Where to Fine Dine in Jakarta: Lara Djonggrang Restaurant

Rabu, 24-8-2016

Edisi Bahasa Indonesia

Location: 4 Teuku Cik Ditiro Street. Menteng, Central Jakarta.
How to Get There: Car, Taxi.
Meal: Indonesian-Javanese
Open: Mon - Sun 11.00 - 00.00
Cost: IDR 100-200K per person
Try to make a reservation, call 021-3153252 just so you have your name carved on a leaf put on the table to welcome you upon your arrival.

Wayang Kulit
Wayang Kulit (Indonesian traditional puppet)

My first thought when I entered this restaurant is: What a unique and bizarre dining place. It was a mixture of cool, elegant, romantic, thick… very thick historic, cultural feel, and a little bit eerie if you imagine the place without guests and their chatter. You can see antiquities at every corner.

Antique
I am not sure if guests may dine in this room or want to in this matter.

The place was actually a former residence of one of Indonesian’s first President Soekarno’s aide. Now it is owned by Tugu Group, a group of restaurants and hotels scattered in Java, Bali, and Lombok.

You will be welcomed at the front door by a lady in Indonesian traditional costume, kebaya. Another waiter is waiting at the door to direct you to your seat or introduce you to various rooms if you haven’t made a reservation.

Side Corridor
Side corridor

The side corridor’s flooring uses Kunci Tiles, artistic hand-crafted pattern tiles designed by Pabrik Tegel Kunci (Kunci Tiles Factory) that has a long history beginning in 1927. Kunci tiles had decorated many sophisticated buildings such as Keraton Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Palace) and Bank of Indonesia Museum.

Kunci Tiles
Kunci tiles
Side Door
Side door

All waiters are trained so they can tell guests the stories behind every room, including the furniture, relics, statues, ornaments, and paintings. Their style, according to the waiter attending me is Indonesian-Chinese. I could not disagree considering the tight and harmonious relation between Javanese and Chinese from the Majapahit Kingdom Era more than 500 years ago. The name Lara Djonggrang was taken from old Javanese legend. It is the name of a princess who was asked to marry her father’s killer. She could not refuse so she asked the killer (Bandung Bondowoso, who was a good guy actually) to build one thousand temples in one night. He was almost finished but Lara Djonggrang made a fake sunrise, so he lost. He then cursed her into a stone statue to complete the temple. In fact, several columns of the restaurant are made from real temple columns.

There are plenty rooms to choose from. If you want to chat while you eat and drink, you can sit at La Bihzad Bar - so called because of the 5 X 3 meters painting by La Bihzad on the wall. 

La Bihzad Bar
La Bihzad Bar

Look closely at the ceiling of La Bihzad Bar. The waiter said that this part used to be the pavilion of one of the wealthy Chinese sugar merchant’s daughter from Semarang around the 19th century.

La Bihzad
La Bihzad 5x3 meters painting.

If you want to be romantic, you can choose the seats to the right of the bar or Lara Djonggrang room. If you want to dine with extended family, you can reserve a table at China Blue Room. Want to chat with promising business partner? Reserve the Soekarno VIP room. 

China Blue
China Blue Room
Soekarno Room
Soekarno Room, filled with photographs and memorabilia.
Siam Room
Siam Room with several original Siam ornaments and two big oryx sculptures.
Romantic
Dim light and quiet, very romantic.

The food is spectacular. To top it off, they present it in such an artistic style! I feel like the member of a noble family savoring it. The selection is vast, they even have vegetarian dishes, which is a plus for me. I am talking about authentic Indonesian cuisine, which is very rich in spices.

Tuna Bakar
Nasi Bakar Ikan Tuna (Roasted Rice with Tuna). I prefer Nasi Bakar Ayam Taliwang (Roasted Rice with Taliwang Chicken).
Rice
Wayang (Indonesian traditional puppet) shaped rice with fried shallots on top and Fried Coconut Flakes (Serundeng) sprinkled around it.
Banyan Tree
The giant 200 year-old banyan tree decorated with beautiful lantern outside the restaurant.

If you plan a special dining out or need to entertain a friend from another country, I highly recommend this restaurant, the price is very reasonable compared to the place and the food. I wish I could dine here more often. Maybe I will bump into President Jokowi who dines here regularly, who knows?

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