Culinary Memoirs of A Biologist Who Loves Food

Posts tagged “food

Zenraku Dashi Chazuke, Jakarta

It has been 3 months since I made a visit to Japan, and seriously, I still miss their colorful but simple food. I love Japanese food so much. For me their food is so natural (some people, especially some Indonesian think that it is too bland, not for me though) and their basic tastes are simple: sweet, salty, sour, and umami – and I like it. So in short, after my food hunting in Tokyo (Ikebukuro, Chuo, and specifically Tsukiji Fish Market), Kyoto, and Niigata (for sushi), I am still looking if I could have some again here in Jakarta.

A month ago, there is a new restaurant to try in Grand Indonesia, and it is a Japanese restaurant. As their sponsored ads were popped up in my Instagram feed, and it caught my attention, I decided to make it a try on their opening day (January 19th, 2018). Their spot is cozy, their food price is also good and reachable, and the taste is cool – let’s talk about it on my review!

“So, I know you know about ochazuke. What is it?”

Chazuke or ochazuke (お茶漬け) means to submerge in tea (ocha お茶漬), so basically is a rice dish, consists of rice (plain, white) with some toppings (from fish, beef, chicken, roe, or more), then poured with tea, or hot water, or dashi (出汁) a fish (normally made of drenched fermented bonito fish flake or katsuobushi 鰹節) and or kelp (kombu 昆布) based broth, which is rich in natural umami flavor that enhance the flavors of the main ingredients to the next level. Originated in Heian Period of Japan (794-1185), hot water is used. Later in Edo Period (1603-1868). Funny enough, in Kyoto, this dish called bubuzuke and when it served to you as a guest, that means you have been overstayed in the restaurant and THAT is a polite way of the restaurant servers to ask you to leave. But I believe in Zenraku, since the main theme is chazuke, it doesn’t mean that way! Hehe (but of course don’t stay too long and buy nothing, it’s improper!).

So I ordered two kinds of chazuke that day: Salmon – as my first impression to see if the fish is good, and tarako or pollock roe – my favorite topping in pasta and onigiri during my visit in Japan.


Salmon Chazuke and by the way, this is typically the set that you get: The dish, pickles plus wasabi, and a pot of dashi

So their basic rice topping is chopped mitsuba leaf (三つ葉 – it is a fragrance and a bit spicy leaf), nori (seaweed), white sesame seed, chopped leek, and tempura crumble. In some dish I saw edamame or green soybean is also added. The salmon is partially broiled, mainly on the surface. It is delicious as I tasted it. Once I poured the dashi, wow it escalated! It is awesome!

Initially, I thought there is a tea added to the dashi, but actually it is a fish-based dashi and it brings a perfect amount of salty flavor (added into the dashi), to the whole meal!


Tarako Chazuke

The second meal, Tarako Chazuke, I poured the dashi a bit gently over rice, not to hit the roe as it will change its consistency and probably the taste. In short, I keep it raw, while I use the dashi to enhance the flavor of the rest part and slowly sips into the roe. And wow, wow, it is so delicious. The combination of tarako saltiness and the umami, it is just spot on!

It is not enough!

So then I made my second visit (February 1st, 2018). If I love the foods, I will made my second visit. This time, I couldn’t spot the Japanese chef. So things rest to the main chef of the restaurant now.

Today’s decision: To try something new (so I tried the sampler) and I think I need more fish, but probably the different one (red snapper).


Red Snapper Chazuke

Different from the salmon, red snapper is served as cubes, and already marinated with sweet soy based sauce. The sweetness balance the saltiness of the dashi. It has more flavor than the salmon and it is delicious!


Sampler Dashi Chazuke – Left to right: Beef, unagi (broiled eel in tare sauce), and chicken.

An extra chopped thin omelette (tamagoyaki) is added into the chicken and unagi, and edamame is also added specifically in unagi. I like the beef as it is soft and kinda melted to the rice, the chicken is good, and the unagi, it is okay – the problem is the unagi is a bit hard. In conclusion, the beef is the best one among the three.

Then, I finished my meal. All my meals are awesome, I have to say. The atmosphere was relaxing, I’d love to make another visit again someday. The price is okay, it’s reasonable and matched the quality. The thing I needed to complain is the waiter/waitress. They’re still a bit clumsy and confused during the opening, and I got a wrong food. I believe they could make it better soon, so overall, I was enjoying my lunch!


Food rating: 5 out of 5

Service quality: 3 out of 5

Grand Indonesia – West Mall LG Floor. Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.1, Kb. Melati, Central Jakarta, Indonesia. Phone: +62 21 2358 0486

Cards? – Yes, Debit – Mandiri and BCA

Opening Hour:

Everyday at 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Price Range:

Food: Chazuke (IDR 49k – 72k, extra toppings IDR 12k – 38k, add ons IDR 4k – 12k), Others (IDR 15k – 42k)

Beverage: IDR 8k – 52k

Foursquare: –

TripAdvisor: –

Zomato: Link

Tips: It probably will be crowded during lunch or dinner hours.


International Food! (Part 3) – Venezuelan Street Food Lunch

For me, I feel sad to leave Turku. The place is really inspiring, calm, and I also have a lot of good friend there. Before I went off from Finland, my good friends, Diosa and Jens made a memorable farewell party of Venezuelan street food! Venezuela is Diosa’s home country. I was very excited at the moment because like I said in the previous blog article, Southern American food is something new and rare for me! As in my previous review on my Peruvian lunch, Venezuelan food has similarities with them as they also mainly use corn as their basic ingredients.



The center of attention would be this arepa. This maize-based bread is staple in Venezuela and it’s good to eat it like we normally eat sandwich. Interestingly, it has nice corn fragrance and aftertaste. To eat the arepa, we mixed it wit some other stuffs:


Reina Papiada


Carne Mechada


Caraotas Negras

Reina Papiada, Carne Mechada and Caraotas Negras served as main fillings of the arepa this time. Reina Papiada is a pulled chicken tights, mixed with creamy avocado sauce consists of onion, leek, garlic, mayonnaise, corn oil, salt , and pepper. Carne Mechada is pulled beef with tomato sauce. Caraotas Negras is black bean and pork. To make them taste better, we add them with cheese, or some sauces.


Sweet Corn Sauce (top) and Bacon Sauce (bottom)



Sweet corn sauce, bacon sauce, and Guasacaca are the creamy sauces. Of all, Guasacaca is the most known sauce traditionally from Southern America, including Venezuela. It’s composed mainly of avocado, lemon juice, and garlic. For me, sweet corn sauce will be nice to combine with Reina Papiada, while Guasacaca is for Carne Mechada. I didn’t eat the Caraotas Negras and bacon sauce since I’m not eating pork. The combination of chicken and corn, and beef and Guasacaca are truly amazing!


Arepa + Reina Papiada + Corn sauce + cheese


Arepa + Guasacaca + Carne Mechada + Cheese

Other than the Arepa mixes, Diosa and Jens made us this…


Ensalada de Gallina (SP: Chicken Salad)

Ensalada de Gallina is a fresh pulled chicken salad made of pulled chicken tights, leek, onion, potato, carrots, asparagus, and more. It has rich flavor but really fresh to eat as an appetizer or in-between meals.


Alfajores de Maizena


The sandwich version.

Alfajores de Maizena is corn-based cookies. We ate them as whole, or mixed like sandwich, bound with dulce de leche (milk-caramel-based sauce) and sprinkled with shaved coconut. For a sweet tooth like me, it tastes amazing! I love the sweetness of the caramel and the corn, and the fragrance of the corn popping out from the cookies!

I had a wonderful last lunch with my friends that afternoon. I wish I can see them again in the future…



My special thanks to Jens and Diosa! Wish to see you guys again in Japan! 😉

Part 1 – PaF International Food Night

Part 2 – Peruvian Lunch and Bunny Chow

Part 4 – Medieval Dishes

Part 5 – African Jollof Rice


International Food! (Part 2) – Peruvian Food and Bunny Chow at The First Restaurant Day

Thing I like from many things in my journey at Turku, people are so festive for many celebrations. There are many celebration held throughout the year. For example, one of the enjoyable event for me is the restaurant day. There are two restaurant days in a year: The first one was in May (21st) and later in August (21st).

The restaurant days are held in ALL country of Europe and everyone may open their own restaurants with their own specialty dishes. Normally, when people are about to open their restaurant, they enlist themselves to the restaurant day event website, so other people who would like to find something to eat may see where and when the restaurants are throughout the countries.

On that day, May 21st of 2016, I was going around the city with my good friends, Diosa and Jens. I was curious as they (also with my lab supervisor, Adolfo) mentioned that there are some Peruvian students open their own Peruvian restaurant for a day! When before I mentioned that I’m so rarely tried African dishes (before I met Joel and Kofi, I ate… an apparent African dish, made by my friend, Dwiki), I NEVER ate any Southern American dish in my whole life!

So then, we gathered at 11 AM on Student Village. As we enter the house, they were selling many foods, cakes, and some drinks (Chicha Morada and Chicha de Jora).

Peruvian Causa Rellena

Causa Rellena

Causa is a basic name for a dish made of yellow potato, mixed with lime (hence it taste a bit sour), onion, chili, and oil. Rellena is Spanish for stuffed. So combined, it’s stuffed (well, because it’s mashed potato, the word is layered) causa. Causa rellena is like a sandwich of mashed potato, filled with pulled chicken meat, veggies (corn, peas, and paprika), with mayo (I think). It tastes good and solid enough to give you power as a morning starter.

Peruvian Tamale


Tamales is a dish normally found in Latin countries (I read that it also available in Mexico), made of boiled mashed corn, mixed with some spices, meat, and in this case black bean, tomato, and boiled egg, and placed in folded banana leaf and steamed. I love the tangy flavor from the spices and tomato and bean. It reminds me of chili con carne. I’m not confused, I believe they used paprika and cumin for the spicing.

Peruvian Ceviche

Peruvian Ceviche

Ceviche is raw fish, diced, poured with hot-spiced lemon juice, and served with potato, sweet potato, red onion as topping, and Peruvian corn nut. For me, I can’t handle the food! It’s too sour and hot at the same time, so in the end, I only ate some bites of the fish, the potato, sweet potato, and the corn nuts. The unique thing for me is the corn nut. As I learned a bit about maize plant for my thesis, corn nut is quite strange for me. Corn nut is basically Peruvian corn kernels that turned into crunchy snack bites. It has some fluffy bites of starch inside the kernel, but it doesn’t pop like popcorn. This Peruvian corn is also known as Inca corn, it has long and large kernels.


The Beverages

For the drink, I had myself a Chicha Morada. A sweet, purple non-alcoholic beverage made by boiling Peruvian purple corn in water with a big chunk of pineapple, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar. So in the end, you got a sweet, a bit sour, and aromatic drink. It tastes really good for me when it’s cold. Overall, Chicha is brewed or fermented drink made of corn. Although it’s non-alcoholic unlike its counterpart Chicha de Jora, I believe the similarity lies with the process as it requires hours to allow the flavors from the corn, pineapple, and the spices to mixed properly before served.

After we stuffed with the Peruvian delicacies, we walked to the City Center (or Marketplace, Kauppatori) to find something interesting before we go back home.

Then I found this… well, consider this one a bonus (other than the Peruvian food):

South African Small Bunny Chow

Mini Version of South African Chicken Bunny Chow

There’s a food stand selling South African unique dish called Bunny Chow. The reason of why I said it’s unique is because Bunny Chow is a combination of spicy, thick, curry (can be either chicken or red meat like lamb) served inside a bread.


The Full Size Bunny Chow (Source: Link)

On the miniaturized version I had in Turku, I had chicken Bunny Chow. It served with bread in the bottom, topped with mayonnaise, and also with chopped cucumber, tomato, and coriander leaves. The taste is fine, nothing much because I couldn’t taste the curry flavor and the bread is too small, but if you like curry, you need to try this one!

PS: Thanks to Diosa and Jens for accompanying me during The Restaurant Day!

There are a lot of story about international food during my study in Turku, click one of these to see the others!

Part 1 – PaF International Food Night

Part 3 – Venezuelan Lunch!

Part 4 – Medieval Dishes

Part 5 – African Jollof Rice


International Food! (Part 1) – PaF International Food Night

During my stay in Turku, I’m so glad that I could see many food from different cultures in the world. It’s so lovely to be in a place that become a mixing bowl of people! Here in this article, I want to share my experiences when I tried many dishes from Nepal to South Africa, from Ghana to Peru, and from Iran to Finland. In this part of my article blog (it will be continued on the next articles), I will share my experience in Åbo Akademi University, Lab of Paper Coating and Converting’s International Food Night!

The event was held in April 28th, 2016. On that moment, the only thing I regretted was I didn’t bring any Indonesian cuisine! Why? To be honest, despite of my cooking “experiments”, Indonesian food is still too complex for me to cook, if there anything simple like fried tempeh, it’s not available in Turku!

Well, you could make an Indonesian Fried Rice, couldn’t you?

Nope… I doubt that. I define fried rice as rice, spices, and then I cooked it in a pan.

Okay, let’s go to the event!

Funny thing, the event was started for me on the lunchtime of the following day! At the time, I remember my friend, Joel, brought a massive pot and many ingredients with him. Then when I walked to the common room of the lab, mmmm… it smells nice! Then this conversation happened:

Me: Guys, you cooking something for lunch?

Joel: Yeah, I sent e-mail to all of you, Did you get one?

Me: Mail? What mail?

Mahdi: That means you are not invited *put a trollface smile here*

Me: …………wait *opening my mail in my iPad* Oh, that mail… *cringe smile*

Then everyone started to gather in the table. I remembered Kofi helped Joel, also Mahdi, while making garri. Then, one by one, the food was ready to eat and all of them smell really amazing!

Ghanaian-Kenyan Garri with Beef Stew and Vegetables

Ghanaian Garri, served with Kenyan Stir Fried Spinach, Cabbage, and Beef Stew.

Honestly, I was never tried anything authentic from Africa, especially the cuisines. Getting this Ghana-African lunch for me is a wonder for me! In my mind, I thought African food would be simple, they have veggies, some influences come from Arabian countries and Europe, so maybe the meals are cooked with plenty of fragrant spices? In reality while I tried the dish Joel and Kofi cooked, yep, the meals are simple, but they are all packed with flavor! For this lunch carbo, we had garri. Garri was originated from Ghana, and it’s made from cassava root. The garri cassava powder was mixed with water and then it mixed thoroughly until its consistency turned into… well… something like mashed potato by stickier and harder. For the veggies, there were two kinds: cabbage and spinach. Then there is a beef stew. Of all spices and herbs added, coriander is the most dominant in flavor. Coriander leaves and stem was added into the dishes. Everything was fantastic and delicious! And they have the similarity with some of Indonesian way to eat: by hands!

Once we finished our lunch, everyone were prepared themselves for the night’s meals. I went back to my room and studied as the next day was biomimetic exam. Just about two hours later…

*Nara passed my room and wave his hand*

Me: Hi! Where are you going?

Nara: I will going to the Nepali restaurant with Mukunda to bring the food for tonight

Me: Ah nice! *then I followed Nara to Mukunda’s room*

Me: So… what food are you planning to bring tonight?

Mukunda: We’re planning to bring pakora and other stuffs for tonight.

Me: Ummm… can I join you guys to the restaurant?

Mukunda & Nara: Sure! We’re going in one hour from now. It’s still too early, you know…

Then we walked to Himalayan Kitchen, Nepali restaurant that I believe, it belongs to Mukunda’s friend.

Nepali Momo

Nepali Momo

Then, when I walked near the door, I saw an image of dumplings. It drove my curiosity.

Me: Mukunda, what is that?

Mukunda: Oh, that’s momo. It’s a dumpling filled with meat.

Me: That seems nice! Can I try some?

Mukunda: Sure, you can ask the waiter when he gets here!

Right, to be honest, I’m still ¾ full after my lunch. But well, for the sake of curiosity…

Nepali Momo (Inside)

Nepali Momo with The Spicy Chutney

The dumplings are made of spicy minced lamb and served with a light, curry-like, spicy chutney. It tastes amazing! I love when the strong flavor of the lamb mixed with the mild but rich flavor of the chutney. So yummy!

It was 4:30 in the afternoon. Then we walked back to the lab and placed the food in the class room (we turned it into a hall where we eat). As the clock was ticking to 6 PM, everyone came with their foods and astonished my eyes.

Finnish Korvapusti

The foods. The frontmost one are Ruut’s Finnish korvapuusti, a Finnish cinnamon roll.

Finnish Riisipirakka

Mari’s Finnish Riisipirakka (Rice Pasty)

Finnish Savulohi

ÄV’s (Nordic Style… I thought) Hot Smoked Salmon

We had two Finnish foods that night. Mari brought us riisipirakka, rice pasties, a creamy rice porridge placed in a frame of rye thin bread (is it bread?) and served with munavoi (FI: egg butter – hard boiled egg, chopped and mixed with butter). Minus the munavoi, riisipirakka is really amazing, I normally ate them for breakfast. Then also korvapuusti that Ruut brought. It obviously similar to normal cinnamon rolls, but as many Finnish sweet breads, it’s added with cardamon inside to bring a unique flavor and aroma. Other than that, ÄV brought us freshly smoked salmon! And later, Peter brought vispipuuro (Finnish name, also in Swedish klappgröt, whipped porridge) a light, fluffy, semolina porridge that normally mixed with frut flavor (commonly lingonberry) and eaten with milk (trust me, without milk, it will taste very strange).

Greek Spanakopita

Dimi’s Spanakopita

Going southwards, I tried Dimi’s spanakopita (σπανακοπιτα, GR: Spinach triangle). It was made with puff pastry, spinach mixed with Greek hard lefkotiri or kefalotyri cheese that made from goat cheese, bulgur wheat, and eggs. It tastes amazing, although I wonder why he didn’t use the phyllo pastry for it?

Dimi: Well, it supposedly use the phyllo pastry, but the problem in here is the humidity is low and it will become dry and fragile to fold, so instead I used the normal puff pastry

Okay, got it!

Nepali Pakorra

Mukunda and Nara-brought, Nepali (basically from whole Indian continent) Vegetable Pakora

Then finally I got to know what Mukunda and Nara brought. The vegetable pakora, chopped veggies, some peas, and mixed with (CMIIW) spicy pea flour and then fried and eaten with mint chutney. I like the spiciness of the flavor meet the zingy mint flavor of the chutney. Then also, they brought something amazing: Mango Lassi. That’s honestly THE BEST LASSI I’ve ever tried! The mango sweetness, the spices like anise and cinnamon, mixed together with sour milk… it’s so yummy!

Iranian Kashk-e-Bademjan

Mahdi’s Kashk-e-bademjan…

Iranian Kashk-e-Bademjan in Pita

…with pita bread

Mahdi made us Iranian Kashk-e-Bademjan (كش بدمجن; IR: Kashk and Eggplant). Kashk… or I forgot, a cream or something (I remembered it’s a milk-made product), mixed with eggplant, spices, crushed walnuts, and caramelized onion. The rich flavor tastes really good when eaten with pita bread (rolled). If it eaten with nothing, for me the taste is very strong and oily.

Indian Panipuri

Vinay’s and Rajesh’s Panipuri

As the event already minutes after it started, Rajesh and Vinay arrived with Indian street food, panipuri. It’s a fried hollow dough eaten with some toppings…

Vinay: As you can see there, you eat it by crushing the top side. That’s the tricky part: You have to make sure that both side is different; the top side is crunchy enough to be crushed when you eat it, but the bottom side is strong enough to carry the dough and all the topping.

The panipuri is a hollow dough, in this time eaten with spiced potato for the topping and poured with spiced water (puri). It has good taste and quite addicting to crack and eat them!

Then we spent the night by watching Mahdi’s presentation on Iran, some chats, then I went back to my apartment to study for the next day’s exam. It’s unforgettable night for my stomach as I learned many dishes from many countries. Still, I wish I could bring them some lemper (Indonesian coconut milk flavored sticky rice filled with spicy pulled chicken meat) and some sweets.


Part 2 – Peruvian Lunch and Bunny Chow

Part 3 – Venezuelan Street Foods

Part 4 – Medieval Dishes

Part 5 – African Jollof Rice


(BIO FACTION) Standardised Production in Kitchen

When we are eating in our house, we all know that when we are cooking, the proportion and composition of the ingredients we added are based solely by our instinct and experience in cooking. In higher scale, in restaurant level, higher experience is required so every food sent to each costumers are equally rationed and flavoured from time to time to maintain the quality of the restaurants and credibility of the staffs. In even higher production level, the uniformity of produced food must be kept at optimum level. Things that we called in here, both as result in hours of experiences and quality management are all about standardisation.

In Vienna at Fall 2015, Bio Faction opened a workshop about food standardisation. Allowing the participants to make some foods with equally measured weights, sizes, even to the food appearances that required in industrial level of food production. As food is very closely related to food biological science, perfect adjustments/combinations will allow us to create the food product in desired variables of shape, flavours, colours, and odours. For example, the cylindrical egg and burger patties in this video (linked to Vimeo):

For Vimeo-unabled countries, the video can be accessed here.

As I always said in this blog, making constantly good food requires much efforts, one error might result on lower income for your restaurants or home industries!

Video is provided by Markus Schmidt of BioFaction Vienna (2015).