Tuesday, Dec. 31, was a day off from touring, so we lounged around the hotel until lunch time. An Internet search yielded a likely restaurant for lunch – Gita Anjana – that was near the hotel so we would not need to get in the traffic again. A short taxi ride brought us to a modest diner with a bakery. Typical Indonesian fare – an ayam goreng dish with a very spicy/sweet soup that neither one of us could eat and nasi ayam and prawns for me.
It had started raining and we were next headed to a traditional market that ended up being on the far end of Malioboro Street. Flagged down a taxi but he refused to take us, saying it was too short a ride and he did not want to tackle the traffic of Malioboro. We were told it was only a short ways and started to walk before finally finding a becek. We piled in, the driver put a plastic cover over us and off we went.
The market was very crowded with very narrow passageways. We were looking for clothing for family gifts and the additional t-shirts I needed for staff gifts. Had a very nice encounter with a bevy of sales ladies on the second floor who sold me 6 t-shirts at Rp 15,000 each ($1.20), and stopped at another stall for two baseball caps (Rp 30,000 each). When we were done, we discovered we were hopelessly lost in a maze of shops. Well, not hopelessly, as we found our way back to Malioboro thanks to some directions from a few people.
I still wanted to buy some handicrafts so we did the fight-the-crowd in the street stalls walk once again, which is not so bad for me because I can look over everyone’s head, but must have been torture for Via, given her height. Found a really nice store with just what I was looking for and proceeded to buy – a white, carved wooden elephant for my collection, wind chimes, two hand paintings, several interesting candle holders, and an intricately carved Balinese woman’s head with headdress. With a bunch of smaller stuff added in, came to about $90 (if sold in U.S., the price would have been closer to $400).
Now, loaded down with bags and my backpack, we headed for the end of the street so we could catch a taxi. Except none came by, so we walked further. Still no empty taxis. Finally, we opted for a becek back to the hotel. We had just about enough time to clean up for New Year’s Eve dinner at R&B Grill.
New Year’s Eve at R&B Grill
At lunch on Sunday with Via and her sister Adhe at the R&B Grill near the hotel, I decided to make a reservation for dinner for New Year’s Eve. The restaurant served Kobe steaks for $25 per 100 grams, which sounded like a great deal – we had to have dinner somewhere, most places would probably be crowded, and getting to and from a restaurant in the traffic would have been a nightmare. Little did I know at the time that my choice would turn out even better than I anticipated.
When we arrived for our 7 pm reservation, we found the restaurant decked out for the new year, including a long buffet section for dinner and another buffet section for desserts. Turns out we had reserved an all-you-could-eat buffet dinner with a live band included. The buffet was about as extensive as I’ve seen in some time – several kinds of steaks, beef kebobs, chicken, turkey, beef ribs, prawns, chicken sausages, an array of vegetables and salads, mushroom soup, fresh-made breads, fruit. The meat was all cooked on an open fire while you stood and waited.
After ordering a large Bintang and a juice, a man came to our table with a rolling cart. I didn’t know what he was offering but said why not. Turns out he was making steak tartare at the table, with fresh egg yolks and the various spices, capers, oil and sauces that goes into it. I have never had tartare and was somewhat reluctant but decided to give it a try. Very good.
After a short break while we watched the customers arrive (about 100 in total and almost all Indonesian or Singaporean), we went for the buffet for appetizers and salad. Via was already into the main dishes but I wanted to space out the experience. My next trip was for one of the beef ribs, as I was afraid they would be gone before long. Then it was back for the main course (while Via started on the desserts). I selected some steak from one of about 10 plates, and some prawn kebobs, and watched them grill. Added some potato salad and potatoes au gratin. They also had broccoli smothered in a cheese sauce. The steak was the best I’ve tasted in years. Don’t know if it was kobe but it was delicious. Some of the meat, like the tartare, was Wago beef, close but not quite Kobe.
After catching my breath for some time, and sipping on my bir, I decided I had to have more steak. I chose a different plate and it was not as good as the first but still excellent. Now it was time for dessert.
The dessert buffet included a variety of fruits and belgian waffles, with several sauces, including chocolate and strawberry. On another table, there was an assortment of pastries, including an all-chocolate one I sampled and another all white cake and frosting that was enhanced with some chocolate syrup. Meanwhile, the band, including two female singers, was playing contemporary music.
We managed to extend our dinner until about 9:30 and after all that food and a hard day of shopping decided it was time to return to the hotel. We had intended to go to Malioboro Street, where there would be a huge New Year’s party but, but we were too tired. We did stay up for midnight, however, and enjoyed the local neighborhood fireworks.