But, don’t be fooled by the minimal interior.. what they offer is, perhaps, one of the best steak I’ve tasted in town!

There’s nothing much written in the menu, no fancy names, no extravagant dish name – to order, simply pick your type of meat (Angus, Super black angus, or local prime) and pick your choice of flavor.. now about the flavor. They have 8 choices of flavor ranging from butter garlic to beerloin(!!!).

I went there my mum and brother, each of us ordered different flavors of steak. Mine was sirloin angus 200gr with lemon herbs flavor. My brother ordered the same sirloin but with lemon herbs part II flavor, pictured below. What’s with the part II? so.. while the original lemon herbs “only” has, well, like its name, lemon and herbs.. lemon and herbs part II has also olive oil and extra fresh herbs under the steak.. which makes it more flavorful and juicy! I personally think that lemon herbs part II is better than the lemon herbs.

Super Steak

Just look at the picture above.. that’s the lemon and herbs part II steak. Trust me it tastes as good as it looks! What I also like about Super Steak is the fries. Big, chunky fries, which looks like it’s freshly cut. Not the frozen fries that we often get when ordering steak nowadays.

I’m definitely coming back (still want to try the beerloin.. hehehe), and I think you should try it out (if you haven’t)!

Super Steak
Jl. Dempo 1 no 76 kebayoran baru
Jakarta
Phone 021 – 7236945

The US Trip: Food Fiesta!

This is the eighth post of ” The Us Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

In this post, I will simply list down the best restaurants and food joints I visited during my trip to the West Coast! Enjoy 🙂

KogiKing BBQ

I visited KogiKing right after I landed in LA. In fact, it was my first meal after more than 10 hours flight. I’m already a big fan of meat and Korean BBQ, plus I was so hungry and tired from the long journey, so I was so excited when I found out that this restaurant offers all you can eat buffet! I actually forget how much did it cost per person, but I’m sure it’s below $20. I think it’s somewhere between $15-18, which I think is a very good deal considering it would normally cost me around $15 when I eat Korean BBQ in Jakarta (not all you can eat). If you’re into meat, this is a must visit as they serve high-quality meat. If you still have some room in your tummy for side dish, do try their kimchi “lunch box” which I supposed resembles old school Korean lunch box (not Korean so I’m not sure.. hahaha). Although not my very favorite dish, the lunch box is indeed a unique dish because it’s not common in Jakarta’s Korean restaurants that I’ve been.

kogiking LA
Kogi King!

Fred 62

Still in downtown LA, Fred 62 is a typical American Diner that you’d normally see in the movies. It opens 24 hours every day… in other words, they never close! I visited Fred 62 twice during my stay in LA. The first was for breakfast where me and my friends ordered two of their breakfast menu to be shared (For me, their portion is quite big so it’s safe to share). It was delicioussss!

Big breakfast!
Big breakfast!

Then I came back again a couple days after for a late night snack after going to Local Natives’ concert. This time I had their famous bossa nova waffle. Now I’m talking about serious waffle business here. Their waffle was sooo good, fluffy and crispy at the same time.

Fred 62 waffle
Bossa Nova Waffle

Oh, one other thing! Not only they have excellent food.. Fred 62 is also the location set for Hollywood movie and TV series. You might find it familiar if you have seen the 2009 movie Spread and have been following Dexter the TV series (season 6).

In – N – Out Burger

If the East Coast has the famous Shake Shack burger.. California has In – N – Out! Many foodie articles have mentioned that this joint is one of the must visits when you’re in California. I had Animal Style burger PLUS a vanilla Milkshake. Classic American style burger, a total yummmm! 🙂

In N Out!
In N Out!

Umami Burger

Another burger joint, this one serves more fancy and unique menu. One of the must try is their truffle burger – with truffle cheese and truffle glaze. However, since I visited their Santa Monica branch, I tried the branch’s specialty instead – Oxtail Burger. It’s basically a beef burger with shredded oxtail and truffle cheese topping, which was soooo gooood. If I told you that In – N – Out is a total yum, this one too! They can’t actually be compared, both has different taste. But let me put it this way, try In – N – Out for a classic American burger, but don’t forget Umami for a feast of toppings.

Umami Burger
Umami Burger

Pampas Grill

Now this is another meat joint. Located inside LA’s farmers market, they serve Brazillian BBQ  by the pound. I can’t say much about this place except they offer one of the best meats I’ve tasted. Sooo juicy, with affordable price 😀

Pampas Grill
Meat Frenzy at Pampas Grill – Farmers Market

NBC Seafood Restaurant

Though it is originally a chinese – seafood restaurant, I visited only for their dimsum. Dimsum is only served there from 8AM – 3PM. Since they are quite famous in LA’s chinese food scene, be prepared to queue when you’re going there. The queue will be worth it though, they serve an extensive selection of yummy dimsum..

Dimsum
Dimsum Galore at NBC

Now, the next restaurants will not have any pictures simply because I forgot to take some. Hahaha. But keep reading, There are more yummy restaurants still to be reviewed 🙂

Gyutan Tsukasa 

Located inside Mitsuwa Marketplace in Costa Mesa – Orange County, they serve the BEST beef tongue plate that I’ve ever tasted. It is juicy, tender, and very flavorful. Beef tongue is getting more and more popular in Jakarta’s Japanese food scene and I can tell you that no one tops Gyutan Tsukasa so far.

Phil’s BBQ

This restaurant is originally located in San Diego. I did not get the chance to visit San Diego though, but I managed to visit their San Marcos branch. Serving American classic BBQ, their ribs is to die for!!! It is voted top 10 restaurants in San Diego, so be prepared to queue. Don’t worry, the queue will be worth it!

The Kickin’ Crab

Serving Cajun style seafood.. this is truly the place to have seafood fiesta. Their specialty is the seasonings, and I had the Kickin Style – Extra Mild (Hahaha.. I can’t eat spicy food). Basically you pick your seafood of choice, pick one of the available seasonings and your spice level. They have Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Louisiana, Garlic Butter, and last but not least.. Kickin Style, which is a mix of  all the mentioned seasonings. You can also choose some extras, and I would recommend you to choose corn on the cob and garlic noodles for a different experience of eating seafood.

Native Foods

If you have been reading this post and my blog.. you’d know that I’m no Vegetarian nor Vegan. However, my boyfriend successfully persuaded me to visit this restaurant – a Vegan restaurant. At first I felt hesitant, because I’ve never tasted Vegan food before, nor am I used to the lifestyle. But I finally visited just out of curiosity… and I have to say that the food was delicious! It might not be my favorite food… but it’s nice to visit for a different experience 🙂 P.S – don’t worry if you’re a first timer like me, their staffs are very friendly and would gladly recommend you some options that will suit first timers like us!

So, that’s it! I hope I can give you some ideas to visit if you happen to be around Los Angeles… 🙂

The Croissant Quest! [1]

I love Croissant!
I think my love for this yummy buttery pastry first started when I lived in Bournemouth. There was this small French bakery near the town centre which I often visit – and even though I had eaten croissant before, the croissant there was the most delicious that I’ve ever had!

Now, as I am back living in Jakarta, I often feel the crave for good croissant. It’s not a hard thing to find a bakery/cafe which sells one, because croissant is such a common menu in bakeries/cafes. BUT… not everyone can make a good one. Especially in here in Jakarta.

So, I’m doing a croissant quest! I’ll review as many as possible in my quest of finding the best croissant in town.

Let’s start with PAUL Patisserie. This bakery is located in Pacific Place, Jakarta Selatan. This one is a renowned bakery from Europe, and I am already familiar with their hot chocolate which I often bought when in London. Here, the croissant is priced at IDR 18k. It looks ordinary, altough seems perfectly baked. But, it tastes good – crunchy and crispy outside yet moist inside. It’s quite buttery too, and I like it for that. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

20140226-235946.jpg
Paul’s Croissant – dine in

However…. I actually bought two of them , 1 left intentionally to be eaten the next day for breakfast. What happened was really surprising though. The croissant became SUPER EXTREMELY MOIST AND BUTTERY  – I have to use capslock so that you can get a sense of how good it was. Really, I died and went to croissant heaven. Try it for yourself, buy the croissant, leave it overnight in your cupboard and eat it without reheating it the next morning. SUPER DELISH. I give it 5  out of 5 stars!

Paul
Paul’s Croissant – the morning after!

Conclusion: Paul’s croissant tastes SO MUCH BETTER when left overnight – it deserves 5 stars, no doubt about it.

See you on the next Croissant Quests!