When it comes to Korean BBQ restaurant, I already have few names in my favorite list, but I had never known there is actually a very good one in Central Jakarta! As the ones I often visit are restaurants located in South & North Jakarta, I was surprised too that Central Jakarta has one as well. ILLUA Korean BBQ Restaurant & Coffee is our new favorite Korean BBQ restaurant in Jakarta, and we can’t wait to share our fab dining experience to you!
Located at lively Wahid Hasyim street, ILLUA Korean BBQ takes quite a large stand-alone building with spacious parking lot. It is not difficult to find the restaurant despite the colorful neighborhood packed with hotels and restaurants. The first floor is kind of divided into 2 places but still connected, one for the restaurant with tables and Korean BBQ exhaust, and another one is for café with cozier feel if you only come for snack and coffee. There are also private rooms and outdoor seating area upstairs, which we think are good points for people who need to relax and smoke.
As usual, at first we enjoyed few of their appetizers (banchan), there are 8 of them and we must say we like all! Sometimes we judge a Korean restaurant from the taste of their banchan as some restaurants offer many kinds of them but only few ones are edible. Here they have good combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, even the neutral one to keep the balance of all flavors. The kimchi actually tasted so authentic without being overly sour but still had real kimchi kick in it, thumbs up! Not only that, even the cucumber pickles tasted so good and I couldn’t stop munching on them, LOL! XD
We were told that the owner is Korean and he is also the one responsible for the secret recipe in the kitchen, means, he is also the chef. We had high expectation and we hoped that the food
should would be very authentic, and keep reading if you wanna know whether our expectation came true or not. XD
For the Korean BBQ, ILLUA has impressive selection of the meat, from beef (including Wagyu!), pork, seafood and chicken. The beef are said to be premium imported ones, which you can probably experience yourselves when you visit this place. The menu consists of all the meat parts in category and how they are prepared, marinated, etc., so it’s best to take your time to read the details before you order.
Yangnyeom Galbi IDR 288,000
First to try was the Yangnyeom Galbi, which is short rib meat marinated with ILLUA special sweet soy sauce. The yangnyeom sauce looks runny with juicy residue in it, but it clearly does a great job in adding the massive flavor. The taste is dominantly sweet but it goes well with the fresh, not-so-thick short rib meat! The best way to enjoy these beef cuts is when you wrap the grilled meat with vegetables and add some kimchi or green chili, the amazing flavor will burst in your mouth like, SO GOOD.
Go Chu Jang Sam Gyeop Sal IDR 120,000
And what’s a visit to Korean BBQ restaurant without ordering their Sam Gyeop Sal (Pork Belly) menu? This time we tried their pork belly marinated with infamous Go Chu Jang a.k.a. chili pepper paste sauce! Might be too common? But the way you cook it can make it not so common anymore, dare to try?
Although the sauce might be too “usual”, don’t underestimate the power of marinating process! We don’t know for sure how long they marinate the pork, but we were very impressed that the flavor is fully infused until the inside. The longer they were grilled, the more chili flavor coming out and it was intensely delicious! The best thing is that YOU have to try this yourselves and get spoiled with such wonderful taste!
Our advice is just watch the process and let the trained staff do the cooking. Just sit back and relax, wait until your pork is ready, and enjoy them at maximum excitement! Oh, don’t forget to try “sipping” the juice from the grilled mushroom, the staff told us it was too good to be missed, and yes, we couldn’t agree more!
Galbi Tang IDR 98,000
Beside Korean BBQ, we also tried some of their side dishes, and soups are definitely must order items as well whenever we visit Korean restaurant. Had their Galbi Tang, clear soup with beef short ribs, the pot is relatively small but don’t worry, the portion is actually quite big with many things inside. The soup is quite tasty with flavorful broth, the ribs are meaty and so easy to peel off the bone, however we prefer something spicy when it comes to Korean soup.
Sun Du Bu Jjigae IDR 78,000
We love this soup! With freshly curdled tofu, vegetables, mushrooms, onions, oysters, mussels, clams, and shrimp, the soup seems like heavenly food for seafood lovers. What attracted us most is the fact that the soup has massive seafood flavors in it, like it’s a real seafood stock, so tasty! The other ingredients helped enhancing the flavor but we certainly won’t mind slurping only the soup for yummy seafood flavor, teehee.
Samyang Cheese IDR 65,000
New menu from ILLUA, their attempt of recreating homemade infamous Samyang noodle. They use curly flat noodle just like typical instant egg noodle which I personally don’t really like, but kudos for the spices and great resemblance to the real Samyang noodle taste. The portion is also very generous, and it can be enjoyed by 1-2 person. If you don’t like cheese, this menu is also available without cheese for only IDR 40,000, so affordable yes!
Beside the food, ILLUA also has many beverages menu, and we tried 2 of their mocktail which are Fresh Strawberry Pina and Cranberry Illusion. Both are very fruity and definitely great thirst quenchers!
Ingeolmi Bingsoo IDR 108,000
After the delicious treat, we moved on to another specialty of ILLUA: bingsoo! Their bingsoo is special because it’s made using special snow ice machine from Korea, resulting in a very fine, soft and smooth ice that resembles snow. This Korean milk ice sorbet we ordered, was topped with roasted soy bean powder or Korean multigrain powder, not really photogenic but tastes so good! We also love their milky ice, even eating only the ice already has flavor and we can enjoy it until the last spoon even though we have finished the toppings first. XD
Our first dining experience at ILLUA was pleasant and satisfying, we definitely visit again. The food here taste quite different from other Korean restaurants in Jakarta, even the banchan tasted so authentic just like home-cooked food. That’s what our first impression when trying their food, humble and so original. For first-timers, the menu book is thick and you might be confused what to order, but you can always refer to the chef’s recommendation (listed on the menu) or ask the staff for best reference. Some consider their food pricey, but trust us, you pay for the quality and your experience will be worth every cent. Thanks for reading and have a great time at ILLUA!
** This review is written based on our visit on 15 April 2018.
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