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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Restaurant Review: Royal Kitchen, Bellagio Mall, Jakarta

Oct. 15 (Jakarta Globe) I’ve found that a good standard for judging the quality of any ethnic restaurant is to be aware of how many diners of that ethnicity frequent the establishment. If the Chinese restaurant you’ve chosen has no Chinese diners, it’s probably best to go elsewhere for your dim sum fix. With that in mind, I was pleased that every table except mine at The Royal Kitchen Indian Restaurant & Bar was primarily, if not totally, occupied by Indian diners.

I was not surprised, however, as the first signs we were in for an authentic Indian repast came when my friend John and I arrived at the restaurant. We were shown into the room past a small shrine featuring a statue of Ganesha — the Hindu elephant-headed god — and bearing sweet-smelling incense and offerings. The ambience continued in the dining room where soft lighting and mellow Indian music set off silver settings on embroidered cloths atop comfortable dark wooden furniture.

We started our meal with tandoori grilled chicken drumsticks, tender enough that the meat fell from the bone and complemented perfectly by the creamy mint sauce our attentive waiters brought to the table. We followed that with Mutton Rogan Josh, as well as a dish of fresh mushroom and chopped spinach flavored with garlic called Khumb Aur Kachi Mirch Ka Masala, dhal and a selection of breads and steamed basmati rice.

Many Western diners prefer lamb to mutton, but my Indian friends who cook taught me long ago that mutton, or even goat, is a much tastier option, providing it is given slow cooking time to make it tender. Restaurant owner Deepak Malik told us the Rogan Josh was simmered for at least four hours, which resulted in soft, succulent cubes of meat in the thick, rich tomato and onion gravy. The naan, with plenty of garlic and fresh parsley baked in, was the ideal accompaniment to scoop up the gravy and light, fluffy Basmati rice. The vegetable dish was also excellent, with thick pieces of mushroom blending well with the chopped spinach and spices.

Although the silver dishes didn’t look to hold a lot when brought to the table, there was more than ample food and it was all we could manage to share a Matka Kulfi for dessert — a homemade ice cream flavored with saffron and pistachio. Served in a tiny clay pot, it had a sweet saffron overtaste and a faint flavor and texture of pistachio. The delightful presentation continued with our coffees, which our waitress poured from silver cup to dish and back again to mix the coffee and sweetener before we drank. The small cup of sweet coffee rounded out our meal well.

The Royal Kitchen also serves a Chinese menu, but I would definitely recommend going with the Indian specialties. The restaurant serves a lunch buffet Monday through Thursday for only Rp 55,000 a head, plus tax and service, or a corporate brunch on Friday and Sunday brunch for Rp 65,000 plus, plus. A second Royal Kitchen also opened recently in Balikpapan.

The Royal Kitchen Indian Restaurant & Bar
Bellagio Boutique Mall, ground floor
16 Jl. Kawasan
Mega Kuningan Barat Kav. 3-5
South Jakarta
Tel. 021 3002-9975

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