I have often enjoyed eating at local warungs in Bali, and they often present simple but tasty food at very cheap prices, but rarely do I review them. Warung Mendez is special. Not only because all the food is good, but because it is also very different, their speciality is goat meat. For the uninitiated, goat meat contains much less fat than other meats, so not only is it healthier to eat but it is also more difficult to cook.
The owner/chef, Mendez, at this simple little warung, up on the hill that is Penestanan [turn up the mountain road opposite the old Beggars Bush in Tjampuhan], is from Yogyakarta and uses old family secrets to produce amazing results.
Appetisers include Bakwan Jagung, a simple but great frittata of sweet corn and shallots tossed in rice flour. Eat immediately it arrives from the kitchen, when still hot and crunchy, whilst awaiting your meat dishes to be cooked. Other choices include Tahu Isi [bean curd stuffed with shredded cabbage, bean sprouts and carrot], Lumpia Basah [spring rolls with chicken, cabbage, bean sprouts, shallots and fresh basil] and Tempe Mendoan [soya bean curd with shallots, fried till crunchy].
The Tongseng Kambing is wonderful! It is a sweet spicy soup of goat meat combined with tomato, cabbage and ginger. Another goat soup is the Sup Iga Kambing, the goat meat is with nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, vegetables and a squeeze of lime. This soup can also have a base of oxtail or beef ribs instead of the goat ribs if you prefer. Use the soups in the Indonesian manor, spooning the contents on to your rice and sipping the broth from the spoon separately. One portion of rice comes with every soup bowl but do not forget to order extra rice portions, one for each person. As with all Asian soups it is taken at the same time as the other courses not as a separate one.
There is also a goat meat version [instead of the more common beef] of that famous Indonesian soup, Rawon. The broth becomes black from the rawon nut [keluwak] which creates the unusual rich taste. It is served with crisp tempe, salty egg, fresh bean sprouts and basil leaves on the side with the rice.
The Krispy Chicken [or Duck] is very popular here. The breast, or leg, is cooked in ginger, galangal and turmeric, then deep fried till very crisp] but I much prefer the Ayam [or Bebek] Bakar. Again you can order leg or breast, either way it has been marinated and comes from the grill coated in a sticky sauce [the secret Javanese spice paste], the resultant meat so tender and tasty.
There is also a variety of very simple vegetarian dishes which can all be ordered as sides. Urak Arik Tofu is shredded cabbage, cauliflower and carrot sautéed with egg, Truim is a mix of green beans and carrots cooked in coconut cream with a Javanese curry paste [very mild].
The Beef Ribs were a shock. Expected to be tough and chewy, they were amazingly tender, and like everything else here, full of taste! Served on a wooden board they look like something from The Flintstones, but Fred never had them this good!
Mondays and Thursdays are very special days at Warung Mendez. On these days [for both lunch and dinner] the specially prepared Goat Legs and Goat Ribs are available. Simmered first, for a long time, they are then marinated in that special Javanese spice paste before being grilled over fire when ordered. The meat is so sweet and tender, the fact that it is also one of the healthiest meats you can eat, is just a bonus.
The Goat Leg, Goat Ribs and the Beef Ribs can all be ordered in three different portion sizes, so the lone diner can enjoy a feast as well as the hungry groups.
If you crave fish, order the Lele [catfish] either BBQ'd or fried crisp. Yes, I know there are small bones, but the super sweet soft flesh makes the effort worthwhile.
Whilst there are many fresh fruit juices, teas and soft drinks, the only alcohol served here is beer. If you want to drink wine, then bring your own. You will only pay a very small corkage fee.
For dessert, a Javanese Crème Brulee [Sarikaya, coconut cream, egg and palm sugar dessert with roasted cashew nuts] or Dadar Gulung, 4 small soft crepes stuffed with young coconut, jackfruit, palm sugar and a taste of pandanus leaf. A refreshing end to the evening's feast!
Yes it is only a small simple warung, but it has clean bench seating in the main room and a lounge setting in the side alcove. The staff are locals and not very experienced, but everyone is friendly, even chef will stop and talk to you describing his recipes, even if that proves to be to the detriment of quick service, but that is just the way this place works! Go to relax and enjoy the tasty food, and then be amazed at the low cost!
Take all the bones home to the dog and you will have a friend for life!