The Dark Side of The Moon: Luna Negra Jakarta
Published 27 January 2011
A pair of unbalanced shoes, or a traditional Italian dinner? Ve Handojo’s destiny was defined in Luna Negra.
Photos by Ramadhan
It was near the end of the moon, and I had to make the most important choice in my life as a script editor for Indonesian daily TV serials (yes, those zoom-in, zoom-out close-ups, and mega-close-up shows with screaming ladies, and wimpy guys!): a stress-relieving shopping spree in the closing down Harvey Nichols, or a well-deserved, self-indulgent dinner in Luna Negra. The thought of having highly branded fashion items at 90% off the regular price was a greater temptation. However, the only thing possible for me to grab was the last pair of black Paul Smith black. The downside? The left one was 41, and the right one was 42. Oh, my … how am I supposed to walk in a straight line?!
So, wearing my Adidas sneakers, I headed down Jalan Sudirman to the Jakarta stock exchange where Luna Negra is nestled in the ground floor of the Citibank building. The long, dark-coloured, solid wood bar with marble top was a welcoming sight at Luna Negra. Above the bar was a row of black curvy lamps. This dinner time Ermenegildo Zegna-wearing executives, stockbrokers, and fellow jocks mingled with their classy playmates along the bar. There was an air of success mixed with I-just-lost-a-million-bucks-but-what-the-hell attitude that created a fun and stylish urban atmosphere. The Wall Street pretenders were trying to impress their girls with 17-year old Ballantynes, Old Bushmill, or 10-year old single malt Laphroaig. Yet, the real achievers were swapping their Amex Blacks for the 25-year old Glenlivet slated at around fifteen hundred dollars.
However, my eyes went sideways, to the corner of the front area, where a two-storey wine cellar with the twirling stairway was displaying bottles of joy. This sacred ground was dramatically low lit, and stocked with intercontinental wines. You know, when your shoes say the wrong thing about you, make sure the bottle you pick balances that image. A good 2005 merlot did it well.
The main dining hall was a festive area. Dominated with glamorous black mahogany, and rustic red bricks, Luna Negra was made all the more elegant with the high-ceilings and glass windows. Modern lamps clashed with the traditional style, all dipped in a black background. The soundscape was something that would make Pete Tong nod in approval. The overall view was as appetizing as my first item, beef carpaccio with grapes and Pecorino. Another notable antipasti was smoked beef carpaccio with rucola and shaved Parmesan. Each slice of the fine beef was so very delicate.
Popular pasta dishes here included spaghetti with clams and garlic, and tortelini with green peas and sautéed ham. The latter was an instant favorite! Yet, that night I went for bucatini with pork bacon, Pecorino romano, and fresh tomato sauce. Just like every item on the menu page, this dish was presented in a non-pretentious traditional way. No out-of-this-world appearance. It came straight from the kitchen of Mama Soprano. The taste was for the purists, and it revived my faith for a good Italian kitchen in town.
The generous Luna Negra pizza is topped with Porcini mushroom, Parma ham, tomato sauce and mozzarella, and should be finished in a flash with fellow omnivores. The second you should try is Bresaola pizza, topped with dried beef, rucola, shaved parmesan, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Feeling stuffed? Hail the waiter, and ask for the fresh and neutralizing limoncello – a shot of vodka-infused lemon peel and sugar.
The biggest temptation on this dark side of the moon – Luna Negra means black moon – is an item promoted as ‘the dessert that you can drink’: liquid tiramisu. Served in a martini glass, it was a mix of vanilla ice cream, a shot of espresso, Baileys, mascarpone cheese, Irish foam, and coffee powder. Just like the traditional tiramisu, it came with finger bread, and Irish sauce.
Smooth operators can get their ultimate cocktail weapon from the Flower Ranger. The name and the appearance is as harmless as a Hawaiian hula dancer, but don’t tell your girlfriends that it actually kicks like Bruce Lee. Just tell them to take that bourbon-infused lychee, and pour it down their throats along with a big gulp of that mix of pinky pomegranate juice, lemon squeeze, apricot brandy, rose syrup, and dry gin. The next thing you know, you’re getting lucky.
By the time my plates, bottles, and martini glasses were empty, I had proven that life was full of the choices that will eventually lead us to the same happy ending. I might cancel buying that pair of unbalanced Paul Smith shoes, but at the end of the day, I left Luna Negra with the same nagging question, “Oh, my … how am I supposed to walk in a straight line?!”
Plaza Bapindo, Citibank Bulding, GF
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 54-44
Tel: +62 21 2995 0077