Kotagede, just east of Yogyakarta, is filled with historical sites from the Mataram empire’s golden age. Standing conspicuously on the side of one of the entrances to the old town, near the Gajah Wong River, stands Sekar Kedhaton, a restaurant and boutique hotel.
Sekar Kedhaton means “the sacred flower” in Javanese. Big billboards around Kotagede bearing its name, along with its grammatically problematic tagline, “A Luxuries Touch of the Javanese Majestic,” help direct first-time visitors to the establishment’s location.
The restaurant’s entrance, guarded by two large statues, resembling palace soldiers standing under an arc of floral patterns, is distinctly reminiscent of Yogyakarta’s royal buildings. But the barren feeling of the building’s vast, paved front yard could easily disinterest passing tourists in search of a bite. I suppose it’s a dilemma faced by restaurants such as Sekar Kedhaton, which normally cater to large parties and thus need a big parking lot.
Though the exterior gave me a bit of a negative first impression, that quickly changed upon entering the dining area. I was immediately struck by the restaurant’s elegant ambience, a mood created through a combination of ornate antique furniture, decorations and soft lighting.
Soon after I had finished my look around, the food arrived. The chicken soup, sadly, reminded me that Sekar Kedhaton usually caters to large groups of tourists. There was nothing special about it. The chef, however, more than made up for what was missing in that appetizer with my other dishes, which included sauteed beef, miroso grilled chicken, grilled snapper with matah dressing and vegetable capcay.
I thought that I should try a little of everything, but the succulent beef was so well-prepared that I finished almost a third of the considerable portion. The matah (raw) dressing for the snapper made great use of the unique flavor and aroma of lime leaf slices, giving it just the right amount of zest. These two dishes lived up to the restaurant’s claim of “Javanese majestic” cuisine.
There is another Sekar Kedhaton restaurant near Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java. Maybe I should try that to see if it is closer to the image I have in my mind.
Jl. Tegalgendu No. 28
Tel: +62 274 386868
Full article by Dalih Sembiring
Hotels in Yogyakarta