Wed, 23 Aug 2000

Finding comfort food at New York Deli in Jakarta

By Grace Segran

JAKARTA (JP): Things are not always what they seem. Nestled in the quiet back streets of Menteng, not flashy as the name might imply, the New York Deli offers simple lunch and "after-work" menus without the hassle of hotel lobbies and long waits.

The deli just opened its doors two weeks ago. Its branch in the Puri Casablanca Apartment complex has offered the same sort of menu for several years. At Puri Casablanca, it's more of "take out" orders. Henry C Harmon, advisor to New York Deli, hopes to turn the outlet in Menteng into a dine-in. The deli seats 24 people comfortably.

The same company which runs the New York Deli also runs Casswell's Mom's, an importer of packaged and frozen foods and meats.

Says Harmon, "We seek to attract single people from downtown -- especially those working in the embassies and foreign news agencies in the vicinity -- who do not cook and long for something American."

To help us understand the concept of New York Deli, Harmon says: "Imagine you are in New York and you miss nasi goreng. I'm the guy you would call."

The decor of the deli is eclectic. The tables and menu holders are Indonesian in design. They are made of dark brown solid wood. Likewise the food counters. The ceiling has intricate cornices all over, with a chandelier in the center. On the walls are pictures of the New York skyline and famous U.S. landmarks.

A tall wooden shelf stands against the wall at the far end of the room and holds a fairly large selection of imported potato chips, lunch box snacks such as individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies. On the counter are small gift chocolate "samplers", hoho's and dingdong's.

New York Deli essentially serves two types of sandwiches. There's the traditional roast beef, beef pastrami, roast turkey, corned beef, BLT, ham and three-cheese ranging between Rp 13,000 and Rp 21,000. You can have them on a choice of bread: french baguette, black pepper and onion and focaccia, topped with lettuce, onion, green pepper, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil. You can also have extra cheese for Rp 5,000 or pickles for Rp 4,500.

The "special sandwiches" are very popular. The Bomb (Rp 37,000) is a three-quarter length baguette with roast beef, swiss cheese, and tons of toppings. The Turkey Bomb (Rp 39,000) is equally large with roast turkey instead of roast beef.

For those who prefer less red meat, there is the Thanksgiving Treat (Rp 25,000) which is made with roast turkey, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cranberry sauce in focaccia bread, or Long Line Tuna (Rp 21,000), or Tender Chicken Breast (Rp 18,000).

And for those who absolutely don't want any meat, there is Veg-Out (Rp 15,000). It is focaccia bread stuffed with all sorts of vegetables and topped with their special sauce.

What's really nice about the deli is that they will make your sandwich to order. You can ask to leave this ingredient out or put that one in, and they're happy to oblige.

Included in the special sandwich selections are BLT (Rp 16,000) and Reuben (Rp 17,000) Wraps. These have the same fillings as the sandwiches of the same name except that they are wrapped in a tomato tortilla instead of bread.

New York Deli has its own blend of premium coffee: 40 percent Toraja, 40 percent Mandeling and 20 percent Robusta. Says Harmon, "We chose the Robusta over the Arabica because Americans love coffee that gives them the kick. The Arabica has only 50 percent of caffeine compared to that of Robusta."

Harmon hopes to draw in people after work who do not want to go to hotels or shopping malls and are not interested in happy hours.

"We also endeavor to provide a friendly, relaxed, nonalcoholic hangout, and a place to snack, before hitting the Jakarta traffic jams," says Harmon. Here they can have a long black or a cappuccino, or a soft drink or splash juices.

Soon they will be bringing in cheesecake and other rich sweets which will be served not only at teatime but throughout the day.

If you prefer to have your sandwich in the comfort of your home or office, you can have the food delivered. You can call for take-out or fax in an order form. The choices and prices for delivery and eat-in are the same. Orders are delivered by motorcycle to your home or office for no extra charge.

New York Deli is located at Jl. Pekalongan No 26, Menteng. It is open between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.