MALLING IN JAKARTA

It’s official. Of all the malls dotting Jakarta’s cityscape, Plaza Senayan is undeniably my favorite place to go malling. Mall of Indonesia is uninteresting, but in fairness, Ta-wan restaurant serves terrific chicken-shrimp porridge, soft shell crab and three mushrooms with broccoli. Grand Indonesia is posh but it just doesn’t call out to me that much. Plaza Semanggi is a bit drab and Taman Anggrek is way too far and it’s not like I’m going to be putting on skates and glide every time I go there. I have yet to, admittedly, visit malls Pondoh Indah and Kelapa Gading, which a colleague and student say are very great malls.

As for Plaza Senayan, there is this nice balance between being a posh mall for the uppity shoppers and the laidback window shoppers cum simple mallrats. As I mentioned earlier in my blog entry Crossing the Line, it’s the place to people watch. The women are walking fashion plates in their skinny jeans and signature black, nude or red stilettos (possibly Christian Louboutin), their signature bags dangling from their arms.  It’s also quite a sight seeing them walk around in those back-breaking heels minus the poise of flats-and- flip-flops-hater Victoria Beckham. I can’t really say much for the men I see at the mall.

Seriously, Plaza Senayan is the place I go for my books in English. Bekasi’s two book stores – Gramedia and Toko Gunung Agung – don’t sell English books. I was duped once in these bookstores; the book covers are in English, but don’t make the mistake of assuming the text is in English. It’s in Bahasa Indonesia – good thing I flipped through the pages! So I trek all the way to Jakarta to get my books particularly from Kinokuniya on the fifth floor. It’s not as big and well-stocked as the Kinokuniya at Takashimaya Shopping Center in Singapore though, but it will do. A plus point is the Starbucks opposite the entrance– grab a venti Green Tea Latte and jump into your new book. Another plus point is the customer service that makes me think that all is not lost in the hospitality world of Indonesia despite the fact that speaking in English scares more than half of the people in the service industry. Ibu Yuly took down my number and said she’ll be in touch if the next delivery of the second installment of the popular Percy Jackson series arrives. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not all lip service.

Now, if Kinokuniya fails to deliver, Periplus on the third floor is my back-up bookstore.

The Food Hall is another reason why I frequent Plaza Senayan. It’s my kind of supermarket that carries everything I need for my kitchen particularly the hard-to-find vegetables in Bekasi such as asparagus and lemon. (See Kitchen Musings & Adventures entry for more on marketing in Bekasi)

In terms of dining, Sushi Tei is the best choice when you’re craving for mango sushi roll and other Japanese delights. There’s also the food court on the third floor that has a plethora of food stalls serving everything from fast food, Western to local cuisine. However, if you’re hankering for savory crepes and rösti, it’s time for Marché.

Located on the fifth floor, a huge cow greets you at the entrance and an Indonesian-speaking Heidi clone who hands you your Marché card. The restaurant resembles Swiss mountain houses with options to dine on the first floor or above; the splash of water is heard from the back, from the constructed water fall next to the red cable car that sits two people comfortably. Food stations are packed to the brim with ingredients and food like the huge potatoes for the rösti, for example, neatly arranged on the display table. The stations are well attended too: one of the service crew spritzed a head of lettuce to keep it from wilting while another scooped crushed iced on to the tables to cool the various items like the fresh seafood, sour cream dip for the rösti etc.

Shared lunch was a smorgasbord of dishes that, naturally, included the store’s signature item, rösti with grilled chicken cheese sausage. The crepes station was inviting with its deep dishes of crepe fillings so I ordered a mushroom crepe, its serving size good for three to share, and a medium-size couscous salmon salad from the salad bar that screamed “Eat healthily and load up on salad”. Being fond of seafood, a bowl of calamari with tartar dip was added to the feast, which was completed by drinks of freshly squeezed red apple for me and soursop juice for my friend.

Sharing is pivotal in digging into a Marché repast because – unless you have the appetites of Gargantua and Pantagruel – the serving portions are gargantuan. Marché Senayan serves an almost inch-thick of rösti that doesn’t need a hint of condiment unless you’re fond of sour cream. The calamari rings were not wedding ring-sized –imagine a bracelet for a toddler. Similarly, the mushroom crepe is more than filling so it’s best to only have one of the four pieces if you want to tuck in some more. The couscous salmon salad was just the right size for the two of us. Although Marché has an array of sweet delights that include, muffins, tarts, cakes, rice pudding with cinnamon sugar  and more, I was primed for another sweet ending to my late lunch, which is my fourth reason for going to Plaza Senayan.

Cold Stone Ice Creamery is a cup of sweet smoothness located on the third floor, at the opening of the food court. It was pure indulgence scooping into a six-oz cup of chocolate mixed with banana – it’s worth every hip-hugging, flab-forming calorie.

Plaza Senayan caters to my idea of escaping from the strains of everyday routine –a nice meal and dessert plus book shopping. Checking out Cinema XXI, which I heard is one of the stylish cinemas in town, is next on my to-do list at the mall.

Kinokuniya Jakarta Store

Sogo Plaza Senayan 5th floor

Tel: +62 21 579000 55 ext. 523/546

E-mail: customer_service@kinokuniya.co.id

Marché Restaurant

Unit CP 500 5th floor

Tel: +62 21 5790 5856

E-mail: marche-ps@marche-indonesia.com

Plaza Senayan

Jl. Asia Afrika No. 8 Jakarta 10270

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hady Depp on April 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I love Marché !!!
    Hehe.. I love the condition of that restaurant. Very neat and comfortable, but that’s too expensive 😛

    We (my family) ate Rp800.000,00
    My dad shocked, My mom almost fainted.

    Reply

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