You walk past waterfalls and fountains, and over water-bridges amongst the many gardens. The centre island is a restaurant, difficult to find but worth the effort. It is a relaxing cool place for that healthy lunch or a slightly more exotic dinner by candlelight.
Kemiri is the restaurant at the Uma hotel in Sanginggan. The very talented young Chef is Chris Miller. Many chefs come to Bali from Australia to gain experience. Chris has already done it all with successful stints at some of Sydney?s most famous restaurants, including Rockpool and Claudes.
Kemiri is really two restaurants in one! The Como Shambala luncheon menu includes many raw food dishes rich in nutrients. If you eat here after a trip to the Shambala Spa and you will not undo all the good work. A Timbale of grilled zucchini and eggplant with spiced lentils, tomato and black mustard seed sauce with mint yoghurt or a surprisingly appetising Flat Bread of Whole Meal which is wrapped around chickpea patties, a puree of carrot and dill and a salad of shredded vegetables are but two examples of food that is enjoyable but is also good for you.
Even some of the luncheon desserts get a Health+ rating. The Melon Salad is with clove granite and melon sorbet, whilst the Pineapple & Coriander Salad is with a papaya sorbet and pineapple tuilles.
Other alternatives are still healthy but a little more adventurous. The Rice Paper Rolls are stuffed with prawn meat and pickled carrot, to dip a chilli vinegar. A Salad of Roasted Beetroot is with orange, avocado and walnuts, the tasty Lumpia consists of crisp pastry wrapped around turmeric chicken and cabbage, a sweet plum sauce on the side. A sour and spicy Grilled Prawn dish is with a salad of pomelo, orange and apple. Salt and Pepper Tofu is combined with green mango and tropical fruits in a tangy tamarind dressing. Seared Tuna comes with puy lentils, a salad of red peppers and sumac and a puree of eggplant.
Dinner is relax time at Kemiri. Sit out on the garden terrace, the background is the sound of running water; cool and refreshing. The food is perfect for a summer night [that is every night in Bali]. An unusual soup is one of chicken, lemongrass and coriander studded with quail eggs. The Oxtail Soup is scented with nutmeg, a mushroom ravioli floats on top. But the highlight entrée is the tea-smoked quail salad with green mango and chilli!
The mains make your mouth water just reading the menu. Already many return trips are planned. The fragrant cinnamon scented Duck Curry is perfect and arrives with both yams and potatoes, the very Crisp Skinned Chicken comes with a sauce of vanilla and tangerine. An unusual dish is just-seared tuna combined with a sweet confit of pork belly and a ginger lime sauce.
Seafood includes Baby Squid stir-fried with a sauce both sweet and sour yet with Sichuan peppers, not rubbery just crunchy but tender. The Irian Jaya Crabs are also stir-fried but are then served in a coconut and white turmeric broth. The Clams are stir-fried with chilli paste and Kaffir lime. Grouper Fillet is steamed with ginger, oyster sauce and shiitake mushrooms, the flesh soft and flaky. Baby Snapper is marinated and wrapped in banana leaves then slowly grilled over hot coals. Lombok Lobster is grilled with long black chilli, egg and lemon basil.
Whichever mains you have also order a side serve of Duck Eggs, they are sensational. Crisp on the outside but still with soft-centres they come with a chilli and oyster sauce. Yum! Leave your cholesterol-free diet till the next day.
Simple desserts with complex flavours finish off a very contented evening. A Coffee-scented Brulee, a Fondant of warm chocolate and cardamom with star anise poached tamarillos, Banana Pancakes are with a rhambutan blossom and honey ice cream, Coconut Panna Cotta is with a passion fruit sauce and Jackfruit Fritters are with a pineapple soup and peanut toffee ice cream.
Kemiri means candlenuts but I did not see one all night!
You always expect the top hotels to present high quality food but all too often it is too safe, and totally lacking in imagination. That is certainly not the case at Uma as the product of this chef?s kitchen talents will test your taste buds over and over again. For this world-class quality the prices are surprisingly modest, giving us yet another gourmet option for Ubud dining.