Rush Bamboo is yet another quality restaurant hidden inside a private villa complex, The Elysian in Seminyak. It is open to the public for all day dining, and worth the effort it takes to locate it. The restaurant and cocktail bar adjoin an attractive swimming pool which is lined with striped bales, for the swimmers to escape the sun, eat or drink. At dinner time they too become a part of the dining area. With candles floating in the swimming pool you will think you are in Thailand at Loy Krathong time, when everyone lights a candle and floats it on the waterway getting rid of the bad and preparing for the new. The cuisine at Rush Bamboo is a blend of modern Asian and International, with a leaning towards Asian flavours. Their Balinese Executive Chef, Banjar, has had the perfect background with a number of years working first with Will Meyrick at the old Sofitel, hence getting a taste for all things Thai and then the discipline of Italian cuisine, with that necessary attention to detail, with William Collier first at Novotel then Sentosa. At Rush Bamboo he combines all along with his natural talent with the local cuisine and it works!
Start with Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls, perfect for a hot day. Prawns, cucumber and grated carrot are rolled inside fresh rice paper. Dip them in a chilli and coriander dipping sauce. A dish that is served at many Bali restaurant though few understand it and even at 5 star hotels the rolls are often pre-prepared and refrigerated, losing all taste! Here at Rush Bamboo they, as with most items on the menu, are prepared fresh to order. This may delay the serving time but greatly improves the quality. The Thai beef salad is mixed with cucumber and shallots then spiced with red chili, mint, Thai basil, lemongrass and red nam jimh sauce. 'Thai' is probably the most misused word on Bali menus, along with 'Mediterranean', but at least this one actually tastes Thai.
Chicken Wings is another dish found on many Bali menus but here they are done very differently. They are in fact the 'drumlet', the upper part of the wing, but all the meat has been pared back from the bone leaving a small thin bone for holding if you wish to eat the wings by hand, and why not? They have been coated with honey and orange juice, then pan-fried. So tasty I could not resist drinking the balance of juice from the bowl.
Another touch of Thai is their Seafood and Papaya Salad, stir-fried king prawns and squid are mixed with shredded green papaya and young mango, herbs and a coriander seed dressing. Soft Shell Crabs are deep fried till crisp then served with an apple salad and a black vinegar dressing. Balinese style Spicy Prawns are again king sized, plump and juicy, having been shelled and cooked with chilli and garlic, the taste is perfect.
For the all day 'snacker' there are many small tasty options. In fact I am happy to eat here just ordering entrée after entrée, great flavours and quite amazing value for a restaurant situated within a hotel/villa complex. If you can not decide then you have the choice of ordering either an Asian [seafood wontons, mini spring rolls, samosas and corn perkedel] or Western [calamari, beef brochette, chicken wings and cheese brochette] Tasting Plate of entrees, using another commonly misnamed Bali option, 'Tapas'.
Tomato and fennel soup is a soup that is made to order: you can either have the simple version just sprinkled with fresh basil or spice it up with bacon and feta cheese. Their Pumpkin soup consists of roasted Japanese pumpkin blended with fresh cream, coriander leaves and served with garlic bread, whilst that Indonesian standard Soto Ayam is full of chicken pieces, Chinese celery, tomatoes, spices and ground turmeric. Amongst the noodles and pasta dishes are all the standards plus Cannelloni that is stuffed with chicken meat rather than the more common beef and a Pizza called Chilli Chicken, a pizza with a little kick consisting of grilled chicken, onion, chili flakes, oregano and mozzarella cheese.
A variety of Grilled mains are available, steaks and seafood. The Lamb Shank has been marinated in local spices before being slowly grilled. It is served Rica-Rica style covered with that spicy salsa from Manado. The steaks are traditional western or Japanese with teriyaki.
Amongst the wok dishes there is a Crispy Skin Salmon, just seared to keep in the moisture, served with lemon butter, lima bean mash and a Sicilian salsa. Choices include a Padang style Beef Rendang, the shank meat having been slowly braised, a home-style Roasted Chicken Leg in a bacon and garlic confit, King Prawns that have been marinated in spice paste then stir-fried with capsicum, onion, ginger and leeks.
The Yellow Fin Tuna is special. Large chunks marinated Asian style then just seared and served with wok-fried kailan, chilli, onion and a potato puree with a soy-lime caramel dressing. Japanese Gindara [or Black Cod as it is sometimes called] is marinated in miso paste and pan-roasted, served with vegetable tempura, a soy-mirin sauce and saikyo miso.
A thousand restaurants in Bali offer Baby Back Pork Ribs. Most attempt to, unsuccessfully, emanate the original Texan BBQ version. At Rush Bamboo they again do something completely different and the result is WOW! The ribs have been marinated pure Asian style in ginger, sweet soy, star anise, orange peel and cinnamon. Grilled slowly and served with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on mashed potato. The result is one of the best, the slow cooking has eliminated all the fat and the meat is dark from the marinade. You must pick them up carefully or the meat will actually 'fall from the bone'! Wonderful!
The all-important Indonesian section of the menu strays to include some great Asian standards including that fragrant curry from the south of Thailand, Chicken Massaman, a delicate blend of chicken chunks and potato with cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric. There is also a Thai Green Curry you can have with either barramundi or prawns, either selection will be combined with a mix of Asian vegetables.
Desserts include traditional Mango Panna Cotta, Crème Brulee and Chocolate Souffle. Something different are the Pineapple Spring Rolls or the Aussie special, Passion Fruit Mirror, a passion fruit mousse that sits on a crunchy biscuit base and is topped with a passion fruit jelly.
Parents, whether they be local residents or visiting tourists do dine out with young children. At least Rush Bamboo offers you a Kid's Menu. Fish Fingers or Crisp Chicken Strips do away with the need for awkward cutlery, let them use their fingers as they prefer. As they can with the Chicken Sate or they can order a healthier Penne dish if you kids are that well trained. They even have Desserts for Kids including all their favourite ice cream flavours, fruit drinks, smoothies and milk shakes as well. Your kids will want to come here every day.
Whilst the wine list is quite small it is also a well-balanced one and very reasonably priced, quite amazingly so! In fact more so when you remember you are in Seminyak! Service is friendly and helpful, even the chef will talk to you about the composition of the dishes from behind his counter in the open kitchen.
If you never eat at hotel restaurants make an exception for this one, you will not be disappointed.