Tucked neatly in a quiet corner of Jakarta's Sampoerna Strategic Square is Iseya Robatayaki, a discreet Japanese eatery that one might esily overlook if not for the imposing aquarium housing stingrays and good-fortune arowanas.
Upon entering the inconspicuous double doors of the eatery, guests are met with a whimsical setting: an environment much like those illustrated in fantasy novels or fairy tale picture books. A Japanese cherry blossom tree with hanging garlands of Sakura is perched at the bottom of the spiralling wooden stairs that lead patrons to the second floor of the restaurant. Hanging on the wall facing the entrance is a massive silk kimono framed on the dark wall, creating an arresting contrast between the multicoloured vibrancy of the kimono with a grey background.
The elegant and fanciful restaurant adopts a different arrangement than most Japanese eateries. Rather than stepping into a bright, open space like many would in a traditional Japanese restaurant, walking into Iseya Robayaki's narrow corrdior is like traversing Alice's wonderland, with vlosed doors lining the corridor imparting a scene of curious mystery. A petite server in elaborate kimono leads the way, opening a grey door to an elegant table overlooking the lush greenery of Sampoerna Strategic Square.
In the private room sit the elegant and eloquent Rani Anggraini and Inggrid Kansil, eager to sample the eatery's offerings. Commencing their exceptional dining experience, an appetiser platter consisting of salmon and tuna belly sashimi, tempura crab, grilled scallop and prawns serve as a comprehensive opener, whetting the appetite with a well-rounded flavour. The exceptional freshness displayed in the opening dish exemplifies the eatery's commitment in providing guests with the best ingredients, imported weekly directly from Japan.
Following the appetiser is the Dobin Mushi, served in a small, charming pot with an accompnaying cup from which to drink the soup. A light dish in texture yet rich in flavour, the Dobin Mushi blends mushrooms, chicken, Gindara fish and shrimp in a flavourful broth, preparing the palate for richer tastes to come.
The exceptional freshness exemplifies the eatery's commitment in providing guests with the best ingredients
In a narrative of flavours, the third course is where action starts to happen. The grilled lobster ends the light opening act with the richness of the cream sauce, yet still retains the freshness of the lemon juice. The fourth dish serves as an intermission before the climax, with delicate grilled salmon and Enoki mushrooms preparing the palate for the pièce de résistance of the meal: the grade-A Iseya grilled beef served with raw sea urchin.
Gues are invited to examine the beautifully marbled raw beef before the chef procceds to the grilling. As she bites into the grade-A beef, Rani remarks on the suppleness of the meat. The buttery texture and rich flavour are compelling in their complexity, while the lightness of the dish leaves a lingering aftertaste much like the bittersweet parting of two lovers.
The sixth dish reduces the intensity back to lighter flavours with a simple grilled Onigiri with Miso soup, followed by the final meal: red bean Dorayaki served with red bean ice cream. A sweet ending to the delightfully complex and compelling meal, the dessert concludes the elaborate dinner with just enough sweetness to allow guests' lingering craving to return, time and time again, to Iseya Robatayaki.Sampoerna Strategic Square North Tower Ground FloorJl. Jendral Sudirman Kav 45-46, Jakarta 12930Tel: 021 579 52342