Expect to find something spicy and vibrant on your plate when you visit MRA Group’s Lalla. Located at Capital Place on Jl. Gatot Subroto, this new 71-seater casual dining spot offers fusion food, combining recipes from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico with Indonesian and other Asian dishes.
In terms of interior, Lalla looks sophisticated and charming. It has a high ceiling, and shady trees stand tall in the middle of the room. Under the trees, there is a long wooden table for 12 diners. On one side of the wall, there is colourful memorabilia that belongs to Lalla, the fictional character “behind” the restaurant. The artwork was created by Erwin Windu Pranata.
Lalla’s kitchen is led by a stylish 32-year-old chef, Timmy Vato. Hailing from Brisbane, he spent the last five years in Bali, where he was F&B Director at Le Pirate in Nusa Ceningan and Executive Chef at Kilo in Seminyak.
“I saw Jakarta as a challenge and as being a little bit behind the times for culinary options compared to Bali,” he said. “I see it as a good place to grow a business and o er something fresh.”
South American cuisine is no newcomer to Jakarta, but what Chef Vato has brought to the capital is a combination of Latin American and Asian flavours, especially those of Indonesia. Fusion food is often considered a risky business, but Chef Vato seems to have met the challenge. The dishes are rich in flavours and feature vibrant presentation.
For the starter, Chef Vato and his team prepared croqueta (Rp 80,000), made of beef cabeza, manchego and chipotle. “Cabeza means head in Spanish. It is a beef head, where you use tongue, cheek, jaws and neck meat,” the chef explained. “One of the most interesting things about Latin people is they don’t waste any parts of the animal. It’s a quite similar approach to Indonesia’s.
“I like soto Betawi because I like the fact that I’m eating lung and tongue, and I love coconut. That inspired me to create lamb Betawi broth (Rp 180,000). I add South American air by using Latin rice and chipotle sambal. I have learned a lot from eating street food, and I have put my own twist on it.”
Main courses include black bean bowl (Rp 140,000) comprising beef cheek, roast paprika, oyster mushroom, beets, soft egg, herbs with nuts and seeds, and the must-try Lalla Wagyu burger (Rp 160,000) made of 150gr seasoned Wagyu patty, angus beef bacon, chipotle barbeque, provolone cheese, guacamole and truffle fries. Freshen up the palette with mango slush (Rp 55,000), a green mocktail made of pak choi, basil and mango juice or picante pepino (Rp 55,000), a pineapple juice combine with lime, ginger syrup, basil and ginger ale.
It is better to visit Lalla with a group of friends because the main idea of the restaurant is food sharing. Each dish comes in a big portion. “I love to see two or three people sharing five or six dishes. It adds the community back into eating,” said Chef Vato.
“The whole idea of Lalla is community and fellowship, which I think got a little bit lost for a while in the dining scene because everyone focused on getting Michelin stars. I want to take it back to basics. We must eat every day, so let’s take this opportunity to build a relationship. It’s beneficial for the soul.”
Capital Place, Unit GF Retail Podium
Jl. Gatot Subroto Kav 18, South Jakarta
Tel: (021) 2793 3287
Open: Sunday – Thursday 11.30am to 10.30pm Friday – Saturday 11.30am to 11.30pm