Warning – You are about to read about a vegan fine dining Italian meal that will definitely make you hungry, and may result in you impulsively making plans to travel to Jakarta so you can eat at Rosso @ Shangri-La Jakarta.
As soon as we sat down we were given small dishes of black olive tapenade and a rich tomato dip to accompany a basket that was full of freshly baked bread.
It’s always dangerous to put bread this good in front of hungry vegans if you want them to actually have room to eat the menu you have prepared for them.
Our amuse bouche arrived, sour and sweet caramelised red onions, with a balsamic reduction, radish and pine nuts, giving us a tiny taste of what was to come…
Chef Paulo, the man behind our vegan menu, is from Sicily and the first course was a ‘Sicilian Salad’. Created with fennel, orange segments and red onions in a Sorrento lemon dressing, it was light, crunchy, delicate and flavoured beautifully with olive oil and sweet juicy orange segments.
Next we had soup, or was it art? We think it can probably be classified as art. ‘Pumpkin Cream’, such a simple name for a dish that was so good we woke up the next morning thinking about it.
This dish was beautiful.
A bright orange cream with deep purple beetroot gnocchi and the red wine reduction streaked throughout; the colours of sunset in a bowl. A warm, herbal aroma lingered above the bowl as we sat and stared at how lovely it looked, not wanting to begin eating and break the spell, but when we did…oh wow.
Each velvety spoonful of the pumpkin cream was soothing to the soul. The red wine reduction stayed suspended in the cream so instead of all the flavours mixing into one, it provided a sour, sharp contrast to the cream when we got to that bit of the spoonful.
The gnocchi were light and savoury; earthy, rosemary-laced diced beetroot quenelles sitting in the soft orange pumpkin cream.
We weren’t sure whether we could continue with our meal, such was the fabulousness of the soup. We just wanted to order seconds and re-live our ‘Pumpkin Cream’ pleasure, maybe even thirds…
But we were promised a ravioli in our next course and as being vegan means we don’t often get a chance to eat fresh ravioli made by an Italian chef, we thought we had better pull ourselves together and eat on.
Lucky we did because Chef Paulo’s ‘Desire Potato Ravioli’ was a serious contender for the best course of the meal. You know it must have tasted good to even be considered as a contender to knock the pumpkin soup from the top spot…
When it was presented the smell of the fresh tomato and the organic basil hit us. Generous streaks of vegan pesto sat underneath the glossy, soft potato pillows with juicy plump tomatoes nestled in between them and toasted pine nuts scattered on top of the dish. Inside those soft, potato ravioli, which were so light they could have floated away, finely diced and slightly charred aubergine completed this taste sensation.
Consulting our menus for the next vegan delight to expect, we saw that we were having ‘Seasonal Stuffed Vegetables’. Even after the ‘veganaliscious’ start to our meal, having been at the mercy of many a dry, stuffed green pepper in our vegan lives, we were a little anxious about the next course.
We should never have doubted the vision of Chef Paulo though. A soft, sweet onion stuffed with a tasty porcini mushroom patė. Slightly bitter endive filled with cubed creamy potatoes that still retained a bite, making a perfect combination of crunchy and bitter, creamy and smooth. An intense baby red pepper stuffed with risotto rice, plump with honey saffron flavour. A perfect cube of courgette wrapped around soft, creamy polenta which oozed with toasty corn flavours.
It was melt-in-the-mouth and mildly nutty, light, creamy and warm.
This little medley of vegetables had one thing in common though; they were all stuffed with tasty vegan goodness.
And then we arrived at dessert, drawing this most perfect of vegan meals to an end, a ‘Mango Cream’ with mixed berries and strawberry sorbet.
Two words describe this dessert: “intensely mangoeish”. OK, we had to invent one of these words just to describe how much mango flavour hit us when we tasted it but there is no other way of describing it. The cold, fresh strawberry sorbet, the zingy fresh fruit… All brought together with the ‘intensely mangoeish’ cream that is only made possible by the use of the best mangoes, ripened underneath the blazing Asian sun.
Our Vegan Food Quest is all about finding, eating and writing about the best vegan food in the world but who would have thought that we would have found some of the best vegan Italian food we had ever eaten, in Jakarta?
One thing is certain, Chef Paulo’s humble descriptions of his food went nowhere near the amazing taste on the plates that were served. We were not only impressed, we were speechless.
The service was polite, efficient and friendly. Our waiting staff were discreet, serving dishes in a way that left us almost surprised that we had a new plate of food in front of us, how could we not notice they had cleared plates, filled glasses and delivered new dishes? Chef Paulo took the time to meet us and talk about the food he had created (although we admit to being slightly lost for words other than ‘delicious’ and ‘amazing’ and ‘thank you’).
Lavish red and black decor gave the restaurant a modern, contemporary feel with art-deco ornaments working well with the design.
The mellow background music and soft lighting in Rosso helped to create a relaxed, chic atmosphere.
Rosso is located on the ground floor of the Shangri-La Jakarta in the Sudirman business district of Jakarta.
Rosso has a selection of over 200 wines to accompany the amazing food they serve and our research was able to identify a handful that were either vegetarian or vegan. We enjoyed a bottle of Marques De Riscal – Verdejo, Rueda 2011 which was light & fresh and was a perfect accompaniment to our meal.
There were also a range of cocktails and mocktails to drink.
We found that the team at Rosso had a very positive attitude towards vegan guests and were extremely accommodating.
Lunch: 1130 to 1430
Dinner: 1830 to 2230
We also dined at Shang Palace whilst staying at the Shangri-La and a review of this meal can be read here.
Make a reservation at Rosso and enjoy a vegan meal that will leave you arguing about which course was the tastiest for a long time to come.
You’ll experience some of the best vegan Italian food you have ever eaten and will be bombarded with course after course of faultless vegan creations.
We also expect you to be making up your own words to describe your vegan fine dining adventure!
We were guests of Rosso but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
JL. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1
Telephone: (62 21) 2939 9562