You’re new in Jakarta, you want to try the life here, but the sambal is too hardcore, the traffic is maddening, the culture is from another world, nobody talks about anything interesting, Indonesian Idol is on the air, trashy boybands are worshipped, and in the end it all feels like hell. FRV tells you the secret cure.
Text: Ve Handojo
The place you should head to is called West Pacific. The location is right opposite Jakarta’s sleepless and vibrant melting pot: the good old Sarinah building. Lurking in the parking lot of Gedung Jaya, this be-tagged “coffee and sandwich club” café is waiting for you – the first timers to Jakarta, office workers with tight lunch times and budgets, and intellectual epicureans.
First reason: it serves decent sandwiches with a twist. For beginners to Indonesian cuisine, nasi rendang (fiery-spiced beef over plain rice) may be ten steps too far. But what if the rendang is served with foccacia or croissant? “Hello, I’m spicy, but I come with bread from your homeland.” What a friendly approach. For a level up, go crazier with the ayam rica sandwich – an even hotter fried chicken thanks to the traditional sambal from Manado.
Second: the lunch packages come with a price that wouldn’t require your credit card, even the semi classic or pale silver kind. That’s why every weekday corporate souls come out of their offices, flocking to this stylish “canteen” and where they can bring some clients to impress. “We’re taking you for lunch in a stylish restaurant, West Pacific, and you can order whatever you like on us, because we’re a big company that cares for you,” the traditional story may sound.
Finally, nothing is “cheap” in West Pacific. Jakarta’s best DJ’s spin here to pump up selected crowds – mostly young urbanites from the real bourgeois circles. They make a family of emerging young artists, students with real brains, and beauties with lots of things inside their heads. There’s a corner of good books inside West Pacific. Behind the turntable is a screen big enough for independent movie screenings.
West Pacific holds poetry readings occasionally, and serves stage acts by stand-up comedians. The mini gallery continuously features the works of painters, photographers, video artists, and everybody that fits the category of the “young and twisted” or the “dazed and confused”. Basically, it’s a temple for Andy Warhol.
Fashioned with vintage wooden chairs, and dimly lit by sunset, West Pacific is a place where you can make your own salad and sandwich, sip good coffee in a traditional tubruk way, extend your lunch hour in style, save your money, and chill out ‘till late. They have a word for this kind of place. Clue: the opposite of “hell”.
The Lot, Gedung Jaya parking area
Jl. KH Wahid Hasyim 146