Let’s agree about something real quick: the people of Surabaya love to eat. Should I say more than Jakartans? You be the judge.
As East Java’s main hub, Surabaya has a bustling food scene, with a mix of culinary influence from its surrounding region such as Madura, Malang, Sidoarjo. But at the higher end of the spectrum, there has been a slow but sure addition of upscale venues to cater many of the city’s gourmands. But for the discerning palate, sometimes you’ll still need to rely on the few that’s been around the longest.
Take the JW Marriott Surabaya, for example. Other than being Surabaya’s premium choice for luxury accommodation for over 20 years. It is also home to some of the city’s finest culinary destination.
On our recent trip to Surabaya, we had the chance to try the hotel’s restaurants. Any Surabayan with a soft spot for Japanese food will have tried or at least heard Imari, JW Marriott Surabaya’s Japanese restaurant that many considers as the best in the city.
It was lunch time and the classic Japanese style restaurant was bustling with all kind of crowd: business people taking a quick lunch, or a full table of Surabaya’s socialites at the Teppanyaki table.
Granted, I’ve heard how Imari’s teppanyaki table is one of the most sought after in the city, and getting a table for dinner can be a pickle most nights. But that day, my table opted for something less extravagant of a meal.
We had an a la carte of teppanyaki chicken, which you can order off the menu without taking the full teppanyaki set course. We also tried Imari’s chef Takashi Murayama custom bento lunch set that gave me a sample of Imari’s expertise in the classic Japanese way of presenting the best of ingredients from land and water (pictured below).
Chef Takashi is one of Surabaya’s best Japanese chefs with over 25 years of professional experience in well-established restaurants in not only in Japan but also in Southeast Asia. With his spotless Indonesian, he greeted us with a big smile and said he had a surprise waiting for us.
The surprise was a humble dessert of Edamame, or young soybeans used extensively in Japanese cuisine, made into tofu, and topped with naturally bright purple taro root ice cream. I love the simplicity of Japanese culture that this dessert portrays, and how healthy it is!
Aside from the dessert, I was up for another surprise: that night I discovered Vis a Vis, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant that’s only open for dinner and takes pride in being the city’s only French restaurant.
This restaurant recently got a new breath of fresh air with the arrival of Chef Emmy Matondang, a bright young chef with years of experience in kitchens of top resorts around the region. That night, we sample Chef Emmy’s culinary vision and aptitude in the classic French cuisine with a 5-course meal. Her amuse bouche was a rich yet refreshing salmon belly, and later a caramelized apple, onions, and foei gras sit on a fluffy brioche.
The main course was a classic surf and turf combination of king prawns and tenderloin beef, on mashed tomatoes, vegetables, au jus. A crowd’s favorite (and also hers) Chef Emmy confided, was the incredibly fragrant mushroom soup, topped with a flaky, airy, parmesan-crusted puff pastry which aroma emanates to the air as soon as these glorious domes were served.
The main course was a classic surf and turf combination of king prawns and tenderloin beef, on mashed tomatoes, vegetables, au jus. A crowd’s favorite (and also hers) Chef Emmy confided, was the incredibly fragrant mushroom soup, topped with a flaky, airy, parmesan-crusted puff pastry which aroma emanates to the air as soon as these glorious domes were served. The night ends with the simple yet hard to resist warm chocolate lava cake served with vanilla ice cream and cherry compote.
Another popular stop at the hotel is its Deli Shop that stores one of Surabaya’s best-kept secret: the heavenly extra large durian-filled buns that are totally a must try, in addition to their other pastries and bread. Grab a few for a one of a kind oleh-oleh to your durian lover family or office friends!
As its all day dining and buffet spread, JW Marriott relies on its Pavilion which recently just expanded its area with a chic glasshouse style seating area, that will surely attract all sorts of instagram OOTD photo sesh!