June 12, 2011 Joni Steak – Pasar Baru
Joni Steak is as offbeat as it gets. A modest steak house that started 6 years ago in a Tenda (Tent) by the side of the road has now become the destination of choice for getting a Meat fix in Jakarta. After refining their menu and learning their strengths, the owner an Indonesian with several years of cooking experience abroad decided to focus mainly on Steaks. They quickly build a reputation for serving good quality cuts at very reasonable prices and get a cult-like following. The Joni Steak location we dropped by is no longer just a roadside eatery. It is now a 2 story building with about 60 – 70 seats. They have now purchased the shop lot behind the old ‘Tenda’ and opened a second branch, something they had to do when demand for their steaks increased. They have also spawned a variety of Steak Houses in the neighborhood, none of which have achieved their level of success.
The first thing that greeted us as we pulled into the restaurant vicinity is the lack of parking. As frustrating as this can get, it is definitely a good sign when one is in search for good grub. Lucky for us, we spot a family pulling out after getting their fix. A few minutes later we were in the restaurant and faced with our next challenge of securing a table as the place was packed with all walks of life. This particular location had an air conditioned top floor and an open ‘smoke’ friendly ground floor. We took the first table available to us downstairs and quickly asked for recommendations from the server.
The first to arrive at the table was the Garlic Bread, a toasted hot dog bun split into half , generously coated with butter and a hint of garlic. The bun was toasted to the perfect temperature and was soft and creamy from the butter. It’s hard to get Garlic Bread wrong, however this particular version could have used more PIZAZZ!
Next up were the Potato Wedges. This was a full plate of hand cut, un-peeled wedges of potatoes that were deep fried. The wedges had been seasoned with spices, salt and pepper prior to being fried and as a result had really great flavor and crispy textured skin. They were served alongside a mixture of Mayonnaise and Sweet and Sour Chili sauce, a unique combination that just tasted so great. If there was such a thing as a potato heaven we had found it. It was near impossible to stop munching these hot savory chips.
An interesting item in the menu was Bubur Kacang Hijau (Mung Bean Porridge.) This is a local Indo dessert and a personal favorite so we could not resist ordering a bowl. On it’s arrival we were disappointed to find that it was missing coconut milk and sugar, essential ingredients that make this dish special. Upon further inquiry we find out that this was a ‘Diet’ version of the dessert, something that Joni Steak takes pride in. They have diet replacements for most things in the menu and this clearly explained the gym junkies visible in the crowd. Nevertheless we ended up polishing off their light version of Bubur Kacang Hijau. The raisins and ground nut help give it a fresh twist so expect the unexpected.
The star of the show was escorted out next. At around 200 grams Joni Steak’s Wagyu Beef is tender, juicy and delicious. ‘Wa’ means Japanese, ‘gyu’ means beef in Japanese. Wagyu is beef from special Japanese breeds of cow which are now not only reared in Japan but also in Australia and the USA. Prized and craved for their marbled fat, which is due to genetics and the special feed and treatment, Wagyu has more mono-saturated fat than regular beef, meaning it is ‘healthier’ to eat than regular beef. Wagyu is the most expensive beef in the world, Kobe Wagyu (Wagyu from cows raised in Kobe) being the most famous. Our choice of the black pepper sauce instead of the mushroom sauce was spot on for this secondary cut Wagyu. The black pepper sauce, traditionally the best companion for a good cut of red meat was savory and rich in taste. Each bite of this succulent meat was juicy and tender and at Rp. 50,000 a portion, a steal!
Next up was a gigantic piece of Norwegian Salmon with Sweet and Sour Sauce grilled to perfection. The mild, sweet flavor and smooth, buttery texture of salmon make it an ideal candidate for steak and Joni Steak’s version does not disappoint. The fish was lightly seasoned and cooked perfectly . You know this from the color of the opaque flesh, flesh flaking when twisted with a fork, and salmon flesh that springs back when pressed. The sweet and sour sauce was the perfect compliment to this delicate meat. Besides being delicious this steak is one of the healthiest food you can eat, its bursting with all the omega-3 acids, proteins and minerals and good for the bod.
Lastly we ordered the Chicken Schnitzel Steak with black pepper sauce. This was a piece of fried boneless chicken coated with bread crumbs. This would have been perfect with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled over it however Joni steak chose to use grated Kraft Cheese. Some how it works and the crispy textured coating of the Schnitzel against the black pepper sauce gave us a tangy, soulful feeling with each bite. Big Thumbs up on this one, takes our ‘comfort food’ award.
There is no denying that Joni Steak has made their mark in the culinary scene in Jakarta. Their concept of a a no-frills eatery with noble intentions of fulfilling your meat craving is flawless. With hundreds of daily satisfied customers they understand the local taste buds and know exactly how to cater for it. Some items in the menu that we wish we had room for was the Fish n Chips and Spaghetti, needless to say we have a good reason to come back.
For those looking to indulge in some ale, any of Joni Steak’s servers will gladly cross the street to purchase some fine Bintang from Indomart to wash down their food. Also expect to run into someone you know, we did and it was wonderful catching up. Nothing like good food with great company.
Food at Joni Steak is inexpensive, expect around Rp. 80,000 per person for a full meal. This is dirt cheap for the good and healthy food you get. Overall our time at Joni’s was wonderful, can’t wait to go back and chow down again.
Jl. Samanhudi No. 65
Pasar Baru, Jakarta Pusat
Jl. Gajah Mada No. 91