Eight Degrees South is found exactly there, at 8 degrees south of the equator, as it crosses the beach in front of the Conrad Hotel in Tandjung Benoa, on the edge of Nusa Dua. Fittingly EDS specializes in seafood, and exotic forms thereof, prepared with unrivalled skill in their very professional kitchen. Their Executive Chef Ketut Kurniawan is one of the success stories of the new wave of Balinese chefs rising to the top after serving their apprenticeships working with great international chefs both home and abroad. Ketut honed his skills in the kitchens of Ritz Carlton hotels, both here in Bali and in the Middle East, before joining Conrad.
Lunch at EDS is light and cheerful. Dining is in small wantilans, each one surrounded by movable window-doors with just a few tables, making them quite intimate. With the main view of white beach and blue sea beyond, the food just has to be seafood.
Concoct your own salad from your choice of leaves, vegetables, condiments, dressing and side dish. For me the Dukkah Crusted Salmon [an Egyptian combination of spices highlighting cumin, coriander leaves and black pepper] sitting on a salad of compressed cucumber, yoghurt, fennel and coriander is too good to pass, the essence of fresh clean taste. All the fish dishes here are presented with perfect flesh, irrespective of whether they are fresh local catch or imported frozen, the mark of a great kitchen.
Most of the pasta dishes are combined with seafood; Saffron Risotto with prawn squid and mussels, Spaghetti with crab, Penne with anchovies or Linguine with prawn, squid, clams and mussels.
Lunch mains also offer larger more exotic seafood options; Perfect Pan Roasted Salmon, simply with lemon and garlic, local Gindara sits on a tasty mix of sun-dried tomato, black olive, broad beans, capers and butter sauce [pictured], Snapper is crumbed with Parmesan and the Tuna is grilled and sits on crushed potato, tomato and lemon confit. As much as I like fresh seafood there is another dish I find irresistible, Pan-roasted Quail. They rib cage has been removed, just legs and wings left for holding as the only way to eat this dish is with the fingers, served on polenta with a white balsamic port jus.
At night, for dinner, the menu goes up a notch. Start with small tasty dishes [Shrimp with chilli flakes, Hummus of broad beans and feta, Crab Salad or a Seafood Chowder]. The top of the range entrée is Scallop 'feuille de brick'[super light French pastry] with 'Noirmoutier fleur de sel' [hand harvested sea salt from the isle of Noirmoutier, off the coast of Brittany]. This dish is one of those show-stoppers, so simple in appearance yet such a perfect balance of tastes. The 3 thin crisp pastries, the size of small spring rolls, are wrapped around perfect scallop meat, with a touch of that sea salt, the top of each roll lightly sprinkled with ground red chilli. Each roll sits on a sour combo of finely diced cornichon, vanilla bean and cucumber, on the side a small pile of fresh leaves and a glass of diced fruit for you to pour over the top. The dish has that ultimate taste combination of hot [very slight], sweet and sour, and one that I could eat every day.
Dinner at EDS is a fine dining experience, the options so vast and tempting that menu selection is very difficult. That task is made a little easier as some dishes are available in tasting portion size so a spread can be ordered. I will detail those mains first.
The Wagyu Salad is prepared for you at your table, the grilled Australian Rib Eye Wagyu served pink and warm together with tossed greens and vegetables, white balsamic, sambal oelek [from ground chilli], coconut milk and fresh tamarind. You can order a tasting plate or the full serve.
Fillet of Grouper is with Castelluccio lentils, chorizo sausage and cream of lemongrass with saffron thread. The Red Snapper is with salt flakes from Australia's Murray River and fricassee of clams and sea urchin. The only meat dish that is available in tasting size is their Rack of Lamb, served with cannellini beans with sun-dried tomato jus and lemon thyme flower.
Seafood mains that are served in full portions only include Tuna combined with meat from those unique Moreton Bay [or Balmain] Bugs, sometimes referred to as Shovel Nose Lobsters, with lemon basil and chilli. The Scottish Salmon is with sautéed mussels, crispy capers, mullet roe and lime cream. Opakapaka is sprinkled with Hawaiian black salt and a fricassee of scampi meat.
Lobster dishes feature on this menu in a variety of forms. Carbonara style borrows from that famous Italian pasta dish and the meat is sautéed with butter, mushrooms, bacon and cream. Split and char-grilled is the simple way to eat lobster, just brushed with lemon and garlic butter. Thermidor is about as traditional as you can get, it is sautéed in butter with mushrooms, chives, pimentos and topped with a cheddar cheese gratin.
The royal seafood dish is their Steamed Lobster and Seafood Platter. One whole split lobster is combined with steamed mussels, prawns and clams with chilli pesto sauce, lemon aioli and spicy Thai.
Meat mains again feature Wagyu, this time prime tenderloin with high marbling. It comes with Jaborandi peppers, seared foie gras and morels flambéed with vodka in a truffled pecorino misto sauce. Normal Beef Tenderloin is also served, with shallot confit, edamame and black truffle sauce. The pan-roasted Baby Chicken is kumquat glazed and with a sweet corn fricassee.
If after a feast like this you can handle a dessert is always a question but if the craving gets to you then they are just as exotic as all that has gone before. African Chocolate Jelly is combined with spiced Russian bread, chocolate soil and a compressed strawberry and raspberry sorbet. Summer Berries are with a rhubarb doughnut, passion fruit cream and strawberry ice cream. However it is the Tamarind Baked Cheesecake that gets my attention.
Dining at Eight Degree South is a seaside feast for a special occasion. If you do not have a special occasion, then just create one!