Category Archives: Food and Dining

14 Moments in Jakarta 14 Years After My First Visit

I Was 10. Please understand. We OUTGROW that phase!

I Was 10. Please understand. We OUTGROW that phase!

Fourteen years ago, I traveled to Jakarta with my parents and brother. I have some memories of the place (which also involves “Kiss Me” looping on MTV Asia) such as going around Pondok Indah Mall, tasting my very first (and last, apparently) satay kambing and ayam goreng, and visiting Taman Safari in Bogor where I got to hold a snake and a white baby tiger. Even at a young age, I already enjoyed traveling.

But now that I am older and wiser (I hope), I became more interested in reflecting about life in different settings and context instead of just popping in and out of territories. There was never a time during my three-day visit that I was not on the look-out for something different to write about. So in celebration of my exploration, I have listed my Top 14 Moments in Jakarta and I hope y’all will enjoy this entry as much as I did writing it.

14 Transit in Singapore

Long hours of transit and early morning flights became my thing. Not that I enjoy them, I actually wonder why the universe is turning me against my own terms of travel comfort but I learned how to deal with them–I have to. I devised some coping techniques during these excruciating hours. Like get through Immigration and visit Singapore. After all, this is also my home.

(Top - L) Korres at Raffles City Shopping Centre (B2-16), Banana Split Sundae at Hog's Breath - Raffles, my sibs with Garrett popcorn (City Link), Gelato mania (City Link).

(Top – L) Korres at Raffles City Shopping Centre (B2-16), Banana Split Sundae at Hog’s Breath, my sibs with Garrett (City Link), Il Bruno Gelato (City Link).

13 The pungent odor of kretek–the smell of my childhood

Whenever my parents come home from Indonesia, the whole house smells like kretek. Like burnt wood but with a hint of incense or something. When you arrive in Jakarta, the smell of the airport? That’s it.

12 Losing luggage key

Seriously, on our first night. We had to navigate the whole Grand Indonesia Mall the following morning to find a new lock.

The Saw

The Saw

11 Hitting the hotel gym

It has been a while since I last went all out on the treadmill.

1o Parents speaking Bahasa

My parents lived in Indonesia during the first years of their marriage. My Dad was a UN Volunteer, my Mom was a fresh graduate exploring the world. I knew that they spoke Bahasa Indonesia well but listening to them having conversations with cab drivers, sales and hotel personnel, and everyone else at that, really made me proud! And regret the fact that having lived almost four years in Vientiane and I can’t even speak a decent sentence in Lao without stuttering.

9 Visiting Grand Indonesia

The mall that never ends. The mall that makes me feel woozy when I look down from the 5th floor. I am not even afraid of heights!

(L) Dancing fountain on the left, one of the mall’s attractions; (R) What you see isn’t the top floor!

8 Walking in the Rain to Rotiboy

It rained pretty hard during the day but my Mom wanted me to try Rotiboy so bad. We just got out of the gym anyway–it is not like the rain is going to ruin our hair or something. But when we were finally devouring the fluffy chunk of carbs, I thought ‘Okay, the treadmill was a waste of time.’ Rotiboy is some good bread.

Walking in the rain to Rotiboy

Walking in the rain to Rotiboy

7 Momma vs Food at Nonya Suharti Restaurant

My parents believe this is just the place to be. Everywhere else is below it.

Mom vs Food - Ayam Goreng at Nonya Suharti Restaurant

Eat! Eat! Eat!

6 The Nice People

I could not get over the nice demeanor of Indonesians. My Dad said that they are known for their refined manners and politeness amid adverse situations. That, in itself, is inspiring.

Mie Goreng Vegetarian at Chopstix - Grand Indonesia (Very nice service)

Mie Goreng Vegetarian at Chopstix – Grand Indonesia (Very nice service)

5 Traffic Jam

City traffic is always insane. On the bright side, I get to ponder when I am in the middle of one.

4 Batik Finds

Fabrics, I am all about the fabrics–I want to customize these babies. My parents also approved of my choices so I am quite confident that the patterns are pretty.

Chameleon Mode - fabrics from Thamrin City

Chameleon Mode – fabrics from Thamrin City

3 Luna Negra* (Plaza Bapindo, Citibank Tower)

Did I tell you how much I love this place? Nice ambiance and good food and EFFICIENT SERVICE, what more could you ask for?

Fiesta feeling at Luna Negra

Fiesta feeling at Luna Negra

2 The Digital Natives Reunion with Dear Maesy*

The best thing of being part of ‘Project Digital Natives With A Cause?’ is being able to meet amazing people from all parts of the world. You are either intimidated or inspired with with they do, with their ideas and perspective on multitudes of topics that a whole week of conversations and discussions can never compensate. Maesy is my big sis in the group; and while she may appear to be ruthless in public speaking and intelligent undertakings, she’s a real hipster at heart HAHA (I’m kidding, Maesy). I am HONORED to have walked the streets of Jakarta with her and talked to a soulmate yet again.

Italian - Japanese food. The combination is DIVINE.

Italian – Japanese food at Ocha and Bella. The combination is DIVINE.

1 Taking Matters Into My Own Hands

Lazy hour at the mall is all that took me to promote my website in the only way I know how. I probably would wear this every time I travel and make use of the long hours walking aimlessly in airport terminals. You’ll never know.

My Cup of Tee at Grand Indonesia (only an hour to wait for the shirt)

My Cup of Tee at Grand Indonesia (only an hour to wait for the shirt)

*Many thanks to Tito Mike Tesoro and company, and Maesy for being awesome hosts 🙂

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Filed under Country Hop, Food and Dining

Bloody Metablogging

Alright, Lurkers, my apologies for going off the grid for quite a while. Moving from one country to another is one hell of a crazy phase–which for some reason I still keep on doing despite the consequences–plus the fact that my nth wind in writing has not completely breezed its way [back] to me yet. But here I am, all psyched to get my special problem (school) over and done with, and by all means, get back to blogging–travel or no travel.

Some two months ago (seriously, it has been two months already??), I joined a colleague, and UNICEF consultant-cum-fellow travel blogger, Andy Brown, in his quest to try laab ped or minced duck salad–a Lao specialty. I have been devouring laab from Day one in Vientiane back in 2009 and loving it since. It is prepared, basically, with minced meat (pork, chicken, beef, duck, fish, etc) tossed with some toasted black rice, heaps of red chili (optional) and mint leaves to top it off. Laab is perfect with tammakhoung (papaya salad), sticky rice and Beer Lao (you’re welcome!).

Laab Ped is pretty awesome

Laab Ped is pretty awesome

Andy wanted to try laab, rather desperately (Okay, not really!). But while I understood the enthusiasm, I could not help but wonder, “What’s with the excitement? It’s just salad. Also, they have it in Thailand!”

When they said try laab ped AND blood, I immediately thought the coagulated street-food type that I avoid at all costs (betamax in Pinoy). So you can just imagine my cringe-worthy moment when I saw this:


That’s laab ped for you–drenched in duck’s blood.

Okay, now I shouldn’t be a hypocrite because Pinoys also serve a dish called dinuguan. But at least that one is cooked. Not fresh, and bloody red (so redundant but it can only be described as such), and…salty!

See that? It's like crime scene!

See that? It’s like a crime scene!

But I was there for a reason, and that reason is Cole Walks. And to blog about Andy blogging. So I dug in.

You see, it actually tastes pretty much the same as the regular laab. If you were to be blindfolded before trying this dish, I do not think the taste is that strong. Unless you are on Master Chef or something. Anyway, there was also Beer Lao involved, which is a life-saver in every food trip I have to say, I guess it was all good.

We also got to interview Andy about everything “British”; he even explained the correct usage of the expression ‘bloody’, which by the way, is NOT the context of this post’s title.

(L) All smiles UNTIL (M) Oh noooo! (R) He's taking notes. NOTES.

(L) All smiles UNTIL (M) Oh noooo! (R) He’s taking notes. NOTES.

When in Laos, excluding vegetarians and animal rights activists, try laab ped with blood. It’s an experience. Although, personally, it is way too extreme for me. But who am I to judge, Andy hates balut!

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Filed under Food and Dining, When In Laos

A Singapore Dining Special: Urban Bites

This post is also dedicated to Faye, my UPLB Jocks sister, who requested for a Mediterranean cuisine entry!

It’s been almost two months since my passport was last stamped with an entry in “Singapore”. I can honestly say that I miss the country and how convenient everything was. I mean, if there’s one word for Singapore, that would be efficient.

My three-month stint in the country is one of the highlights of my career and my personal life as well. I’ve always wanted to work in SG because it is the headquarters of all the Broadcasting corporations that were part of Cole’s Grand Plan to World Domination my dreams of becoming a travel journalist–Discovery Channel, National Geographic, BBC World Asia…Disney Channel, and of course, my dear MTV Asia.

But perhaps, this isn’t the right time in my life for that. I am certainly not giving up on my dreams, I am just gearing up for the challenges plotted to achieve my goals and ambitions. Anyway, this post is a sweet reminder of one of the best moments of my life in the concrete jungles of Southeast Asia, that is food trip. Like I said in my previous posts, since traveling would hurt my finances a hell lot than when I was in Laos, I channeled all my energy and resources in food trips–since, I had to eat, right? 🙂 Now, I know SG isn’t really one of the off-the-beaten tracks Cole Walks is trying to showcase, but there are those underrated restaurants that, in fact, have excellent food, good and fast service and reasonable prices. SG is known to be the melting pot of Asian culture, with cuisines coming in from across the globe. But if I would pick a favorite from all my walking-eating-moments, there is that one place at Tanjong Pagar Complex that caught my taste, and made me break my vegetarian diet for a while. I am talking about, Urban Bites.

Urban Bites, a small restaurant located in quaint Telok Ayer street, is specialized in Mediterranean cuisine. It has been also featured in Real Deal for A Good Deal, a lifestyle show aired over MediaCorp. What separates Urban Bites from other restaurants (I think) is their No-Salt-Policy. I don’t know how they do it, but if no-salt tastes this good–that’s one body part (kidneys) I need not worry about! Plenty of tourists chill at this place, in search for a different twist from the usual Chinese and Malaysian menu. To get to Urban Bites, From taking the MRT to Tanjong Pagar, look for the sign that says Telok Ayer. Walk out of the station and continue walking on your left-hand side. You will pass by a huge hawker center, some restaurants, Watson’s Pharmacy, other offices, and finally a Chinese temple. Once you see the Chinese temple on your left, Urban Bites is just across the road. Although, it is located at the CBD, it’s exact place is a little obscure for its along the lines of massage places, and other small restaurants. It’s façade is also modern, so don’t expect an exotic architecture (see below).

What can I say, my siblings and I love this place. Below is a list of usual orders, and they are not just usual because of preference but because they are really good. Have I mentioned fast and efficient service? Staff are pleasant and friendly, too, if I may add. Trust me when I say, if my siblings, who are so meticulous and picky in what they eat (they are both chefs in the making, for some reason) say it’s good–it’s friggin worth it. We spent a little over SGD60, but that’s because my brother eats for two already!

So, here’s Urban Bites for you with commentaries from my siblings to give them a little more credibility HAH! I hope to visit again someday and perhaps, take my friends there. It’s a good place to dine after a long week of work routine.

123 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068592

Tel: 65 6327 9460

Opening hours: 9AM-9:45PM | Mondays – Saturdays




Filed under Food and Dining