Reminiscing Mexican Authenticity at Taco Casa, Seminyak

It has officially been 10 years since I declared myself as a Mexican food-freak. I remember clearly that my first Mexican food was Taco but it was not even somewhere in Mexico. It was a pair of Tacos I got from Baja Fresh, a fastfood chain that serves Tex-Mex food nearby my hostfamily’s home in Wheaton, MD.

In an instant, I felt like I found the love of my life: food with spicy, juicy meat and extra spicy sauce. Eversince that day, the only dish I ordered at Baja Fresh remained the same: Taco, no-veggies, meat-only with the spicy hot salsa.

Though my hostmum once persuaded me to expand my horizon with the other menu, my love for Taco was irreplacable.

—–

Fast forward to 2017 during my Holy Holiday in Bali last week. Finally I got to eat Taco again – I mean, really good Taco. In Jakarta there were some good Taco but the price went out the roof or some affordable Taco but the taste were far from authentic. So by the time I read some reviews about Taco Casa (on Zomato, they were rated 4.1), I had always encouraged my Uncle to go there with me.

So there we were!

Taco Casa appeared to be simply comfortable. It was a small, chill and relaxing place with a big appetite. Not too many ornaments on decorations in the small cafe, but once we take a look at it we would know immediately that the place is going to be a comfortable place to eat. 

They offered a variety of Mex food such as Enchiladas, Burrito, Tacos, Quesadilla, Fajitas, Nachos but we ordered Enchiladas and of course, the one and only: TACO!

Taco Casa menu from Zomato

It did not took long before we could enjoy our order. For the Taco, they were generous with veggies, cheddar cheese and beef. In the plate, three pieces of taco were served with sour cream and black beans. We could always choose whether we wanted to have beef, fish or chicken to go with the Taco. In order to reminisce my dream Taco, I chose beef -which fortunately were very crispy, full of flavor, and well-seasoned. One tiny piece of beef contained richness of the seasoning. Muy delicioso!

Aa for the Enchiladas, the tomato sauce were rich, well-seasoned and able to fulfill the empty stomach of a grown up. So by the time we finished up both of the orders, we needed some times to let our stomach relax for a bit.

For me personally, another important factor to be further examined in a restaurant is its collection of sauce. Aside of having the usual La Costeña and Tabasco, Taco Casa made their own homemade hot sauce which was quite hot really. The level of acidity was not as high as Tabasco. It was rather highlighting the local preference of saus sambal or chilli sauce. Hotter than the La Costeña’s hot sauce with a hint of sweet and savory combined.

Overall, Taco Casa was worth 4.1 rate on Zomato. Nice and cozy place, delicious food, and last but not least helpful and friendly staff (when I came they were accompanying and entertaining a toddle so his parents could enjoy dinner). 

Really, authenticity in simplicity.

Three and a Half Thumbs Up for Queen’s Tandoor Seminyak

Holy holidays are over. But some memories related to tummy are yet to be shared here.

My main goal when visiting other cities or countries will always be about expanding my pallette. Be it local or international food. Apparently, my Dad has such a huge concern on whether the food is halal or not. So we ended up eating another Javanese cooking or meals that can easily be found in Java island such as Rawon, Urap, Bubur Ayam, and he even opted for home-made cooking. There’s nothing wrong with home-made cooking. My Mum is a great cook! But we were in Bali where there were loads to try.

Since holiday is about something new or unusually unique, my Dad finally agreed to try out for Indian food. Thanks to my Uncle who saved up the debate and opted for his favorite cuisine (and my Aunt’s and mine): Indian food.

According to my Uncle, amongst several Indian restaurants in Bali, Queen’s Tandoor in Seminyak is the best.

Courtesy of Hriday Bhatia, Zomato

When I first stepped into the restaurant, it looked neat and rather luxurious with red and gold colors dominating the restaurant. The decoration was definitely ethnic!

We chose to sit on the corner where they have a table for six people, next to the bar table. Here’s what we ordered:

  1. Harra Bhara Kebab
  2. Prawn Dilbahar
  3. Chicken Curry
  4. Rogan Josh
  5. Fish Curry
  6. Naan bread
  7. Basmati rice
  8. Saffron rice

    Harra Bhara Kebab

    Okay, the name might sound mouthful but the food was delicious. Harra Bhara Kebab is a deep-fried patties made of potatoes, veggies, cheese, mixed with spices and covered with paneer and herbs. I could taste corriander leaves and mint in it. It looks similar to perkedel but with stronger spices and herbs and more chewy texture. One portion serves six pieces of Harra Bhara Kebab. Honestly, this dish as appetizer is definitely a show-stealer.

    Prawn Dilbahar

    Addressing my Dad’s biggest concern on halal food, he preferred to order seafood. Hence, Prawn Dilbahar.

    Prawn Dilbahar was made of Tiger Prawns marinated with spices and herbs. It was then perfectly grilled and served with veggie salad. Plus the spices and herbs made the food extraordinary. Another appetizer that awoke my appetite.

    Chicken Curry

    Getting into main course, a classic meal will always become the highlight. Chicken curry was the favorite dish of everyone on the table. The chicken was well-marinated, tender, and well-cooked. The curry? Oh man, it was super tasty! 

    Although I personally prefer a super spicy curry like the one in Go!Curry (the restaurant chain in Jakarta and Bali that serves Indian and Japanese curry rice), but this one has overcome my craving over authentic chicken curry. Since I am reducing the consumption of rice, I ate it along with the Naan bread. Heaven!

    Rogan Josh

    Lamb. Authentic Indian restaurant will never leave lamb out of it. Rogan Josh was extraordinary. The chef did a great job marinating the lamb so there was no lamb smell at all. I did not know how they cooked the lamb, but the lamb was perfectly cooked, tender, not hard to chew at all. The spices and herbs were well-absorbed in the meat that every bites of it tasted like a harmonious melody in a song.

    Fish Curry

    No stinky smell, just mouthwatering dish. However, I still prefer the chicken curry over this.

    Naan Bread

    Chewy and will fill your stomach with only three pieces of it. The bread tasted fresh with just enough savory on it.

    Basmati and Saffron Rice

    Both of these dishes shared the same ingredient: Basmati rice, a typical Indian rice with long appearance than the Indonesian rice. Saffron rice, as you might have guessed from how it’s called, is the yellow version of the Basmati rice. Both od these dishes were well-cooked, offering the solidity that Basmati rice should have. One portion of it was quite a lot for one person to finish.

    Overall, the whole family agreed that the food was the best! From the variety as well as the taste of the dish. The price? They were worthy of the dish I guess. Although I was surprised that some dishes came in smaller portion than I thought, but it was still acceptable.

    However, I was personally unfavor with the length of time they needed to prepare the dish and brought them to customers’ table. For my family’s order, we had to wait for 30 minutes until the main course came.

    Nevertheless, if you wanted to try Indian food that’s rather authentic in Seminyak, Queen’s Tandoor is the place to go, ladies! Three and a half thumbs for them!

    PS. For a more accurate info on food and restaurants in Jabodetabek and Bali area, go download Zomato. It’ll help!

    Holy Holiday Finale: Catching Sunset

    Remember how my five days of holy holidays were not sunset-successful?

    Well – Friday was D-1 before my departure to Jakarta. So we did not go anywhere because my Mum spent the whole day cooking rendang and a bunch of pastels.

    Me? I spent the whole day playing word games that my cousin usually plays -and I got beaten by the Monster. I know right?

    A little pass three, the sun shone so brightly that it was seemed like it was dancing its way throughout the island. There was no way I would not see sunset with the sun gleaming so beautifully.

    Since I have such an easy going uncle, I asked him to give me a ride all the way to Petitenget, Seminyak just so I could get sunset.

    And guess what?

    That was such a perfect end to my Holy Holiday.

    Sunset mission: done!

    Holy Holiday Day 5: Pandawa and the Forgotten Sunset

    If you spend holidays in Bali, you should catch sunset. Otherwise your holiday is not a holiday in Bali.

    Nobody believes that theory except my family and I. So throughout this seven-day holiday, we are determined to catch the beautiful sunset.

    Unfortunately, Bali has been quite cloudy in the last five days.

    DAY 1: Nusa Dua area, we were too late for the sunset

    DAY 2: Double Six Beach

    DAY 3: Ubud — we did not go to the beach as we did a friendly visit to our relatives in the Sanctuary Forest

    DAY 4: Kuta Beach

    DAY 5: Uluwatu Temple Beach

    All of those cloudy afternoon really saddened us. But those bitterness are forgotten when we saw the beautiful, green-blueness of Pandawa Beach.

    This Pandawa beach was only open for public in 2010 when the businessman who owned the land in that area built up a passage through the rock mountain. Well – he was right!

    Pandawa beach has a jawdropping scenery. It’s like you’re in paradise while you’re still alive. I could really spend the whole day, staring at the sea, forgetting that I had another life in Jakarta that has been waiting for me to come back to work.

    Amongst all the beaches I visited in Bali, Pandawa is best-maintained. The development in the area was massive -more road, more hotels, more cafes. You could also take a look at the seaweed farm located in the corner of the beach.

    Wanna go there? Follow google maps

    The best way to visit this beach is at mid-day. First, there were sufficient amount of sun light that will support you for taking instagrammable pictures. Second, the beach will show you its best side on mid-day ( best side = green-blueish sea ). Third, there is no third really. Just wanna say, ENJOY PANDAWA!

    Holy Holiday Day 4: Ladyboss’ Birthday

    Ladyboss is celebrating her XXth birthday by pledging a long-haul protest everytime we tried to take her pictures throughout this holiday and when she knew we had prepared a communal birthday feast involving two houses and three families (the later was completed with airmata terharu sambil tetep misuh-misuh dan ngaku-ngaku kalo ultahnya besok).

    Nevertheless, happiest birthday Leo Mama! Stay happy, stay healthy, stay active! Muah!

    Four days and still no sunset. This time at Kuta Beach.

    Holy Holiday Day 3: Ubud

    Eversince I read Perahu Kertas by Dee Lestari five years ago, I was totally curious with Ubud.

    Eventhough my Aunt has lived in Bali since 2008, and I often spent my holiday here eversince, Ubud was out of my reach – I couldn’t ride motorbike and there were no ojek online. At that time I could drive, but it was not until recently that my Uncle bought his car. Basically it all went down to me being not fun for not being able to go on a solo adventure.

    So yesterday we spent half the day going to Ubud and we succeeded visiting two places: Tegenungan Waterfall and Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

    The discovery of this waterfall came unplanned after typing the keywords on google “What-To-Do-in-Ubud”. Even my Aunt did not know such place exist!

    The trip took approximately one hour from Denpasar. Once we reached the destinations, we paid IDR 10,000 for the tickets. Passing through some small shops and restaurants, we reached the top of the stairs that would bring us stright down to the waterfall. The stairs were not steep, but it was quite a challenge (especially on our way back up). Needless to say, the waterfall was so refreshing!

    Afterwards, we went straight to the Monkey Forest.

    I felt slightly scared with the monkeys because the last time we went to a monkey forest in Sangeh, the monkeys were brutally naughty. They would snatch all snatch-able goods and left us frozen, unable to comprehend how could monkeys become so hyperactively annoying. So I left all my belongings in the car, even my glasses, except camera and my phone. The thing is I can never see clearly without my glasses — so here are some photos I took with no glasses.

    Ticket price for the Ubud Monkey Forest was IDR 50K for adults and IDR 40K for children under 5 years old. 

    If you like walking under the trees and imagining how a green earth (literally and figuratively) could be, you should definitely come here. The lush of trees and canopies, you would have thought you were in paradise. 

    Some said that the monkeys in Sangeh turned wild because of its low maintenance and dry environment. I don’t really know how that should make a statement, but when I saw this well-maintained, green lush of forest, I believe that the monkeys here at Ubud were at peace as they live in harmony with the nature. 

    Apparently those were the manifest of Tri Hita Karana, a teaching in Hindu that emphasizes the strong connection between human, nature and God in order to achieve happiness.

    I was clearly happy and madly in love with the tropical rainforest vegetation — so were the Macaca fascicularis. Oh, and surprisingly, it turned out that the monkeys were super calm and friendly. My day was great!

    Puputan and Pancasila

    2017_0724_07303000-01

    I scored two awesome goals today!
    No, I’m not playing soccer. I had two of my goals achieved. First, my goal of walking or running more than 8,000 steps has been achieved. I know 8,000 steps are nothing compared to all of you who run 10K. But for me, a creature who barely does any kinds of sports, completing 11,000 something steps was an achievement. So, yay for me!

    Thank you, Google Fit, for keeping up with my goals!

    Second, did a little studying will never ruin our holiday -in this case, my holy holiday. Especially, studying history. I visited the Museum of the Struggling People of Bali. Dalam bahasa Indonesia, disebutnya Museum Perjuangan Rakyat Bali.

    Monumen Perjuangan Rakyat Bali di Lapangan Puputan Niti Mandala, Renon

    The museum is epic in many ways. Not only did it stun from the outside with a 45-meter high monument, made of stone, with a shape that resembles Bajra (a Balinese Hindu priest’ praying bell –this is why the monument is also known as the Bajra Sandhi Monument), but the museum also showcased in-depth historical values.

    I will neither tell you the story on the structure of the museum nor any detailed information on what I saw inside the museum. I’m just gonna tell you what I felt after watching the diorama on the second story of the museum.

    In one of the dioramas, there was a writing that elaborates the meaning of Puputan. Puputan means fight to death, better than surrender to enemy. This mentality grew upon the Dutch’s colonization to the people of Bali circa 1900. In the end, this belief has liberated Bali from the Dutch’s colonization.

    Bali was not the only area fighting back against colonization. So were other areas in the other parts of Indonesia – Java, Sumatera, Ambon. In my perspective, Puputan is the belief beheld by the other Indonesians at that time, inside and outside Bali, to get their country freed from any forms of colonization, despite the color of your skin, your tribes and your religions. If we could fight together in the past for Indonesia, why can’t we fight now to protect the unity of Indonesia?

    The current sentiment of religions and tribes discrimination occurring crystal clear in some areas in Indonesia does not reflect the spirit of unity that was once shown during pre-Independence. And Museum Perjuangan Rakyat Bali once again reminded me that Indonesia is a peaceful home to different tribes and religions that respect each other.

    Today we are not in any physical war. We do have Pancasila as the rope for nationalism that we hold on to. We’ve studied them since elementary school until college. Yet so little understanding about it on daily basis that we are easily torn apart nowadays by the slightest issues on religion, tribes and even socioeconomic disparity.

    When we realized that Pancasila is the fundamental guidance to protect this country from tearing itself apart, it will become the spirit that tied us strong. Just like how the spirit of Puputan amongst the Balinese heroes. It remains alive to remind us, the millennial generation, that this country was defended by blood and lives. Now it is our turn to fight for this country, using our own millennial way 🙂

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    Holy Holiday: Bali

    There is nothing holy about my holiday, really. I call it holy because getting together with the family is sacredly holy for me — though it can be stressful sometimes but so far things are DOPE! Also, I rarely do long holiday except for Eid Mubarak. So I guess, holiday IS HOLY, for me.

    Welcome to Bali! Whatever things I found, captured, and enjoy, will be shared here. For now, enjoy some pictures I took on Light Festival Nusa Dua!

    Light Festival Nusa Dua is still available until July 30, 2017 in Paninsula Island Nusa Dua. Go check it here!

    HPV Vaccine: Imperative or Excessive?

    Okeh. Postingan kali ini gua nulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia. Selain karena hari ini gua meeting 2x dalam sehari (macem minum obat) so I felt drained, gua merasa informasi tentang Vaksin HPV perlu diketahui oleh manusia milenial lainnya.

    Etapi gua disklaimer dulu ya. Gua bukan dokter, bukan perawat, bukan tenaga kesehatan profesional. 

    Jadi apa yang mau gua sampaikan ini murni pengalaman gua. Kalo mau konsultasi dokter, silakan ke klinik kesehatan terdekat. Bisa juga ke kantor gua. Ada dua dokter, yang satu dokter slash ahli perencana dan kebijakan, yang satu lagi dokter spesialis digital communication and business development. They both are like the smartest, coolest people on earth! 

    Kanker Serviks tuh satu-satunya kanker yang bisa dicegah. Ayok laahh vaksin!”

    Nah, ini pesan dari Direktur gua di jam istirahat yang beberapa bulan terakhir intens digaungkan. Beliau (bayangkan wanita muda usia awal 30 tahun, suka pake kuteks warna-warni, berkacamata dan cinta corgi) aktivis kesehatan, yang hobi persuasi pake pesan kunci. 

    Persuasi ini bukan tanpa alasan sih. Pakde dan Bude di Kemenkes bilang Kanker Serviks itu penyakit mematikan kedua di Indonesia setelah Kanker Payudara. Kalo kata Om di Yayasan Kanker Indonesia, dari 40 cewek yang didiagnosa Kanker Serviks, 20 orang meninggal. Besarnya kemungkinan setiap orang menderita kanker sih yang membuat gua percaya bahwa vaksin adalah investasi terbaik untuk membentuk tentara pertahanan dalam badan gua. So I believe it is imperative to have the vaccine.

    Kementerian Kesehatan juga udah mewajibkan vaksin HPV. Mereka bahkan akan memberikan vaksin HPV gratis ke anak SD di seluruh Indonesia. Walaupun sekarang baru kesampean di Jakarta dan Jogja but it is a great commitment of Kemenkes to have all teens get better access in healthcare, in this case HPV vaccines -which I support thoroughly.

    Menurut CDC, vaksin ini baiknya dikasih sebelum kalian aktif berkegiatan seksual. Makanya Kemkes sama institusi pemberi vaksin di Amerika ngasih vaksin ke anak usia 11-12 tahun. Kalo udah sexually active gimana? You can consult to your doctor about this condition, tapi yang gua tau kalian masih bisa melakukan Pap Smear untuk melakukan screening untuk mencegah Kanker Serviks.

    Berhubung gua murah, dikasih pesan sesingkat itu sama Bukdir, gua memutuskan untuk langsung berangkat vaksin. Niatnya sih dari dulu kenceng, cuman belom ketemu lokasi dan stok vaksinnya.

    Tapi alam berbaik hati!

    Tiba-tiba ada yang share e-poster ini di grup kantor:

    Itu poster vaksin HPV dari RS Sahid Sahirman, Sudirman. Mereka menyediakan layanan suntik HPV paketan Maksudnya paketan tuh jadi kita sekali bayar untuk tiga kali suntik. My life’s much easier!

    Singkat cerita, gua bikin appointment dengan contact person di poster. Ternyata prosesnya mudah dan cepaaat!

    Kalo digambarin chronological order-nya, kayak gini:

    1. Datang ke RS Sahid Sahirman langsung ke registrasi, bilang mau vaksin HPV (Gardasil)

    2. Nanti setelah registrasi, akan dibawa ke ruang tindakan.

    3. Nanti ditanya juga ada riwayat penyakit + tensi dulu sama perawat.

    4. Dokternya datang bawa vaksin, bisa konsultasi dulu atau langsung suntik.

    5. Setelah suntik, ambil bukti untuk proses pembayaran + kartu vaksin untuk dibawa ke kasir di lantai 2.

    6. Di kasir, kita bayarkan biaya vaksin Rp 2.750.000, bisa debet/cash. Nanti akan dapat kuitansi pembayaran yang harus dibawa bersama kartu vaksin setiap kali mau vaksin di bulan 2 dan bulan 6.

    Promo ini masih ada sampe Agustus. Jadi buat yang belum vaksin, mungkin sebaiknya bisa konsultasi ke dokter dulu. Kalo dokter udah merekomendasikan vaksin, then go for it!

    Baked & Brewed Coffee and Kitchen: Craving for More Quality Time

    On weekend, I most likely spend my weekend with my parents or the guy who owns these navy blue Skechers..

    .. the thing is, my parents aren’t really into trying new places. So the only person that I could count on to try new places is him.

    Last weekend, we wanted to eat at Warunk Upnormal -recently opened, full of young people. Just wanna know how that place can be super famous by creatively selling indomie.

    When we got there, there were like twenty people on waiting list and the place was crowded. Zomato saved our time through its rating system (Upnormal only got 2.4) so without spending another second, we scroll through Zomato and found Baked & Brewed!

    Baked & Brewed is located right across Lapangan Sempur, this popular huge field in Bogor that has a lot of smaller thematic parks. Two-story building, with two cafes, a florist, a distro, and a dental care, Baked and Brewed is on the first floor of the building.

    When we came in, there were quite a lot of people but not crowded. The amount of guest could still blend in with the atmosphere the cafe owner wanted to bring out: chillax with a series of indie songs for company.

    There are two areas in the cafe: free-smoking and smoking areas. The free-smoking area was indoor with several sofa and high wooden chair behind bar tools surrounding the barista area. The smoking area was outdoor with green plants hanging around – I guess the plants were supposed to suck up all of the nycotine. We decided to sit on one of the sofa corner in the free-smoking area.

    After taking some random pictures like these..


    ..and this..

    ..we ordered Omurice, Fish and Chips, Ice Thai Tea and Ice Lemon Tea at the cashier -you order and then directly pay for it. Efficient and effective approach, I like it.

    Long story short, the food were delicious and the bevs were also good. Fish and Chips weren’t too oily, tartar sauce tasted just right -not too sour or too sugary. Omurice? Definitely addictive for me. The balance between salt, sugar and other ingredients was spot-on. It was even served in a Korean ceramic bowl. As for the lemon tea, I found it a bit more soury then the usual lemon tea we could find in other cafe -which is good because the drink wouldn’t be too sugary, right? While the Thai Tea was sweet enough that it made me surrounded by millions of ants.

    No picture for Omurice. It was too good that we finished it up in a sec!

    Price wise? Reasonably affordable. Given the strategic location, delicious food, chillaxing ambience and super friendly staff. Oh, and fast-respondness.

    So if you wanna enjoy food and have a good quality time with your friends or the most significant ones, you can try doing it here. You won’t regret it.