Fish have been grilled over open fires, in villages around the world, for many centuries. When the village is on a beach that normally suggests that the fish have just been caught and are still wriggling wet! For Bali's early tourists the location of Jimbaran beach became the scene for eating grilled fish, even though similar rituals were being performed at hundreds of other beaches around Bali's coastline.
The phrase 'Jimbaran Style' has even been coined, simply referring to the cooking style of seafood grilled over coconut embers.
Now Sanur can offer a similar experience, but with a few differences. In a pleasant tree lined location at the front of the progressive Sanur Beach Hotel, they have converted their daytime grill/café to the Tirta Seafood Grill in the evenings. Here you have the choice of sitting under the trees at beachside on the firmly packed sand, or out on the beach itself, enjoying the cooling sea breeze, or sitting inside on the terrace, still with the view but protected from the weather by bamboo blinds. I am sorry, but the latter is my personal choice every time. I also enjoy the option of being able to order a quality bottle of wine with my seafood, no matter how rustic the setting may be.
On the sand front area you select your seafood from the jukung [an Indonesian fishing boat without its outriggers] full of ice. All the produce has been protected in the hotel?s hygienic refrigerators since their purchase earlier that day. Your selections are weighed, and priced accordingly, then transferred to the large stainless steel cooking area, manned by experienced chefs from the kitchens of the Sanur Beach Hotel.
The choice of seafood covers all the available Bali fresh catches. All the seafood is priced per 100 gm., as is Bali?s norm. Top of the list are Live Lobsters [Rp.65,000++], which are kept in the water tanks on the terrace section of the restaurant, where you can inspect them. Dip the perfectly cooked chunks of meat in the accompanying sauces.
Whole Fish is usually the major attraction at these types of restaurants. Here they tend to only have the Baby sizes, not too big for one person to devour. Snapper, Garupa and Barracuda are all normally available [Rp.15,500++]. For those of you who do not always enjoy whole fish, bones and all, great news! At Tirta they also offer Snapper Fillets, so you can enjoy that smoky grill taste, without the hassle of carefully avoiding the bones [it?s the little ones I do not like].
King Prawns; now that is the main reason that I come to these places. The larger the better; preferably split before being grilled, just as they are at Tirta. Just pull out the meat with your fork and dunk it in one of the accompanying sauces. Perfect! If you want a total seafood feast then order some Squid [Rp.18,500++] and Clams [Rp. 5,000++] as well. Make your own Seafood feast! With a couple of bottles of a dry crisp white, what could be a better way to spend a casual evening on a balmy Bali night?
No matter what you order from the Seafood Menu your table will also be served with a Clear fish Soup, Fried Peanuts, Emping [peanut crackers], Pelecing Kangkung [or a fresh garden salad], Steamed Rice [or Baked Potatoes], Beberuk, Sambal Matah, Sambal Kecap, Sambal Ulek and a Garlic Butter Sauce [for those of us who cannot live without it].
The wine list is exceptional for this style of restaurant, and the service professional without being hotel-stuffy, the staff seem to be enjoying the outdoor experience as much as the guests. Expect a few additions and future flourishes to the current menu now that Sanur Beach?s new executive chef has been appointed. An old friend of Bali makes a return, Clive Pelser [he does not seem to able to keep away from the Island of the Gods].
Not a polystyrene box in sight, or cooks in dirty jeans and T shirt. It makes a pleasant change to be able to have a beachside seafood feast in civilized surroundings, wine and all, with it still remaining great value.
The dining options in Sanur have historically been very slim, but the last few years have seen the same change for the better that had earlier hit Seminyak, Kerobokan, Ubud and most recently Tuban, now extending to staid old Sanur.