Lunch @ Locavore (Bali, Indonesia)

December 10, 2018 in Asian

When Locavore made it to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino in 2016, I wasn’t sure if I could ever visit them; I had traveled to Bali thrice and was quite determined I wouldn’t re-visit Bali. My travel policy is the same as my food policy where I prefer to explore new places. Tokyo excluded. Keke.

So when my very close girlfriend said I was to be her bridesmaid for her upcoming destination wedding in Bali, I immediately made my reservation at Locavore. Yes, restaurant reservation came before purchase of flight ticket. Haha. For the curious, my reservation for lunch was made 3 months in advanced on Locavore’s online booking system.

And as read from their website… Locavore is led by chef-owners Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah. Eelke, a Dutch-born chef, met fellow head chef Ray Adriansyah when he moved to Jakarta in 2008. The pair ran the kitchen at Alila Ubud together, where they fine-tuned their philosophy of creating tasting menus using primarily local ingredients. It wasn’t before long that their (at that time) unique approach to using only seasonal and local foods was recognised, and they eventually left the hotel industry to open their own restaurant. Yes, they created Locavore in November 2013.

While dishes were influenced by European and Indonesian cuisines, Locavore was all about local. From ingredients to the cutlery.

I arrived at 12.05pm, 25 minutes ahead of my reservation time. Upon arrival at the restaurant, the staff led me to the counter which could sit 5 people. And the staff started me off with the beverage menu (pages 1, 2). I think it’s the Indonesian Balinese fine-dining culture that beverage menu is presented before the food and beverage-pairing menus are given.

I ordered a mocktail since it seemed like I wasn’t going to be given the food menu until I ordered something from the beverage menu. Although to be fair to the restaurant, I could have told the staff I was good with no drinks. But I was scared. Scared of being judged for not drinking. Haha.

And for the food menu, Locavore offered vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. No-brainer that I went with the non-vegetarian menu. Keke. With a further choice of going with just 5 dishes or the full course of 7 dishes, I went with the latter.

With that, I started my lunch with:-

1) Loloh Bali (mocktail version), RP42,000 (above) – Wild honey shaken with turmeric & mint leaves reduction, tamarind syrup & Tanqueray gin, served over ice cubes, topped with homemade lemongrass soda garnished with pomelo & green leaves.

2) 7-dishes non-vegetarian lunch menu (RP895,000) comprised of:-

  
  
  

(A) Starters, Complimentary (above) – Assortment of pickles (which included garlic, passionfruit, cucumber, etc), watermelon tartare topped with seaweed, dehydrated pumpkin leaf sprinkled with seaweed powder, pickled eggplant with sesame seeds in broth, black rice belini topped with smoked egg emulsion and brown rice puff, and grilled mango marinated with passionfruit juice & pepper.

  

(B) Amuse bouches, Complimentary (above) – The first being cold tomato sorbet on sliced tomato but in warm tomato and celeriac consomme. Although I could only see traces of herbs used, I could taste the pepper which lingered in my mouth long after I finished the dish. Second was prata with 3 types of condiment which I was told to sprinkle everything onto the prata. I tried the prata alone and could taste the coconut since I was told coconut yogurt was used.


(C) Bonito (above) – Anis cured bonito, unripe mango, kecap vinaigrette, coriander, cili oil, caramelised sesame, daun kenikir.

(D) Goat tartare (above) – Lightly grilled, burnt eggplant, pickled eggplant, kecombrang, fermented shallots, charred coconut milk.


(E) Cabbage & bacon (above) – Whole cabbage roasted in bacon fat, bacon dashi, cashew sour cream, bacon shallot crumble, lacto-fermented onion powder. And I was told the cabbage was roasted for 90 minutes with bacon fats over it.


  

(F) Into the sawah (above) – Heritage galum rice (from Tegalalang, central Bali), snails & garlic, 64 degrees duck egg, frog abon, fern tips, wild flowers. I was expecting the yolk to flow out like liquid when I poked into the egg, but its texture was like custard. I was also expecting rice to be crunchy like scorched rice, but it was cooked similarly to risotto. Full of surprises.


  

(G) Mahi-mahi (above) – Sago herb tempura, green chilli emulsion, pete shiitake sambal, pickled shiitake, charred green chilli oil.

(H) Burung puyuh (above) – Roasted breast, ginger cinnamon butter, barbecued leg, smoked pumpkin, charred pineapple, pickled pumpkin. Pigeon breast and thigh were used for the dish. The de-boned thigh somehow reminded me of our Chinese 香腸. Hmm…

(I) Pre-dessert, Complimentary (above) – With mangosteen being the main ingredient, this was refreshingly good.

(J) Nuts about orangeGelato, sorbet, gel, crumble, tuiles. The combination of orange and peanut was certainly interesting. I couldn’t decide if I liked it, but I guess it must be a good sign since I finished it. Or did I keep eating it because I was trying to figure the dish out? Keke. But I certainly enjoyed the orange and peanut components separately; Orange was refreshing while the peanut reminded me much of dragon’s bread candy.



  
  

(K) Post-dessert (above) – Petit fours served on Congklak board; A traditional Indonesian game.

Prior to my lunch, I read that the meal at Locavore can get pretty lengthy. And true enough, I spent slightly more than 2 hours at the restaurant. But hey, I ain’t complaining about the many starters and amuse bouches. Keke.

I would definitely recommend one to check out Locavore when in Ubud (Bali). But try not to plan one’s meal just before… Flying out?

LOCAVORE
Jalan Dewisita No. 10, Banjar Padang, Tegal, Kabupaten Gianyar, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 977733, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7

Dinner @ MUME (Taipei, Taiwan)

January 24, 2018 in European

In my September 2017 trip to Taiwan, I managed to make reservation for RAW, Le Mout and MUME. However, I had to cancel our reservation at MUME due to unforeseen circumstance. Sob. So when I was planning for my January 2018 trip, I knew it was time to make (it) up to myself. Keke

Currently ranked 43 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 by S. Pellegrino, reservation was made on MUME’s website. It’s a straightforward process. After choosing the party size and date, one would be informed of the offered menu (which is normally a-la carte) before going on to select the seating slots of either 6pm or 8.30pm. For the former, one would need to return the table at 8pm. And to secure the reservation, one would need to input one’s credit card details.

I made reservation for a weekday dinner 3 weeks in advanced, and decided to go with the earlier slot of 6pm.

Unlike the reservation process which was a breeze, identifying the restaurant’s shopfront was a little difficult. The name of the restaurant was craved faintly on the marble. So one can’t see the engravement from far. But thankfully I googled up the place prior to our dinner, so my Mom and I didn’t end up walking past the unit instead since I knew how the shopfront looked. And to enter, press the (black) button on one’s right.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my Mom and I ordered:-


  

1) Seasonal tartlets (2 pcs), NT$220 (above)

2) Country sourdough, NT$180 (above) – Smoked beef fat butter was stated on the menu. However, as we don’t take beef, we were given cultured butter and sea salt instead. And my Mom and I seriously loved the bread. Well-browned crispy and crackling crust with the inside being soft with attractive big air pockets. We finished the loaf easily.


  

3) Liver brulee, NT$350 (above) – Chicken liver parfait, seasonal herbs. This was really good. The chicken liver parfait was creamy, thick and smooth. I enjoyed this with the sourdough. Keke. We were told Shaoxing wine was also used for the brulee layer. A must order.

4) MUME salad, NT$480 (above) – 20+ types seasonal vegetables, fermented black beans. We were told the vegetables were all locally grown. Now… When a restaurant pegged their (restaurant) name to a dish, I would interpret it as the restaurant’s signature dish. However, I felt this was just passable. Wasn’t impressed.


5) Burnt cabbage, NT$580 (above) – Smoked salmon roe, pine nuts, oyster emulsion. Cooked with direct heat for 1 hour, the staff told us not to eat the outermost charred layer. And the texture of this ‘burnt cabbage’ was intriguing. It’s like a cross between pickled and fermented.

6) Crispy amadai, NT$1080 (above) – Aromatic broth, engawa, parsley and lemon thyme.



7) Pork neck, NT$980 (above) – Clam sauce, baby cabbage, dill. Didn’t really like this.


8) Custard apple, NT$330 (above) – Caramelized puff pastry, creme fraiche ice cream. My mom and I really enjoyed this bold combination of (cold) passionfruit ice cream and warm apple.

9) Frost lemon pie, NT$330 (above) – Gordon’s gin, suze, lemon.

It was a pleasant dining experience at MUME. The set-up of the restaurant was suitable for friends to catch-up over food (small and big groups alike) and for couples to go on romantic dates. Food was generally good, though I must really mention the service.

Service was top notch! Our cups of water was never once left empty by the friendly staff. Although we didn’t finish 1 or 2 of the dishes (because our stomachs were bursting nearing to the end of our meal), the staff could pick up from our body language that we were done with our dishes and cleared our dishes without us requesting them to. So it was nice because my Mom and I didn’t have to wait very long for our next dish noting that they served the dishes in sequence. Ie, appetisers followed by mains, etc.

If one is thinking of checking out MUME, I would definitely say “Please do!”

MUME
No. 28, Siwei Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 2700 0901, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 8

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Taipei 2018.

Dinner @ RAW (Taipei, Taiwan)

January 18, 2018 in French

When I was planning my maiden trip to Taiwan, I had 4 restaurants on my to-try-list. And 1 of the 4 was none other than RAW. Having enjoyed myself at Restaurant Andre, it comes with no surprise that I wanted to check out RAW; A restaurant conceptualized by Restaurant Andre‘s head chef Andre Chiang and his Taiwanese team.

As taken from RAW’s website, RAW is a 60-seat lifestyle restaurant serving which aims to bring ‘The New Interpretation of Taiwanese Flavor’ to the table by highlighting Taiwanese seasonal produce through innovative food and drink.

Now… While I know RAW is a very popular restaurant, I didn’t realise it was that difficult to secure a reservation till my foodie-friends gushed about how fortunate I was after seeing pictures of my meal at RAW. I guess I have to thank the kiasu-ness within me and of course Lady Luck. =) Knowing that RAW accepts reservation up to 2 months ahead, I sent my request on RAW’s website once the slot of my preferred date opened. And yes, I meant sending (my reservation request) at the stroke of midnight. I exaggerate, not.

And in our reservation request, we were also required to make our menu selection. So between the NT1850 and NT2680 dinner set menus, I opted for the latter. And within 2 days, I received an email from RAW confirming our dinner appointment. Yeah! And the countdown to our dinner in September 2017 excitedly begun.

RAW was a 8 to 12 minutes from Jiannan Road MRT station (劍南路站). Occupying the first floor of the building, one could easily identify the restaurant not only by its name printed on the full-height glass, but also by RAW’s iconic wooden structure which was visible through the window. Deliberately placed at the entrance, the soft-angled, organically sculptured wooden structure is the centrepiece of RAW. And I fell in love with the interior; Of the flowy lines and curves.

The staff greeted us at the entrance. And after confirming our reservation, my Mom and I were led to our table. Having pre-selected our dinner menu, we started our dinner with:-

  

1) Bread, NT$150 (above) – Bread remained warm as it was placed on hot pebbles within the sack. Butter served with the bread had cacao nibs, sesame seeds and chopped nuts. And it was interesting my Mom and I were not given any plate; The staff appeared with a (small) broom to swipe the crumbs that had dropped onto the table which got me receiving the eye from my Mom since my superstitious Mom thinks it’s bad luck to have a broom in one’s face. Keke. And it was a nice and thoughtful gesture when the staff offered to pack our bread seeing that we had difficulty finishing ours.

2) Dinner set, NT$2680 comprised of:-

  

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Fruit corn, Taiwan miso and taiken 9.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Watermelon, tuna and beef tomato. Hidden beneath the tuna sashimi, compressed watermelon and dehydrated tomato was my favourite mozzarella cheese (skin)!



(C) Dish #3 (above) – Kailan, chick & yolk, and oyster. To avoid any confusion, what looked like oil in the third picture was actually the yolk!



(D) Dish #4 (above) – Pulled pork, potato and shichimi. We were told Taiwanese chef Andre grew up on Shilin Night Market’s cheese potato. And thus, this was his take of the night market snack.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Octopus, sriracha and furikake.


  

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Capellini, crab fat and laksa leaf. Crab broth made with crab meat and crab shell was poured in front of us into the coconut which contained the sea urchin, crab meat and capellini. However, we were not given much broth as we were told to enjoy the noodles as a dry dish first. After we finished the ingredients, the staff continued to pour the remaining rich broth for us to enjoy it on its own.


(G) Dish #7 (above) – Veal Pork belly, yuba and baby squid.


(H1) Dish #8 (above) – Banana, toffee and espresso. It was interesting that the handmade pie crust had no bottom.

(H2) Dish #8 (above) – And because my Mom requested not to have banana, her dessert was changed to Sangria sorbet, berry ice cream and fruits hidden beneath a thin layer of herbal tea jelly. So pretty! I actually preferred my Mom’s dessert over the original dessert (item H1). The dessert even had sparkling candy in it. Wow.


(I) Dessert, Complimentary (above) – And it was a nice surprise when we were served bubble-tea flavoured wafer; Milk tea ice cream and pearl bubble. So lovely.

My mom and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I appreciate how the price is kept affordable for the masses. Service was great. Staff Oliver was assigned to us and took great care of us despite only having joined RAW for 6 months. The only gripe I had was the quantity of deep-fried dishes on the menu. Too many. So yes, it was a little too heavy.

My verdict… One should always try to make reservation at RAW despite how difficult it may be. In fact, I reckon securing a reservation at RAW has gotten harder after chef Andre’s announcement that he’s closing Restaurant Andre in February 2018 to return to Taiwan. And of course, heading back to RAW. Sob.

And if one manage to secure a meal slot, don’t forget to check out the toilet too! It’a pretty cool! ;)

RAW
No. 301, Le Qun 3rd Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 8501 5800, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tue

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Taipei 2018.