Just when you thought you knew the best places in Jakarta to find great Mexican food, Keraton at The Plaza stormed the scene and brought new rules of the game.
Introducing Chef Lamberto Valdez—a veteran artist in the culinary scene—with over 25 years of experience in many different areas of casual as well as upscale fine dining restaurants. As soon as we were done admiring the intimate atmosphere and wonderful high-story view offered by Keraton, chef Lombardo himself greeted us and asked to make sure if we were comfortable. He then explained what’s on the menu ever so passionately, which immediately awakened my palate in anticipation.
For starters we had the Grilled quesadillas and Flautas with Guacamole. The Mexican cheese melted in the chicken was especially tasteful and inviting, which was even more tempting combined with the beef tinga, tortilla, and salsa in the Flautas. The Guacamole was more than just a plain avocado dip. We noticed that it had all the perfect makings of a great Guac: the avocado was perfectly ripe and fresh, and of the right type—the smaller Hass variety, the acidity was just right, and most importantly, the combination of jalapeno and habanero peppers were top-notch. At serving, I personally love my Guac chunky, and that was exactly what I got at Keraton. Things were off to a very fine start indeed.
As for the main courses, at our table we had a Lamb birria and Puntas de filete tacos, Iron skillet shrimp fajitas, and two of the Chef’s Specials: Carne asada and Mahimahi “a la tella”. The deep flavor in the long-braised Lamb birria dish was so satisfying and very modern Mexican in presentation. This dish reminds me a bit of a savory beef stew, but spicy and with a hint of cinnamon, cloves and cumin. After remembering the chef’s enlightening fact about how nine different chilies are usually used in a single dish, what I tasted was this really intense stew that is rich with a mild under current of heat that’s spicy only after a few bites. The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and everything has the slightest hints of spices. Simply exquisite. For dessert, we picked Cinnamon sugar churros, Choco-flan, and Crepas. The white chocolate sauce and cajeta covering the fresh mango mixture in the churros took us completely by surprise with a very streamlined yet complex sweetness. Both the Crepas and the Choco-flan also provided the perfect closure to a full, hearty meal.
Distinguishable Variety, Contemporary Presentation
Obviously we’ve only shared with you a glimpse of what you can expect to taste at Keraton. Hopefully these photos of other equally delightful cuisines we had would help describe the experience. The dining experience at Keraton calls beyond the tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and burritos, and opened up a whole other world of Mexican dishes that are all but satisfying. One thing I won’t forget to mention is Chef Lamberto’s stout belief in the farm-to-table approach. He even went as far as coordinating with local farmers to harvest epazote, cactus, and semmingly-countless types of chillis. The end result no doubt differs from the rest of the competition. My personal testimony to that would be one of the best guacamole I have ever had the pleasure of dipping tortillas in.
In conclusion, the modern Mexican selection at Keraton offers a modern take on glorious culinary traditions. Combined with friendly prices and amazing atmosphere on top of The Plaza’s luxuriously pampering accommodation, it is now one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for an authentic Mexican lunch and dining experience.