Twenty-five-year-old Lely squeals as the wait staff approach singing “Happy Birthday.” She blows out the candles on her cake of choice — a platter of red velvet cake, dark chocolate, raspberries and vanilla ice cream known as De Velvet Seduction — at the new Magnum-branded cafe, House of Chocolate.
The craze for the chocolate-coated ice cream on a stick has not died down since its launch in Indonesia in 2009. Last year saw the launch of the wildly popular Magnum Cafe, where customers were prepared to wait in line for up to three hours to secure a seat.
The cafe in Grand Indonesia Shopping Town has since closed, but reopened last month as the House of Chocolate, just one floor up.
The new incarnation of the cafe riffs on just about every trend now taking hold in Jakarta. Lely’s birthday choice is influenced by last year’s craze for red velvet cake, while the updated platter De Rainbow District sports the latest fad to hit the cafe scene: multilayered rainbow cake.
Another trend that the cafe has latched onto is open-air dining — an obvious choice in Jakarta’s tropical climate, but one that is only just taking off among the A/C-loving middle class.
House of Chocolate folds its windows back at night to reveal a glittering cityscape. Meanwhile, its outdoor setting has been slow to attract diners, serving mainly as a photo opportunity spot with a backdrop of “Magnum Forever” spelled out in Hollywood lights.
The most noticeable aspect of the cafe’s interior design is its saturated branding. Magnum advertisement videos play over the bar, the logo can be seen on light fittings and posters, and silhouettes of the ice creams are featured on everything from the cushions to the railing out front.
“The new cafe is … an ongoing commitment from Magnum [to] pamper pleasure seekers,” brand manager Andries Oky said.
And so far, Jakarta’s “pleasure seekers” are heeding the call. Patrons wait in line at the door in front of a diorama retelling the history of chocolate in pictures. Inside, they can head straight for the walk-in bar, or wait for a table to order from the menu.
At the bar, customers can create their own style of Magnum, choosing the base ice cream flavor, milk or dark chocolate for dipping, and a mix of colorful toppings like nuts, sprinkles and sugar dusting to roll it in. The still-warm treat is served on a cardboard tray to catch all the dripping chocolate.
For dine-in customers there is a range of mains, including the Ribs Au Chocolat, which sounds more adventurous than it is, drizzled in a barbecue “chocolate” sauce.
More exciting are the desserts designed by chocolatier Steve Diaz, featuring stacks of Magnum ice cream bars and lashings of thick Belgian chocolate. Each new dessert on the menu is endorsed by a local celebrity who had some input in their creation.
One dessert that has already developed a following is The New Crown Jewels, a new take on an old favorite from the previous cafe influenced by radio presenter Indra Herlambang. The new version presents an oversized wine glass filled with brownies, berries and three Magnum bars, drowned in milk chocolate sauce. Sounds like a new trend may have just been born.
House of Chocolate
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town