A big old Banyan tree greeted me as I walked into the front yard of Lara Djonggrang restaurant. There was this eerie feeling creeping into me as I stepped inside the old building of this Indonesian cuisine restaurant. Not only old, the interior of Lara Djonggrang that is located in Jalan Teuku Cik Di Tiro, Jakarta, is full of antique furniture and objects from all over Indonesia. Even though some people (including me) might find this unique restaurant a little bit eerie, but Lara Djonggrang offers its visitors a cozy ethnical and also historical atmosphere.
Being one of the restaurants owned by Hotel Tugu Group, a big name in Indonesia’s hospitality industry, Lara Djonggrang won’t disappoint you. The restaurant building used to be an old house which then was bought and renovated by the Hotel Tugu Group. “This old house used to be the home of former President Soekarno’s adjutant, “ Kessy Adeylanie, the Sales and Marketing Officer told me.
Rows of traditional lamps and stone statues greeted me as I passed a narrow hallway. Javanese gamelan music is heard playing from a far, adding more Javanese scent into the air. Kessy said that all the ornaments and antiquities in the restaurant are properties of Hotel Tugu. Even though those furniture and objects possess great historical values, all things that you see in there are not for sale. Not only once, many times visitors especially expatriates asked her if they can buy a few objects they like when the visited Lara Djonggrang.
This exotic restaurant is consisted of a few rooms. There are several rooms which are available to be reserved for private party or business gathering. One of the rooms is named La Bihzad Lounge. The name of the room derived from the name of a famous Afghanistan artist who lived in the 15th century. Bihzad’s works of arts used to be spread all over Afghanistan, but now many of them are destroyed by the Talibans.
Now let’s talk about the food. One of Lara Djonggrang’s special menus is called Pasar Nelayan Kampung Tugu. This dish are made from various seafood such as lobsters, oyster and prawns that are placed on a big ship shaped plate. This dish is one of the favorite dishes which is served at Lara Djonggrang. Another menu is called Pasar Satay. According to its name, Pasar Satay is consisted of various kinds of satay, ranging from chicken satay to sate lilit (Balinese satay). I ordered a dish which is called Nasi Kepulauan. When it is served, I immediately realized that it has a very large portion. The dish is consisted of a plate of white rice that comes in a form of wayang (Indonesian traditional puppet). On a separate plate, served a fried chicken, lalap (Indonesian traditional salad), tempe, fried nuts and sayur lodeh. The fried chicken is very crispy and tastes good, and the sambal is not too spicy for foreign tongue.
I ordered lychee iced tea for the drink. Like the food, the iced tea served in a large glass. I love this lychee iced tea. And for the dessert, I had Es Siwalan, which consisted of cincau, coconut flesh, and lontar fruit, a kind of Indonesian fruit that is pretty hard to find these days. I also like the Es Siwalan. It tastes just right in my mouth, not to sweet and very refreshing.
If you happened to have a plan on visiting Jakarta, I suggest you to spend time to eat at Lara Djonggrang. Besides Javanese food, they also serve traditional food that comes from Lombok, Manado and also Padang. A small indigenous Indonesian restaurant right at the heart of the hectic Jakarta. What are you waiting for? Experience Indonesia through its hearty culinary at Lara Djonggrang.*
Imperial Indonesian Cuisine
Jl. Teuku Cik Di Tiro No.4, Central Jakarta