An Indonesian Affair at Harum Manis

 An Indonesian Affair at Harum Manis

Cranky VE HANDOJO loses his ability to complain when served with Wagyu satay in Harum Manis.

Indonesian “fine dining” has been the hottest trend in F&B in the last few years, so it comes as no surprise that Cassis, the swank and tasty French restaurant in the Pavilion Apartments, decided to open Harum Manis right next door. The man behind Cassis, Chris Janssens, started this next big step two years after Cassis opened, with a big decision — a big kitchen. Among the many Indonesian restaurants, Harum Manis’ kitchen is enormous – meeting the standards of a five star international restaurant. And, I dare to say that size does matter.

Harum Manis hits the right tone right from the welcoming smile. A sudden rush of therapeutic aroma invaded my nose as I walked into the the restaurant post-lunch hour. The waiting lounge, called Pringgitan, is dressed with heavy comfortable couches, artworks, and cute plants. The lobby – good for sixteen people – also serves for a pre-dinner drink.

The first main attraction is Pelataran, or “courtyard”. It is simply a satay bar with an open kitchen and communal seating. It’s a unique experience to order your choice of satay, then see the satay master do the work in traditional style. The winner here is the Wagyu beef satay. At grade 9, the Wagyu feels so tender it almost just melts in your tongue. Other options include New Zealand lamb satay, and – another primadona – the Sate Lilit Putri Ayu, or char-grilled mackerel and prawn, marinated with sweet chili sauce.

Walk-in groups are usually seated in the Pendopo area – the main dining hall decorated with Tree of Life brass works, and Kaung flowers (a symbol of symmetry and unity) made of bronze. Four wooden posts are used as the main structure to support the roof – a system known as “Soko Guru”, the fundamental characteristic of Javanese houses. This is the biggest area of the place and seats 72.

If you’re feeling special, you had better reserve Gandhok – a private room with a round table, good for a party of eight. Next to Gandhok is Senthong Kiri, another private area with a more formal long table for up to sixteen. For bigger affairs, book Senthong Kanan, which can accommodate up to 48 guests in total.

Custom made furnitures is of the highest quality and is exquisitely made. Simplified Javanese ornaments succeed in creating an authentic touch with a contemporary approach. Yuppies won’t feel like being at their mother’s and father’s when throwing a cool party here. Grandmas and grandpas may rediscover their youth.

The menu covers most Indonesian favorites: crispy spring rolls, fish cakes, “gado-gado”, grilled chicken, “nasi rawon”, and so on. House specialties include Ayam Selimut Lengkuas – fried chicken with shredded savory galangal topping. It is well spiced and the galangal creates a rich texture.

The dessert selection includes beloved street-side items, just like banana fritters, and the notorious “colenak” (grilled cassava root, banana, and shredded coconut in palm sugar syrup, and candled jackfruits). Don’t miss cold desserts; various kinds of “es serut”, or traditional shaved ice treats with colorful toppings. Harum Manis’ signature drinks are iced tea with palm fruit, basil seeds and red syrup, and one with ginger, palm sugar, and young coconut.

Indulged with sweet Indonesian tunes, the Harum Manis experience is above the usual, overpriced, local home cooking affair. Dining for two will cost Rp 350K on average, and the deal is made with the excellent atmosphere, premium class service, and – most importantly – tasty food from the starter through to the coffee. In just five months after opening, Harum Manis has made it to become one of Jakarta’s must-tries. Kudos.

Harum Manis
Pavilion Apartment
Jl. KH Mas Mansyur Kav. 24
Jakarta 10220
Tel: +62 21 57941727
www.harum-manis.com

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