Working from home is convenient, but there are drawbacks: one of which is things got boring pretty fast. So, in a quest to find the best cafe to work from, I stumbled upon this tiny cafe cornered in a shophouse at Jl. Terogong, South Jakarta. Nestled above a laundry place, the cafe’s outside appearance is quite unassuming. Yet once you take the spiraled black steel stairs and enter the door, suddenly, it feels as if you are transported to an urban café somewhere in Seoul.
Dalbodre cafe first opened in 2020 during the Korean wave, leading to the ubiquity of Korean cafes in Jakarta. However, Dalbodre (soft and sweet in Korean) somehow escaped the hype and remained overlooked. With the concept of a Korean brunch cafe, this place doesn’t overdo it with extravagant ornaments. Instead, they opt for a stark, clean white interior with minimalist furniture. The spacious, clean interior makes it ideal for relaxing and hanging out. The tables are far enough apart so that people can comfortably work or converse without getting disturbed by the following table’s commotion. Located in a second story, they also provide one long window-facing table where people can sit with their laptops and occasionally look out the window to refresh their minds. I think it does a much better job mimicking the hangout cafes popping up in K-dramas than the many found in Jakarta.
Offering chic Korean-Western food like Tteokboki, Mandu, and sandwiches, Dalbodre also sticks to traditional brunch options like salads, egg benedict, and burgers. Judging from their Instagram account, pastries and desserts are their strong point. Behind the clear counter, an array of delectable-looking pastries such as scones, macaroons, and sliced cakes are colorfully displayed, among other things. Their pastry selection also rotates quite frequently, as I always find new items every visit. My favorite has always been the Double Cheese Pound Cake. The hefty cake has a sweet cheese as the first layer, which plays well with the sharpness of cheddar in the second, making the crumbly yet moist cake a great sweet-salty company to a cup of coffee.
But on this visit, the gloomy and clouded day made me crave something warm and soupy. My eyes got drawn to the bowl of Sesame Egg Noodle, something I had never tried before. The cozy-looking bowl arrived with a strong scent of sesame oil hitting the nose. With egg slurry, richen the broth, and the noodle served plainly with no toppings other than scallions and slices of jalapeno. A tiny plate of Danmuji (Korean Pickled Daikon) is served on the side to accompany the meal.
After finishing my bowl, I walked up to the counter to see what sweets they offered that day. My choice landed on The Injoelmi Choux Pastry. The top pastry is sprinkled with powdered sugar and stacked tall with layers of red bean patties and rich vanilla crémeux. It is very Christmast-y looking! The choux is everything you’re looking for in one. The frail golden-brown pastry exuded a rich aromatic tea scent from the get-go. With a cold custardy crémeux and the earthiness of red bean, the dessert wins my heart by being not too sweet yet indulgent enough to savor. Also, the plain hot tea they suggested was a wise choice, as it accompanied me to finish the plate without giving off any distracting flavor.
Overall, whether you want to find a place to focus or have quality conversations with some friends, Dalbodre can be an exciting choice. Here you can sit back and enjoy quality Korean desserts without the frills of an Instagrammable spot. Don’t be fooled by its simple outward appearance. Because, just like their delectable desserts, this place certainly holds many pleasant surprises. In a world where content rolls out like a river and often creates unrealistic expectations, there is pleasure in finding quality spots that are unanticipated yet outdo first impressions. Dalbodre certainly is one of them for me.
Jl. Terogong Raya No.36, Pondok Indah, Jakarta Selatan