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» Vietopia
Vietopia
by: Galuh Wulandarie
 

Jakartans in general are not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. There are only a handful of Vietnamese restaurants in the city, none of which have been truly satisfying. Then a friend recommended Vietopia. “Definitely worth to try,” he said. Convinced, the SD team set up a late lunch there in anticipation of delicious Vietnamese dishes.

Located at the central district of Jakarta, Vietopia is a famous lunch spot frequented by the expats working in nearby areas. “Our regular patrons are fifty (percent) locals and (fifty percent) expats; occasionally (diplomats) from the US and Australian Embassies have their private lunch here,” said Mr. Dady Dharmawan, Vietopia's Operations Manager. He later explained that the restaurant pays special attention to the quality of its food ingredients. Because of this, it prides itself for having its own special niche in the market and for not having the need to promote itself; customers come by word-of-mouth. According to Mr. Dady, “Days ago, a cable TV (channel) from the Netherlands came and reviewed the restaurant. I don't exactly know how they found out about us, but we were thrilled (to) welcome them… just as (we are thrilled to welcome) you guys,” he smiles.

Quaint and charming are the best words to describe the establishment. Vietopia occupies a small building complex in the Cikini raya area, reminiscent of Indonesia 's Dutch colonial heritage. With all-white walls and minimalist interiors, Vietopia has a relaxing atmosphere, a contrast to the area's hectic pace.

Our visit was very pleasant. The meal kicked off with three different appetizers. First on the list was Goi Chuon (chicken, shrimps, eggs, and vegetables hand-rolled in fresh banh trang, or rice wrapper). “This dish is chosen by foreigners, particularly the Japanese, as its taste similar to sushi,” Explains Mr. Dady. This is best eaten with the accompanying hoisin sauce. The Banh Cuon (minced chicken and mushroom hand-rolled in fresh banh trang ) and Cha Gio (fried minced chicken spring rolls) came with the sweet and spicy nuoc mam sauce. Made from vinegar, chili, and salt, a Vietnamese dining table is not complete without it. “The Vietnamese have their own way of enjoying Cha Gio . Wrap it in the lettuce leaves and dip it in the nuoc mam sauce…voila!” exclaims Mr. Dady as he demonstrated how to truly enjoy the dish. It's crunchy without the oily aftertaste. As for the Banh Cuon , it had a strong, but not overwhelming, peppery flavor that whets the appetite just right.

Moving on to the main course, Vietopia's Chef Agus prepared the Bo Luc Lac (tender, grilled beef steak on a bed of greens, onions, and tomato slices, served with onion and vinegar sauce), Ca Mu Chien Voi Gung (fried grouper, or Kerapu fish served with mushrooms, onions, and red chili, with a choice of galangal or nouc mam sauce on the side), one steaming bowl of Pho Bo (noodle soup served with beef brisket slices, coriander leaves, onions, and scallions), and Ga Xao Dua Hanh (sautéed chicken with pineapple and cashew nuts, creatively served in a halved pineapple shell).

The SD team unanimously voted the Pho Bo as Vietopia's must-try dish. According to Mr. Dady they prepare an average of 70 bowls of Pho Bo daily. “Eighty five percent of our customers come here to experience our Pho Bo . One even ordered drinks thirty minutes later so the soup's taste can linger,” he notes.

If you're a coffee aficionado, end your meal with Ca Phe Sua Da (iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk). All of Vietopia's coffee products are still imported from Vietnam .

Vietopia truly enlivens Jakarta 's dining scene with its flavorful Vietnamese cuisine. According to its owner, the word Vietopia can be defined as a delightful experience, which you would like to have over and over again. I couldn't agree more.

PS: Seats are rather difficult to find during lunch so making reservations beforehand is recommended.


Vietopia
Jl. Cikini raya no.33, Central of Jakarta, Indonesia
Tel: +62 21 391 5893
Operating Hours: Vietopia is open from 11.30 am to 10 pm.

 
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About The Author

Galuh Wulandarie, Writer, Indonesia, Bali

Galuh writes for SD Editorial Team in Jakarta. Robert J Steiner manages Streetdirectory.co.id & FlowerAdvisor.co.id, well known for for online Flowers & Gifts in Indonesia.

Achieved her bachelor degree in Communication science, Padjadjaran University, Bandung, Galuh Wulandarie is a seeker in adventure. Having worked in Bandung and Bali to start her journey, now she finds her true passion writing articles for Streetdirectory Indonesia  and so her journey continues.

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