Unchanging Times at Paramount

By Cindy Julia Tobing
7th October 2019
Where time stands still, Paramount Restaurant in Cikini is a Jakartan icon that has served Chinese cuisine unfailingly since 1970 to a legion of patrons.

One can never go wrong with Chinese food, especially when three generations of family have unfailingly preserved the roots and traditions of its Cantonese cuisine, whilst adapted to local flavours. This is Paramount’s tale, one of Jakarta’s iconic restaurants that has stood still through the city’s changing times since 1970 and attracted a legion of regulars along the way.

Situated in the neighbourhood of Menteng, Paramount appears like a run-down building with its old-school headlight board name in bold red (strikingly visible at night). Stepping inside feels like an instant blast from the past: classic red ornamentals, side by side with the well-known Lazy Susan tables and even a feng shui aquarium right as you enter through the time-worn entrance door, all archetypes of a Chinese restaurant doing all it takes to secure the good fortunes.

From its patriarch Lam Kay Tijoe down to his grandson who currently manages the place, the taste of a Cantonese feast is felt three generations deep, further shown from how the menu remains unchanged. As a result, many of the dishes have become a must-try upon your visit, such as the crunchy fried shrimp rolls ala Paramount, usually dipped in sweet and sour sauce, or the tender stir-fried beef steak. Complete that with the staple chicken fried rice and a side of Crab Foo Yung Hai. Just as how Chinese cuisine is meant to be enjoyed, this is a banquet for party groups, so keep your stomach light to feast your way through a soul-nourishing experience.

There’s no sense of modern touch-ups or up-to-date gimmicks, from the food down to the furnishings. Everything seems intact, likely from when the restaurant first opened, which is a testament to its long-lasting charm. Seeing how many of its loyal customers still celebrate their birthdays, have business meetings, or just a family visiting for the unchanging taste, maybe the old way is truly the best way to remain.