Classy Restaurant Remboelan Serves Nostalgic ‘Soul Food’
Miss the time when there weren’t so many malls and restaurants around, when going to your grandmother’s for a plate of home-cooked food was the highlight of the week?
Remboelan, a restaurant strategically located on the inner balcony of Plaza Senayan’s fourth floor, brings you back to the good old days with Indonesian soul food.
“By soul food we mean that we cook from the heart,” said executive chef Ferry Hidayat. “It won’t taste as good if we didn’t.”
Passing by the friendly waiters and waitresses into the finely designed Indonesian restaurant, I was presented with a cup of Remboelan’s special coffee. Similar to Vietnamese-style coffee, customers are supposed to wait a few minutes before mixing condensed milk with the dark coffee. Customers can request for the cup to be turned upside down if they want to drink from the saucer, just like the olden days.
“We want our customers to have a sense of nostalgia when they eat at Remboelan,” Hidayat said. “After all, what we’re serving is classic home-cooked food that our grandmothers used to cook.”
The great mind behind the concept and the savory recipes is Ibu Endang, who is known for the home-cooked food that she serves in her other restaurant. It started off as a hobby to mix herbs and spices, but it led her to reviving Indonesian traditional food.
Remboelan brings food from across the archipelago onto its menu, hoping that in the near future, it can serve a complete array of Indonesian food.
“Our mission is to conserve the Indonesian culinary heritage,” Hidayat said.
It’s not everyday you can sit down in a fancy restaurant drinking es lobi-lobi while eating rujak (salad), which are commonly sold only by street vendors.
While salads are usually associated with Western culture, Remboelan offers an array of Indonesian salads with lettuce, alongside with the common fruit rujak. The restaurant, which recently opened in December of last year, serves rujak pengantin — a lettuce salad topped with julienned carrots, eggs, corn and potatoes that people usually eat in traditional weddings — dressed in Remboelan’s homemade nut sauce.
Among their assortments of scrumptious food, Remboelan is most famous for its Lontong Cap Go Meh main course, a Chinese-Indonesian dish with rice cakes. Instead of having your lontong soaked in the thick, orange coconut milk soup, Rembolean serves the soup separately. The soup is a mixture of lontong sayur and opor ayam soups, creating a lighter dish so you can save more space for more of their appetizing dishes.
Remboelan also serves fried carp fish with kecombrang sauce. Despite its strong smell and aftertaste, Remboelan took the risk of using kecombrang, a flower, in preparing the crunchy fish. And you won’t have to worry about having to be barbarians eating with your hands because Remboelan cuts the fish into bite-size fillets for you.
With such good food for one lunch, I was even more delighted upon flipping through the dessert menu. I had to choose between Es Remboelan, es lidah buaya and many other desserts. The chef recommended Es Remboelan, a sweet dessert with shaved-ice, coconut meat and avocado and from shredded jackfruit.
The clever combination of the Borobudur Temple design concept combined with delicious Indonesian food gives an authentic feel to the restaurant. It’s probably one of the reasons why as many as 600 people crowd into Remboelan over the weekends, despite being put on the waiting list before being allowed to climb the grand steps.
“Our motto is to serve the customers so they don’t get upset for climbing 30 steps,” Hidayat said. “There was one time when some of the waiters even helped carry an old lady in a wheelchair up and down the stairs.”
That’s how much people want to have a taste of Remboelan’s food.
The stairs are probably there to enhance the theme of Remboelan, a name that literally means full moon. It’s as if you have to climb up to taste their divine food and come down to reality once you’re done.
Plaza Senayan, 4th floor
Jl. Asia Afrika No. 8, South Jakarta
Tel. 021 572 5088