Kahyangan: Dining pleasure
like in heaven

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

High on the top floors of the Wisma Nusantara building on the prime street Jl M.H. Thamrin, a special place for dining has been serving customers for years.

Although low profile, the restaurant is always packed with visitors.

It's the Kahyangan, a Shabu Shabu restaurant on the 28th, 29th and 30th floors of Wisma Nusantara, that was once Jakarta's highest building.

Kahyangan, which means ""place of the goddess"", is not a cozy place with bright tables or soft chairs, but rather a conventional dining place with red carpet and cream walls.

Although a little bit backward compared to other modern cafes, the venue offers delicious cuisine as well as breathtaking views of Jakarta.

First opened for the public in 1973, the restaurant keeps its interior design intact. The management has for some time planned renovations, but many loyal customers want to keep it just the way it is to preserve their memories of dining there in times past.

""This restaurant was serving customers even before I was born,"" said Sugeng Purnomo, assistant public relations manager of Hotel Nikko Jakarta here on Thursday.

According to Sugeng, the Kahyangan is one of the Nikko's means of attracting guests.

With its 244 seats available every day, the restaurant has served countless guests, including VIPs, state officials, business tycoons and celebrities.

Political leaders often come to satiate their palate while discussing latest issues there. If visitors are lucky, they could can seats to get the best view of the city during lunch or dinner.

""We often turn away guests because all the seats are occupied. We suggest customers book ahead,"" said Daniel Yunus, a waiter supervisor at the restaurant.

For lunch or dinner, the Kahyangan offers two set menus -- the Kahyangan Course and the Kentjana Course for Rp 228,000 (US$22) each.

The Kahyangan Course consists of shrimp cocktail for a starter, thinly sliced prime ribs and assorted vegetables with steamed rice for the main dish and fresh fruit platter or ice cream as a dessert.

Meanwhile the Kentjana Course offers home-made smoked salmon as a starter and the main dish and dessert is the same as the Kahyangan Course only it uses U.S. rib beef instead of prime ribs.

For those wanting a la carte, they can pick Shabu Shabu's premium kobe beef for Rp 695,000 ($67) or Shabu Shabu's beef for Rp 495,000 or Shabu Shabu prime ribs at Rp 228,000.

They can get additional dishes like kobe beef at Rp 650,000, prime ribs at Rp 198,000, seafood at Rp 148,000 or chicken for Rp 138,000.

Japanese noodles and bean curd are also available at Rp 18,000 each. Meantime, a bowl of steamed rice is offered for Rp 10,000.

One thing that makes the Kahyangan different from any other Shabu Shabu restaurant is its home-made ponzu sauce.

So delicious is the sauce that a visitor once paid for a set menu just to bring some home.

It tastes somewhat like a combination of lemon, fish broth and ketchup or kikoma.

While waiting for the waiter to prepare the dishes, a plate of rempeyek kacang (fried peanuts in rice dough) is served.

The dining begins with a starter, home-made smoked salmon. If not in a set menu, this dish -- served with green capers, onion rings and lemon wedges -- is offered for Rp 64,500.

Then comes the main dish, consisting of various vegetables and a big plate of thinly sliced U.S. rib beef. All of them are cooked in the center of the table.

Combined with the restaurant's special sauce ponzu, the dishes really bring us to Kahyangan -- the place of the goddess. Heaven.

Kahyangan Shabu Shabu Restaurant 28th, 29th, 30th floors of Wisma Nusantara Jl. M.H. Thamrin 59, Jakarta Phone: (021) 230 1122

Opening Hours Lunch: 11.30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dinner: 6.30 p.m. - 10 p.m.

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