Damai is another of those magic Bali locations. It is perched high up on the mountain, overlooking Lovina and the sea beyond, it even has a Java vista on a clear day. Dine by the swimming pool or up in the small elegant wantilan that overlooks the property.
The menu is small in number of dishes but very big in quality and variety. For their 6 Course Degustation menu you select three of the starters [they offer 5, the big problem is which two to leave out], plus one main and one dessert, finishing with petit fours.
The Tataki of Tuna is perfect! The top quality Yellow Fin fillet is very lightly seared, rolled in a mixture of herbs, and cross sliced. You eat it slowly and savour the exquisite taste. This is accompanied by a tuna wonton, some chilli guacamole and wasabi mayonnaise.
Just as good is the Chilli Crab Ravioli. The large soft ravioli is generously stuffed with a spicy crab salad, with teriyaki fumet, chive oil, a few small organic vegetables and wakame.
Foie Gras is done as a terrine, combined with the meat from braised oxtail, toasted macadamia nuts, served with a tamarillo chutney and an anise tuille. I can never get enough of a dish like this. The Clams are served as a pyramid of shells. They have been steamed in rice wine with vanilla essence and are served with organic vegetables, a Tiger Prawn in tempura batter and an over-sized garlic crostini.
The final entrée offering is a Wagyu Sashimi. Wagyu [wa means Japanese, and gyu means cattle, or simply "Japanese cow") is a breed of cattle, developed in Japan, genetically predisposed to intense marbling, and produces a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat with a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Wagyu beef is now being farmed extensively in the USA and Australia. At Damai the Wagyu beef is sliced thinly and pepper seared, served with a micro salad and enoki, and a shabu-shabu sauce. Healthy beef with taste!
The main courses at Damai do not always come as you would expect. No, all the ingredients are what you would have imagined, just that their preparation and presentation has been subject to a bit of creative kitchen work. None is more so than their Bouillabaisse, a Mediterranean treat from the south of France. The seafood components are normal except that they have all been prepared individually. The Tuna is grilled sate style, the Scallops roasted and the Tiger Prawns presented in tempura batter. What happened to the soup? Well that fragrant broth comes in a cup, centre of the plate, surrounded by the seafood ingredients. You can eat and sip, or eat and dip, whichever you prefer.
The daily fresh Red Snapper is pan-fried on the skin side and served with a shellfish beurre blanc and green basil as well as baby turnips, young bamboo and marinated tubiko caviar. Lobster is one of Damai?s most popular servings. You can have your half lobster either grilled or flambeed with a tempura oyster, ume-bushi plums and a lobster bisque together with beetroot and lime mayonnaise crisps.
The Quail is served as a Ballotine of Breast with a spring roll rilette of leg, braised daikon, seared foie gras, edamane and a crisp pancetta. Australian Tenderloin of Beef is char-grilled and served with sweetbreads meuniere, miso-glazed shiitake mushrooms and a potato fondant.
For desserts the Apple & Ginger Pie is with a cinnamon infused caramel sauce and ginger ice cream. The Chocolate Fantasy is a chocolate ganache with smoked chilli, a chocolate spring roll, a chocolate sate and chocolate ice cream. For me a simple Crème Brulee, with a sorbet made from mangosteen.
A good wine list and attentive but unobtrusive service make dining at Damai a relaxing experience.
Lunch time sees different offerings such as an Udon Noodle Soup [a tartare of tuna in a wonton floating on top as well as fresh fish pieces, chilli, coconut shavings, coriander and Kaffir lime]. The Steak Sandwich also has onion marmalade, bacon, shiitake mushrooms and a tarragon mayonnaise stuffed inside. You can also have some seared foie gras added to the giant sandwich, if you wish?
Sunday Brunch is Champagne time! Choose from home-made Yoghurt with Honey Roasted Muesli and fresh fruit, Pastries [Danish of course], Toast, Jams and Cream Cheese, Truffle Scrambled Eggs with marinated Tubiko Caviar and blinis, an Asian Wagyu Salad, Herb Sausages with Pancetta, Hash Browns and Grilled Tamarillo. Finish with American Pancakes or a Fresh Fruit Salad with mint honey and vanilla ice cream. The set price includes a glass of Champagne or a Bloody Mary, or a range of non-alcoholic drinks.
It is possible to live with a bit of style on Bali's north coast.
Latest Visit: Young talented Danish chef is constantly making minor adjustments to the menu, which is small but classy. New highlight inlcudes a starter of Pepper-smeared sashimi of Wagyu Beef. A set Balinese Menu has been added, its content varying every week.