Saturday, August 4, 2007

Jun Njan Restaurant - Batu Ceper, Jakarta

Jun Njan (pronounced "yun nyan") is truly one of Jakarta's most legendary Chinese restaurant. Established by the then vice-president Adam Malik in the 1960s, it was once one of Jakarta's most exclusive and expensive restaurants, frequented by ministers, movie stars, and glitteratis alike. Some even say that until today, no Chinese restaurants in Jakarta can match the unique-ness of Jun Njan's cuisine.

I can talk for paragraphs and paragraphs about this restaurant, but to sum it up, this place is really something else. Adam Malik was a great admirer of Chinese culture, especially paintings and food, and when he established this restaurant, he wasn't just playing around. Rumor has it that he even paid a fortune to employ Hong Kong's best chefs to work at his restaurant. I can't remember the details (got to ask my dad).

As for the food, it's mainly Cantonese style, so seafood is a staple. However, they also have lots of Hakka influences, such as the way they cook and serve the braised stone-creek frog and preserved vegetables, which is quintessentially Hakka. This restaurant is also one of the (now) dying few that serve non-halal food (a.k.a pork) as well as halal entries in Jakarta, so their customers mainly consist of non-Muslims or moderate / secular Muslims.

Now, the restaurant may not be as glamorous as many others, but for die-hard gourmets, this place is still THE place to go, especially if one seeks their award-winning "Kepiting saus Padang" (Crab in Padang-style sauce, which is, believe it or not, what inspired Singapore's legendary Chilli Crab). How's that for legendary!!

Udang Api-api Rebus
(Boiled red prawns)
-> I don't understand how simple boiled prawn can be so delicious. This is, in my opinion, the BEST boiled prawn appetizer in the whole universe. The prawns are fresh and incredibly sweet. However, the secret lies in the dipping sauce. The dipping sauce is chilli-garlic based and I'm told that people flock into this restaurant SPECIFICALLY for that chilli sauce.

Kepiting Saus Padang
(Crab in Padang-style Sauce)
-> The house speciality. Wayy before Singapore became famous for its Chilli Crab, this dish reigned supreme. Some even say that Singaporeans stole the Chilli Crab concept from this dish. The sauce is thick and hot, and is further enhanced by adding eggs into it. Actually, the sauce itself is a dish of its own, so Mantous (Chinese buns) are served to be dipped into the thick, rich sauce and eaten just like that. Each of this dish consists of two crabs, a male and a female. The male crab is superior in texture, but the female crab is mainly enjoyed for its aroma and its eggs. Anyway, this dish is superb.

Gurami Tahu Tausi
(Fried Gourami Fish in Tofu and Black Bean Sauce)
-> An interesting twist of the otherwise boring fried Gourami. I love it.

Kodok Goreng Saus Mentega
(Crispy Fried Frog Legs in Butter Sauce)
-> A Classic peranakan-style Chinese dish, especially popular in Indonesia. One of the early Chinese - Western fusion food (The frog is a popular peranakan Chinese ingredient, and the butter sauce is mixed with Worchestershire Sauce, which is clearly an English influence).


cla said...

Kodokkkkkkk kodokkkk!!!!! mau.... apparently pekanbaru was out of kodok for the week and a half that i was there.... haiz...

sydney ada restaurant kodok gak??

Erique Fat Owl said...

Come on, Australians HATE frogs. They see all frogs as pests. Remember how they tried to exterminate all frogs??

Any Chinese people trying to sell frogs in Oz would probably get deported LMAO!

angel said...

hey, if ure a fan of seafood, i hv one good place for u to try
its called "indah seafood" at gunung sahari (right opposite to novotel hotel)
its not a fancy-type of restaurant so casual dresscode would be highly recommended :P
it serves best seafood ive ever tried and hv rather reasonable price too :)

PS: try to come on weekdays as weekend nights are always packed :)

Anonymous said...

how is the kepiting saus padang compared with the one from 212 in kelapa gading? I reckon 212 do the best hehehe. Anyway I will try this when I get the chance to go home.

globe trotting munchie said...

adam malik owned this restaurant? my middle school friends were the sons of the owner of the restaurants, and their last name was definitely not malik.... interesting...

Erique Fat Owl said...

@globe trotting munchie

You know what, I might probably be wrong after all! If you know the owner's children personally, then you might be right!

All I heard long ago was Adam Malik at least had something to do with this restaurant. Perhaps you should ask your friends about this? Was he involved in establishing this place or simply just a loyal customer - that's the question to be discussed...