Fine Dining by the Sea!
Sakala is a serious attempt to create a true fine dining restaurant on Bali's southern shores. It is under the management of International Maitre d' and restaurateur Herve Hedbert. In the kitchen is talented French Canadian chef Frederic Bouley who arrives in Bali with an impressive CV having worked with Joel Robuchon (2 Michelin stars Monaco), and at Le Louis XV (3 Michelin stars Monaco) and La Palme d' Or (2 michelin stars Cannes France). Together Herve and Frederic produce a true fine dining experience of International standard without losing that Bali feeling.
Lunch is a more casual affair, mainly served in the pleasant ocean lounge and pool bar areas, but still gives you a small insight as to the wonders of full evening dining at Sakala. Salad of Smoked Salmon with feta, organic greens, heart of palm, endive, red onion and capers, King Crab Salad on fresh tomatoes, asparagus and avocado in a lemon and coriander vinaigrette. Entrees of Arancini Risotto Croquette with mushrooms and peas, tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. Tasmanian Salmon with melted goat cheese. Wagyu Burgers, Cheese Plates and Flat Bread Pizzas can be ordered whilst looking across the white sand beach to the vast blue ocean beyond.
Late evening, from 10.00 p.m. to 1.00 a.m., Sakala offers a tempting bar menu; Peppered Beef Cheek Spring Rolls with truffle scented horseradish cream, Mini Wagyu Beef Burgers, Red Curry Lentil Burgers and that French International special, Croque Monsieur.
Move inside to the restaurant proper and dinner is a gastronomic delight. Sakala gives full attention to all those little things that can make or mar an evening dinner. The result is the real difference between a memorable night and just going somewhere to eat.
It all begins with the Amuse Bouche, a small trio of Oyster in olive oil, mini Scallop and a roll of Calamari on a spoon. The calamari soft and tender, not a trace of rubber, this chef certainly has some unique kitchen techniques.
Everybody does Pumpkin Soup, but rarely does it taste like the one at Sakala. Butternut pumpkin is used and the rich creamy flavour that ensues is added to by pieces of grilled rock lobster and slivers of mushroom. On top a small mountain of cappuccino foam. Tasmanian Salmon Tartare are small rounds, covered on top with Avruga caviar, at the centre a perfect boiled Quail egg with soft yolk. Delicate but with subtle and contrasting tastes. Roasted Quail Breast is served with mushrooms and asparagus. The Big Eye Tuna Tataki is with crushed fennel, orange emulsion and vanilla oil. The jumbo Alaskan scallops are just that. By far the largest I have ever seen yet still tender to taste, they have been grilled and are served with rolls of crispy polenta, sitting on baby spinach with young asparagus and cucumber beurre blanc, scattered with Oscietra Caviar.
Their Carpaccio of Butterfish is an amazing dish. Very plain to look at upon serving, a layer of overlapping paper thin flesh studded with micro diced fresh fruits, still frozen. Wrap the butterfish in small parcels around the fruit and the result is one of amazement that something that looks so simple can taste so great!
The Duck Foie Gras has been imported from the Lande region of France, and comes as two perfect small discs sitting on rounds of thin warm brioche. The duck liver has been prepared Torchon style [wrapped in a towel and slowly poached], with delicate spices added. A Salad of Peking Duck Breast is tossed with orange segments, endive, macadamia nuts, goat cheese croutons and classic vinaigrette.
Homemade Tagliatelle is served with grilled baby lobster in fresh tomato, basil and Grana Padano. Ravioli is presented open style with braised chicken, charred leek and Porcino mushroom emulsion.
Loin of Venison, the perfect cut, is served with poached pear, mushroom, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts in a red wine juice. The Sirloin of Wagyu Beef is slowly cooked and comes with potato toque and a blend of root vegetables, caramelized shallots and a sauce of black pepper.
Australian Rack of Lamb has been crusted with thyme and Parmesan, a perfect pink. It is served with tomato and goat cheese tart tatin, crushed zucchini, fried polenta and a red wine sauce with black olive emulsion.
Seafood can be pan-fried Barramundi. It is with black tiger prawns, squid and a ragout of sweet corn and asparagus. Big Eye Tuna Tataki is with a salad of crushed fennel, an orange emulsion and vanilla oil.
Desserts have rarely been high on my priority list unless they are exotically different or very French! More than one chocolate dish on the dessert menu immediately turns me off! I saw one menu recently with 6 out of the 8 offerings being chocolate, a total lack of originality. At Sakala there is the mandatory chocolate dish, Mousse of 70% Bitter Valhrona with crisp hazelnut orange marzipan, mandarin sorbet and lime praline. An Old fashioned Bombe Alaska [ice cream and fried berries flamed with Kirsch, raspberry sorbet] is certain to prove popular with Sakala's regulars.
A fruit delight is the Mango and Mangosteen Salad, with blueberries, macadamia nuts, passion fruit sorbet, coconut mousse and Cape gooseberries. The exotic is in the form of a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Now you may think that this is only for the kids, but it is also a favourite with adults as well. A swirl of peanut butter ice cream sits on a square slab of intensely flavoured raspberry jelly. A combination to remember!
For a first visit to Sakala the recommendation is to order either the Discovery Menu [4 courses with some choice] or the wonderful Chef's Epicurian Tasting Menu of 6 courses, all small exotic tastes that leave you wanting a quick return to Sakala.
Overall Sakala is a wonderful top end addition to Bali's dining scene, in an area previously lacking in anything even approaching this quality of food and service.