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Archive for the ‘Bali’ Category

On our last afternoon in Bali, P and I decided to veg out at a gorgeous beachfront restaurant we’d read about and seen while wandering Seminyak Beach: Ku De Ta. According to my travel books, Ku De Ta is one of the “it” hangouts in Seminyak, a place where the jet set relax in front of a breathtaking ocean, eating plenty of inventive fusion fare while bronzing their limbs. That description turned out to be half right, though instead of the jet set, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a family affair, with lots of happy children running around and staff that were well-trained to handle them all.

As you can see above, it’s pretty much the ideal place to park yourself for a day. The indoor restaurant area wraps around three sides, with this fourth side open to the beach, which looks like this at sunset:

But anyways, to be totally honest, we actually had lunch at Ku De Ta our first day in Seminyak and then came back on the last day to veg. Judging from the crowds the first time we went, we arrived just before noon on our last day, which happened to be Easter Sunday, to snatch a chair as soon as they opened. Once we settled in, we ordered a steady stream of goodies from their grazing menu. First was the rosemary pizza bread with an assortment of dips, followed by the California KDT sushi roll.

The pizza bread was delicious on its own, with ample hits of rosemary every couple of mouthfuls. But it was even better when sampled with one of the four dips: beetroot, tzatziki, babaganoush, and hummous
(which they called moroccan eggplant and white bean and rosemary, respectively, on the menu). The beetroot dip was mixed with cream cheese for a full, rich flavor. The eggplant was my favorite, as it was slightly salty and a bit smoky.

The KDT roll had the softest prawns I’ve ever tasted, and the avocados were soft and ripened (I know that seems like a very basic requisite for avocados, but eating in HK has taught me that lots of places serve avocados before they’re fully ripened – yuck.) The soy sauce was also very good; it was the kind made with real soybeans instead of the chemically-enhanced cheap varieties that often hold court on many Chinese and American supermarket shelves.

Later in the afternoon we ordered the edamame, which seemed to be on everyone’s table. It turns out that was for good reason – at 55,000 IDR it’s good value for money; a full bowl of steaming edamame appears on your table. The clean, fresh taste is perfect for an afternoon of lounging by the beach.

Lastly, we ordered rolls with teriyaki chicken, ginger, chives, and sesame seeds, which, like the sushi rolls, were yummy as well. And to wash it all down, we had a steady stream of fresh juices. We ordered fresh pineapple juices first, and then a blended orange and pineapple juice, which added another tangy dimension to the drink – so refreshing!

P also ordered one of their “radical” cocktails from the small-novel-of-a-drinks-menu, which was the grilled pineapple and black pepper martini, a mix of the two with vodka, chamomile syrup, and fresh lemon juice. I’d never had black pepper in a drink before but it complemented the grilled pineapple and added an extra layer of flavor, tempering what would have otherwise been a sweet cocktail.

The afternoon was really the epitome of relaxation and one of the highlights of our trip. There was also free wi-fi, which was an added bonus. The combination of the beachfront locale, good food, and laid-back atmosphere is definitely worth a few hours out of any trip to Bali.

Ku De Ta
Jln Laksmana 9
+62.361.736969
Cost: ~ 300,000 IDR/person (roughly $275 HKD or $35 USD)

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Cafe Degan was a TripAdvisor find, and I was drawn in by how reviewers mentioned its delicious Javanese food, unpretentious attitude, and reasonable prices. It’s located just across from Metis up Jalan Petitenget, which is a bit of a drive from the main drag in Seminyak (one address I found says it’s technically in Kerobokan), but it’s definitely worth a trip. Architecturally, the restaurant is very open with high, vaulted ceilings and two seating areas. I found out from reading Travels With a Gourmet that the restaurant is actually a joglo, or a Javanese traditional wood building, which makes sense given they have two sides of their menu: Thai and Javanese. (Note: check Travels With a Gourmet’s blog for reviews of the Thai dishes.)

P & I chose to stick with the Javanese dishes, as we were in Indonesia, after all. It proved a great choice.

Our first dish was a long bean salad with chicken. The salad was bursting with flavor; so many spices and tastes were interacting at once. There was a strong presence of kaffir lime leaf (which I love), and a bite from the chilis. The chicken was soft and the long beans were crunchy, not to mention the fried shallot bits on top, which made for great textural balance.

After the salad came the prawn spring rolls, wrapped in a what looked like a pandan leaf. There were two juicy prawns inside each roll, along with the usual carrots and lettuce. The dipping sauce was very similar to sweet and sour sauce, which made this whole dish seem a bit Chinese to me. While the spring rolls were tasty, the long bean salad was more of a standout to me.

For our mains, P and I ordered very similar dishes, though we only realized after the plates materialized. He got the Bebek Goreng, or fried duck, and I had the roast chicken, which may have been called Ayam Bakar, if memory serves. Both of our dishes came with sambal. The duck was so unbelievably crispy on the outside (as you can see in the photo) and, as duck is usually a bit drier than chicken, went perfectly with the sambal assortment. The green sambal had by far the most kick, almost like a hot mustard flavor. The middle red sambal was the best with the poultry, and my favorite to eat on its own was the shallot sambal to the far right, which was sweet but piquant at the same time.

The chicken was similarly well cooked, with meat coming off the bone at the slightest scrape of a fork. Even though both our dishes turned out quite similar, I would not hesitate to recommend either of them to other eaters.

We eyed the dessert menu but, as with so many of our meals, were simply too sated to take advantage. However, I do know Café Degan is quite famous for their desserts. Creme brulee is on the menu, as well as various crumbles. They’ve also got goodies like macarons and cupcakes, which they sell in a separate little deli adjacent to the main restaurant. I read the owner is French, so perhaps that’s where the cute patisserie fits in. I wish I could have summoned up enough stomach to try a sweet, but I just couldn’t.

Throughout the meal, the service was fairly good. When we first got into the restaurant, it was only half an hour before they formally closed. However, there was never any indication we needed to hurry our meal. Since we didn’t have a reservation, the hostess put us on the lower level. When we complained that the air was stifling (the available fans were already pointed at other occupied tables), she graciously moved us to the upper level.

Besides the hostess, the waiters were also kind, but almost a bit too attentive, as different waiters kept coming to our table to ask how our meal was. This happened at least four times throughout our one-hour meal, including one lengthier discussion when another employee, who seemed like a manager or the captain, specifically asked us, “How did you hear about our restaurant?” As P commented, I suppose he wanted to know which avenues of marketing were paying off. I understand, but I felt just a tad put off by the prying.

However, the food, atmosphere, and price were definitely great enough for me to justify the overly attentive service. I would totally go back again, if I had the chance. I’m still thinking about that long bean salad!

Cafe Degan
Jln Petitenget 9
Seminyak/Kerobokan
+62.361.889.3271
Cost: ~ 130,000 IDR/person (Roughly $117 HKD or $15 USD)

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I must apologize for leaving you hanging for two weeks, but I had good reason: I was indulging in a beauteous holiday in utopia, aka Bali, Indonesia. P & I spent four (all-too-short) days in the small beach town of Seminyak and naturally, I had to find the best food on the island. I must admit, though, that being in vacation-mode meant I was not uber-diligent about taking notes on the food. However, I will try to recollect all of the savory memories bit by bit in these next few posts as I recap the best of Bali. I’ll start with possibly my favorite restaurant in the world (yes, the whole world, or at least the countries I’ve traveled to, anyways): Chandi.

I visited Chandi during my first trip to Bali two years ago. As a nascent foodie, Chandi really affected the way I looked at food. It was the first time in my life when I realized two things: one, that organic and fresh ingredients do make all the difference and two, that plenty of flavoring, seasoning, and full-on taste can be achieved without loads of oil, cream, or butter. (As a girl who grew up in the Midwest, where there are more cows than people in certain places, this was an amazing discovery.) P and I went to Chandi for dinner this time around and ordered a couple of appetizers, two mains, and were way too stuffed for dessert (unfortunately).

The first appetizer we got was the Tempestuous Organic Mixed Salad (seen above, which we dug into eagerly – also seen above), which had field greens, edamame, tempe, dragonfruit, starfruit, mango, pomelo, and fennel in a peanut tamarind dressing. The eclectic mix of sweet, sour, salty, and zesty was amazing. In addition to a bit of texture from the crispy tempe, you also got bursts of pomelo every few mouthfuls. Chandi’s menu proudly proclaims all produce, spices, and fruits are sourced from the Bedugul Hills, which I gather to be a rich agricultural area on the island’s southeast side. In any case, rest assured the salad – and all the produce and spices in our meal – were FRESH.

After the salad came our Spicy Tenderloin Lettuce Cups, miniature slabs of beef topped with a little salsa of pomelo, cashews, and cilantro. I found the beef a bit on the medium well side, and without much discernible heat, but it was juicy and solidly seasoned otherwise. The sweetness of the pomelo might have mitigated the “spicy”; the cilantro gave it a fresh finish.

For our main dishes, we ordered the Seared Barrumundi Fillet and Medley Sate, which was curiously subtitled “Day Night Fever.” Is it going to make us disco?

In any case, in retrospect perhaps a seafood non-lover such as myself should not have consented to as many creatures of the ocean. But, I figured since we were in Bali and P rarely gets to make friends with fish, why not? I do think, however, I would have enjoyed dinner even more had I gotten some of the other selections (namely, Nasi Goreng, which I have a weakness for, or the Lamb Shank Gule). But anyways…the barrumundi was actually really tasty, even in my estimation. The fish did taste “fishy” but not pungent; rather, the ocean flavor came across more aromatic than anything. There was a taro crisp on the bottom, like a potato pancake, which contrasted nicely with the crunchy outer finish of the fish. The pepes mushrooms were absolutely, earthily divine. I wasn’t too crazy about the basil emulsion, which was tantamount to pesto. I thought it was an incongruous choice for this type of seared seafood, as it jarringly took my taste buds of out Indo and landed them in Italy. (No, I have not been reading any Elizabeth Gilbert lately. Nor will I ever.)

The sate platter that came next was huge! It was artfully arranged in a pyramid on a sizzling hot lava stone which continued to cook the skewers as we ate. I was a little disappointed at the ratio of seafood-to-not, but again, I think if you’re an average person, it would have been delightful! My favorite skewers were actually the mixed veggies – peppers, zucchini, onions – and the beef (no surprise there). I also enjoyed the tempe, though it tasted a bit bland on its own. Fortunately, the sate medley came with three dipping sauces: Pecel Peanut Sauce, Sweet Soy Sauce, and Garlic Butter. The Garlic Butter was genius for the veg.

At this point we were way too full to order dessert so we just relaxed, watching the crowds pass on busy “eat street”, Jln Laksmana. Here, a note about the ambience: The first time I went to Chandi two years ago, they didn’t designate a smoking/non-smoking section, so we sat in the general dining room, which features dark wood, low lighting and tropical sexiness. The front tables are open to the street, which I found lovely. This time, however, they did have a non-smoking section, which I really appreciated, but it was a glassed-off enclosure just the left of the main entrance. It was cool and clean, with lovely white linens on the few tables (four or five, if I recall correctly). But I couldn’t help but feel cut off from the main “action” of the restaurant and its seductive vibe, not to mention from the outside. If I were to go next time, I might brave the smokers and sit in the “smoking section” to get more atmosphere.

Overall, though, Chandi still impressed me with its great, fresh, flavorful Indonesian/fusion food. I would definitely say it’s a must-eat in Seminyak.

Chandi
Jln Laksmana 72
Seminyak
+62.361.731.060 (Reservations are only taken by phone; must call on the day to confirm your booking)
Cost: ~ $300,000 IDR/person (Roughly $275 HKD or $35 USD) 

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