This restaurant is extremely shabby, located in an extremely dodgy-looking two-star hotel, and situated in one of the noisiest, busiest, filthiest and polluted place in Jakarta. But why, oh, why did I came all the way from my comfy home in the suburbs to this place?
The answer is Authentic Hong Kong-style dim sum.
Metropole Hotel dim sum is one of the very, very few restaurants in South part of Jakarta (including west and central) that still serve non-halal dim sums (i.e. containing pork).
Without offense to our Muslim brothers and sisters, dim sum without pork (or pork-derived ingredients) are just plain wrong, nay, blasphemy. Most yum-chas in Jakarta is halal, especially in areas outside North Jakarta (where most Chinese Indonesians reside). However, for people like me, who live in South Jakarta, going up north just to get a decent yum-cha is too much of a hassle. Jakarta is a huuuuge city and going from south to north part of the city requires hours of driving because of the bad traffic.
Anyway, the restaurant is old and dinghy now, but on its heydays in mid 1980s, it is one of the only TWO places in Jakarta that serves truly authentic and excellent dim sums (the other one being The Blue Ocean Restaurant, the ONLY restaurant in Jakarta at that time that serve dim sum as good as, if not better than, the famous Wing Wah or Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong). Jakarta, although a cosmopolitan city, has a surprisingly low number of Chinese restaurants serving good dim sums. I remember as a child, I had to wait until our twice-a-year trip to Hong Kong or Singapore to enjoy truly good yum-chas.
Actually, in the mid-nineties, many upmarket Chinese restaurants serving weekend yum-chas began to sprout in Jakarta. Names like Samudera in BRI Tower and Dragon City came to mind, but since those restaurants acquire more and more native Indonesian customers, they gradually omit the pork and switch to all-halal menu to cater to the non-Chinese customers.
So, in the end, all that is left is this dilapidated, nearly-bankrupt, dinghy restaurant in West Jakarta to satisfy our weekly yum-cha cravings. But atmosphere, decor, and status aside, the food is still, well, excellent.
The restaurant / hotel sign. Somehow reminds me of Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong.
The hotel front, proudly displaying their two-star status.
North: Fu juk geen (steamed shrimp wrapped in beancurd skin)
South: Har gau (shrimp dumplings)
West: Niu nyuk mai (Hakka-style meatballs. I love it very much, but nowadays, less and less restaurants serve it. I have no idea why.)
East: Prawn siu maai
Cha siu bau (pork buns)
Metropole's famous chicken congee
Daan tat (egg tarts)
Fried shrimp dumplings
This was nice. It's stuffed shrimp pastry glazed with honey and almond, served with mayonnaise.
Monday, December 3, 2007