Jakarta Restaurant Reviews

from Jakarta's very own review ninja.

Nathan Coffee, Plangi Sky Dining, Plaza Semanggi, Jakarta

I have to admit to being in somewhat of a snarky mood when I began this review. Gone was the joi de vivre of the previous review, due to having to drag myself through Plaza Semanggi which for some reason always reminds me of a vertical pasar, rather than a modern mall. It is poky and scuffed and somewhat like one big painted-over crack. Seeing six squillion people queueing in the XL centre, where I needed to go didn’t help my cheeriness.
The section of Plaza Semanggi devoted to the Jakarta Globe offices and Sky Dining above them is a pleasant respite from the rest of the place. Sky Dining, as the name suggests, is the roof area where you can overlook Jakarta as far as the smog allows, while eating, drinking or socialising. Being slapbang in the middle of the city centre, this may not seem terribly appealing, but as the day melts into dusk, Sky Dining has its draws. The brownish-grey sky is streaked with smudges of pink as the sun gives up its relentless attempts to scorch Jakarta for another day. Watching this panorama give way to an encroaching downpour, with tall buildings being swallowed whole in its approach is really quite spectacular. We decided on Nathan Coffee as it seemed quiet, but I almost turned on my heel when the waiter clocked my bule features and said “Club Sandwich, mister” while brandishing the menu at me. I am white – therefore I must want sandwich! Opting to go inside, where you can still appreciate the view in dryness we picked a spot just inside the door with a comfy sofa and armchairs. Upstairs in a gallery, the view from the other side of the building can be savoured in a really cosy seating area, where you could be forgiven for forgetting you were at home (if your home is ten storeys above Jakarta).
So, on to the nosh. I scanned the menu and found nothing that either intrigued me or surprised me. This is something of a fail for me. So I ordered Barbecue Ribs and Mz went for Nasi Panggang, which turned out to be just about as Indonesian as I am. Mozzarella, vegetables, smoked beef and rice are all baked together to form what appeared to be to a carbo-swap lasagna. She wolfed hers down, and was happy enough with the results. I didn’t tell her until afterwards that I thought hers still looked frozen, despite the reassurance of steam coming off it. It had a ‘set’ look, much like a TV dinner. A stir wouldn’t have gone amiss. My ribs arrived and where exactly what they said – ribs. Some meat on those ribs would have been a bonus. And where, oh where did the chef learn that five-spice forms part of a barbecue sauce? The fries were bog-standard stringy 3-minute fries, which go cold in about the same length of time. And did. I fought with it for a while and then gave up.
So we decided just to kick back and chill, with a couple of more drinks. I noticed a poster on the wall saying that on Monday and Wednesday nights, they had an acoustic band from 7pm onwards. This didn’t figure on my radar until they started tuning up. This was semi-acoustic, with the use of amplifiers and didn’t add anything to my relaxation. I have been in a band before and I generally skipped sound checks because I hate the tedious twinging and twanging. My housemate is a big fan of beeps and bleeps ambient weirdness, which generally has no rhyme or reason to it. So having this going on right behind me set my teeth on edge.
The service was fine, with the waitress coping without any unnecessary faffing, and the drinks arriving promptly.
As a place to grab a drink and chill after a hard days shopping in Semanggi (or Pelangi, as the gaul kids call it), this is a nice enough coffee shop that does nothing whatsoever new. Apart from misunderstanding the notion of ‘acoustic’ and meat on barbecue ribs.
I will not be returning on a Monday or a Wednesday. Twannnnnng!
(Being completely honest, the female singer and the guitarist were excellent, despite the music not being my cup of Nathan’s coffee. The male singer uttterly raped ‘Careless Whisper’.)

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May 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. It is, indeed, hard to find a nice place to dine in at Plaza Semanggi. So many Restaurants come and go here but none of them are topnotch! (Even when your mood’s quite good)… :)

    Comment by Great Teacher Onizuka | May 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. Always a pleasure to read your reviews, to be honest I think the snarkier ones are more amusing. There used to be a nice Ramen shop at Semanggi but it seems to have shuttered up…

    BTW, I heard a new Italian restaurant at the new-and-improved- Hotel Indonesia, Casa D’Oro just opened. I’m interested but guessing it’ll be pricey which is fine if the food is a known quanitity… If you wanted to sacrifice your hard-earned rupes to give it a try, I’m sure I and the other guy who reads this blog would appreciate it :)

    Comment by Anonymous | May 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. Would that be Ajisen Ramen? Seems it suffered in the tarting up of that wing of Semanggi. It was nice. Cheap as chips too.

    Comment by Marmalade | May 26, 2009 | Reply

  4. Replaced by the Mushroom Family Restaurant. Perhaps it will reincarnate. Hope so.

    Comment by Marmalade | May 26, 2009 | Reply

  5. Yes, that was the place! Fortunately they opened up a Ramen Sanpachi (sp?) in Pacific Place, it’s quite good to and manages to fulfill my odd ramen craving…

    Comment by Anonymous | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  6. Yep, pelangi sky dining is mostly packed out with ABG (do you know what ABG is??). Not a good place to go if you want a nice quiet dining time..

    "I have been in a band before and I generally skipped sound checks…"
    Seriously?? you were in a band??

    Comment by Dyota | September 5, 2009 | Reply

  7. Yep. Singer. We were mostly awful with a little bit of goodness. But awful would be the best review.

    Comment by Marmalade | September 6, 2009 | Reply

  8. hehe, hard to imagine you singing.. in a band..

    Comment by Dyota | September 6, 2009 | Reply

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