Authentic Indonesian Food in an Elegant Colonial Setting: Kembang Goela Jakarta

When friends or family visit Jakarta, they always want to eat good Indonesian food. I am constantly on the lookout for new and interesting places to bring my guests, where they can experience the complex flavours of Indonesian cuisine in a traditional elegant setting.

In today’s post, I am going to share with you a list of my 5 favourite Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta – all tried and tested. One of them being Kembang Goela, a restaurant I recently brought my parents to (and they loved it).

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Entrance to Kembang Goela.

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Beautiful handcrafted mirror and chandelier overhead.

Kembang Goela feels like a mansion of some rich tycoon with many private dining rooms. I absolutely adore its high ceiling, which makes the entire place much more classy and roomy.

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One of the private rooms (it’s HUGE).

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Lovin’ the grand hanging lights.

Its interior is colonial yet elegant with old photographs on walls, pots of pretty flowers, dark wood furniture, and a grand piano by the side. #nostalgic

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Excited to order!

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Colonial-style architecture.

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Live piano music – a great dinner accompaniment.

Kembang Goela serves traditional Indonesian cuisine influenced by the various regions within Indonesia. What makes this restaurant unique is that its menu has a Peranakan twist as well. Indonesian food + Peranakan food = TREAT FOR THE TASTEBUDS.

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Table Flatlay of mains (not including the appetizers we ordered).

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Bon appetit!

The food was well-presented and excellent. Special mention goes to their Oseng-Oseng Ketjipir (sauteed wing beans) and their Brinjal Panggang (grilled egg plant with red chilli), which I loved.

I’ve also heard that their Dendeng Balado (deep fried beef carpacio) is good too but we weren’t feeling beefy that night and so didn’t order it.

Each dish on the menu comes with an English description, which I find really helpful. Saves me the hassle of googling to see what the dish looks like. 🙂

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Thank you for the lovely experience, Kembang Goela!


List of my 5 favourite Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta

1. Kembang Goela
Plaza Sentral Parking Lot
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav 47-48
Central Jakarta 

2. Bunga Rampai
Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro No. 35
Menteng, Central Jakarta

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Bunga Rampai (photo credit: JKTGO).

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Dining at Bunga Rampai.

3. Kila Kila by Akasya
SCBD Gedung Lot 4, 7th Floor
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav 52-53
Central Jakarta

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Kila Kila (photo credit: Akasya).

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Delish.

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Dinner at Kila Kila, when Jia visited Jakarta.

4. Harum Manis 
Pavilion Apartment Retail Aracade
Jl. KH Mas Mansyur Kav.24
Central Jakarta

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Harum Manis (photo credit: JKTGO).

5. TeSate Menteng 
Jalan Dr Samratulangi No. 39
Menteng, Central Jakarta

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TeSate (photo credit: Sari Rasa Group).

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TeSate with Indo girlfriends, when Juli visited.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

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Legit Bak Chor Mee in Jakarta. SLURP!

Some time back, I posted about Singapore Char Kway Teow in Jakarta. Today, this entry is going to be on another uniquely Singapore hawker dish — Bak Chor Mee.

Bak Chor Mee (肉脞面) or minced meat noodles is a predominant feature of Singapore hawker centres. One of our iconic street foods, this well-loved dish transcends all classes and boundaries.

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Totally legit Bak Chor Mee in Jakarta.

So what does Bak Chor Mee consist of?

Bak Chor Mee is usually  made up of mee pok (flat egg noodles) or mee kia (thin egg noodles), slices of braised mushroom, minced pork, slices of lean pork, pork liver, and meat balls. It is an awesome combination, especially delectable when the noodles are tossed in chilli, black vinegar, and pork lard. Served with just the right bit of wetness and soup on the side – YUMMMMMY.

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Bak Chor Mee & Fishball Mee from Ming Fa, PIK.

A few of our friends have previously told us about Ming Fa’s authentic Bak Chor Mee situated in PIK. As it is pretty far from where we stay (about 25km away), we never got down to trying it.

But Agent D woke up on saturday morning with a HUGEEEEE bcm craving. And we succumbed. So thankful for GO-JEK in Jakarta…the IDR 60K delivery fee, albeit pricey, was totally worth it. 🙂

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Bak Chor Mee Signature with additional fishballs and prawns (IDR 52k).

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Bak Chor Mee Regular (IDR 39k).

The Bak Chor Mee was SO GOOD. I can imagine it to be even better fresh and piping hot. #CravingsSatisfied

Agent D was feeling super hungry that morning so we ordered another bowl of Fishball Noodles for him, which was pretty shiok too!

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Fishball Noodles (IDR 39k).

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Receipt with Ming Fa’s address and number.

In case you’re wondering, the Ming Fa Bak Chor Mee in PIK seems to be the same one as Ming Fa Fishball along Upper Thomson Road in Singapore (they actually have the same logo!). Not sure if it’s just a franchise or they are under the same owner though. I leave that for you to find out. 🙂


Mingfa Indonesia
Fresh Market PIK, TP-21 (front row facing the street)
Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Vibrant Peranakan Culture and Cuisine at Meradelima Restaurant

Meradelima Restaurant is a reflection of how two different cultures used to and still coexist side by side in perfect harmony.
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Meradelima Restaurant.

Commonly referred to as Peranakans, they are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago (which includes Indonesia and Singapore) between the 15th and 17th centuries. Peranakans are a unique heritage to Southeast Asia, an intertwining of the Malay and Chinese culture.
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A Peranakan wedding couple (taken from Wikipedia).

Meradelima beautifully embodies the vivacious and spirited Peranakan culture both in its design and cuisine. Housed in a two-storey building featuring Jengki architecture, patrons are welcomed into the restaurant by a red-carpeted wooden deck and servers dressed in red oriental cheongsams.
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One of the private dining rooms in Meradelima.

On entering the restaurant, I felt as if I was transported back to a bygone era. The interior was decorated with vibrantly coloured Peranakan-style porcelain collections, vintage replica becak chairs, and exquisite kebayas encased in large glass frames.
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Pretty porcelain on tables.

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Our first visit – dining against the backdrop of intricately embroidered kebayas with floral motifs.

According to the owner who was born and raised as a Peranakan, each kebaya is uniquely designed and the display stands as a tribute to the lives of Peranakan women of the past.

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An assortment of Peranakan-style porcelain ware.

A set of stairs leads from the first floor of the restaurant to the upper floor. The decor of the second floor is equally enchanting. A pair of gigantic doors made of teak wood is fixed to the wall and inscribed on it are four Chinese characters (which I could hardly make out with my sad command of Mandarin).

Since my dad is a full Baba (which makes me  half a Nyonya I guess), I thought that he might like dining at Meradelima. And I was right. My parents loved the setting of the entire place.
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Our second visit – seated at the exact same spot.

Food wise, their menu has a mix of Indonesian, Malay and Chinese food — thanks to the influence of the Peranakan era.

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What we ordered.

Meradelima makes a lovely place for a family get-together or a private party. It is also a good place to take your tourist guests to. If you want to dine in privacy, there are various private dining rooms on both floors as well as an enclosed al fresco dining area.


Meradelima
Jl. Adityawarman No. 47, Senopati

Jakarta

Jakarta Fine Dining Experience: AMUZ Gourmet Restaurant

Last Saturday, Agent D took me out to dinner at AMUZ, a French fine-dining establishment in Jakarta. It was a pleasant surprise as we weren’t celebrating any special occasion/anniversary.

Agent D: Wear something nice ya, we’re going out for dinner.

Me: WHERE WHERE WHERE (absolutely can’t stand yet love surrrrprises).

And so I found myself at AMUZ Gourmet Restaurant, cozily tucked away in a corner of the second floor of the Energy Building. The entire place was serene and elegant – a nice getaway from the crowded and busy streets of Jakarta.

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AMUZ Gourmet Restaurant.

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Chic Parisian inrerior, circa 1900.

Opened by Chef Gilles Marx in October 2010, AMUZ makes a lovely place for a date night out. I loved its entire Parisian interior featuring Eiffel Tower-inspired ironwork, unique teardrop-like chandeliers and paintings by some of Indonesia’s renowned artists.

The restaurant offers contemporary French cuisine accompanied by French, as well as other European wines, stored in a walk-in glass cellar. Patrons can enjoy their cocktail creations or wine in the adjoining bar and lounge.

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Hungry half smile.

Agent D made a reservation for their “Saturday Romantic Dinner” which includes a 6 course degustation set menu for two, table set up, and cocktails before or after dinner. The total bill came up to about IDR 2 juta.

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Pretty table set up.

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Our 6 course degustation set menu.

We started off feeling very hungry but as the courses progressed, we ate each one slower and slower.

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Light creamed chestnut soup – white truffle essence added oomph to this.

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Light smoked fresh water eel – crisp on the outside but succulent and tender on the inside. (Agent D’s favourite course)

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Pan-seared foie gras, champignons, and black truffle cannelloni – sparks flew in my mouth. (my favourite)

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Halfway there…3 more courses to go!

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Baked pacific coral grouper fillet – fish was fresh but nothing spectacular.

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Overnight braised US prime short ribs in red port wine-red port jus – meat was done just right. FATS melted in my mouth. 🙂

Towards the end of our dinner, I realised we had not yet taken a mandatory table shot. So here goes! *Agent D rolls eyes*

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5th course and pressing on.

By the time we finished our main courses, I was 99-ish% full. But there’s always room for dessert. Right.

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Surprise pre-dessert comprising preserved pear – not to my liking at all. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of preserved fruits.

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Mango-ginger-passion fruit creme brulee – nice twist to creme brulee but I wasn’t too wowed.

Overall, we enjoyed our fine-dining experience at AMUZ. Most of their dishes are rich in taste and flavor, yet light and refreshing.

Thank you for arranging this, Agent D. Above all, I enjoyed our conversations over dinner the most.

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Happy diners.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  – Virginia Woolf


AMUZ French Restaurant
The Energy Building, 2nd Floor 
Jalan Jend. Sudirman Kav 52-53
Jakarta 12190 

Wholesale Fashion Center in Jakarta: ITC Mangga Dua Mall

ITC Mangga Dua is a shopping mall in North Jakarta specializing in fashion, clothes and accessories – both retail and wholesale. It’s kind of like the Indonesian equivalent of Bangkok’s Platinum Fashion Mall.

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Six levels of intense shopping at ITC Mangga Dua.

ITC Mangga Dua is actually part of the Mangga Dua shopping district which includes five other complexes – Mangga Dua WTC, Dusit Mangga Dua, Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua, Mangga Dua Mall, and Harco Mas Mangga Dua. ITC Mangga Dua focuses on fashion and accessories whilst the other malls specialize in computer accessories, electronic devices, automotive products, etc.

Inside ITC Mangga Dua, there are hundreds of shops packed into six levels selling just about everything…clothes, bags, shoes, accessories, watches, spectacles, home decor, kitchen stuff, flowers, the list goes on. And of course food. 🙂

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A food stall smack right in the middle of shops.

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Yes you read it right – ICE CREAM SINGAPORE!!

On my first visit, I only managed to cover three levels. The second time I went with my parents, we spent the entire day there and yet still didn’t complete all six floors.

Ohhh and if you happen to see something you fancy, buy it right away. DO NOT attempt to mull it over and locate the shop later on – there’s a high chance you may not find it again (speaking from experience :/).

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An overwhelming sight.

If you get hungry halfway through shopping, you may want to check out Bakmi Aliang (rated 4.7 on Google). We walked past it by chance and seeing how it was packed with an endless stream of people, we decided to give it a try!

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Lunch stop at Bakmi Aliang.

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Bakmi Gede (with pork!!) for IDR 20K.

I saw some locals squeezing lime and adding black (?) sauces to their bakmi and decided to follow suit. Turned out to be pretty good stuff. After my fulfilling meal, I was energized to start shopping again.

Some of my buys from my most recent trip to ITC Mangga Dua:

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Handmade cookie monster rattan storage (IDR 180K).

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Waterproof jelly flats/wedges perfect for rainy days (or floods) in Jakarta.

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IDR 70-100K for each pair.

P.S. Bring enough cash $$$.

P.P.S. Must bargain/haggle!

Have a great time shopping. x


Address: Jl. Mangga Dua Raya, North Jakarta.
Opening Hours: 10am to at 6pm.

Last Trip of the Year to Singapore: Nowhere Else We’d Rather Be

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Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. HOME TRULY.

And now on to our year end holiday in Singapore, where Agent D and I were like tourists in our homeland.

GOOD OLD FOOD

First thing we did upon touching down was…SATISFY CRAVINGS with oily lardy awesommmme hawker fare. That which never grows old on us.

Our first stop was Chinatown Food Centre where we had char kway teow (ohh the hum), a huge serving of claypot rice originally intended for 4 (complete with lap cheong!), and chwee kueh with loads of chilli.

After a very fulfilling lunch, we walked away the fats to my favourite egg tart store a few streets down – Tong Heng Confectionery. Their diamond egg tarts have a slighly flaky but firm crust with an almost jelly-like, egg-custard filling. Simply dan-talizingly shiok.

Another day, we headed all the way to Little India to have Beach Road Scissor Cut Curry Rice. Do not be fooled by its appearance. Although the rice rice looks unappealingly messy and unsightly – it is absolutely sinfully delicious. A plate of ‘heart attack’.

And no Singapore trip would be complete without my hokkien mee

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Hokkien Mee with plate of greens (meant to offset lard and oil).

This time round, Agent D and I hardly had time to check out cool and exciting new cafes/restaurants. One exception was Hana Japanese Restaurant, which my friends brought me to.

They’re known for their “flying noodles”, in particular the Flying Truffle Somen and the Flying Salted Egg Yolk Udon. You should also try their 4×3 grid box (chef’s selection of 12 small bites) and Matcha-misu dessert (beautifully decorated like a terrarium).

SIGHTSEEING IN OUR HOMELAND

Food aside, Agent D and I probably covered more ‘tourist attractions’ in one week than in half a year when we resided in Singapore.

In between our food hunts, we explored and walked the quaint streets of Chinatown.

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Chinatown, Singapore.

We also spent one lovely evening at Christmas Wonderland in Gardens by the Bay.

I loveeee the gardens. It is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir.

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Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Christmas Wonderland has been held in Singapore for three years now (including 2016) and it was our first time visiting this yuletide fair. So glad we made it. 🙂

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Magnificent sculptures of light.

The lights came on at 6.30 p.m. and the entire place became more and more magical as the sun set and the skies darkened.

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Beautiful Singapore.

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Gorgeous luminarie lights.

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Ice Palace.

Ohh and we finally got to visit Adventure Cove Waterpark in Sentosa – an aquatic amusement park with an aquarium, waterslides, a wave pool, tubing, snorkeling, etc.

Agent D and I spent an entire day taking high-speed water slides (screaming our lungs out!), drifting on a lazy river, and bouncing around the wave pool. SUPER FUN!

Didn’t get to take any pictures because we left our phones in the locker. Here are two of my favourite rides (photo credit: RWS Sentosa):

Adventure Cove Waterpark Riptide Rocket

Riptide Rocket – Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic coaster. 

Adventure Cove Waterpark Spiral Washout

Spiral Washout – an oscillating tube ride through a twisting, turning water flume. 

We also did some Christmas shopping at Public Garden Christmas 2016, an annual flea market which runs during the Christmas season.

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Checking out unique jade rings with gemstones.

Public Garden brings together quality brands and independent businesses with unique merchandise. Industries include design, stationery, art, jewellery, apparel, home decor, vintage, beauty, etc.  #supportlocalbrands

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Flowers, anyone?

If you missed Public Garden last December, you can always look forward to the next one this year! 🙂

MEETUPS & CATCH UPS

Around year end, there are more meetups, gatherings, celebrations and potlucks than usual. And we are thankful to be part of some.

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Queky and Charmaine.

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Happy Birthday Aileen and Alice!!

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Agent D’s church homies.

A FLOWERY SWEET SURPRISE

Something to remember this trip by…Agent D surprised me with a bouquet of the prettiest flowers at our GSF +1 gathering.

I asked him why he got me flowers and he replied, “We don’t need a reason to buy you flowers.” Awww, what a keeper. (Actually, he had just spent close to 500 bucks on board games that day…perhaps that was the untold reason heh??!)

Anyhow, the flowers made my day and gave me something to remember this SG trip by. ❤

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Thank you husband! XOXO

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Our flight back to Jakarta was two hours delayed and we boss monster-ed away!

Already missing you, Singapore. Till the next time!

 

Closing the Year with Dad and Mom in Jakarta

I’m finallllllly back to writing. And oh GOODBYE 2016, HELLO 2017!!!

Time seems to pass even faster than normal around year end with all the ongoing festivities. Agent D and I were back in Singapore the week before Christmas (I’ll leave that to another post). And then we had my parents over for Christmas and New Year.

Jakarta gets very quiet during Christmas and New Year because many Indonesians travel out of the country during that period. This is reflected in the road conditions — our car can actually travel at >50km/h for long stretches and we can get to destinations in one-third the time. Ahh-mazing, ain’t it? 🙂

Thanks to dad and mom, we had a less lonely and more colourful Christmas and New Year in Jakarta. Here are some bits and pieces of their 11-day stay with us:

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Lunch stop at KOI Kemang, after hunting for household treasures in Kemang.

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Exploring the alleys of Ancol Art Market, Pasar Seni.

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Christmas lunch with Wes, Steph and baby Sophie at Keraton at The Plaza.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been bingeing A LOT on all things rich and fatty. I feel like my face has widened an inch horizontally *horrors*.

Food aside, we’ve been shopping quite a bit too. I brought my parents to ITC Mangga Dua, the Indonesian equivalent of Bangkok’s Platinum Fashion Mall. We were there the entire day but still could not finish walking all six levels of the wholesale fashion hub.

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Honing my bargain hunting skills (the shopkeepers don’t look impressed at all heh).

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STAR WARS exhibits at Pacific Place Mall.

Mom’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year and we got to celebrate it together. Dinner was at Kembang Goela, a lovely restaurant with colonial interior serving traditional Indonesian food. My parents loved the place.

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Blessed Birthday Mom!

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” — Cardinal Mermillod

Wishing you many more years of good health, love, joy, and peace as you walk this life with God!

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Thanks for everything and for always having my back (literally!).

This was our first New Year in Jakarta (last year we spent it in Singapore) and the fireworks were pretty spectacular. Five minutes before midnight of 1 Jan 2017, fireworks started going off all over Jakarta from people’s houses/backyards/gardens. It was a really beautiful sight from my balcony.

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Sparks of light all across Jakarta. Pardon the really bad picture – the blurish white/orange specks are actually fireworks.

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New Year’s lunch at Meradelima Restaurant.

We spent a fair bit of time at home too, watching DVDs and playing with Freckles the kitty. It was dad and mom’s first time meeting Freckles and they became fast friends.

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Freckles sitting up to watch a movie with us.

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Such a baby!

I just sent dad and mom off at the airport this morning and am already missing their presence at home. Looking forward to seeing them again in February!

P.S. I will write about some of the places we visited in greater detail in separate posts. Till then, xoxo.