wordpress hit counter

The Japanese Food Invasion

Published 01 December 2008   

Have you ever wondered how Japanese food invaded our culinary landscape in Jakarta and became the local favorite? These days when you are accidentally eavesdropping over a conversation between blue collar workers during lunch time, you will easily catch one of the tei or don words on their lunch options. When was the first time you started enjoying sashimi or sushi? FRV reviews three Japanese restaurants that have been established in Jakarta for more than a decade and we share with you why we just can’t get enough Japanese in Jakarta.

Text by Erza S.T.

Sumire: The Most Talked About
Going to Sumire at Grand Hyatt Jakarta can only mean one thing: Impressing your clients! Famous for its remarkable teppanyaki, Sumire has survived in Jakarta for over 17 years led by Indonesian chef, Lukman, who has proven to Jakartans that a local chef can also cook authentic Japanese cuisine.

Sumire is a place where the price comes with great quality of food. The teppanyaki Fuji set menu is the best example why the clientele in Sumire keep on coming back for more and they still fill every single table during lunch. The array of appetizers, seafood, mushrooms, vegetables and, of course – 150 gram prime Australian beef tenderloin as the climax has proven to never let down any of their customers thus far. Add a drop or two of Chef Lukman’s signature sambal (chili sauce) to your meat and get that extra little kick on your taste buds.

If teppanyaki is not really to your liking, then you should definitely head to their sushi bar and kushiage bar. Again, you can witness the mix between creativity and great taste from Chef Lukman and his team. Those tenkatsu and cano rolls are just simply to die for and are guaranteed to impress even the most discerning clients of yours.

It is always interesting to talk about Sumire, however there is one little treasure on the menu that should be more highlighted and that’s their dobin mushi – a salmon and mushroom broth with Japanese fish cake served in a traditional pot. It is a combination of unique presentation and luscious flavor all served in one petite tea pot. You literally have to drink the soup using a tiny cup. Now, that’s what we call a unique experience!

Sumire
Grand Hyatt Jakarta
Jl. M.H. Thamrin Kav. 28-30
Jakarta 10350
Tel: +62-21 390 1234

Tokio Joe is Back!
The author of The Jakarta Good Food Guide, Laksmi Pamuntjak once called this restaurant The Issey Miyake of restaurants and now they are back. Oh yes! Tokio Joe is back with a vengeance this time. After over a decade being one of the most respected Japanese restaurants in Jakarta, they went into a hiatus for three years because their venue host had a big renovation.

The original Tokio Joe was designed by Tony Chi which left us with great memories. Now the legacy is continued by Noel Bernando. It is twice the size and has moved from their original venue to the Nikko Hotel. Remember when they used to serve you with those luscious rolls and sushi? They now return with more new inventions such as an ultra-modern sake bar, a robatayaki bar and teppanyaki bar. It was almost like being reunited with a long lost friend to have Tokio Joe back in town.

Tokio Joe’s sake bar is a very sophisticated and sassy bar where you can find happy hours in Japanese style. They have a very impressive and modern sake cellar filled with a vast variety of the japanese alcohol from the ordinary sochu to vintage sake. They even have a special ladies sake that comes in a gorgeous green bottle. If you are not a hardcore sake lover, then their sake cocktails such as green moon and sakerita (margarita with sake) could be a good option. Add tortilla sashimi with ponzu sauce to your sakerita then you will have a Japanese version of tapas.

If you are new to Tokio Joe then you might get lost in translation reading their thick menu. We advise you to just stick with their special rolls and sushi as they are very special and unique. For a restaurant that was just open for nearly a month (when we visited); they blew us away with their giant eel roll and golden egg roll that involved some heavy duty lobster. In simple words, their new rolls are bigger, juicy and even more exquisite! Though the puritan might not be happy with such an elaborate menu; we have to give high five compliment to the result.

Tokio Joe plays around with traditional concepts and comes up with stunning contemporary results such as wagyu sushi. We also praise their sake maki trout and sashimi tempura with avocado sauce. It is obvious that they are aiming for a bigger and younger local market by making this kind of creation. However, surprising enough Japanese expatriates were also busy enjoying these less conservative rolls, sushi and sashimi during our last visit there. We can expect more from Tokio Joe in the future as they were still in a soft opening period when we did this review. Nevertheless, the result was more than promising and enough to guarantee more visits from this writer.

Tokio Joe
Hotel Nikko Hotel 2nd Floor, Mezzanine
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 59
Jakarta
Tel: +62-21 3918 993

The Legendary Shima
The legend of Shima started many years ago when Mr. Kirishima decided to create a fine Japanese restaurant in Jakarta serving exquisite quality Japanese cuisine. In 2008, over 32 years after opening, Shima has become the epitome of Japanese restaurants in town and still manages to maintain its finest quality. This classic restaurant has also become the playground for Jakarta’s top crème de la crème for many years. Names like our former President Megawati to our current trade minister Mari Pangestu are just a few of Shima’s fans.

Shima has survived several facelifts and the current look is following a 90’s style décor set in a classic Japanese country house. Shima is divided into sections of teppanyaki, sushi bar, shabu – shabu and yakiniku. Yes, for those who have never visited Shima before you will surely be surprised by its large size. Teppanyaki and sushi bar are on the first floor, followed by the shabu–shabu, yakiniku and several private rooms on the second floor.

If Sumire and Tokio Joe are busy with their unique inventions, then it is the opposite in Shima. The clientele already have their comfort zone and enjoy the same menu every time. One of their all time favorites is the Shima teppanyaki set that consists of lobster, gindara and 120 grams of wagyu or kobe (at your own choice). It is becoming the clientele favorite since the taste is adjusted to Indonesian flavors; meaning that after 32 years they finally understand that most Indonesians need chili sauce on their food.

If you are looking for an authentic experience, then you should ask for Mr. Shigeru Akashi (the general manager of Shima, who is also an excellent chef and once worked for Nobu in London) to be your teppanyaki chef. It is guaranteed that he will give you a memorable experience and an understanding on why people still flock to Shima. Watch out for their not so Japanese signature dessert, banana flambé. It is really out of this world!

Prepare to welcome a new generation of Shima that will be born at Kemang Village next year. Rumor has it that they will have all those fancy rolls and sushi there to give a totally different experience than the existing Shima. We can hardly wait!

Shima Japanese Restaurant
Aryaduta Hotel
Jl. Prapatan 44-48
Jakarta 10110
Tel: +62-21 384 4926 or +62-21 385 2233