The Quest to Find the Great Breakfasts of Jakarta

 The Quest to Find the Great Breakfasts of Jakarta

Text & Photo by Erza S.T.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, that is what most people believe. However, since I have become a midnight owl writer of late, I seem to have forgotten that fact. I normally only eat have lunch and dinner, with the occasional brunch every once in a blue moon (and it takes plenty of effort to actually get up for it). Researching this particular article was challenging for me, but in the end, I now understand why people enjoy breakfast so much.

The first thing that surprised me was the discovery of so many restaurants these days that actually have breakfast as one of their specialties. This is significant progress compared to early 2000 when the Sunday J-Brunch at The Regent (now The Four Seasons Hotel) was pretty much the only substantial and sought after late morning meal in town. The options these days are overwhelming. Here are some of my interesting and not so interesting findings on the current breakfast hot spots of Jakarta for 2011.

Aussie/ Kiwi Style Brekkie at Antipodean

In my opinion, brunch should not only confine itself to weekends, and a great brekkie place like Antipodean will give you plenty of reasons to brunch daily. Hidden at the Hero supermarket in the Kemang complex, Antipodean is the brainchild of Arlini and Alun Evans, the founders of Merdeka Coffee.

With a simple and intimate setting for a maximum of 20 people, Antipodean seems to be always packed with New Zealand or Australian expats with a smattering of local Indonesian breakfast enthusiasts. Check out their All Day Breakfast which consists of toast, bacon or chicken sausages, baked beans, wrangled eggs and grilled tomatoes or if your appetite allows perhaps you can try the Big Breakfast with toast, bacon or chicken sausages, mushroom, scrambled egg and hash browns. The BLT seems to be the main concept here.

Filling as it was, I found the bacon was slightly overcooked and the hash brown was cooked unevenly. But I just washed it down with one of their great single original Merdeka Coffees and all was forgiven. So if you are willing to venture into Kemang’s traffic jungle on the weekend (which is not as bad as weekdays) then Antipodean is definitely worth a visit.

Bring your iPad, it’s free WiFi territory.

Peranakan Style Breakfast at Kopitiam Oey

I was so happy when famous foodie Bondan Winarno decided to open his own kopitiam in town. In Malaysia and Singapore you can find kopitiams everywhere and enjoy that simple, yet addictive, local food for breakfast. In Bondan’s Kopitiam Oey, you can find an excellent tasting of local flavours in their breakfast menu with influences from the Chinese and the Dutch.

Kopitiam Oey is located in a small shop house in Sabang Street and is decorated with bric-a-brac from olden times. It is the kind of place that can actually entertain your entire family. I took mine there and my father was very excited to find Telor Setengah Mateng (half-boiled eggs), while my mother preferred to have Roti Bakar Taloea Boekitinggi (toast served with half-cooked scrambled egg Padang style). I personally enjoy a more Western-style breakfast and chose Roti Bakar Prantjis Pain Perdu (French toast with cinnamon and honey. My sister went for a more hearty kick start and had Nasi Tim Ajam Glodok (fragrant steamed chicken rice). Like my sister, my brother also decided to have a heavier meal, a Boeboer Kambing Pekalongan (mutton porridge Pekalongan style).

These days it is not easy to gather the entire family and have a good time together. In Kopitiam Oey, they seemed to enjoy the experience. Oh, by the way, the drinks are also special at this spot. We had a Kopi Taloea Boekittinggi (traditional west Sumatran coffee with beaten egg), Chai (Indian masala tea) and Kopi Soesoe Indotjina (Vietnamese drip-coffee, with sweet condensed milk). It was a delicious breakfast and economical, too!

In Kopitiam Oey they start breakfast at 7am and finish at 11am. Most visitors are loyal customers and they are already aware that if you come late, there will be nothing left from the breakfast menu. The restaurant’s slogan is “The Coffee is Good and The Price is Honest”. I couldn’t agree more.

Bring your iPad, it’s also connected.

Long Past and Forgotten Brunch at Cafe Batavia

As a restaurant, Café Batavia is still considered to be one of the most elegant in town. Housed in one of Jakarta’s oldest colonial buildings on Fatahillah Square (circa 1850), the two-storey Café Batavia artfully marries history and modern day chic to make this place a must for any occasion, from romantic dinners to a showpiece for out of town guests. Sadly, after almost two decades Café Batavia is starting show its age.

Café Batavia has once known as the best fine-dining restaurant in town and the best place for a long lingering brunch.. With this in mind, I decided to have a New Year’s brunch with my friends to welcome in 2011. The menu still remains the same since my last visit three years ago. The extensive Chinese menu offers an interesting selection of dim sum, which is fairly good. Unfortunately, their western menu has falling far from grace. My advice would be to stick with the Chinese dim sum or, if you must, try to order Crepe Parmentiere that arrives with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and black caviar. It is still consistently good.

The food is not the only thing that is going downhill in Café Batavia. During brunch, we had to suffer not only unremarkable food, but also rude service. Somehow these days, the management have generated a new interesting rule where you have to pay extra if they feel that you are taking too many photographs. This combined with the state of the food and overpriced menu was enough to make this brunch at Café Batavia our last.

Bubbly Brunch at Cork & Screw Plaza Indonesia

Cork & Screw in Plaza Indonesia finally decided to join the breakfast club and released their brunch menu this January. Finally, there is a proper brunch place in this mall besides Starbucks. Being a wine bar of sorts, it’s a shame they don’t have a champagne brunch though.

The menu is short but solid. Selections of soups, eggs, sandwiches, Asian fare and even something for your sweet tooth are on offer. During my visit, The Eggs Benedict served on hot bread with herb tomato and rucola salad was decently presented and really delicious. I also went for their Oriental Porridge that’s served with shredded chicken and duck. It is definitely far from disappointing.

Cork & Screw does not have the champagne brunch package yet and so you have to order the champagne separately by glass or bottle. You can choose either Charles Heidsieck or Laurent Perrier for IDR 125K per glass or IDR 900K per bottle. Kir Royale is also available for IDR 125K per glass. I guess it’s not easy these days to have a free-flow champagne brunch package like years gone by due to the preposterous import regulations nowadays.

It was a nice and quiet breakfast at C&S with a great WiFi connection. I just wish that they could work on the service so we can really get that perfect brunch.

Kemang Selatan No. 1
Inside Hero Kemang Complex

Kopitiam Oey
Jl. H. Agus Salim No. 18
Jakarta Pusat

Café Batavia
Taman Fatahillah

Cork & Screw
Plaza Indonesia 1st floor
Jl. M.H. Thamrin Kav. 28-30

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