On Sunday, April 28, my family and I decided to go to Turkuaz for lunch. Friends and acquaintances have had nice things to say about this place on both food and service and we were eager to experience for ourselves. Afterall, expats who live in Jakarta will know that it is challenging to find quality establishments in Jakarta that offer both good food and service. Too many times, restaurant proprietors here will invest heavily on the venue's decor to make it stand out amongst the competition, but leave the food and service (which we actually value far above decor) wanting.
The restaurant venue appears to be a (large) house converted to a restaurant. The proprietors have done a good job of making the place cozy with an ambience suitable for the cuisine which most would still consider exotic in Jakarta. Do note however, that the decibel level in the restaurant is high so this is more a place to go with a happy crowd rather than a candlelight dinner for two. Location-wise, the only drawback would be the limited parking space which is mitigated by the availability of a valet parking service.
My wife has been to the restaurant some time back with some of her girlfriends, so she suggested the meze platter which is a platter of several different appetizers and the sigara boregi (hot pastry with cheese inside).
I wanted to try the lamb shank - which is what Turquaz is famous for and which I happen to have a particular fondness for. I know from friends that this is a large dish meant to be shared, but I thought that we should have another main course as we are sharing all the food anyway.
My wife and I then asked Iqmal, our waiter and asked him to recommend a kebab dish for us as there are several different kebab dishes in the menu. Iqmal graciously recommended a kebab dish which he described as 4 pieces of beef, 4 pieces of chicken and 4 pieces of prawn. As we did not know what the portions would be like for such a dish, we asked him if that was too much for us given the large appetizers that we have ordered and the lamb shank - we are a family of 4 and our children are ages 10 and 7. He said that it is not, so we happily proceeded with the order.
The appetizers were served in a timely manner and after a short while, the lamb shank was served along with large side plate of two different styles of pilaf. All was well, everything served tasted delicious ... then the kebabs arrived. For a moment my wife and I were speechless. My boys just exclaimed "wow". The portion was HUGE. Each piece of meat was not simply a cube but a sizable chunk.
The total amount of food served was way too much for 2 adults and 2 small children. However, we have a "do not waste food" rule in our home, and we do not want to make any exceptions at that stage, so we proceeded work on the food. This was a major mistake as we were forcing ourselves to the point where the meal was no longer enjoyable. Our two boys eventually had to leave food on their plates, which we relented. On hindsight, perhaps we should have asked them to pack some of the meal for takeaway.
While we were upset at the misrepresentation of the portion size for the kebab dish, we did not raise a fuss and asked for the bill. The next surprise then hit us. The kebab dish, in fact, was not one main course dish (in their menu, main course prices ranged from Rp 100k to 200k-ish). We were charged for 3 main course (one for each type of meat) for what we thought was one kebab dish. No wonder the portion was so large!
I spoke to Iqmal, our waiter, and asked if the bill was correct. He said "this is what you ordered". We where charged on the kebabs on a per piece basis so 4 x the price of one piece of beef kebab, 4 x the price of one piece of prawn kebab, and 4 x the price of one piece of chicken kebab. In other words, the price of each type of kebab is roughly what one would pay for a main course in the menu.
I explained to Iqmal our dissatisfaction and said that we were under the impression that we were ordering one more main course when we asked him for a kebab dish recommendation, and that the portion was simply too large. His response was "but you already finished the food". We said that that was true, we were forcing ourselves and our children to finish and not waste food. Anyway, I stopped that discussion as it was getting pointless, was he saying that they will refund the left over food from my children's plates?
I asked to speak to the restaurant manager, but Ibmal said that there is no manager on that day. It was his day off. I asked him if he should try to reach his manager and explain the situation to him.
Iqmal then went off to speak the greeting lady by the entrance door. The lady, Henny, came over to our table to ask what the problem was. I told Henny the situation. Henny explained that she was not the manager, and said that what happened was probably a miscommunication. I disagreed, I said that we wanted to order one more kebab dish and we asked for a recommendation, and while Iqmal did mention 4 pieces of each type of meat on the dish, we asked him about the portion size given that we have ordered sizable appetizer dishes and a large lamb shank dish and he assured us that it wasn't too much. We thought we were ordering a mix kebab dish, but ended up with 3 main kebab main courses put into one. I said that we feel that we have been mislead. We ended up with far more food that we would otherwise have ordered and I asked her to take a look at our order and see that was a reasonable amount of food to order for 2 adults and 2 small children.
Henny then offered us a 10pct discount off our meal, but I told her that she should talk to her manager to see if what happened was fair to us. We intended to order one more main course, was recommended a dish which sounded like a main course, but ended as having ordered 3 additional main courses. This despite us checking to ensure the portions are not too much given what we have already ordered.
I said that it is important they try to reach their manager and explain the situation to him. She left and came back shortly with 3 name cards. One the manager's, the other the owner's, and the last one the chef/owner's. She said that she has tried to reach the manager 3 times, but couldn't get through. She said that I was welcome to try to reach any of the 3 persons on the name cards myself.
By this time, I have spent more than 15 minutes discussing the situation with them and it is clear that no one in staff would have the authority to do anything to remedy the situation. I told Henny that it is not my job to try to reach their bosses for them, that I am extremely displeased at being mislead and that, in my opinion, what they are doing is not the right way to conduct business.
I paid our bill in full and left. On the way out, I took both Iqmal and Henny aside. I told Iqmal that I felt what happened was not a miscommunication, but that he was misleading us when he recommended the dish which became 3 main courses. There is a difference between miscommunication and misleading. He should not do that again as it creates a very negative impression on guests. I told Henny, that while I appreciate her mediating, she should make an effort to speak to her manager of the incident later so that it is a 3rd person account as oppose to the manger hearing from Iqmal directly. I gave her my name card and said that if her bosses wish, they can call me and I will give them first hand comments on our experience.
Long review aside, I would say that this restaurant serves good tasting food. The prices are on the higher side, but I would say reasonable by Jakarta standards (contrary to what one would expect, eating out in Jakarta is not cheap).
Sadly in our case, the "reasonable" prices can not apply. Most likely, we will not go back to this restaurant again as a happy Sunday lunch was turned to a major disappointment.
Lessons learnt? Jakarta is not like any other city with a more professional restaurant service culture - this is not to say that Jakartans are not service-oriented, they are. You bet we would be very careful in asking for recommendations going forward, not only will we not make any assumptions on the price, but we will need to see the portions ourselves rather than leave it to an overzealous waiter.
The poor rating has nothing to do with the quality of the food, but whatever enjoyment the food offered was completely overshadowed by what happened in our visit.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.