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» Nostalgic Elegance in the Kembang Goela Restaurant
Nostalgic Elegance in the Kembang Goela Restaurant
by: Dina Indrasafitri

Can one embark on the subject of Colonialism without raising too many eye brows? Probably, when emphasis is given to the gastronomic. The Dutch's reign in Indonesia lasted for several hundred years and produced a number of amalgamations between the two cultures, especially in culinary delights often dubbed as ‘ peranakan' cuisines.

To sample some of the best Indonesian-Dutch peranakan dishes, head to Kembang Goela. The owner, Ms Lily Admodirjo, set the restaurant up to revive the nostalgic colonial past. This restaurant also proves that you can actually experience old-style elegance in the midst of the busy Sudirman Street . Its location in Plaza Sentral makes it a constant temptation for office workers to have lunch the aristocratic way every now and then.

  • The Vibe
    The restaurant is ingeniously decorated with antiques and elegant wooden furniture combined with high ceilings and large windows. Hanging chandeliers with maroon tassels complement the whole classic Javanese-Dutch look. Had the rooms been less spacious, it could have easily verge on the cramped or ‘heavy' side. However, with the perfect lightings and composition, you will feel like a noble member of the Indonesian colonial society attending a social gathering.

    Basically there are three areas inside the Kembang Goela Restaurant. Near to the entrance is the lounge, generously decorated with aged photographs, antique art objects and posters. The lounge functions mostly as a smoking room since the activity is not allowed in the dining area. The main dining room is blissfully large and features a grand piano and jazz bass to play classical tunes at night. The rijsttafel room is slightly more cheerful with large glass panes letting the sunlight in and a view of a minimalist garden. This place is often chosen to host wedding banquet ceremonies due to its exquisiteness.

  • The Food
    Ms Rury, The assistant public relations manager of Kembang Goela, explains that the restaurant originally features the concept of rijsttafel dining, a Dutch colonial heritage of eating. The rijsttafel manner of eating mainly consists of large meals served alternately during the noon and afternoon. What makes this elaborate dining method unique is the food, which consists of peranakan dishes, and the manner in which they are served. A large number of waiters come marching out from the kitchen, each responsible for one plate of dish only, making every one of it special. Kembang Goela wishes to keep the rijsttafel tradition alive. However, the restaurant is also serves ala carte.

    Famous items for the appetizer section are the Lumpia Sayoer – vegetable spring rolls, and the Otak-otak Meja Bundar – fish cakes served with sweet and sour sauce. Another option is the Asinan Sayoer – fresh vegetables with peanut sauce served elaborately in a hollow pineapple. Try also the boiled chicken sausage with the name of Sosis Om Yance. This sausage is amazingly one meter long! Light snacks such as Bitterballen – deep fried cheese and potato balls served with home-made mustard will tingle your taste buds delightfully.

    The famed main courses at Kembang Goela are the Oxtail Soup and the Nasi Langgi Lima Serangkai – fragrant steamed rice with complete accompaniments such as fried shrimp and Savory empal meat. Hot food lovers, don't miss the Dendeng Balado, which is superbly thin-sliced and crispy choice beef with chili sauce.

  • The Desserts and Drinks
    Do try the amazing Tape Goreng – this beautifully prepared dish is made out of tape -fermented cassava cakes, which is fried and garnished with caramel sauce, the two blends beautifully with the thin slices of jackfruit on top, making it an exquisite treat altogether. Need something less exotic? Then pick the poffetrjes –round, Dutch-style waffles served with strawberry and chocolate sauce and sprinkled with powder sugar.

    Kembang Goela serves many Indonesian drinks which will drown you in tropical paradise. Those loving syrupy concoctions will love the rich Es Indonesiaku, blended sweet mango combined with even sweeter lobi-lobi fruit at the bottom. This fruit is now rarely found in Indonesia 's big cities and the restaurant knows exactly how to make it decently known again. The Soda Pelangi drink slightly resembles Es Indonesiaku , but is given a fresher punch with the addition of soda. A must-try is the Es Selasih. The colorful drink contains many traditional Indonesian ‘jellies' and will give you quite an adventure of tastes and textures.

The SD Food Advisor's Take on Kembang Goela Restaurant
Beautifully decorated and strategically located, Kembang Goela is a perfect place to go if you are in the mood for graceful or romantic dining. The dishes are inevitably Indonesian in taste, but the addition of Dutch influence makes it slightly friendlier to first-timers. For a new experience, bring many friends along and opt for the rijsttafel method.

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Address : Plaza Sentral,
Jalan Jendral Sudirman Kav. 47

About The Author

Dina Indrasafitri, Travel Writer

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

Dina finished her Major in Sociology in 2005. After working in Medan for several months and giving a shot at different jobs she finds that her love for writing, food, interior design and her hometown Jakarta had lead her to become a writer at Streetdirectory.com.

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