When it comes to dining, I’ve never been a fan of high-end restaurants because I’ve found that most of them usually offer overpriced food in tiny portions. However, when my sister wrapped up her first fashion show last month and we were looking for a place to dine and celebrate while being dressed to the nines, my family and I decided to go to Portable at Whiz Prime Kelapa Gading.
Since Kelapa Gading does not have a lot to offer in terms of hotels, Portable is one of the places to go for a fancy dinner in the area. I’ve heard a couple of reviews about the place before which generally sound positive and have actually been to Portable twice before, but I’ve never really paid attention to the restaurant before this dinner because I was recovering from a surgery on my knee during the first one and was tired from a long day at work during the second. So, you could say that this was the first time I actually took everything about the restaurant in.
Portable is located at the front area of Whiz Prime Hotel, right by its lobby and it exudes an aura of elegant intimacy. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, the first thing you’ll notice is the wine storage on the left of the entrance and a bakery displaying delectable-looking cakes on your right. Just behind the bakery, there is a bar with its own shelves for liquors and plush bar stools. The restaurant has two separate dining areas: a more private one behind the wine storage and an open one just in front of the entrance with a view of the kitchen.
I quite like the ambiance of the restaurant which was romantic enough for dinner dates, but classy enough for business and chill enough for family dinners as well. There was some jazz tunes playing in low volume through the speakers which added more to the elegance without giving off an arrogant vibe.
Okay, now let’s talk about the food.
Reviews I’ve read about Portable’s food tend to describe it as served in huge portions and having a good taste. From trying some of it in my previous two visits, I’ve developed a general idea of the taste, especially the Western main course dishes as somewhat rich in cream and highly textured. So I based my expectations for this dinner off of that and was pleasantly surprised by some of the tastes I discovered during this dinner.
Here’s what we had for dinner at Portable.
Pappardelle Pasta & Beef Ragout in Mushroom Cream, Oregano & Capsicum (IDR105K)
I ordered this dish because it says “mushroom cream” on the menu, so I expected something that looked like the typical carbonara sauce to come out and was pretty surprised when I received this. See, I’ve never been a fan of the more tomato-filled aspect of Italian cuisine, so when I saw this plate, the first thing I thought was “oh no, this is going to taste like a marinara or Bolognese pasta.”
However, when I finally got the taste of it, I was pleasantly surprised by how rich the flavors are. The beef ragout did not taste too much of tomatoes and cheese. Combined with the capsicum, there was a Mexican salsa-ish kind of flavor in the dish. The pasta was also cooked really well – it wasn’t chewy or overcooked at all. I couldn’t find the creamy aspect in the tastes though, but felt that the dish was pleasant anyway because the combination of flavors worked. The only thing I would change is the portion size – though the dish looks small, it makes you full quite quickly.
Brazilian Beef, Mixed Sausages & Pork Ham Stew with Black Beans & Butter Rice (IDR120K)
Firstly, I thought the plate used to serve the beef should be wiped clean before service. I don’t know if the expeditor missed it or the waiter just accidentally spilled some broth, but that stain didn’t look nice.
I quite like the flavors of the dish, but thought the beef and pork could use a little more heat in the broth because I tasted more sweetness than I would expect from a Brazilian dish. The rice was nice and had enough butter with it and the sausages – can we please talk about how well-flavored they were? These are probably homemade sausages because they had this distinct taste of natural beef not found in most store-bought ones. They complemented the dish nicely. Also, contrary to the previous dish, this one seemed too small in portion size for me.
Spaghetti with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Dry Chili Fresh Basil, Parmesan Cheese (IDR85K)
Didn’t taste a lot of this one, but from what I did taste, the pasta was cooked well and I like how there were pieces of parmesan cheese on it, but the cheese itself did not overpower the pasta or tasted too tangy when you get a bite of the entire piece. The seasoning of the pasta was a bit like aglio e olio minus the garlic overload so it was quite nice, but better with some additional sauce if you’re into rich spices. I especially love the dry chili in the pasta because it gave a nice kick of heat. If you add a little bit of chili powder or chili sauce to this dish, my my, it can wake you up.
Beef & Yolk (price unknown)
“Mamma mia” was all I could say about this dish. This was a special dish at the time we went there so I hope it’s still there because it’s fantastic.
From the presentation which includes a layering of a half-boiled egg, medium-rare beef, mushroom sauce, and roasted potatoes to how the egg yolk was super runny when we cut it, to how all the components tasted when put together – this was a great dish. The beef tasted really nice when put together with the rich, mushroom sauce. The sauce itself was not as creamy as how most places would do their mushroom sauce and had actual, whole mushrooms in it. It was a dish that was oh-so good and beautiful to photograph too.
We also ordered some of the desserts since my family and I love watching MasterChef and the desserts the contestants create in it so we thought we wanted to have some beautiful desserts too.
Outrageous Chocolate Lava Cake (IDR 59K)
Okay, I know I’ve been going on about how good the dishes at Portable are, but the desserts are on a whole other level of good. This lava cake tasted as if it was sent straight down from heaven to the table – it was that good.
First of all, that presentation is incredible. I love the care put into those little drops of jam and how the ice cream was somehow balanced upright on the plate. Then came the moment of truth: the slicing of the lava cake. You could hear a bit of crunch in the slicing from the pieces of chocolate scattered on top of the cake and once you slice it the whole way through, beautiful, gooey chocolate slowly oozes from within the cake.
The chocolate cake itself was already amazing because it did not taste too sweet to the point of making you sick, but it was even better to combine the cake, jam (I’m guessing it was raspberry?), piece of fruit, and vanilla ice cream. It was a symphony of sweet, to tartness of the fruits (kiwi, mango, strawberry), and then the comforting taste of vanilla. The chocolate pieces sandwiching the ice cream was also not overly sweet. But my favorite part was that caramelized almond. It was a bit salty and a whole lot of sweet, but not the sickly kind – just right. I couldn’t stop eating that part of the dish.
“The One and Only” Passion Fruit Creme Brulee (IDR 32K)
The presentation for this one was more on the minimalist side and I thought the plate could be smaller just to skip the unnecessary space between the pastry and the creme brulee itself. However, the flavors were nothing less of exciting.
The creme brulee had a sweeter taste at first, but then the tartness of passion fruit kicks in and the aftertaste is fresh. I also liked how the sugar layer on top actually made that “crunch” sound when I first sliced into it. The creme brulee’s taste was already so strong in and of itself that I thought the drops of passion fruit (or is it lemon?) jam weren’t necessary because that zest is already there. However, I like the sweet/bitter taste of the chocolate coated pastry and the ice cream which balances out the strong flavors well. I thought it’s a dish that’s better when you combine the elements than when you eat each one separately.
Overall, I thought the dinner in Portable was quite nice and found that the dishes there aren’t the overpriced ordinary meals a lot of high-end restaurants serve. The desserts were especially brilliant and I would gladly come back just for them, really. Service was also good. Although the waiter we had was really eager about doing his job (he literally walked around the table to take everyone’s order personally instead of staying at one end), but hey, he actually told us dessert would be ready in 15-20 minutes and gave us a heads-up about the waiting time which was nice. He was also fine with my cheapskate self using the social media promo offer to get free drinks.
Portable took my expectations of high-end dining and broke it, serving me good food in large portion sizes and chill ambiance. I honestly think this place is still underrated considering not many people have talked about it yet on social media so if you’re in the North Jakarta area, make sure to pay Portable a visit!