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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Restaurant Review: Sailendra, JW Marriott, Jakarta

Aug 20 (Jakarta Globe)
I doubt there is a reader of this paper who is unaware of the bomb attack in JW Marriott’s Sailendra Restaurant on July 17. But perhaps fewer know that the restaurant reopened for business on July 29 and its staff are eager to renew their acquaintance with regular guests and welcome new customers.

My colleague Paul and I headed there on Sunday to try the restaurant’s brunch, although some workmates expressed nervousness about our choice of dining venue. I, in contrast, think the hotel is probably one of the safest places in Jakarta right now, a belief borne out when we arrived and not only went through a metal detector and had my bag checked, but were also patted down by security staff.

Restaurant manager Michael Scott said that although the incident had obviously affected numbers, regular guests were returning and the staff were happy the hotel had reopened as soon as possible.

The restaurant had more than 100 guests the day it reopened, he said, and the day we dined, despite being in the middle of a long weekend, it had bookings for 74.

Sailendra is one of three restaurants in the hotel that have weekend brunch available, with Pearl offering Yum Cha and Chinese dishes, and Asuka providing fresh sushi, sashimi and other Japanese dishes. An Asian Brunch Marathon package is also available for both Pearl and Asuka.

But we’d chosen Sailendra, wanting to show our own support for the staff, and arrived to a smiling welcome and an impressive array of food.

After being seated, we were directed to the juice stands, and offered a choice of other beverages from the bar. The inclusion of free-flowing alcoholic beverages adds Rp 100,000 to the cost — about the price of one drink in most high-class establishments in Jakarta.

I began my feast at the seafood bar, where oysters, prawns, crab and green-lipped mussels shared space with sushi and sashimi. I consider fresh seafood, oysters in particular, an ideal indicator of the quality of a buffet and these were great, still tasting of the sea and perfect with fresh lemon and ground pepper. We also had grilled lobster tails with dipping butter brought to the table, and duck livers, which Paul hadn’t tried before. Being a fan of liver in most forms, and especially pate de foie gras, I thoroughly enjoyed the liver, although it was a little salty for Paul.

The only problem I had, in fact, was one of plenty. There was such a good selection that choosing was difficult and sampling everything was impossible. From Western dishes to a fine array of Indonesian, Indian, Thai and Chinese options, it was all any gourmand could ask for. I concentrated on dim sum and Thai options, with fresh vegetables and fresher flavors, while Paul took on the Indian choices.

And when I truly thought I couldn’t manage another mouthful, we got the piece de resistance — apple strudel. It was divine, a perfect blend of fruit and spices in a delicate fluffy pastry, served hot with whipped cream and vanilla sauce.

Brunch will continue throughout Ramadan, although bottles of alcohol will be moved out of sight as a mark of respect for Muslims observing the month-long fast. But if you’re there at that time, you’re obviously not fasting, so remember to save some room for the strudel.

(Tracie Barrett was a copy editor at the Jakarta Globe who previously worked in restaurant and hotel management.)

Sailendra Restaurant
JW Marriott Jl. Lingkar Mega Kuningan,
South Jakarta, Tel. 021 5798 8888
Brunch Rp 238,000 - Rp 338,000
11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

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