New chef Eelke Plasmeijer has certainly made some changes at this beachfront restaurant. Fresh from his successful stint, with long time mentor Stephan Zitja, at the much acclaimed Jakarta restaurant SHY, he is now making waves of his own in Bali. Eelke is a Dutch national who cooks French cuisine like a native.
Bali has hundreds of kilometers of coastline and that is littered with hundreds of warungs, cafes, normal and exclusive restaurants. Many are not worth visiting whilst too many others charge exorbitantly for the view. Now at the totally re-built Ma Joy [a year ago the front was washed away, that area is now a manicured beach and footpath] there is a restaurant with views, without the hype, and the cuisine to go with it.
Lunch consists of bright and breezy options, light and fresh! The Salade Nicoise uses my favourite little quail eggs as does the Caesar. Tuna Tartar with a capers and tomato vinaigrette, crème fraiche and diced shallots, and Carpaccio of Harvey beef tenderloin with a basil pesto are other sensible lunchtime choices.
A perfect starter is the Tuna & Crab, it looks good and tastes wonderful. Two wafer shapes of raw tuna sandwich a mix of crab meat in a light mayonnaise. On top are segments of pink grapefruit, dollops of avocado, twirls of seaweed and thin strips of pickled cucumber. A slightly sweet & sour combination that is refreshing, tasty and innovative, it tells you a lot about what is yet to come. There is also a slow cooked Tasmanian Salmon with mustard and dill vinaigrette, poached egg and potato mousseline, and a traditional Steak Tartar that uses a raw quail egg. These three dishes are also available as starters on the dinner menu.
The Croque Monsieur uses Smoked Salmon, parmesan cheese and creme fraiche, the Sandwiches on offer include Steak [a slice of entrecote with red onion chutney and garlic mayonnaise], and a variety of exotic alternatives. For soup on a hot day a chilled Gazpacho with sherry vinegar jelly or a Lobster Bisque with Kaffir lime and lobster raviolis.
Luncheon Mains include Grilled Lobster, a Crab Risotto and other seafood options. For the meat lover there is an Entrecote with sauce béarnaise or a Hamburger made from pure Angus high grade beef. Finish with one of many fresh fruit desserts or linger over a French Cheese Platter with dark raisin & walnut bread and the correct liquid accompaniment.
Dinner at Ma Joly is a much traditional affair. Serious food but in a relaxed setting, how could it be anything else when dining beachside in Bali?
One evening starter not to be missed is the Langoustine. The plump crustaceans sit on strips of rabbit that have been braised in bintang beer, pink yet so tender, with shaved fennel and walnuts. Scallops are just seared and served with pommes fondant, sweet corn and green peas topped with a quail egg fried with still soft yolk. An unusual soup is their Chicken and Smoked Tea Consomme. It is added at the table to your bowl which contains a tartar of langoustine.
There are so many appetising choices that it makes your selection very difficult.
Seafood dishes are on offer everywhere in Bali. Far too often the process from chilled/frozen to the plate is a bit of a disaster. What was perfect recently caught fish is served either dry [overcooked] or soggy [incorrectly handled or thawed]. At Ma Joly someone knows how to present fish as it should be, the flesh firm but juicy. Sea Bass is pan-fried and served with a curry hollandaise with quite a kick to it, on top are crisp olives [pitted and wok-fried], the Sea Bream is poached, the Barramundi just seared, the Coral Trout pan-fried with caperberries and the Lobster Tail is confit with poached octopus, crisp squid, kohirabi, roasted watermelon and sauce crustaces.
Peking Duck is duck with the different parts done different ways including confit and pan seared. The Milk Fed Lamb is presented with sliced of the leg cooked rose, meat from the shoulder slow cooked [or sometimes made into a ravioli or as sausage], the Shank slow cooked whilst the small rack is pan-fried but finishing with crisp skin. Braised Rack of Veal and quality Beef Steaks, grilled or roasted, complete a menu to satisfy anyone.
Fruits appear in most of the desserts and one of the best is their Coconut & Elderberry. It is layered in a glass, coconut foam and coconut cream sandwiching the tart elderberry compote. The perfect accompaniment is the offered glass of sparkling wine with a touch of elderberry juice.
Ma Joly has a cuisine that complements its wonderful beachfront setting. The essence of French cuisine is perfectly captured; the ability to present what often appear to be simple base ingredients but so perfectly matched and handled in the kitchen that the end result is WOW! Even after eating something like their Tuna & Crab entrée you have trouble identifying why it was so good. It is a case of the sum of the parts. I could happily eat that dish, and quite a few others here, every day of the week. They could never become boring! Then add the unique Bali setting, why would anyone want to live elsewhere?