Just a year ago, a simple sketched portrait of an unknown, shy, smiley face was tucked away on a road nearby Mandarin Oriental Jakarta, just a few minutes ride to the Welcome Monument (Bundaran HI).
Quiet from the outdoors but lively within; great and wonderful memories were made in Face Bar.
But it has been 22 years since this bar and two fondly remembered restaurants, formerly known as Lan Na Thai and Hazara Restaurant, have served sumptuous tropical Thai and authentic Indian cuisines at the heart of the capital. Indeed, 22 years is a very long time for a business. Some changes had to be done; hence the relocation to Jl. Tulodong Bawah D-1 in Senopati was completed.
Not only the location has changed, what was once a cosy place to drink Tequila shots while sneaking in bites of their special-spiced popcorn, along with bites of pad thai or chicken tandoori, has now altered to being just an eatery. With the new name, Face Kitchen Jakarta is no longer a bar. Sure, alcoholic beverages such as cocktails, wines, and beers are served, but the eatery concept focuses more on bringing the best exotic flavours of Thai and Northern Indian delicacies into one place.
Ramon Meijer, part of Face Kitchen Jakarta’s business development, claimed “rather than separating the two restaurants on two floors like back in Menteng, serving them in one place is merely a continuation. It’s convenient too. You can now choose a Thai appetiser to go along with your North Indian main dish and then sweeten your palette with some mango sticky rice.”
For those of you who are familiar with the iconic face sketch, it’s not hard to miss it in Senopati amidst the broad selection of restaurants and bars there. One thing’s for sure upon getting out of your taxi, Gojek, or whatever mode of transportation you travel with, you’ll walk straight towards a large wooden door that opens to “the face”. Apparently, the owner found this wood-carved face art piece lying around in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Yes, this space is smaller than it used to be. A billiard table is also not accessible anymore. Other than that, nothing much has changed. The vibe is still very tranquil. Its interior design is still in a contemporary setting and highly influenced by Buddha decorations as well as vintage-esque South Asian accents adorning every corner of the restaurant. Dimmed lights are on to give off an intimate dining experience, then lots of intricate wooden furniture is utilised to comfort foodies. The atmosphere seems romantic for a dinner date, yet eating here for an official lunch meeting is ideal due to there being no unnecessary distractions present. And well, frankly, the food is consistently mouth-watering!
Anyone who adores Thai and Indian cuisine will enter food heaven. Since relocating to an area where most locals love to spend their downtime doing what they love best: eating, more locals are hoped to get transported on an Asian culinary expedition here. In fact, the Japanese community especially seek to savour Indian dishes – even the menu has Japanese descriptions on it! Private functions such as birthdays, meetings, and even arisan gatherings are catered in a private dining room, nestled in a glass-door corner room that seats up to a maximum of 10 people.
With Asian cooking, lots of spices commonly found throughout the continent are heavily used such as coriander, chilli, ginger, cardamom, cumin, lemongrass, etc. However, in some cases, there are spices that can only be found in a particular country which need to be imported – think of the variety of curry powders out there. Asian cooking seems to be complex. Some people would rather take the high road a.k.a. dine out. With a price range of around Rp400,000-500,000 per person, inclusive of food and your choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, you‘ll feed your body and soul at Face Kitchen Jakarta.
The Thai dishes derive from more than one region, curated to refine refreshing spiciness to your taste-buds. Moreover, the Indian dishes found on the menu are mainly from the northern side of the country, cooked in traditional methods – using charcoal fire to cook the tandoori, for example. Ramon said that the ingredients for both cuisines are carefully sourced with authenticity and quality in mind.
Several specialties at Face Kitchen Jakarta are perfect for both vegetarians and meat-lovers. Starting off with the plant-based eaters, start light with a classic, triangular Indian dish, fried until golden brown: Punjabi samosa (vegetable samosa). Dip it in hot sauce, if you like. What’s an Indian dining experience without dahl? Here, the dahl hazara (black lentil curry) is a non-spicy, creamy curry with soft lentils that still have a biteable texture. Pair it with a serving of garlic, cheese, or original naan bread. But if you’re someone who can’t function without a meat-based protein in your meal, the rogan josh (lamb curry) is one of the restaurant’s best sellers. The lamb is super tender and absorbs the curry spices very well. Again, pair it with your preferred naan – you won’t even realise you’ve eaten a whole serving because it is that addictive!
“Have a mango lassi – it’s refreshing to top off a meal of creamy curry with a glass of lassi. We use homemade yoghurt,” explains Ramon.
Off to the refreshingly sweet and spicy flavours of Thailand, order any kind of Thai salad on the menu to get the country’s revitalising sensation.
Yam nua (Thai beef salad) is highly recommended due to its tangy and spicy flavour with cucumber, carrots, onion, and well-spiced beef. Kwaytiaow pad kemao talay (drunken noodles with seafood) itself is rich in nutrients from an array of vegetables and protein from oysters and shrimps. Be aware that this dish is slightly on the spicy side – prepare to feel warmth in your mouth as you clean up this plate of a light main dish. Many of the Thai dishes here, however, lean towards the meat-lovers’ palate, with thod man goong (prawn cake), gai horbai toey (pandan chicken), know phad supparod (pineapple fried rice with shrimp and egg), and gaeng kiew warn (chicken green curry) to name a few.
Regardless of the kind of sensation you’d like your taste-buds to dwell in, Face Kitchen Jakarta is now a one-stop restaurant for those of you craving authentic Thai and Indian delicacies – hitting just right at the spot. Not going to deny it, you should prepare to reel into a food coma.
FACE KITCHEN JAKARTA
Day & Time: Daily lunch at 12-2:30pm / Sunday-Wednesday dinner at 6-10pm / Thursday-Saturday dinner at 6-11pm
Address: Jalan Tulodong Bawah D-1, Senayan, South Jakarta.
For more details and reservations, contact +628118555526 / email to email@example.com / follow Instagram @face_kitchen_jakarta