Let it be known that I almost died at Cork & Screw in Jakarta, but was shown up by CL who looked spectacularly closer to death than I did.
One of CL's cousins is the country manager for Dior in Indonesia. She was busy overseeing the grand opening of a new Dior store in the city, but graciously made time to meet with us for lunch. Since she couldn't go really far, she took us to Cork & Screw, which is located in the same mall as her Dior store:
Lunch started out normally enough. Cork & Screw is obviously catered toward foreigners. Either that or fancy, rich elitists who like Western ambiance. The servers all speak English and half the menu is "European". We stuck with the "Asia" side of the menu, which apparently covered dishes from all around Asia. CL's cousin watched in amusement as the three of us ordered three dishes and rotated them around.
CL's cousin recommended the chicken betutu with garlic rice and sambal matah (120 IDR or about $10):
Since I picked the tom yam goong (tom yum soup with shrimp) and flat rice noodles (80 IDR or about $7), I started with it:
This is when things took a turn for the deadly. Somehow, I managed to inhale a piece of chili pepper flake or something of that sort. It immediately felt like my throat was on fire. I tried to play it cool, since I'd only just met CL's cousin and I didn't want her to get a weird impression of me.
I scarfed down the rice from the chicken betutu, which was in front of T, to soothe the flames in my throat and what felt like my lungs as well.
When everyone was ready to rotate, I passed my noodle soup of death to T and picked up the Hainanese chicken rice (70 IDR or about $6):
As lunch conversation continued, I surreptitiously stuffed my mouth with rice, but the flames just wouldn't go away.
We rotated plates one more time and this is when CL won the prize. She mistook a chili pepper for a harmless veggie and tossed the whole thing into her mouth. While I had tried to hide my pain, CL couldn't even try to do so. We passed over all the leftover rice and handed over all our drinks too for good measure.
CL finished T's kiwi juice:
Her own watermelon juice:
And my lime juice (with honey on the side):
She looked so pitiful, wheezing and gasping for air, that her cousin ordered her another juice.
Needless to say, T finished the noodle soup. CL and I refused to touch any more of that homicidal broth.
At the end of the meal, CL's cousin suavely scooped up the bill and refused to take our money no matter how much we protested.
After lunch, CL's cousin gave us a grand tour of the new Dior store. She pointed out how everything in the store, from the wallpaper to the mirrors, came imported from Paris. She explained the theme of the store and the meaning behind the decor. She told us about the history of Dior and how the fashion house began. Lastly, she showed us the VIP fitting room where dresses and shoes were laid out for a client. We were actually still in the fitting room when said VIP client arrived for her fitting.
Feeling a lot like kids being caught with our hands in the cookie jar, we awkwardly moved to shuffle out of the room. Meanwhile, CL's cousin maintained her poise, called out a "Bonjour, Madame!" to the client and then without missing a beat, turned to us to say, "And that concludes the tour of our store!" all the while gracefully ushering us out.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a pro.
Near death experience aside, I had a great time meeting CL's cousin and learning about her work. What an impressive woman. I left the mall feeling more than a little in awe and maybe with a bit of a girl crush.
Cork & Screw
1st Floor, Unit 127 A-D
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 28-30
Jakarta 10350, Indonesia
+6221 3199 6659