Jakarta ’ s Little Tokyo
Melawai district in South Jakarta has been relatively famous for being the Little Tokyo, packed with lots of Japanese after working hours and especially on weekends. It is beside the Blok M Square complex and Blok M Bus Terminal — stretching mainly from Melawai VI to Melawai IX — you’ll notice the area from japanese lanterns hanging between alleys and buildings.
During the time of our visit (Saturdays), we barely found Indonesian diners around, only a one or two tables at best. The rest were all Japanese patrons — that means the authenticity of all the restaurants we cover here is guaranteed by their people themselves.
Here are my recommendations (or brief guide on what to order):
1. Kushigin, Melawai IX has recently shut down and replaced with I-can’t-remember-the-name. The new place looks nice but the menu is somehow less interesting.
2. Kira Kira Ginza, Melawai IX (go for delicious takoyaki, omurice, okonomiyaki special) Dim lighting, can be full of smoke and discotheque-atmosphere when packed, drinks are not free. Don’t be tempted with their kushiyaki since Kashiwa’s way better (below no.7)
3. Sushi Kawana, Melawai IX. Nice tatami room to impress a date / client. Pricey but sashimis are in good quality. Salmon often out of stock. Go for atmosphere and cosy place, for food quality I prefer go to Kaihomaru.
4. Kaihomaru, Melawai VI. Incredibly good sushi, sashimi and agedashi tofu. Expect IDR 40k and up for 2 pcs of sushi. Fresh oysters are superstar.
5. Marufuku, Melawai VI. Izakaya style, extensive menu that I need to explore more. We had some fried items and chawan mushi and it was good. Don’t go for the sushi, explore other items.
6. Echigoya, Melawai VIII. The best highlight would be their ramen tonkotsu shoyu. Thick chasu slice, rich delicious broth. Exceptional gyoza!! Halal friendly (chicken options)
7. Kashiwa, above Echigoya. Extensive choices of quality kushiyaki and oden. IDR 28k for 2 kushiyakis, same price for 3 oden items. Well-lit, nice tatami to hang out with friends. Beers available. Free smoking area.
8. The legendary Boci Boci which famous for its gyoza and nabe are currently shut down until February 2014 (might be delayed) In the meantime you might want to try Naka Nakaya / Sumiya both in STC Senayan. They are in one management, share (some) same menus, and staffs are rotated as well.