I have two early memories of Jalan Benda (Jl. Benda), located in my neighbourhood of Kemang. The first involves indulging in my first ever ‘cream bath’ at Tarra’s salon. If you’re not familiar with a cream bath and you live in Indonesia, then shame on you! You have seriously been depriving yourself of a most divine and affordable pleasure. Consisting of a shampoo followed by a hair treatment massaged at length into the scalp, the joy doesn’t end there! Whilst the treatment is doing its thing, the therapist massages your neck, upper back and arms. The treatment ends with your hair washed and if you’re lucky (and perhaps pay a little extra), you receive a blow dry. All up, this seriously blissful experience lasts around 1 hour!
My second earliest memory of Jl. Benda involves two very important elements of my happiness in Jakarta – Liz and Coffee. In my early days in Jakarta, Liz generously introduced me to some of her favourite coffee places, including Dia-lo-gue just near Jl. Benda. Over great coffee we enjoyed easy conversation until suddenly Liz, usually a calm and elegant presence, broke out in a frenzy of clapping. I had no idea what she was up to. That day a new word was added to my Bahasa vocabulary, ‘nyamuk’, (which means mosquito in Bahasa Indonesia) The word ‘gila’ also came to mind, but I knew that one already! (crazzyyy!). Liz was attempting to save me from the bite of a potential dengue-carrying mosquito. The lady remains my hero to this day 😉
Today Liz and I take you on a tour of Jl. Benda in the neighbourhood of Kemang/East Cilandak and share some of our favourite places to stop. With an ever-changing streetscape, we feel that Jl. Benda is having its happy moment right now, so it’s the perfect time for you to get on foot and discover this area in South Jakarta. We present our suggested Top Spots to Stop in alphabetical order, so with a little bit of planning, you can coordinate an itinerary to satisfy all of your needs.
Just a little way along Jl. Benda when you enter from Jl. Kemang Selatan, you will find Duta Interior tucked in a group of shops on the left side of the road. Over the past few years, Duta has relocated three times but has always stayed in the Kemang/Ampera area. Established in 1993, Duta Interior stocks a wide array of fabrics in an equally wide range of prices. Their workmanship is excellent and they are very good at meeting deadlines.
Jl. Benda No. 8B-4
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm Monday – Saturday, closed Sunday
Best for: Cushions, reupholstering, new covers for that tired sofa, bed- and table runners. Essentially, all your soft furnishing needs.
Other Interesting Notes: If you have sourced your fabric elsewhere, no worries as Duta Interior is also happy for you to supply your own material. Oh, and did you know that Duta can custom-make sofas?
Continue a little past Duta Interior and you’ll find Elements Concepts on the same side of the road. Here you will find lots of furniture, furnishings, lampshades and home accessories – all made here in Indonesia. The look consists of lots of honey timber and white with the odd accent colour thrown in for good measure.
Jl. Benda No 8C
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm 7 days (ph: 021-78831001)
Best for: Modern yet laid back design, including natural fibre lamp shades, timber lanterns, bamboo trays and comfy yet minimalist arm chairs.
Other Interesting Notes: Almost all products sold at Elements are made from natural materials including leather, timber, rattan, bamboo, shell and cotton.
Jakarta Frame and Doxa Gallery
Should we admit that Liz and I only discovered this shop on our most recent stroll down Jl. Benda? Heading towards the end of the street (in perhaps what is considered the Cilandak East end of Jl. Benda) on the right side of the road, we came across Jakarta Frame and Doxa Gallery. A fairly small, nondescript building from the road, we opened the door and were surprised by the warm welcome we received and the vastness of the space inside.
Jl. Benda No. 60
Phone: (021) 7811208
Opening hours: 8am – 6pm Monday – Friday, closed Sunday
Best for: All your framing needs. We spotted a fantastic range of framing materials from simple monochromes, to more ornate and elaborate options.
Other Interesting Notes: Beyond the framing area you will find many unique and unusual antiques. We particularly liked the vintage Kalimantan children’s ceremonial jacket that we spotted as well as the many vintage copper batik ‘cap’ stamps on offer.
Upstairs you will find an interesting art gallery. Take your time to browse and ask questions as the attendant who accompanied us was very informative.
Created by designer Luthfi Hasan, Jakarta Vintage was established in 2012 with their interiors consultancy launched the year after. Originally situated in the basement of Darmawagnsa Square, Jakarta Vintage is now located on Jl. Benda approximately half way along the road on the right hand side when approaching from Jl. Kemang Selatan.
Jl. Benda No. 46C
Opening hours: 9am – 7pm Monday – Friday, closed weekends
Best for: Home decor including furniture, wallpaper, and ceramics. Many designs include bold graphics.
Other Interesting Notes: In 2017, Jakarta Vintage launched their second fine porcelain collection, Style & Substance in collaboration with Indoporcelain. For this they won the Good Design Indonesia award in 2018.
Located on the left side of the road when approaching from Jl. Kemang Selatan (just a little after Elements), you’ll find Levant Boulangerie. Founder and chief baker Ramon Medina, rises each morning bright and early to bake and supervise the making of Levant’s breads and pastries. Ramon’s desire to find real bread in Jakarta led him to baking his own in his Jakarta kitchen. With time, Ramon recognised the need (or should that be ‘knead’), to establish his own business and thus Levant was born.
Jl. Benda No. 12A
Best for: Artisan sourdough breads, croissants and pastries all made fresh daily.
Other Interesting Notes: Levant’s products are free from preservatives, additives and artificial colourings. The butter used in pastries is imported from Normandy! (No short cuts around here 🙂 )
Located on the right side of the road when approaching from Jl. Kemang Selatan (just a little before Elements), you’ll find Papiri Coffee. With off-street parking out the front, you can be inside and away from the hustle & bustle of Jl. Benda in no time.
There are many seating options available – from pulling up a stool at the window to sharing a communal table. A designated smoking area does not impact on the rest of the room with its door closing firmly restricting smoke from escaping into the main cafe area.
Jl. Benda No. 10
Instagram: Papiri Coffee
Opening hours: 7am – 10pm Sunday – Thursday, 7am – 11pm Fridays & Saturdays
Best for: Amazing coffee. Let Mas Sam (Papiri’s barista) make you a perfect latte – sufficiently hot, smooth, bold and delicious. Bring something to read or perhaps your laptop and enjoy sipping your coffee in a relaxed, open space.
Other Interesting Notes: Papiri only uses Indonesian beans. For their espresso-based drinks, Papiri creates a blend of Aceh and Papua beans – sourcing their coffee from the furthest ends of the Indonesian archipelago.
PD Karya Mandiri
Listed as a ‘lumber’ or timber business, PD Karya Mandiri is in fact more than this. If you regularly travel along Jl. Benda, at the end of the road, just before it curves around to the right you will see numerous baskets and chicken cages on your left. Prepare to stop as this is where you’ll find Pak Yunus of PD Karya Mandiri. Visiting this shop makes you feel like you could be in any little village in Indonesia. It is a unique place on Jl. Benda, one that we feel you should visit.
Jl. Benda No. 35
Opening hours: Call the shop on 0856 1989 660 or drop in when you’re in the neighbourhood.
Best for: Rattan bird cages and bamboo ladders. Priced from rp150,000, you can have your own ladder custom-made.
Other Interesting Notes: Why not bring in a design (with dimensions preferably) of that piece you can’t leave Jakarta without. I know that I’ll be visiting Pak Yunus when our Jakarta end is near. I have an idea for a roomy double swing made from cane for that perfect spot in my future garden.
Back in May 2016, we featured Indonesian cheesemaker Ayu Linggih of Rosalie Cheese on our blog. Ayu combined her Food Science studies with her passion for brunch at her favourite cafe in Brisbane’s suburb of Rosalie, to establish an all-natural Indonesian cheese startup!
Jl. Benda 8B1
Best for: Artisan cheeses, most notably goat’s cheeses including feta-, chevre- and milton style cheeses to name a few.
Other Interesting Notes: Goats Feta is only rp40,000 for 100 grams – much cheaper than any imported feta cheese you can buy. You must also try Ayu’s ‘Black & White’ Cow’s Milk cheese on your next Jakarta cheeseboard.
What to wear when exploring Jl. Benda
Like many other streets in Jakarta, there is little or no footpath along Jl. Benda. Where it does exist, it is likely to be occupied by food carts (kaki lima) or used for car parking. As a result, sturdy footwear is a must as is sun protection due to the lack of green canopy to shield you from the sun. If you’re keen to walk the length of Jl. Benda (as we did), be sure to pack an umbrella – this will be useful come rain or sunshine 🙂 And of course comfortable, breathable clothing is also a great idea.
The changing streetscape of Jl. Benda
Over these past five years, we have watched the streetscape of Jl. Benda evolve to what it is now – a busy yet vibrant through road which is home to cafes, beauty salons, framing shops, numerous furniture & homewares shops amongst others. As mentioned already, nearby is Dia-lo-gue Artspace and at the other end of Jl. Benda (the Cilandak East end), you will find Jakarta’s Copperman, Pak Denny.
Just like all the other streets we have profiled on A Journey Bespoke blog, our posts are current at the time of publication.
About the neighbourhood of Kemang
There’s something special about the neighbourhood of Kemang. It has an energy and a vibe that’s hard to ignore, which is why my family decided it make it home some 5+ years ago.
Kemang is in fact named after a type of mango, Mangifera kemanga. Originally a Betawi kampung (village inhabited by Jakarta’s original Betawi people), Kemang became gentrified into a residential area at the end of the 1970’s. Since then and particularly after 1998, it has attracted many expatriates to the area, lured by the lush foliage combined with the retail accessibility.
Keen to explore more streets of Jakarta? Here are some of our favourites. Have a read!
And if you’re eager to discover more in the Jl. Benda area, here are a couple of other stories you should check out:
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Words: Jo Stevens Photography: a Journey Bespoke