Breaking Your Fast — Japanese Style
For Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan, breaking the fast is one of the day’s highlights. In Jakarta, for those inclined to dine out, there are many options. Restaurants across the city offer special Ramadan menus, and not only do these include Indonesian food, they also present rich and savory delicacies from other parts of the world, such as the Middle East.
Two hotels go even further, with special Ramadan packages composed of Japanese cuisine.
Edogin, Hotel Mulia Senayan
“During the first week of Ramadan, rendang [caramelized beef curry], opor [chicken braised in coconut milk and spices] and gulai [lamb braised in coconut milk and spices] are usually served at home,” said Hotel Mulia Senayan assistant director of communications Adeza Hamzah. “But they get boring after awhile.”
That’s why during Ramadan, Mulia offers special fast-breaking packages in its Japanese restaurant, Edogin.
Edogin is a feast for both the eyes and the palate. The Japanese restaurant boasts a resplendent interior with sleek black and white flooring, ornate decorations and a beautiful wallpaper featuring silver trees. It offers an extensive Japanese a la carte and buffet menu, which includes teppanyaki (a Japanese method of cooking with an iron griddle), robatayaki (Japanese barbecue), ramen and sushi.
The Ramadan menu, available in the restaurant’s buffet setting, is quite varied. To break the fast, Edogin offers dates and kolak (Indonesian palm sugar and coconut milk dessert) and takjil (a fast-breaking treat).
In the appetizer station, there is a wide range of alluring Indonesian cakes and preserved fruits. After the sweet delights, one can proceed with the Japanese cuisine offered at the buffet.
At the salad station, diners have the option of assorted seaweed salads, octopus salads, vegetable nimono (simmered vegetables) flavored with sake and soy sauce, and kimchi (Korean-style fermented cabbage salad).
“Kimchi is, of course, Korean food,” Adeza said. “But we present it at the restaurant because it’s very popular among our Japanese guests.”
The tempura (deep fried) station offers a tempting array of takoyaki (fried balls of octopus), ebi furai (fried prawns), fish and vegetables. You can combine these tempura with udon (thick wheat-flour noodles) or soba (thin buckwheat noodles) offered at the same station.
But the most impressive in the restaurant is the teppanyaki station. Run by three chefs at dinner, the station offers more than 20 food items, including lamb chops, turkey, chicken liver, beef tongue, seafood and fresh vegetables. Teppanyaki is usually served with white rice.
“Rice is indeed our staple food,” Adeza said. “Most Indonesians prefer to have rice in their menu to break the fast.”
Edogin’s special mocktails, such as Jazeerah and Green Oasis, have nutritious content to energize you after fasting all day. Jazeerah, which consists of extract mung bean, coconut water, vanilla syrup and basil seeds, has a bright sunny color and sweet taste. The Green Oasis contains melon juice, lychee syrup, basil seeds and shredded cucumber, and it is refreshing with a lighter, sweet flavor.
The buffet menu at Edogin changes every day.
“We always try to present something new and exciting for our guests,” Adeza said.
Miyama, Hotel Borobudur
Surrounded by a beautiful Japanese-style Zen garden and instrumental music that weaves through the restaurant, Miyama offers a tranquil setting for business and romantic meals.
“Japanese cuisine is an excellent option to break the fast,” said Miyama assistant manager Syamsul Bachri. “It’s very healthy and satisfies all our senses.”
Japanese cuisine employs the unique Sa-Shi-Su-Se-So principle here.
Sa stands for sato (sugar) and represents the sweet delicacies of the Japanese diet. Shi represents shio (salt) and signifies the menu’s savory items. Su stands for sunomono (Japanese vinegar) which is used to highlight the fresh seafood and vegetables. Se is seoyu (Japanese soy sauce), and So is short for miso (soybean) which has a rich, savory taste.
During the holy month, Miyama offers six set menus to break the fast. Each comes with its own takjil, salad, miso soup, rice and dessert.
“We’ve tailor-made the Ramadan menus to tantalize the taste buds and gently start the digestive system after a long day of fasting,” Syamsul said.
The diverse takjil consists of dates, a large bowl of kolak and lapis Surabaya (sweet layered cake) served with strawberries, oranges and plums.
It was followed by the chawanmushi (egg custard) in an earthen cup. “The dish will soothe your stomach acids after fasting,” Syamsul said.
The salad consists of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and lettuce seasoned with a tangy wafu (sesame) dressing.
For the main course, one can choose between beef, chicken and seafoods.
The salmon harasu teriyaki (grilled salmon belly) is delicious. It is served with its skin and belly fat, lightly browned on the outside and pinkish on the inside.
“It’s a rare delicacy,” Syamsul said. “We have to import it from Canada to get large salmon with big bellies for the dish.”
Syamsul said that although the food is quite fatty, it’s actually healthy.
“It contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce cholesterol,” he said.
The beef teriyaki, served with sweet and savory steak sauce on the side, is delightfully tender and juicy.
The light and tasty miso soup cleanses the palate and prepares it for an assortment of kudamono (fresh fruit).