Friday, May 05, 2006

Vodka comes in red squares.

A long week ended in a Russian-themed vodka bar. Whether it was a send off for me or just a mid-week reprieve from work (I’d rather think it was the former), Bob, treated everyone to a round of drinks at Red Square in the newly opened Senayan Arcadia.

Never mind that it was Jakarta’s first vodka bar, what made this place interesting for me were the greenish lights coming from the long cocktail table in the middle of the room. It made everyone look like the Incredible Hulk. How fun is that?

Everyone here turns green.

Wan Lie, Planning Director

At the far end of the room was the DJ’s booth, a slightly cramped square space that had ‘The Red Square’ sign glowing a bright red, which provided a nice contrast to the viridity of the bar.

And like most drinking places, you can hardly hear anything above the din. I normally don’t enjoy coming to bars to hang out with people because (1) you pay a ridiculous amount for a drink you can make at home, (2) I get my fair share of stalkers from these places, and (3) I’m not too fond of the music they play. Beers and gigs are all you need to keep me happy.

But I was in another country. And that totally changes the bar-hopping dynamics. Plus, I was in the company of similar-minded ad guys. And one rockstar.

Eka, the not-so-reluctant rockstar.

Bob and me.

Good company and good drinks. But forget the food. The must try here are the ‘dip suck bit shoots’ – vodka shooters that require you to shoot it up, dip some fruit or vegetable stick into a different shooter mix, suck that, then bite the fruit (or veggie). Not recommended for the easily inebriated.

Other drinks worth checking out include the roskas (go for the Red one), and the caviar shoots. It can't get more exotic than that. But then again, so is a vodka bar in Indonesia.

Back in the hotel room, egging myself to take a shower. 3AM, Jakarta.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Just because it has ox tail doesn't mean it's kare-kare

Tonight I'm having sop buntut for dinner, an Indonesian-style oxtail soup served with steamed rice, green sambal (pulpy green pepper with lemon) and emping (bitter nut) crackers. Sounds good, right?

Hungry from my trip and dulled by the huge plasma TV, I immediately assumed that an oxtail soup meant kare-kare (a stew made from peanut sauce, normally having oxtail, tripe and vegetables). And I thought the sambal was some kind of Indonesian bagoong (shirmp paste).

Silly me.

Pretending that it's kare-kare, The Ritz-Carlton, Jakarta. May 3, 2006