Quah @ Qunci in Mangsit, Lombok, offers a feast of clean fresh Mediterranean flavours.
The old menu has been re-worked and the result is quite amazing. The only problem is that this restaurant is situated in the luxury boutique resort of Qunci Villas, overlooking the Mangsit beach on Lombok's west coast. However the quality and the value at Quah make it worth including in BaliEats, particularly as more and more Bali residents are now taking the 20 minute flight to Lombok for short breaks.
Even dishes that sound rather basic produce tastes on the palate that amaze. The Fijian style Ceviche is a mix of minced fish and prawn meat, marinated in lime juice and served in a hollowed-out yellow coconut.
That old favourite Prawn Cocktail gets a makeover, with a fat juicy king prawn sitting in a citrus cocktail with leafy greens, served in a martini glass. Tuna Tartare is raw flesh chopped in cubes, marinated in lemon and a sprinkle of spices, served with slices of freshly baked foccacia.
A couple of local options are a Soto Bandung, that delicate clear beef broth with fried soy beans and daikon added. Balinese Sate Lilit is on the menu, a minced mix of fish and prawn meat with Balinese spices, wrapped around lemongrass sticks and grilled over coconut embers. The accompanying rujak salad is of green mango and fresh coriander.
The baby squid of Lombok always seem to produce a more tender finish than the rubber of their elders. The Squid Salad at Quah is no exception, with small rings of flesh that have been tossed with shredded cucumber and greens, slightly crunchy but still tender, drizzled with a yoghurt sauce and served on a long oblong black plate. It is a surprisingly generous serve for $6 but then that is the norm at this wonderful restaurant.
Even if you are visiting Lombok on business, sitting at Quah whilst overlooking swimming pool, beach and ocean with Bali's Mt. Agung on the cloudless horizon, you feel as if you are on holiday!
The Chicken Salad is Moroccan style, the chicken marinated in preserved lemon, grilled and thinly cross-sliced then tossed with greens, sun-dried tomato and olives. A Carpaccio of Beef has been marinated and served French-Italian, Dijon mustard and Parmesan cheese, A Salad of Pear, Blue Cheese and Crushed Walnuts is tossed in an apple cider dressing.
Pasta can be the vegetarian Penne Broccoli Arrabiata with an after taste of chilli, Spaghetti in a cream sauce of chicken, mushroom and water spinach, the traditional Vongole, spaghetti tossed with clams and other seafood or a Quah special; Penne Prawns and Crab 'Bolognese', the seafood being minced and pan-fried, bolognese style, instead of using the normal beef of Bologna.
The Grilled Tuna [pictured] is sashimi grade, and can be cooked any way you like it [just seared for me]. It is topped with a cream of sun-dried tomato which slowly melts over the hot fish, perfect! The Lombok Lobster is split before grilling, topped with a mix of crushed almonds, herbs and lemon. The King Prawns have a French touch, they are done Provencale.
The Mahi-Mahi is like never before. The fillet is combined with garlic, tomato and spices before being wrapped in a banana leaf then steamed. The result is perfect flesh with a fragrance that enchants upon opening the leaf, and a taste that begs for more. A Turbot Fillet marinated with onion and garlic, pan-fried in olive oil, arrives at the table with an aroma that commands attention. Once again the flesh and flavour are outstanding.
If some of these dishes and their style sound familiar then perhaps they should? The restaurants at Qunci have all been set-up and/or re-worked [menu design and staff training] by consultant chef Frederic Pougault who has previously performed similar tasks in Kerobokan at Sardine, Gado-Gado and Red Carpet.
Other seafood dishes include Blackened Snapper Fillet with greens, ginger, orange and a hot bell pepper sauce served in a small jug on the side to use as you wish. The local Tuna be Tongkol is a tuna steak seasoned with spices, salt, pepper and lime the pan-fried. When cold the tuna is crumbled and mixed with that fiery Balinese favourite, sambal matah, then served with steamed rice to balance the heat. King Prawns are served 'provencale'with garlic, sun-dried tomato and those herbs of Provence. The small Lombok Lobsters, as with the local squid, are more tender than most. Split then coated with a mix of crushed almonds, herbs and lemon juice, they are grilled over fire. Goes very well with a glass of champers!
The local touch in the mains menu is Lombok's traditional Ayam Taliwang, chicken with enough of a spice kick to wake you up. The steak at Quah is imported Australian tenderloin, once again a generous serve that will not disappoint any steak-lover. Perfectly cooked on the fire grill and served with sauteed mushrooms, mashed potato and a small jug of pepper sauce on the side.
The Italian Scallopine traditionally uses young veal, a prohibitive import for Indonesia with its exorbitant cost. So chicken breast is used instead, two medallions of tender flesh are crumbed and pan fried, served with a very Italian salsa of roasted tomato
To cap it all most of the dishes are in the $8-10 range [for mains, entrees are less], enough reason to visit Lombok any time! The fresh, clean taste of the Mediterranean comes through, so fitting for a beachfront restaurant.