honZEN is yet another Japanese restaurant under KAWANO Group (along with SAKANA, The Grill, Bistronomy, and latest one, Tontoki), which is one of the definitely-MUST-TRY restaurants in Jakarta. honZEN itself is located on Lower-Ground (LG) floor of InterContinental Hotel MidPlaza Jakarta, and easily accessible using escalator from hotel lobby or from the MidPlaza office building.
本膳はKAWANOグループのレストランであり、（酒菜、The Grill, Bistronomy, 屯登木）ジャカルタでは絶対お勧めの日本レストランです。本膳はジャカルタインターコンチネンタルホテルのLGにあります。インターコンチネンタルホテルロビーのエスカレーターで降りたら右手にあります。MidPlazaからもアクセス可能。
Although this was not my first visit, I must admit that honZEN has always been one of our favorite Japanese restaurants in Jakarta. It’s a shame that I haven’t spared any time to write any review about this place despite all the photos I have from dining there, but crossing my fingers that I will do it soon!
Quite recently, honZEN released new menu featuring UNAGI (eel) as the main star of the dishes. We were lucky enough to be able to try the dishes as we were told that during the first weeks of new menu release, they only served 10 portions daily. Can you imagine how exclusive it is?
Talking about unagi (eel), I wouldn’t say that I am a BIG fan of it but I also don’t dislike it. There is something exotic about unagi that I always feel it somehow luxurious to eat. However, unagi in Japan is quite different from what I have had in Indonesia, that being said, I was curious to taste the new menu this time!
Unaju Zen Superior／鰻重膳 IDR 238,000
The first one of the 2 unagi menu is Unaju Zen Superior, which is a typical “eel-bowl”, steamed white rice topped with grilled unagi and Kabayaki sauce. Included in this set are kimo soup, egg custard (chawan mushi), pickles, and fried fish bones.
First of all, I was surprised to see 2 thick stacks of unagi on top of the rice. :-0 I have seen a lot of impressive unaju/unadon in Japan but this was crazy! The unagi surely looked appetizing with its (seemingly) thick meat and glistening sauce. When I tried this, I was speechless because it tasted SOOOO GOOD!! I mean, like seriously. The meat was super thick yet soft, with a thin, crusty skin that was full of flavor. The unagi was obviously perfectly seasoned, and I couldn’t even find anything to complain about, LOL.
It’s just flawlessly good.
Since the unaju itself was already full of flavor, I think it’s very brilliant to pair it with savory smooth chawan mushi and clear, calming kimo soup. Oh yes, the other sides were fried fish bones, which were fun to eat and added texture to the unaju (love it!), and also honZEN’s signature colorful pickles which are pleasant to the eyes and helpful for digestion.
Unagi Hitsumabushi in Hot Stone Ware／石焼櫃まぶし膳 IDR 248,000
Next to try was the Hitsumabushi, which is a Nagoya-style charcoal-grilled unagi put on top of hot piping rice. Nagoya-style of cooking eel is slitting the eel open along the belly and grill whole without steaming. The eating procedure is also unique.
My first Hitsumabushi eating experience in Indonesia was back last year when the first Hitsumabushi joint, Unacho, opened in Plaza Senayan. I had good experience with them during my earlier visits but recently I found that the quality of their unagi has changed and I don’t enjoy them as much as I did previously.
Back to honZEN, the hitsumabushi here is served in hot stone ware to preserve the temperature because there are steps to eat it. Along with it, they also serve various condiments from seaweed, fried fish bone, spring onions, wasabi, and pickles. Let’s eat!
The first step is to pour the sweet sauce provided with the set on top of the rice, mix it up, and eat it right away!
Second step: take some of the rice to separated bowl (or you can do it directly into the hot stone ware), put some spring onions, spices and wasabi, then eat it. Although the base (unagi rice) is same, but the taste will be different and you’ll get another “sensation” from using this method! XD
Step 3: pour in the soup (chazuke) provided in the set and enjoy the soupy rice!
Although I love all the tastes from those 3 steps, for this hitsumabushi, my ultimate favorite of the way of eating is step 3, because the soup was just TOO DELICIOUS! It was rich in flavor but didn’t overkill the unagi taste, yet performing a harmonious flavor in the bowl. Normally, I love my hitsumabushi just like that (without any soup but lots of condiments), but here I recommend you to try a little of step 1 and 2, then proceed right away to step 3, LOL! XD
Do you know that beside tasting delicious, unagi is actually very good for our health? Rich in protein, vitamin A & E, unagi is believed to bring lots of energy and helps recharging our bodies. In Japan, unagi is mostly enjoyed during summer as it’s best for the hottest season of the year. (Well, I wouldn’t mind having this all seasons, though! XD)
honZEN once again exceeded my expectation in term of their food quality, and I really recommend everyone to try this while it lasts. Beside these unagi dishes, of course we can also enjoy many other Japanese dishes as well.
If you claim yourself as a Japanese cuisine lover, I highly recommend this place to experience a lot of authentic Japanese dishes without having to go to Japan. I will write a separated review about honZEN and its a la carte dishes next time in another post, stay tuned!
*The Food Escape team are not paid whatsoever for writing this post.
** This review is written based on our visit on 28 August 2015.
InterContinental MidPlaza Hotel
Jl. Jend Sudirman Kav. 10-11
Karet Tengsin, Tanah Abang
Ph. +62 21 5707796
Mon – Sun
Lunch 11.30AM – 2PM
Dinner 6PM – 10PM