IO – What would happen if Greek and Javanese dishes were to be served in the same place? You can bet it will be a rich and unique experience! Imagine eating moussaka for lunch, with es cincau (grass jelly on the rocks) for dessert. Or nasi ayam sambal (white rice with chicken and chili paste) paired with tsai tou vonou (Greek mountain tea); now how does that sound?
This is exactly what HaloNiko offers: Its menu contains pages for both Greek and Indonesian dishes! What I don’t really care for is the way it plays cute with its dish names to make them more “eye catching”. For example, they named their nasi goreng ayam (chicken fried rice) “Nasi Goyeng Ayem” and their nasi goreng seafood (seafood fried rice) “Nasi Goyeng Sifut”! It’s a bit off-putting, but unfortunately the food tastes way better than it sounds….
HaloNiko has several branches all over Jakarta. I visited HaloNiko Mini at Jalan Pejaten Barat No. 16A, Kemang, South Jakarta. It’s a bit hidden, which makes it so much cozier as a place to relax and eat. Pluses: it has a lovely garden and swimming pool.
It’s Greek to Me: Souvlaki, Tzatziki, Skepasti, and…Pasta and Pizza?!
The first thing you should try at HaloNiko is its souvlaki, skewered and grilled meat served with pita bread, onion, and tomatoes. HaloNiko souvlaki is served with fried sweet potatoes and tzatziki dip. You can choose between beef, chicken, or mutton for the meat skewer part. They have very thick slices, which make for big, filling portions. And the taste is quite savory to boot!
You might also want to try out skepasti, the traditional Greek version of sandwich or wrap. The doughy part is naturally pita bread, which encloses grilled meat, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Edam cheese. It’s usually served with French fries, but HaloNiko opts to serve fried sweet potatoes and tzatziki dip instead.
Since it’s a Western fusion restaurant in Indonesia, you can naturally expect them to provide steak, pizza, and pasta. Why this trinity? It’s an Indonesian thing, I really don’t know why myself!
Philosophical ruminations aside, there’s no denying that they make good pizzas and pastas. Take the Sunrise Pizza, for example. It’s a unique pie topped with ground beef, both mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and a sunny-side up egg. HaloNiko also serves pasta – in this case, spaghetti, linguini, fettucine, and conchiglie (that’s the shell-shaped one. Describe it properly, because I really don’t think the waiters would understand if you use the Italian name). The most popular toppings are Greek Meatballs and Mushrooms. In the former, the topping sauce is made of Greek meatballs, tomato sauce, and feta cheese. The meatballs are tender and savory and melt in your mouth. The pasta, al dente! The mushroom topping contains both Portobello and porcini mushrooms, with a savory and creamy crème fraiche and parmesan mix that perfectly complements the squeaky, dense texture of the mushrooms.
White Rice, Fried Rice, and Other Javanese Delights
Are you one of those people who feel something is missing if you haven’t eaten rice yet? Other than the usual fried rice dishes, HaloNiko has various side dishes to complement your white rice.
Take the sego sapi, for example. It’s literally “white rice and beef”, no cuteness here! Your rice is served with specially marinated, grilled tenderloin beef slices. Ooh, that thick, tender, flavorsome slices, yummy! Take it up a notch and eat it with sambal, I guarantee!
HaloNiko satay is also quite special. Called sate kangen (yearning satay), it’s skewered lamb squares served with pita bread, fried sweet potatoes, tzatziki dip, and salad. While you’re at it, try buntut Mas Niko (Mas Niko’s beef tail). The tail is paired with a fresh tomato sauce, pasta, and parmesan cheese.
Oh, so you don’t like beef? Well, they have chicken rice too! How about some sego mangap or “openmouthed rice”? The chicken is grilled vertically on a special grill, then served on a bed of white rice with sambal bawang (shallot chili paste) as its condiment. The gyros chicken is both crispy and tender, with a rich taste deriving from the Javanese and Greek spice blend that’s unique to HaloNiko.
Another rice dish is udang mrenges (grinning shrimp). It’s a savory, sweet, grilled shrimp with a chili kick. If you like extra heat, add the sambal with it! “Mrenges” is Javanese is “grinning happily or cheerfully”. It’s obvious what they intend diners to do with this dish!
Sweet and Savory Stuf
If you’re in the mood to snack instead of full dining, they have both Greek and Indonesian fares on offer. Unfortunately, this is where they get “creatively cute” again: they serve yoti goyeng madu (“roti goreng madu” – “honey toast”), yoti goyeng keju soklat (“roti goreng keju coklat” – “cheese and chocolate toast”). It’s too “sweet” for my taste, but at least they use proper spelling for items like bugatsa and panna cotta. And that’s just some of the items available for those with a sweet tooth. If you prefer savory and salty favors, get yourself some kimado pita, spanako pita, or cheese pie instead!
Decisions, decisions. Food from the Mediterranean, or the Equator? Or both? Why not give it a try either way? (nur)