Experiencing Bali Through My Stomach
Last week, I packed my bags and spent a few days eating at numerous restaurants in Bali for a work assignment that required eating (I agreed to the minute they asked). I’ve always ate more than I ought on trips, but this was one gargantuan eating trip. One sure sign that you are a foodie: if you went to Bali and spent more time in restaurants than the beach, your total time spent on the beach is less than an hour, and came back without a tan.
After my usual yoghurt breakfast, I took off for the airport for my early morning flight to Bali. I barely touched my plane food and chatted a little with the lovely Dutch couple that was next to me, and as soon as my plane landed, I knew what I had to do – eat. My gracious Indonesian host waited anxiously for half an hour before I appear from customs. The unfortunate delay was due to two bouts of 15 second blackouts, which in turn delayed the luggage belt. Relieved to finally exit the airport, my host asked, “Are you hungry?” I nodded, and she replied, “Ok, let’s go out for lunch then.” When she was in Singapore, we took her out for some crabs and so she wanted me to try to Indonesian variant. Laid before us was a feast – fresh drunken prawns, stir-fried kangkong, long beans, fried rice, and the roe laced crab. The entire crab head shell head covered with crab roe that is coated with a thin crispy layer of buttery rich batter! The prawns were fresh and served with a small bowl of aromatic broth that it produced when cooked, and the kangkong was crunchier than the ones we get here, it was fantastic! It was a feast and only the tip of the iceberg of their warm and generous hospitality.
Eating at restaurants was the single agenda on my schedule, and with seven restaurants on my list and 3 ½ more days on this beautiful island, I had a lot to cover. I pulled out all the details of the restaurants from my bag and started dialing all their numbers and made reservations. My schedule was set–3 ½ days, 7 restaurants, 3 lunches + 4 dinners. Here are the formal details of my eating itinerary:
Day ½, Dinner
Jln Raya Nusa Dua Selatan
Tel: (62) 361-973111
Within this small luxurious hotel that aims to provide a holistic experience, this restaurant serves contemporary European food with a Mediterranean touch. Chef André serves up a range of raw, smoked, pureed, seared, roasted and glazed dishes that are both spicy and light. Be it cumin spiced Atlantic scallops on yoghurt-potato mash and spicy harrisa, parrot fish fillet in a port wine-orange glaze on spinach risotto and chorizo sausage or the pomegranate glazed duck breast and foie gras with Moroccan couscous, it will your palate satisfied. The pool-side dining and open kitchen makes dining here a casual and intimate affair.
Day 1, Lunch
Tel: (62) 361-708848
The poolside location of the restaurant and the “Warhol-Buddha” inspired wallpaper gives the place an unpretentious but chic vibe that reverberates through the dishes. “Di Mare” means of the sea in Italian, but the menu is exclusively focused on seafood. The food here is both simple and elegant. Think foie gras with French green lentils and a sauce from roasted garlic and oloroso vinegar, the seven herb salad with a gorgonzola soufflé, pears and walnuts or a spicy and alluring grilled merguez with couscous served with cumin-mint yoghurt. The desserts such as warm valhorna chocolate “soufflé” served with candied macadamia ice cream and armagnac-poached prunes, or the Tarragon panna cotta served on a citrus cookie with orange confit and a passion fruit sauce also cleverly combine flavours together, bringing together, something specials on the plate.
Day 1, Dinner
InterContinental Resort Bali,
Jalan Uluwatu 45,
Jimbaran, Bali Tel: (62) 361- 70 1888
Only Open for Dinner
Although a little pricey, KO Restaurant is a wonderful place for Japanese fine dining. Soak in the peace that exudes from the zen rock garden as you are escorted to the dining area of your choice. Beautiful tatami private dining areas are available to for a delectable formal dinner of a Ko Omakase set -- 7 delectable courses, which includes a serving of the indulgent and expensive toro sashimi, uni chawamushi and Ko omakage (the chef’s selection of seafood), or you can choose to dine in the teppanyaki room, or at the sushi bar.
Day 2, Lunch
Jalan Kunti 118X, Seminyak Bali
(The Villas Bali Hotel & Spa)
Tel: (62) 361-730840
Fresh juice concoctions and life giving dishes using only organic vegetables is the main draw here. Prana meaning life force in Sanskrit is the guiding philosophy of menu the restaurant - organic Ayurveda such as the organic vegetable curry served with rice and the Indian options such as chollay (chickpea curry) and Indian Palak Panner (Indian Spinach with melted cheese), which can be enjoyed with the juice concoctions such as de-tox deluxe composed from carrot, beetroot, parsley, kale, spinach, ginger and tumeric, and pineapple ginger juice, which will aid digestion. Dining in the courtyard is one option, but if you prefer to be in the shade, you can dine indoors in plush cushioned sitting area that will make you feel like a maharajah.
Day 2, Dinner
Jl Laksamana (oberoi) #33,
Only Open for Dinner
Whet your appetite on the appetizers such as the lobster salad, baked scallops in spicy cream sauce or a fresh sashimi platter. Following, order platters of yakitori, or sample the Korean-Japanese shabu-shabu on offer. The shabu-shabu beef or pork platters serves wonderfully sweet meat that is flavoured with small layers of fat, or have the Japanese delicacy – kue nabe set – where a whole garoupa is used for shabu-shabu, creating a sweet flavourful broth. Six different varieties of aromatic broth are available – tasty chicken, medicinal herbal, spicy Korean, Thai tom yum, savory sukiyaki and simple shabu shabu, allowing you to be transported to the destination of your choice -- Korea, Thailand or Japan.
Day 3, Lunch
Tugu Hotel, Bali
Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong
Tel: (62) 361-731701
Travel back in time and eat a piece of history as you experience dining in hut that mirrors the Majapahit era-Waroeng Djawa kitchen. The menu presents a feast of the day to day cuisine of the Javanese. Iboe Soelastri provides the direction in the kitchen – using only the original recipes that have been passed down through the generations – making this a dining experience truly authentic. Feast with your hands and be transported back in time; a dining experience that will be etched in your memory.
Day 3, Dinner
Jl. Raya Sanggingan,
Tel: (62) 362-975768
As the first in South-East Asia to be recognized as a member of “Les Grandes Table du Mode”, this place is a culinary gem. This restaurant has many magical things to experience – dining under the stars in the romantic garden, culinary genius of Chef Chris Salans and Pastry Chef Francois, and the charming and attentive service staff – making it a seamless performance from start to finish.
After 3 ½ days, I planned my cabbage soup cum de-tox diet on the plane back to Singapore. More juicy tasting details about Mozaic later …