Nusa Dua Beach Hotel was the original luxury hotel on the strip, twenty plus years ago. Since being acquired by the Brunei connection, many improvements have been incorporated. It has become one of Bali?s finest.
Real fine dining restaurants are a rarity in Bali. Many restaurants provide excellent food, even top service and a refined locale. However for fine dining all must be excellently executed, with the utmost attention to detail.
Such a place is Raja?s at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel. As an added bonus, its cuisine is pure Balinese! Not like your every day warung-style meals, but carefully researched old village and family recipes, converted by modern professional kitchen techniques and quality ingredients to present something really out of the ordinary!
The excellence begins as soon as you arrive. You are presented with an intriguing Cusine Sampler [as the French say an Amuse Guele, I think].
Entrees are so complex that much thought has to be given to your order. Palem Sari Ulam is a mixture of seafood combined with coconut milk, young coconut and chopped lime leaves, wrapped in palm, then steamed.
Lawar Kelungah Sareng Udang Mepangang is an amazing dish. The kernel of a very young coconut [even before the flesh begins to form] is stripped of its shell, finely chopped then boiled. The result is combined with minced chicken and Balinese spices to form a most unusual salad. The Sate Lilit at Raja?s uses minced chicken to avoid the often dry result when fish is used. As per normal, the mixture is wrapped around sticks of lemongrass.
Ulam Gurami Sareng Bulung Segare is baked fresh water gurami, and is served with a salad of seaweed. No, their seaweed salad is not Japanese, but very Balinese. This recipe originates from the old fishing village of Bualu [where the hotel is built], and is used as a side to a number of dishes at Raja?s. Sambel Ulam Tongkol is a fresh yellow fin tuna salad, in a shallot and lemongrass chilli dressing.
Be Sampi Mesitsit is grilled shredded beef, just seared and served in a lime chilli sauce with an unusual urap of green papaya and corn kernels. Refreshingly different! For those first-timers and those who cannot decide, the Rayunan Pengawit Bali Sane Kasub is the ideal choice. Taste samples of four of the above entrees are presented, together with a giant king prawn, just as an added bonus.
The vegetarian option is Bulung Segare Miwah Kacang mentik Megoreng. The seaweed salad is combined with fried red beans, soya bean cake and a ?superior? peanut sate sauce [?superior? soy is combined with traditional kecap manis to reduce the sweetness, with galangal and lime of course]. The real Balinese sate sauce!
For soup, your choice of Kuah Gedang Sareng Udang Windu [young green papaya with fresh water prawns], Jangan Ares Bebek [braised duck in a broth with the unusual spiced trunk of a banana tree] or Jangan Roroban [an aromatic vegetable and coconut milk soup].
The mains are less complex in taste, but equally sensational. Udang Galah menyanyah sareng sambel lemo is tiger prawns that have been gently sautéed in a lime chilli sauce. Ulam Segare Mepanggang is a grilled baby snapper with a shallot, lemongrass and lime leaf dressing. Udang Pantung Mebase kunyit is a whole lobster in a coconut milk and turmeric curry sauce.
If you prefer a variety of seafood, a very special seafood platter, then order the Ulam Sari Segara Mesudi Base. It is a selection of lobster, tiger prawns, yellow fin tuna and snapper. Served with a traditional longbean salad and three different sambals.
Ulam Kambing Mebase Kalas should be goat meat but due to the irregular quality of such, imported lamb loin is substituted. It has been braised in a blend of galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, salam leaves and candle nuts. The spices create a coating on the lamb loin, which is presented in cross-sliced form. Truly a sensational dish!
Ulam Ayam Mepanggang Mebase Wewangian is spring chicken. Balinese spices have been rubbed into the skin and left to rest, before it is roasted. Very unusual! Ulam Banteng Mepanggang Mebase Bali is a good old steak [Australian sirloin], but given the Balinese treatment, for those who are a little less adventurous.
A vegetarian alternative is Drona Miwah Tahu Mekuskus sareng Kelape Mekikih. It comprises steamed corn and tofu, with grated coconut.
Raja?s Signature Dish is their Bebek Betutu. Naturally, due to the long process for cooking correctly, it must be pre-ordered when booking [table reservations are almost essential at Raja?s]. It is presented and sliced at the table, in what you could call Peking Duck style.
The desserts are fairly standard, though perfectly executed, and include Gendar Injin [sticky black rice pudding with coconut milk, palm sugar and jack fruit], Dadar Gulung [pandanus leaf pancakes], and Lemet Lambon Gendis Pedawa [cassava and jack fruit dumpling, steamed in banana leaf with a palm sugar sauce].
Best dessert option is the Rayunan Penyineb Bali Sane Kasub, a sample of four different desserts, plus steamed sticky rice, honey and ginger ice cream and sliced fruit. The ice creams are most unusual. Attempts have been made to produce them with Balinese spices; Cinnamon, Tamarind, Lemongrass and the Honey & Ginger. Try them all!
Even the coffee [or tea] is served with sensational little nibbles. Iwel is a black rice crouton, and Satuh is toasted white sticky rice, a Bali Biscuit!
But that is not all! There is also the option of ordering the Raja?s special tasting menu. It consists of two entrees, a soup, seafood and chicken mains, and mixed dessert. These are all from the standard menu. This option must be ordered for two [or more] persons at the table. The Vegetarian tasting menu, however, can be ordered singularly, and consists of special dishes not on the menu.
Everything about Raja?s is very special. This is fine dining at its very best! At Raja?s you really may find that you are dining with Kings, or even Sultans.