Last night we went with some friends to the Marriott for their all-you-can-eat dinner buffet. Yes, that Marriott. However, you would not believe the level of security at this place now. You can’t even drive within 100 yards of the lobby, and there were two security checks between the taxi and the front door, including metal detectors. They do not mess around here. By the way, the Jakarta Marriott is absolutely gorgeous. Certainly among the more stylish, sheeshie, lavish, extravagant, whatever hotels we’ve ever seen.
The buffet itself was great, like a big Vegas-style extravaganza, but instead of a section that says "Oriental," they have a section that says "Western." They had separate stations for Japanese (sushi, including my (TP) favorite, raw octopus, which I thought was mushrooms until JM pointed out the suckers), Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian food, and all of it was very good. We think that the secret is that the Marriott, like the few good buffets you’ll ever go to, only makes very small quantities of any one dish at a time, which is far more labor intensive (and hence expensive) but means that you’re not eating half-warmed-over lasagna from a vat. Apparently buffets are all the rage among wealthy Indonesians, and all the big hotels have them. If you’ve ever been to one of the giant buffets in the big resort casinos in Vegas, it’s like that.
We also heard–but will not confirm this because we don’t want to get too excited–that the Mandarin Oriental Jakarta has a dessert-only buffet. Given that the Mandarin Oriental is probably nicer than the Marriott, and that this alleged dessert-buffet would only cost 8 dollars a person, this could be deadly.
Our beverage for the evening was a giant iced tea with a big old slice of pineapple in it. Delicious. Indonesian iced tea is wonderful to begin with…real strong brewed tea, ice cold, and you add a simple syrup that comes in a separate mini-pitcher. Sometimes you can get iced lemon tea, which is a specialty, and comes with a lime as a garnish but lemon juice in the tea itself. JM is working on a recipe for all of you back home.