An episode on guilty pleasures in Glee and Wikipedia’s definition had me mulling over about my guilty pleasures. Wikipedia defined it as “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it”. It stopped me in my tracks. I have had the guilt but not exactly the pleasure. I remembered the time when I’d dug into a slice of cake (one of my guilty pleasures) and felt so bad about it that I spent the next day running on the treadmill and attending two sessions of kickboxing class. Why wasn’t I enjoying my guilty pleasures? I knew why. One reason was I was so affected by what people said and how people saw me. But when you reach a certain age, you realize that people’s words don’t matter anymore except for those who are truly important in your life and, like an epiphany of sorts, you recognize the important issues. Weight, for instance, is not a weighty issue if you know how to balance between indulging and exercising. These days I’m into badminton; I’m slowly getting the hang of giving the shuttlecock a light tap so it just falls delicately over the net. At times, I give the shuttlecock a wallop straight into the opponent’s chest. On other days, I’m boxing or doing body alignment in my living room with a gal-pal.
When the blues hit, I indulge in them now with guilt and with a whole of pleasure in Indonesia.
1. Tea time
Don’t think of tea in fine tea cups, scones and clotted cream. Served in a regular-size or large cup, this Asian version of the British habit is tea with milk and gelatinous balls nicknamed pearl, and whatever you like added like bits of coffee or rainbow jelly. The good thing is you can have your pearl milk tea without sugar and ice. It used to be called bubble tea because of the gelatinous balls but now sports a different name, pearl milk tea. Without the pearls, it’s simply called milk tea.
There are two milk tea franchises in Indonesia – Jakarta and Bekasi specifically – that are currently slugging it out in the tea arena. In the lead is Chatime, which, more often than not, has a long queue. The second milk tea store is Come Buy of which I’ve seen in the newly opened mall, Kota Kasablanka. Quickly was first in the Asian milk tea scene but it’s moved to the periphery. The one Quickly outlet I frequented at Carrefour Tebet closed shop although I did find another one operating in Ex Mall. Unlike the two newcomers, business was a bit slow.
I am such a regular in Chatime that the store manager and cashier at Bekasi’s Metropolitan Mall know my order by heart – regular pearl milk tea with coffee jelly, without ice and sugar. Compared to Come Buy, Chatime’s pearl milk tea doesn’t have that tinny aftertaste that I don’t like.
2. Mad about Madden
The 50 percent discount was the icing on the cake. The Steve Madden wedges are comfortable despite looking incongruous to one’s physique; balance of height and walking was achieved with the perfected front and back of the shoes. There is also a level of comfort despite the height of the shoes. Don’t forget the edgy designs and the subtle colour combination that is right up my alley. Plus I like its location – the new Kota Kasablanka mall.
3. Cuppa coffee
It’s not just the drinks, pastries and sandwiches (if they’re not sold out) I go for at Starbucks. There’s something about the comfortable ambience it exudes, which make life seem copacetic despite the daily stresses. It’s a little bubble I escape to when I want to have a gab fest with old friends, cool my heels after shopping around for a dress for a last minute’s notice on a party or catch up on my reading. The world is nicer to look at after a few sips of Asian Dolce latte, cappuccino or mocha cookie crumble frappuccino.
4. Sweet tooth
I should be staying away from them but it’s difficult giving them the cold shoulder specially when they are looking sweetly and nicely at you. Garçon, a bistro, bar and patisserie, is a new favourite of mine for my sweet tooth craving. It was actually a serendipitous stumble one fine afternoon when I was out with friends at Plaza Senayan. The pastries, in the display counter, didn’t fail in attracting the attention of passers-by, including us. We were seated in no time and digging into a variety of pastries after each visit that followed the initial. All-time favourites include the creamy gateau fromage (cream cheese cake), caramel éclair and macaron (green tea, lemon-raspberry, vanilla), which go well with a cup of cappuccino. There are two new favourites on the list – choux puff with coffee caramel (light and not cloying) and a refreshing glass of Sweet Escape cocktail.
Close at the heels of Garçon is Bakerzin, which is billed a “casual dining café specialising in desserts”. It has lived up to its reputation with its wide array of cakes and pastries that certainly satisfies the sweet tooth. Indulge in bites of New York cheesecake, Red Velvet, Strawberry Shortcake and a plate of Raspberry, Red Velvet, Caramel Fleur De Sel and Hazelnut macarons.
5. Local pleasure
There’s a lot that can said about Indonesian food. One of them is that it’s flavourful; you can’t stop eating until you finish the last morsel on the plate. Another good thing, for me that is, sambal (chilli paste) isn’t need to added that extra punch to the palate. My threshold for chilli isn’t that strong compared to others who swear sambal makes all the great difference. I’m fine with my food naked (read: no sambal).
One of the pleasant discoveries I made recently courtesy of my boss was digging into a plate of nasi uduk – coconut- rice with your choice of viand. It was in this nondescript nasi uduk kacang abon restaurant in Haparan Indah that we went to during a public holiday where I actually finished two banana leaves of nasi uduk drizzled with chicken floss, shrimp, squid and tofu. The good part was it was minus the guilty and bloated feeling. The meal was rounded off with a stick of frozen delights of durian, cappuccino and mango sold at the restaurant.
There were two restaurants serving the same fare but we followed the age-old wisdom of the more people, the better the food tastes. The other one was virtually empty compared to the fast turnover of diners at the one we were in.
6. Italian flair
To carbs or not to carbs – that is always the question that crosses my mind when I am faced with an Italian menu. But, as always, I go with to carbs. Pasta is always good especially if the restaurant does a splendid job of whipping up their pasta dishes. De Luca is located at the car park building of Plaza Senayan, and is the newest Italian restaurant I’ve had a meal in. I was, in all honesty, disappointed with my order of angel hair the first time I dined there. But the restaurant was quick to prove they knew their onions with fettuccini Asiatico chicken pasta I ordered during a last visit. It wasn’t too creamy and was flavourful that I didn’t have to ask for any condiment at all.
I was looking forward to enjoying a Trio of Crème Brûlée for dessert, a best seller that is always sold out much to my annoyance. Tiramisu was the second choice and it certainly seemed like a case of blessing in disguise because every bite of the sweet creamy dessert was bliss. The espresso wasn’t that strong or weak; the mascarpone was just right and the liquor was not overpowering.
Partnering my main course and dessert was a glass of refreshing cranberry juice with orange pulp bits called Polka Dot Cranberry.
7. A see-food diet
If you’re craving for a platter of seafood, the best choice at this point is Fish & Co with its humongous serving of fish and chips, squid, fish and prawns (tiger or king). The beauty of the meal lies in the harmony between huge size and big taste. Before you know it, you’ve cleared your dish or skillet. I enjoy a variety of seafood on my plate so Seafood Platter for 1 with tiger prawns is my usual order. The serving size is just right – not too much or too little.
Jalan Asia Afrika 8
+62 21 57900409
Plaza Senayan CP 101
Jalan Asia Afrika 8
+62 21 5725170
Bistro * Bar * Patisserie
Plaza Senayan Level 4 No. 410
Jalan Asia Afrika 8
+62 21 5790 0140
Chatime and Starbucks are available in most major malls in Indonesia. Come Buy is located at Kota Kasablanka, Emporium Pluit Mall and Pacific Place.