Indonesia Expat
Business/Property Food & Drink

Finding a Restaurant Near You

A friend of mine once asked me, “What are the 5 largest cities in Indonesia?” Confidently I replied, “Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Yogya and maybe Medan.” “Nope, you’re wrong,” he said. “It’s North Jakarta, South Jakarta, West Jakarta, East Jakarta and Central Jakarta.” While I don’t think he was technically correct, his point was clear. This city is just too big and even if you (like me) tend to stay in one general area to avoid being stuck in traffic – there are still so many new places opening all the time that it can be difficult to find them all.

Fortunately, there are some very excellent mobile apps that will show you what’s around your immediate location. This week I’ll take a look at a few that make finding local restaurants super easy: buUuk, Google Places, Toresto and Tasterous.

buUuk for iPhone and Android, is the granddaddy of all restaurant apps. Developed in Singapore, buUuk launched its Jakarta content with the launch of the iPhone 3G way back in March 2009. It covers over 2000 locations in Jakarta and is by far the most accurate and detailed app around. You can do just about everything with this app – leave reviews, vote, share on Twitter and Facebook, save favourites, sort by rating and location and even add listings directly on your device. The downside with all these innovative features is that the app can get a bit confusing to use, but if you stick with just a few (“top rated” and “nearby”) you’ll be just fine. It’s free and no sign up is required.

The native iPhone and Android Google Places app (BlackBerry users can only access via the browser I’m afraid) was released in January this year and it’s awesome. It is super powerful and the ratings and comments that you leave in the app appear on Google’s search results for the world to see. It covers all sorts of locations – bars, ATMs, gas stations, hotels and of course restaurants. Owners of restaurants need to claim their venue (not many have so far) and it seems most hotels are added automatically. One standout feature is that the app uses your phone’s digital compass to show not just the proximity but the direction of the venue as well – something I’ve never seen before and has proved to be very useful. Like buUuk it’s free and you only need to login if you want to leave a review.

Toresto for iPhone and Android was just released a month ago and it’s great seeing a Bandung-based developer get in on the restaurant location space to compete with the big boys. At the moment the only content it has is the restaurant’s name, address and phone number (the “menu” and “promo” tabs are blank on every one I checked), and quite a few of the geotags are incorrect but these shortcomings will hopefully get corrected in due course. Free with no registration required.

I really struggled to find a good local BlackBerry restaurant locator app so I was quite excited when I heard about Tasterous for BlackBerry. It seems to be a very interesting

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