Prana achieves what many others fail to do. It is not easy to cater for the various tastes of your regular guests when they come from so many different countries? Prana achieves that far better than most. Prana is the central restaurant at The Villas. The Villas were the original serviced villas in Bali, once a small operation on the back water of Jln. Kunti 20 years ago, that has since grown into a 51 villa complex, an idea that has since been copied elsewhere hundreds times.
The Prana restaurant is situated in the high tech Prana Spa that accompanies The Villas in Seminyak. The building has been through many changes over the years, everything from being a fine dining Italian restaurant, Tres, to a short time as Bali?s top late night disco. Now the restaurant area combines an inside section of banquets and tables, a covered terrace and a stylish garden courtyard, all small and intimate, whilst upstairs is found one of Bali's leading spas..
There are virtually three different menus. Firstly that important Anytime Snack [what I call Café Style on BaliEats] or Light Meals, that include a healthy spa cuisine. As well there are complete Asian and International menus, small but very well chosen.
I love snacking and there is something here for everybody. The King Prawn and Vegetable Sushi is more International than Japanese. A plump poached prawn sits in a wrap of finely diced avocado and cucumber, held together with seaweed, inside a shell of sushi rice. The Quesedillas may look dry at first sight but are definitely not, stuffed with chicken, mushroom, onion and jalapeno it is the added cheese that makes the difference, wrapped inside a thin soft tortilla.
Other International snacks are a Tod Man Pla [fish cakes from Thailand], Asian Spring Rolls with a soy dip, that English classic, Fish & Chips and from Down Under their own version of the worldly Cheeseburger. For the uninitiated that means a normal Burger [beef patty, onion, tomato and lettuce PLUS bacon, cheese and the final touch; a slice of soft beetroot]. The Wrap community is also well catered for. Mediterranean is mixed vegetables with cheese and pesto, the Tuna Wrap consists of grilled sashimi grade tuna with seaweed, green salad, herbs and mayo, whilst The Chicken wrap is sliced grilled breast with salad and a tomato mayo.
The available soups are highlighted with a thick, rich and unusually creamy, Prawn Bisque. The flavour is wonderfully intense. A soup that is almost a meal! The Pumpkin Soup has pleasing added touches, mild curry spices. Two Iced Gazpachos exist; Mexican style with tomato and peppers or a White Gazpacho of pureed cucumber and almond. Essentials on all Bali menus are the Indonesian Soto Ayam and a version of Thailand?s Tom Yam Goong.
Appetisers include a Tuna Ceviche [citrus marinated raw tuna with a dressing of coconut palm sugar and chilli], a Vegetarian Antipasti and the universal Bruschetta. Spinach Dumplings look more like croquettes, fat round and crumbed. Stuffed with creamed spinach this is another dish that looks dry at first sight but is decidedly moreish! Whilst the Pork Gyoza is a Japanese import from China the version at Prana has a small pyramid of black caviar to add a salty tang to this tasty dumpling.
There are the mandatory rice and noodle dishes and a small range of Vegetarian that offers healthy spa food; Tempe Napoleon [a terrine of very crisp tempe combined with sun dried tomato and blue cheese, with sautéed mushrooms and spinach], a Broccoli Cake, Caramelised Miso and Maple Syrup Tofu, Potato Strudel and a Vegetarian Pad Thai.
Sumatra's Beef Rendang is rather mild but consists of small flat escalopes of tender beef, Red Snapper is marinated in a curry sauce then grilled and there is a Balinese version of the Spanish Paella, with steamed fish, squid, prawns and clams. Amazed that that fragrant Jasmine rice, a Thai staple and an essential accompaniment to quality Thai, is offered here as a potential side dish yet some upmarket Thai restaurants in Bali do not even bother! Attention to the small details is what separates the 'men from the boys'!
The main menu is very International. Duck Breast is marinated in coriander, then served with a mushroom risotto whilst the Barramundi Fillet is with a squid ink risotto. Tasmanian Salmon is just pan seared but finishing with a crisp skin, served with green asparagus and a wasabi mash.
The Baby Back Ribs are pure USA, with a real Texan BBQ sauce marinade, Chicken Schnitzel a touch of mid Europe and the Grilled Pork Chop is with a Moroccan couscous. The Rack of Lamb and various beef steaks [tenderloin or rib-eye] are all of Australian origin.
One of the most pleasing things about Bali in 2010, and so different from the Bali of 2000, is the ever-increasing number of young Balinese chefs who have made the step up to Executive Chef status. At Prana Made Sukarmajaya is yet another example. After early Hilton training followed a honing of skills at Ubud's classic eatery Ary's and a stint at the boutique Ibah, Made is now doing his own thing at Prana, and in style. In another 10 years imported chefs may have become a rarity in Bali rather than the norm.