experience - Underground Secret Dining, Jakarta
Written by Jeanette Tamara
Its no secret that the food in Jakarta is outstanding. Underground Secret Dining, a clandestine dining operation of sorts, seeks to highlight the citys culinary gems in an alternative food culture experience.
As the capital of Indonesia an archipelago of over 17,000 islands – Jakarta’s culinary landscape is certainly diverse and often dizzying to say the least. Underground Secret Dining affords adventurous foodies the opportunity to experience the city’s local flavour on an intimate level, organising regular food events in ‘secret’ venues to savour secret recipes by guest chefs or a humble housewife.
The price of admission is Rp.150,000 (US$15). You may be in for world-class fare or charming homemade comfort foods from some far-flung corner of the archipelago. In either case, the mission of Underground Secret Dining is a noble one.
Aside from educating Jakartans and tourists alike in the diversity of regional Indonesian cuisine, these events help support local restaurant-owners and home cooks by introducing them to potential new patrons. Venues in the past have included galleries, public parks, floating decks, and high-rise apartment buildings.
Each event is limited to 40 people for an intimate experience. Organisers will call for attention at the venue and describe the dishes prepared. On occasion, traditional music will match the food, as was the case during a Bali-themed event complete with angklung accompaniment.
This new style of dining for those craving a unique experience is trending in big cities all over the world from Shanghai to So Paulo and has been brought to Jakarta by Lisa Virgiano and Sari Hartono, a pair of foodie friends since high school.
Not content to stand still, the duo will be unveiling a new and exciting dining concept, which is suitably secret and will be launched on their Facebook page.
Their last hurrah showcased the best of Indonesian cuisine and featured Indonesia’s most expensive truffles (US$140/kg), free-range water buffalo jerky, and traditional Singgang cooking and Peranakan-style cuisine.
Feel the need for some open space in Jakarta? Then head upwards for panoramic views and excellent food. SKYE lounge and restaurant on the 56th floor of the BCA Tower offers a delicious fusion of Asia and the West, and its lounge bar is the place to take in the sunset. Or head to the newly opened Altitude on the 46th floor of The Plaza building. The fine dining concept houses three top-end restaurants – GAIA, which serves classic north-Italian cuisine, Luke Mangan’s modern-Australian 'Salt grill', and the Japanese Enmaru – which together share 360° views of the city.