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Reading your favorite book in the company of a good cup of coffee or delicious food may sound like mixing business with pleasure.
But the concept sells. Two restaurants -- Zoe and Comic Cafe – are bringing in more and more diners who are lured by good food and their vast collections of books and comics.
Zoe, located in the heart of Depok city on the outskirt of Jakarta, it is still buzzing with customers even after the lunch hour.
Some are attracted by the food. But most — mainly office workers and students — are glued to books, while others work on their computers or simply enjoy the atmosphere.
Apart from its cozy outdoor space surrounded by a garden, the cafe’s perfect location — near the University of Indonesia and Gunadarma University campuses — is also a plus.
First things first, I decide to order drinks and food before hitting the books.
The choices of cold drinks — Bloody Mint, Deep Blue Sea and Chocolate Shake, are perfect after braving heavy traffic on a hot afternoon.
I am not disappointed. The Chocolate Shake is rich, but the Bloody Mint, prepared with grenadine syrup and lime soda with slices of strawberry and sprinkled with mint leaves, is my favorite.
The Deep Blue Sea is served with slices of lime but the cherry was missing.
Since it is after lunch, I decide to try the Pizza Meat Lover.
The choice goes against the staff’s advice to try customer favorites — Oriental Zoe Chicken (fried boneless chicken in flour served with Zoe sauce and vegetables) and Beef Teriyaki (tenderloin seasoned with teriyaki sauce and served with rice).
I do no regret my decision. The pizza is the perfect companion for reading.
With the food and drinks ready, it’s time to hit up the extensive collection of books.
It is amazing. The restaurant not only has novels and magazines, but a vast collection of comic books.
Staff says the cafe has over 30,000 books, mostly comics. The comics include popular titles, both local and foreign, ranging from superheroes to Japanese manga. The place also owns old-time local favorites such as Detektif Conan and Panji Tengkorak.
Diners can rent one or more books when dining there. I choose four Tintin comic books for a total of Rp 10,000 (US$1).
People can become members to receive discounts, including when the rented books will be taken home.
Membership at the restaurant costs from Rp 30,000 for students to Rp 75,000 for a family of three. So far, it has 6,638 members.
With your preferred books, and good food and cold drinks, time flies fast.
At the Comic Cafe, in the busy Tebet area in South Jakarta, diners are given a hero’s welcome.
In each part of the cafe, which recently opened a latest addition at Epicentrum Walk in Kuningan, diners are surrounded by superheroes in framed posters, painted on the walls and glass doors and adorning its colorful menu.
My first decision is to try a hot coffee latte, which comes in a generous cup with a creamy caramel flavor.
There is plenty of food to choose from on its “magnificent meals” list, from Ace Sandwich Smoked Beef & Egg and Spider Spaghetti Carbonara to Firestorm Barbecue Ribs.
If you come in group, pizza is a good choice. But if you’re into Indonesian flavors, you can go for the rice menu that comes with plenty of choices, from Comic Special fried rice to oxtail soup.
I decide to give the Magma Cuppa Soup and Ogura Toast a try.
I am happy. The pastry is crisp and buttery while the corn cream soup is light.
The toast comes exactly as it looks in the picture — with pastry cream and ogura ice cream on top, sprinkled with peanut and caramel sauce.
Since I am at the cafe after working hours, I miss out the chance to browse its comic book collection located on the second floor.
Cafe employee Murni says the place has more than 2,000 comic books in its collection.
She says the books are currently packed in boxes, because the cafe is undergoing renovation to provide more room for the books.
“But if you want to read, we can take them for you,” she says.
Outside, on the cafe’s open air terrace, many people stay on while enjoying the food or simply hanging around, chatting with friends while listening to live music performed by a four-piece band.
I decide to stick around. The night is still young.
• Zoe, Jl. Margonda Raya No. 27, Depok. Phone: 021 7775473
• Comic Cafe, Jl. Tebet No. 53 D, Tebet, South Jakarta phone: 021 8355216