Friday, July 11, 2008

Eating out in Jakarta: Eastern Promise, Kemang

This is one of my favourite places to eat in Jakarta. The hubby and I adore Indian food and we were semi-regulars at a place back home in KL called Passage to India. It's located on Jln Tun Razak and is the most delicious Indian food I've ever had. Be warned though - it is a bit pricey, so we usually only eat there when we know we can put it on the company account, hehe.

Indian food isn't as common here in Jakarta as they don't have the sizeable Indian community that we do in Malaysia and they certainly do not have our mamak shops where you can indulge in your banana leaf rice to your heart's content. However, someone took Dear Hubby to Eastern Promise quite early on in his stay here in Jakarta and he was just delighted with it.

Eastern Promise has two parts to it. One is a pub that's frequented by expats. On Friday evenings, they have something called the Pressure Cooker Hour (or something like that...) It's free beer for everyone in the pub from 5-6pm. The only catch is no one is allowed to leave or to to the loo. The moment someone does that, the free beer is over and everyone has to start paying up.

The other bit is a restaurant, located behind the pub. There is also an open air area behind where a band plays on Fridays, I think. Eastern Promise does quite good chicken, beef and lamb curries as well as your standard pub fare of pies and bangers and mash. They also do an all-day breakfast which we haven't tried yet because we always go for the curries. The curries usually come with saffron rice and a plain naan. If you fancy other types of naan, just ask them to sub it in your set. There's also a pool table there if you fancy a game or two. For the homesick Brits, you can get copies of the Guardian here to read while you wait for your meal.

We were there last night with two of Dear Hubby's work colleagues. One of them had never been there before and thoroughly enjoyed his meat pie and 1/4 of my Kyber Masala Curry. We ordered two pitchers of beer and each pitcher was enough to fill 6 pint mugs. I stuck with Coke and water of course, I've been off alcohol for 22 weeks now save for very small sips every now and then.

P told us a story about the pub last night at dinner that had my skin crawling. He said that it's common knowledge that when Kemang area floods (as it will when the rains are heavy), the snakes take refuge in the pub. His source were a group of his friends, all expats, who were none too pleased to be trapped inside a pub with snakes. YIKES. So you can imagine my reaction when the staff came out with powerful torches and started peeking under the seats sometime towards the end of our meal. I paled, "Are they looking for snakes? Do you think you guys can carry me out?" Dear Hubby took a look at my pregnant figure and shook his head regretfully, "I don't think so, babe..." Well, as it turned out... no snakes... for this time!

The place is easy enough to find. If you're headed towards Kemang via the Kemchicks end, Eastern Promise will be on your left, opposite an ABN-Ambro branch. It's usually packed on Fri nights and the weekends, so get there early. I have to say it's not the best Indian I've ever had, but it's decent enough. Our meal for four last night which included two pitchers of beer cost Rp500,000 (approx RM150, I'm just assuming an exchange rate of Rp10,000 to RM3). Pretty good price, I would say if you compare it to Passage to India... but of course it's much more expensive compared to just a street mamak.

Give the place a try... we're open to invites if you want company!


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  2. Hurrah, I'm glad you give a good review!

    My hubbie was there trapped in EP with other regulars when the flood (and snakes) happened (I was trapped in Hong Kong, couldn't get back, so missed the snake). But in the end everybody was happy.

    EP's most famous program, Pressure Hour, is so famous and people take it really seriously, the guys would put their friends at strategic positions to make sure nobody leaves the bar. So much for free beer!

    They have jazz on Wednesdays, Rock&Roll on Fridays, and Salsa on Saturdays.

    You can keep it touch with EP newsletter, just click here

  3. Finally Woken: YIKES!!! So the snake story is true!!! ARGH!
    I like the place, I like the food and I'm writing about it so that I hope new people to Jkt will try it out there... even though the pub and restaurant is crowded enough!

  4. Darling, of course it's true!

    In fact, when finally these poor (or happy? because they were trapped in their favorite place?) lads were saved by Bart's truck (Bart is the manager of another bar, Bugils or Bule Gila), and slowly driving away from the bar in that street, they saw... a gigantic phyton on the street side! It was very long it took 5 people holding it (2 at the tail, one held the middle part, and the other two held the head). We thought it must a pet but got away during the flood. I don't want to say what I think was going to happen to this poor snake. My dear hubby took a photograph, btw :).

  5. Oh yes, I love this pub even if it is a bit grungy. But top monkey, you don't mind the waitresses in their little minis walking around? I don't think my wife would appreciate that hehe.

  6. FW: YIKES!!! You know.. now I'm not sure I ever want to go back to EP. Hehe. Where's this Bule Gila? I've heard about it on websites.

    Marc: I'm one of those dragon lady Asian wives who keep a tight leash on her men. ;)

  7. Mrs. Top Monkey, I can assure you that the phyton was outside the bar, not inside it, in Kemang street. You want to avoid the entire area? :P

    Marc I don't think they wear mini. They wear skimpy tops but most of them wear jeans. And they're quite feisty, don't even think to mess with them LOL. Plus I don't think people could do anything there, they'd find out everywhere they turn, it's their colleagues and friends somewhere. No chance for naughty thought...

    Bule Gila used to be the most popular expat bar, it's in Taman Ria Senayan, across the lake, behind Bebek Bali. It's legendary. Shame now only a handful of people still go there, most of the regulars now go to EP and Cazbar. They have a funny motto: "where everybody knows your wife...", which is true! Bart, the manager, has published a book compiling all crazy stories happened in the bar and all - although very bizarre - are true, seriously, because I'm friends with most of people mentioned in the book! I think you could buy it in periplus, EP, Cazbar, etc.

    You can click the link to EP I gave you, the whole bars managed by Bugils Group are in that website.

  8. mckays: Craps. We're moving to Kemang in Aug. Hope I don't meet any snakes. :)
    That's the name of the book I've heard so much about, thanks for posting the link.

    If any of you guys see a pregnant Asian woman in EP at any time, do come over and say hi, it'll probably be me!

  9. Hi Mrs. Monkey, I just discovered your blog last nite and can't stop reading it! I love your down-to-earth style writing. I'm an Indian woman living in Japan but have lots of family living in Jakarta. I visit them often and have seen LOTS of Indian families living there so I think that's one thing you're mistaken about. Also if you like Indian food, do try Queens. I enjoy it alot when I'm in Jakarta.
    I've only been to m'sia a twice and am hoping I can go visit someday soon!
    Btw, your soon looks absolutely adorable!

  10. Hiya.. glad you enjoy my ramblings. :)) Thanks for your reco on Queens and I'm going to be very happy to be wrong about the Indian community here. I'm so used to seeing many Indians back home in KL, so it's kinda odd not to be seeing any.

  11. Hi Mrs. Monkey,
    I'm flying into Jakarta from Japan this Thurs. If you want to see lots of Indian people, come to the Sunter area where my cousins stay. I'm coming to attend a wedding which will be from July 30-Aug 1. If you want to see LOTS of Indian people come by hotel borobudur on the 30th. I'm sure it'll be teeming with us there ;-).
    Stay safe and be well.
    japanibabe (same person as yr earlier post)

  12. A bit of a miser yah, only eating out expensive as the company pays for it.
    Yah a real expat wife's attitude.

  13. Yep, I'm an expat wife and my mission to save as much money as we can while we're expat. Why do you have a problem with how we spend the company's money? My husband works hard enough to warrant it. And why don't you have the courage to leave your name and contact behind when you're being rude? Tsk, tsk... are you afraid I'll do to you what you did to me - leave rude anonymous posts on your blog?