The amazing transformation of Bali dining has now come full cycle. 20 years ago it was hard to find anything above standard local food anywhere outside of the major hotels. Then the foreign chefs came, young ones more as a stepping stone to make their name somewhere else. Bali was creating world headlines and so then the established chefs followed, wanting to set up here.
The result was that many young Balinese chefs of the future were able to work with international chefs and learn much more than was possible in a local college. Those who were capable of absorbing and understanding are now doing their own thing, and doing it well!
My latest discovery is a small restaurant in Kedewatan, Ulun Carik. Young Balinese chef Komang Juniantara is the king of the kitchen. He previously worked at Potato Head and Taksu. Coming form Taksu you would expect him to present some great vegetarian dishes. You will not be disappointed.
A Prawn & Pomelo Salad heads the menu [pictured]. Chunks of fresh pomelo are mixed with avocado [guacamole], cherry tomato and slices of mango and prawn. A great start to any meal, a perfect palate cleanser. Other salads are Roasted Pumpkin and Lettuce or Chicken with romaine lettuce, apple and cucumber.
Soups are a Roasted Pumpkin, flavoured with ginger and a Broccoli that is thick and creamy. Healthy broccoli, should be the no. 1 vegetable in every diet. Both soups come with two slabs of garlic toast. Pretend that you are at home and dunk the toast in the soup, tastes great!
Chicken Cordon Bleu is on just about every menu in Bali. Here, a nice variation. A de-boned chicken leg is used [much more flavour than the breast]. It is stuffed with bacon and feta cheese. Slow-cooked, the chicken meat is so tender, the smoky taste of bacon a great contrast.
Baked Salmon tops the seafood dishes, a large portion and at a very reasonable price. The salmon is layered with paper thin slices of zucchini and tomato, caramelised onion and sweet basil leaves, great balance!
Other seafood options are Grilled Tuna with a mango salsa and Barramundi in a wine sauce. Two standard pasta dishes; Spaghetti Carbonara [using chicken bacon] and a Penne served with sliced chicken.
Amongst the mains are two vegetarian dishes that are worth ordering by anyone. Tofu I usually find rather boring and tasteless. Even though I know that it is quite healthy I rarely order it. Not so this one, here it is cooked, with a mix of chopped vegetables, in a light coconut milk curry, The tofu cubes soak up the curry, and taste great. Even more amazing is the Jackfruit Rendang. Jackfruit is an unusual fruit, the chunks of it almost have the texture of meat which is why it is often used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes. Soaked with the rending sauce you can actually believe that you are eating meat. And so healthy!
Breakfast is served from 8.00 a.m. It has a small but interesting menu. The Omelette is a big one [3 eggs] and is stuffed with cheese, mushroom, onion and spinach. Eggs Florentine is a poached egg on an English muffin with salmon, spinach and roasted tomato, topped with hollandaise sauce. The American touch is a pancake [plain, banana or chocolate]. For the locals there are noodles or fried rice. Both served with bacon [pork or chicken].
Ulun Carik even has a menu for the children, all the things that they like. Chicken Wings, Calamari Rings, Fish & Chips, Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Chicken Quesadilla, a sandwich wrapped in a tortilla.
Afternoon Tea, Indonesian style, amazing value for only Rp.50,000++. Your choice of coffee or tea with a plate of Finger Sandwich [cucumber, tomato and mozzarella cheese], Dadar Gulung [Balinese crepe stuffed with grated coconut and palm sugar] and a little Mango Pudding.
Ulun Carok has a relatively small menu? What a pleasant change. It tells you that the management actually understands how to run a restaurant by not opening with a ten page menu covering many different cuisines, here every dish is special.
Interesting, tasty food, pleasant bush setting, smiling service and all at a reasonable cost, what more could you want?