16 February 2016

Chinese New Year Dinner at Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Jakarta Kemayoran

Catappa Restaurant
Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Jakarta Kemayoran
Jl. H. Benyamin Sueb Kav B-6
Superblok Mega Kemayoran
Kota Baru Bandar Kemayoran
Central Jakarta
Tel: 021-22601111


It is said that Chinese New Year was the moment when the people took revenge of the beast called Nian that ate people and children, using red paper, red clothes, red lanterns and firecrackers in front of their houses. 

In the modern life, Chinese New Year becomes an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the Annual Reunion Dinner and gift exchanges. Chinese New Year is also a time to honor deities and ancestors.

Just before they hold the Chinese New Year Dinner, they cleanse the house to take away any bad fortune and to welcome good luck. They also place all the red decorations at their houses that symbolizes fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. 

A reunion dinner when family members gather for celebration, named as "Nian Ye Fan", is held on Chinese New Year's Eve. The dinner is very large and traditionally includes special dishes of meat (pork, chicken, fish, duck, and seafood) as a main course for the dinner and offering for the New Year. Eight individual dishes are served to reflect the belief of good fortune associated with the number.

It is customary to make a glutinous new year cake (Niangao) that symbolizes prosperity and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the new year.

Red packets contains money are distributed for the family during the reunion dinner. The money reflect good luck and honorability. Members of the family who are married give red envelopes containing cash (Lai See or Angpow), a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family (children and teenagers).

A Lion and Dragon dance is a symbolic ritual in the Chinese New Year to banish bad spirits from the premises with their loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively.


This year, I spend my Chinese New Year Dinner at Catappa Restaurant located in Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Jakarta Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. The hotel is a brand new one as it was opened in 2015. Its location is next to Mega Glodok Kemayoran - the mall. 

The size of Catappa Restaurant is big and has some very nice buffet menus. It serves an authentic mix of Indonesian, Chinese, and International cuisines. It is very good for family and friends gathering.  

Let's start the Chinese New Year Dinner! 

Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng

Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng

Yu Sheng or Yee Sang is the main opening dish for the Chinese New Year Dinner. Yu Sheng, also known as Lo Hei, is Prosperity Toss. It is a Teochew-style raw fish salad. It consists of strips of raw salmon, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments. Yu Sheng symbolizes a good luck and an increase in abundance, prosperity and vigor.

Yu Sheng has salmon served with white radish, carrots, red pepper, turnips, red pickled ginger, sun-dried oranges, lime leaves, parsley, chili, jellyfish, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, shrimp crackers (or fried dried shrimp), five spice powder and other ingredients, laced with a sauce using plum sauce, rice vinegar, kumquat paste and sesame oil, for a total of 27 ingredients.

To enjoy the dish, we need to do some unique settings. 

  • The basic ingredients are first served. One of the family members proceeds to add ingredients such as the salmon, the crackers and the sauces while saying something about "auspicious wishes". The phrases of "May there be abundance year after year" are uttered as the salmon is added.
  • The pomelo or lime is added to the salmon, adding good luck and smooth life.
  • Pepper is then dashed over in the hope of attracting more wealth and treasures.
  • Then oil is poured out, circling the ingredients and encouraging numerous sources of wealth.
  • Carrots are added indicating blessings of good luck.
  • Then the shredded green radish is placed symbolizing eternal youth and the shredded white radish is added symbolizing prosperity in business and promotion at work.
  • Peanut crumbs are dusted on the dish, symbolizing a household filled with gold and silver.
  • Sesame seeds quickly follow symbolizing prosperity for the business.
  • Yu Sheng sauce is generously drizzled over everything that symbolizes sweet life.
  • Deep-fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows is then added with wishes that the whole floor would be filled with gold.

Everyone at the table then stand up and proceed to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various "auspicious wishes" out loud, or simply "Lo Hei, Lo Hei" or "scoop it up, scoop it up". It is believed that the height of the toss reflects the height of growth in fortunes, thus diners are expected to toss enthusiastically.

The taste of Yu Sheng is so colorful. Salty, sweet, sour, savory, and fresh. This dish is a very perfect appetizer! 

Wok-Fried Beef Tenderloin Black Pepper Sauce

Wok-Fried Beef Tenderloin Black Pepper Sauce

The beef is so tender and juicy, while the taste of the black pepper is absorbed deeply in the beef. Very delicious! 

Braised Sea Cucumber with Spinach and Quail Egg

Braised Sea Cucumber with Spinach and Quail Egg

This is the first time for me to eat Sea Cucumber. I like how it feels in my mouth. It feels so soft and chewy. Nom! Nom! Nom! As the Quail Egg and Spinach are my favorite dishes too, these two make everything on the plate right. The thick brown sauce is very tasteful!

Steamed Tiger Grouper Cantonese Style

Steamed Tiger Grouper Cantonese Style

As this dish arrives on the table, it looks a bit scary as I feel haunted by the fish. It is going to bite me! Look at its teeth! LOL!

Well, I find out that the taste is not as scary as it looks. The fish is tempting and appetizing. The unique spices in the dish (in Cantonese style) and the mushroom around the fish add more flavor to it. The brown sauce is very good. As a fan of fish, this dish is my perfect choice.

The fish is believed to symbolize surpluses. Yes, it gives surpluses to my belly too :-D

Deep Fried Crispy Lobster with Wheat Flake

Deep Fried Crispy Lobster with Wheat Flake

This is something that I don't want to miss. LOBSTER! It is cooked in such way that it tastes so crispy and marvelous. It is easy to bite and chew it. There is no need to eat this with rice, as it has wheat around it. The wheat gives a full volume to the dish.

Stir Fried Kailan with Bailing Mushroom Oyster Sauce & Grand Mercure Jakarta Kemayoran Fried Rice

Stir Fried Kailan with Bailing Mushroom Oyster Sauce & Grand Mercure Jakarta Kemayoran Fried Rice

As a lover of vegetables, the Stir Fried Kailan with Bailing Mushroom Oyster Sauce is my heaven. Both of the ingredients are fresh, tasty, chewy, and healthy. What more can you ask?

The Grand Mercure Jakarta Kemayoran Fried Rice itself is a favorite meal in the hotel. It is a fried rice cooked in Chinese style with a bunch of seafood inside. It is a perfect companion for any dishes served in Chinese New Year Dinner.

Mango Pudding 

Mango Pudding

The Mango Pudding with pieces of Strawberry, Lemon and White Chocolate is a good sweet to close the dinner. After all the savory and salty dishes, the sweetness in the pudding freshen up my mouth and my throat.

Fried Basket Cake

Fried Basket Cake

Basket Cake

The Basket Cake (Niangao or Tii Kwee) is a seasonal or yearly cake that is made from glutinous flour and sugar. It has an elastic and sticky texture. In the past, it is believed that the cake was given to satisfy the gods.

It is named Basket Cake because the original wrapper is made from a bamboo basket with a little hole in the middle. Nowadays, the wrapper is made from plastic too as it is more simple to get and can show the beauty color of the cake. The shape is round, symbolizing unity, peace and longevity.

If you eat just the Basket Cake without frying it, the taste is sweet and the texture is sticky. If you eat the Fried Basket Cake, the taste is a bit tasteful and the texture is crispy.

Overall, the Chinese New Year Dinner I attend is a lovely experience for me to welcome the year of Fire Monkey 2016! It is always good to learn about other people's tradition and understand about the meaning of the ceremony.

Along with many hopes and prayers implied during the lovely Chinese New Year Dinner, my wishes and prayers for everyone are:  

May all your wishes be fulfilled!
May you hear that all is well!
May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits!
May your happiness and longevity be complete and without limit!
May your wealth be acquired!


08 February 2016

Healthy Afternoon Tea at Fountain Lounge - Grand Hyatt Hotel Jakarta

Grand Hyatt Hotel Jakarta 
Jl. MH. Thamrin Kav. 28 – 30, 

I feel so happy when I receive the invitation to visit Fountain Lounge at the Grand Hyatt Jakarta. Only God knows when was the last time I visited this beautiful lounge. I remember that I used to go to the lounge frequently, because my office was just around the hotel. I came to Fountain Lounge with friends, so we could sit and look at the Thamrin Road and the famous Hotel Indonesia Roundabout (Bundaran Hotel Indonesia) while enjoying the teas, coffees and desserts in the afternoon; and cocktails and live music from the piano in the evening at the lounge. And when I came alone, it was a perfect spot to wander around while enjoying the heart of Jakarta. 

Well, let's find out if the lounge still has its charm on those fields :-)

That day, when I arrive at Fountain Lounge in the afternoon, I can sense that the lounge is still a perfect place for business meetings and casual gatherings.

The purpose of the invitation is that Fountain Lounge wants to introduce its new Afternoon Tea menu. Sounds very elegant for me. I feel like a member of the Royal Family from the Buckingham Palace :-D 

But wait! How does this Afternoon Tea start? How come it becomes a tradition? I am so curious to know about it. Then I find out that there are many interesting facts about this Tea Tradition. Yes, let me tell you about its history first! 

The History of Drinking Tea Around the World 

"Drinking Tea" tradition was a usual thing in China and Japan until the rest of the world popularized the ritual of Afternoon Tea and High Tea. 

The "Drinking Tea" tradition arrived in Paris in 1636 and quickly became popular among the aristocracy. But it was still not enough to make it popular, until it arrived in the Britain!

In the late 1670s, the tea trade begins in Britain. After that, King Charles II - grown up in Dutch - and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza brings the tea tradition from Dutch to England. It becomes the beverage of choice in English high society, replacing ale as the national drink. 
The "Drinking Tea" tradition became even more popular when Queen Anne chose tea as her regular breakfast drink.

That "Drinking Tea" tradition evolves into two traditions, that is "High Tea" and "Afternoon Tea". 

The High Tea tradition started in the Victorian Period where the table would be set with any manner of meats, bread, butter, pickles, cheese and of course tea. Because it was eaten at a high dining table rather than the low tea tables, it was termed "high" tea. 

The Afternoon Tea tradition started in the 19th Century when Anna Maria Stanhope (Duchess of Bedford), the creator of afternoon tea time, starts her ritual to invite her friends for an afternoon meal at five o'clock with small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. Suddenly, the other social people follow this ritual, and it became routine activities among high level societies in the country.

The "Healthy" Afternoon Tea at Fountain Lounge

After knowing and understanding the history of "Drinking Tea" tradition, the Afternoon Tea session at Fountain Lounge is not an ordinary session for me anymore. With so much of history and stories behind it, it becomes a bit sacred for me.

Just like the Afternoon Tea tradition that serves the light snacks and drinks before dinner, Fountain Lounge offers its Afternoon Tea from 3 PM to 6 PM. The guests can enjoy the tea and the deliciousness of its sandwiches, breads, desserts and drinks. Woho! 

The Afternoon Tea session at Fountain Lounge sounds like a special thing for those sweet tooth people, and I am not that kind of people. From here, I start to wonder if I can enjoy the session or not. But I don't have to worry that much, because they promise that what they offer is a different kind of afternoon tea. They offer a Healthy Afternoon Tea that features a three-tier cake stand of nutritious treats. That is good!

As the Afternoon Tea set arrives, I am amazed by the cuteness of the cakes there. They are too beautiful to be eaten ;-D 
The Afternoon Tea set consists of a pot of Rose Flower Tea and a three-tier cake stand contains of sweets, cakes, and breads.

Healthy Afternoon Tea Set at Fountain Lounge

A pot of Rose Flower Tea

Scones, Brownies, Sandwiches and Breads

The Afternoon Tea set is definitely something to be shared with friends. It is enough for 2 to 4 people. 

A guide to remember: The best and correct way to enjoy the Healthy Afternoon Tea meals at Fountain Lounge is from the bottom tier up to the top one. The Afternoon Tea journey starts from the sweet ones to the salty ones; and it ends at the fresh ones. 

Let's do it!

Bottom Tier - the Sweet Ones

At the bottom tier, I can find all the sweet treats that will open my sense of taste and chew :-D

On the plate, the four Scones (the ones in yellow to light brown) are made from high-fibre whole wheat. Such a healthy choice! I like the taste of the Scones. Very light in my mouth. It feels like eating whole wheat bread and cake at the same time. The cheese cream and strawberry jam are perfect companions for the Scones, but I prefer the cheese cream. I bet you know why :-)

Note: A scone is a single-serving cake or quick bread. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal. They are often lightly sweetened. Scone is originally from the United Kingdom. 

I can also find two Organic Sorghum Chocolate Brownies on the plate. They are made using high-quality local chocolate, and they contain less sugar than typical brownies.
For a person like me who don't like to eat sweet that much, usually a large portion of brownies can bring uncomfortable feeling to my belly. But hey, the size of these Healthy Brownies is small bite. Perfect enough for my belly. Yeay!

The Scones and Brownies on this plate are such worry-free meals! They are not as sweet as I think, but still taste delicious. These are perfect choices for those who want to enjoy their afternoon with friends, chit chat and snacks, but still maintaining their diet. Yes, it is so me :-)) 

Middle Tier - The Salty Ones

As a salty tooth person, my mind is very happy to meet the Healthy Sandwiches and Healthy Mini Breads on the middle tier. The four cuts of Sandwiches are filled with Salmon, Tomato, Lettuce and Cucumber offering vitamin C and Omega-3 which are good for the skin and reduce the risk of heart disease. The two Mini-Burgers have Olives inside that can help prevent premature aging and reduce the risk of diabetes. These healthy meals bring goodness to your skin, liver, heart and digestive system. My favorite!

After reaching this middle tier, my belly is still alright. Not too full, and still hungry. I guess I am ready to go to the top tier. LOL! 

Top Tier - The Fresh Ones

At the top tier, some fresh and healthy desserts are waiting to be chewed by me. Two Low-Calorie Malt-Chocolate Cakes, two small bowls of Carica and Strawberry Salad full of antioxidants, and two shoots of Collagen Shakes that are good for the skin. They are both healthy and sinfully delicious. Nutrition for my body, food for my soul. Such a guilty pleasure!

My favorite is the shoots of Collagen Shakes and the bowl of Carica and Strawberry Salad, as they are the perfect throat cleaner after all the "dry" meals I eat on the previous plates.

Note: Carica can also be called as Mountain Papaya. It looks like a smaller size of Papaya. It tastes a bit sour but has nice aroma. Its texture is a harder than Papaya. Carica is stronger than Papaya in case of facing the cold temperature and virus. It is originally from Andes, South America. Before the World War II, the Dutch Colony brought Carica to Indonesia. Nowadays, you can find Carica in Indonesia in Bali and Dieng Plateau (Wonosobo Regency, Central Java). 

Rose Flower Tea

The Rose Flower Tea is made from whole, dehydrated rose blossoms. These make a fragrant brew that is light-tasting, fruity and low in calories. The soothing Rose Flower Tea can help relieve menstrual cramps and is rich in natural antioxidants. It is truly tea for the ladies :-D

When I have chat at Fountain Lounge with Miss Gina Desmeralda and Miss Chariskha Lidwyanthi from the Public Relation and Marketing Communication Department, Mr. Philippe Mauron (Executive Assistant Manager F&B at Grand Hyatt Jakarta) comes to our table. After a few words, he suggests that I try the Oolong Tea that might be good for me.

Oolong Tea

The taste of the Oolong Tea is woody and bitter, and it has full aroma. As I drink the Oolong Tea, I can feel that its bitterness can calm down all the over-excitement tastes in my mouth after I eat all those tea's treats. I feel like meditating as my tongue is going to a peaceful state of mind. Yes, Philippe is right. Thank you, Sir!

I guess the bitter Oolong Tea is perfect for the guys who like stronger taste. So, the Rose Flower Tea is for the ladies, and the Oolong Tea is for the gentlemen. Sounds fair, right?

Pineapple-Grape Juice  

The Healthy Afternoon Tea session includes homemade pineapple-grape juice to complete the enjoyable and healthy meal.

All the meals at the Healthy Afternoon Tea set at Fountain Lounge have similarity. They have fibers, vitamins and nutritions. As a person who is always looking for healthy snack in the afternoon, this kind of tea drinking session is definitely my style. I definitely will skip my lunch and eat all the tea's treats without having to worry about calories and fat. 

What the Indonesian people should be proud of is that all ingredients of cakes, scones, sandwiches, brownies, breads and teas are from the local producers in Indonesia. Local ingredients in international style. Cool!
There are many places out there that brag around about the imported stuffs they can sell, but a 5 Stars Hotel like Grand Hyatt Hotel Jakarta even supports the local stuffs. Thank you, Grand Hyatt Hotel Jakarta, for supporting Indonesian products! 

For all these healthy delicious local meals and teas I eat and drink that afternoon, I surely blame Executive Chef Rolf Knecht for his creativity to explore around Indonesia looking for our unique ingredients and to create such delicious but healthy cakes, brownies, scones, etc. Yes, everyone loves Chef Rolf!

One thing that I am happy to tell the whole world is that Fountain Lounge has become a non-smoking lounge since 1 October 2015. Hooorrraaayyy!!! This is good for a person like me who hate smokers. It means that I can sit in the lounge without having to worry about the cigarette that will kill the aroma and flavor of the coffee I sip. Nice! 

Wait! Do I order a cup of coffee? Yes, I do! Okay, I know that the coffee will ruin the Tea atmosphere, but what can I do? I love the Cappuccino at Fountain Lounge! Sorry, I just can't help it :-))


Thank you for reading. Enjoy your tea time with your friends!

01 February 2016

Le Gran Cafe - Gran Mahakam Hotel

For once again, I make my way to the Le Gran Cafe at the Mahakam Hotel. I start to get really familiar with this hotel. I take my parents for a buffet lunch at the cafe, my Aunt has her wedding ceremony at the hotel, and I come for an event held by a woman magazine in Indonesia at one of the ballroom at the hotel too. I become a frequent visitor here :-)

You can read my previous visit to the Gran Mahakam Hotel at: http://astridamalia.blogspot.co.id/2015/09/exploring-le-gran-cafe-and-aoki.html

Le Gran Cafe is famous for its Indonesian Cuisine. Recently, their Nasi Daun Jeruk receives an award as one of the best food in town. Wow! Congratulation, Le Gran Cafe!  

Recently, I visit Le Gran Cafe again because they want to promote their Lunar Chinese New Year and Valentine Day programs. 

But before all, let's hit the belly with the amazing food at the restaurant!  

Black Angus with Sweet Potato and Morel Sauce

Black Angus with Sweet Potato and Morel Sauce is a special dish for the Valentine Day! I really love the Black Angus that is crispy and easy to chew. And the Sweet Potato balances the savory taste of the sauce. Delicious!   

Sushi and Sashimi Corner

This Sushi and Sashimi Corner is always the first choice each time I visit Le Gran Cafe. I know that the taste of Sushi and Sashimi are the same in anywhere around the world, but again, this is my favorite spot. The Sashimi is fresh and the Sushi is nice. 

Oyster and Prawn

For those who can guess that the Oyster and the Prawn are my next best destination at the cafe is correct! The Oyster is fresh, but the taste will be so much better if you eat it with the sauce. 

Lontong Mahakam

This is my first time to eat this Lontong Mahakam. I don't know how come I miss this dish each time I visit Le Gran Cafe. But oh, this is yummy! It reminds me back when I was a Muslim and celebrated the Eid al-Fitr day with my family. This kind of dish is one of the main menu that my Mom cooks at the big day. The dish reminds me of my history. History? Yes, because I am a Catholic now. Thank you.
Lontong is a dish made of compressed rice cake rolled inside banana leaf and boiled, commonly found in Indonesia. The one in Le Gran Cafe is special as it is wrapped with fried tofu skin and nori. Yum! 
In the bowl, you can find Tea Egg, Vegetables cooked with Coconut Milk, Chicken cooked with Coconut Milk, Sliced Dried Meat, Compressed Rice Cake, Deep Fried Cracker, etc. 

Seafood Steamboat

Woho! Seafood Steamboat! Another great discovery! This is nom nom nom! I am more than happy to eat a big bowl of this savory and spicy dish. Seafood never fail in my mouth! 

Bakso Malang

This Bakso Malang (Fish Balls from Malang) reminds me of the root of my family. I have visited Malang, East Java for many times because my Mother comes from the city. I know very much about the food in the city, and the Bakso Malang that Le Gran Cafe has is very authentic. I like it.
They say that the best companion for a rainy day is this hot Bakso Malang. Hhhmmm.... :-) 

Dim Sum

Baked Macaroni

Kue Ape

Kue Ape is a cookie originally from Jakarta.You can find it on the street or at the Le Gran Cafe too :-D 
Sweet and fresh, and there is a taste of Pandan leaves. The main ingredient of the cookie is Screwpine Leaves. Kue Ape is also called Kue Tete or Breast Cookie. Well, see it and tell me if it reminds you of something :-D

Bird Nest Dessert

The Bird Nest Dessert is only served at the Lunar New Year Celebration. Fresh, sweet and healthy, it is very good to close the big dinner I have. 


Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Xin Nian Kuai Le! 

On 7 and 8 February 2016, the whole restaurants in the Gran Mahakam Hotel (Le Gran Café and AOKI Japanese Cuisine) will celebrate the Lunar New Year with their great dishes. The hotel will present Barongsai dance performance too. And there will be Tarot Reader who will read your fortune in 2016. Yeay! 


On 14 February 2016, the Valentine Celebration will be special at the Gran Mahakam Hotel as it serves delightful cuisines at Le Gran Café and AOKI Japanese Cuisine accompanied with melodious live music performance. Don't forget that Le Gran Cafe is very good at making delicious cake that will give sweetness to your Valentine Day. And for those lovebirds, you guys will get sparkling wine, roses and memorable photograph if you celebrate Valentine’s Day at Hotel Gran Mahakam. Wow! 

Jalan Mahakam I no.6, 
Blok M, Jakarta 12130 
Tel: (62 – 21) – 720 99 66
Fax: (62 – 21) – 725 20 11
E-mail: dopr@granmahakam.com, aprm@granmahakam.com, pro@granmahakam.com
Website: www.granmahakam.com