Jakarta diners accustomed to lavish and atmospheric restaurants will be in for a treat when they visit Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Wong.
Upon entering the eclectic restaurant, diners can select one of three rooms in a traditional Javanese Joglo house setting. Each room offers a distinct theme, allowing for an evening tailored to their mood, adding to the appeal of this modest establishment.
The downstairs Bebek (duck) room showcases a rotational jazz and classical live ensemble.
As we entered, the sounds of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” were wafting through the air.
The second room, the Gadjah (elephant) area, offered a night of Latin music and a distinctly Dutch colonial feel.
The third room, Kura Kura (turtle), offers a contrast to the first two, presenting a more traditionally Indonesian experience where diners will find themselves immersed in gamelan music and authentic Javanese decor.
The menu itself is suitable for tourists and locals alike, catering to various palates with an extensive range of dishes to order from. Appetizers span from bitterballen (a Dutch meat-based snack), seared scallops, mutton samosa and salad nicoise. Soup selections are just as diverse, from the Thai tom yam to the Indian mulligatawny to the Indonesian oxtail soup.
The main courses are broken down into different sub menus, from Indian dishes such as lamb kofta, to Italian staple beef lasagna, to Western steaks such as Australian tenderloin with a red wine sauce reduction and a side of mashed potatoes.
Traditional Indonesian favorites such as nasi goreng and grilled duck nasi kuning complete the multicultural selection.
As we sat waiting for our food, the soft and soothing gamelan music made for a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere. The performers in traditional attire helped reinforce the Javanese setting. Waiters who came in to plate our order also wore traditional garments.
Their attention to the details of the experience was evident when they plated the appetizer orders of bitterballen and mulligatawny soup. Not only were they visually appealing but each brimmed with all the right flavors. The beef bitterballen’s crisp outside, was complemented with the slight sharpness of mustard sauce.
Meanwhile, the mulligatawny soup, with its light, clear broth and soft lentils, arrived with a side of buttery chapatti bread.
Perfectly timed, the main courses arrived soon after we finished the appetizers.
Home smoked baby chicken was presented on a plate of white rice and arranged on a bed of sliced pineapple, drizzled with light, pepper infused gravy. The more traditional nasi goreng was wrapped in a thin layer of omelette with a side of sambal and kerupuk.
Dining at Gadjah Wong was an immensely pleasurable experience. The traditional setting and live music perfectly suited the cultured city of Yogyakarta. A visit to Gadjah Wong, where each sense is pampered in perfect harmony, is a must.
Jl. Gejayan Soropadan 79-D
Tel. 0274 542815 (Jakarta Globe)