Monday, March 27, 2006

Rindu Alam II - Puncak

Puncak is a hill station about 3 hours drive from Jakarta. It has been a retreat for the city dwellers for decades as far as I know. There are quite a few small hotels and guest houses available for rent on the weekends and as the weather is cool up there it makes for a great get away. Many affluent and wealthy Jakartaans own bungalows there, and some of the ones I have visited are pretty splendid to say the least. The views are breathtaking and spending 2 or 3 nights in Puncak can make the next week at work in Jakarta just about bearable.

One of the most popular restaurants in Puncak is Rindu Alam II. It is located on the side of the hill only a few kilometers after the peak granting a magnificent view. They have been present as far back as I can remember which is at least 10 years ago.

The dining area is fairly large and all sides of the restaurant open up to the view and invite the cool breeze in. Balcony seating however is best for the afternoons. It can get a tad bit too cold at night.

Rindu Alam II also employs in house singers that entertain the patrons by playing popular Dangdut tunes. On the weekend they do tend to play a bit louder but it has always been at a tolerable level. Plus it does generate a more festive atmosphere. They sometimes also belt out top 40 tunes and tipsy patrons have been known to grab a mike and join I the singing.

The leveled area just below the dining area is where they have the ponds that house the fish. Fish farmed at this altitude are very tender and flavorful, a specialty in this area. All fish served here are caught fresh. Some people even prefer to personally select the poor bastard they are about to devour. I rather not get too affectionate with my food.

The traditional Indonesian food served at Rindu Alam II is also especially appetizing. This combination of lamb and chicken satay’s is served on a hot plate assuring that the food remains warm despite the cold weather. The meat is exceptionally tender and the accompanying peanut sauce is creamy and slightly spicy. The mutton literally melts in your mouth!

The deep fried Gurame fish is soft and flaky. It is traditionally served with a mixture of kecap manis (sweet black sauce) and chopped green chilies. This dish is available at most sea food restaurants around the city, but few can provide such freshness.

In my opinion the Gurame is the tastiest fish in this region so we usually follow the fried with a grilled one. This is marinated in their special sauce that has an unimaginable flavor. It is not too spicy or too sweet and it keeps the meat juicy and moist. Just remembering it now makes my mouth water.

One of my favorite dishes is Tong-Seng. It is a spicy mutton curry served with white rice. There are not too many spots that serve a good one in the city and it is not a specialty up at Rindu Alam II, but it is decent and ideal for that weather. The pot is placed over a burning fire so the soup does not go cold at all.

Of course no Indonesian meal is complete without the Nasi Goreng (fried rice). Here they serve it with some Umping goreng and chopped garnishing. The rice is topped off with a fried egg that’s yolk is left a little gooey to infuse with the rice. Don’t knock it till you try it mate.

Rindu Alam II also serves up a respectable variety of western dishes for the less adventurous amongst us. This is some chicken with pepper sauce I think and although it does look a bit tired, I assure you that once we poured in a bit of chilli sauce, that sucker woke right up.

All the fruits and vegetables served in Puncak are also extremely fresh as most people in the area are farmers. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the hotels in the area are kind of rundown and mill dewy. However there are bungalows available and on a weekend just driving up you will probably see a bunch of people holding out signs with offers. If you are one who likes a planned vacation this might prove a bit stressful for you, but if you are up for a bit of adventure you might get a whole lot more than you bargained for.

1 comment:

treespotter said...

food... hungry. i'm off to get some food now.