The building is a fully restored teak Joglo, circa 1850, transported from East Java to house an antique collection. It was purchased by the Kerthyasa family [Asri and her two sons, of Ibah Ubud fame], building, antiques and all, and converted into the most amazing tea house that you could imagine. Old and new, side by side, but it all works!
New concepts can take an eternity to become accepted, if ever. Bali must have been waiting for this one as Biku was popular and busy from day one. That is a sure sign that it is here to stay, unlike so many other 'new innovations' that have previously been transported to Bali.
Why the name Biku? This Chinese Buddha was already in residence when Biku the Tea House was an antique showroom, and people often came in off the street to make offerings in front of him, so it was decide that he had earned his place, bringing good luck to all.
Biku is first and foremost a tea house, and the range of teas; local, international and blends, are truly mind-boggling, particularly to one who generally prefers to drink coffee [we coffee lovers are also looked after here, as their coffee comes from a blend of local beans, the end product made through a real espresso machine, the result a cup of full flavoured coffee with rich crema and all, almost enough to fool an Italian]. I am amazed at the history of their Limited Edition Tea Collection. One such tea is called Pu Erh. The 'brick' of aged tea was brought to Bali in 2004, and kept ever since in special conditions that would do a Bordeaux 1st Growth Lafitte proud. This tea is from the Yunnan province in China and underwent an aging and fermentation process not unlike that Lafitte. It is served in the traditional 'gong-fu' method. To read about the preparations and conditions to comply with this on the internet sound almost as complicated as open heart surgery!
However I came to Biku for the food and I assume that even the most avid tea connoisseur must partake of food along with the sipping of the tea. Biku does breakfast, lunch, dinner and all day snacks.
Breakfast can be a Poached Egg on cheddar and chive buttermilk scones. The egg is poached perfectly, firm whites and soft golden yolk, a rarity to get it right anywhere in the world let alone Bali. The scone mix is a little dry and crumbly, yet when soaked with that precious golden yolk the combination is wonderful. Another breakfast to tempt you is their Potato Cakes, Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Salmon and Wilted Spinach with a chive béarnaise. The sides, such as a plate of breakfast sausages, are large and meant to be shared. Breakfast at Biku is an all day affair. At last one restaurant in Bali where the eggs do not turn into chickens at 11.00.a.m!
Snacks include rather traditional things such as Lumpia [chicken or vegetarian], Chicken Wings [sweet chilli sauce for dunking] and Potato Skins with guacamole, or a Tropical Mezze Plate, a platter of bits and pieces for nibblers. Salads include the essential Caesar, a Vegetarian and for the more adventurous a Marinated Chicken or Fish Salad that has been combined with cucumber, spinach, onion and mint with a curry dressing.
The Sandwich is a BLT. The Smoky Chilli Chicken and Feta Burger is great, the DeLuxe Beef Burger comes with mushrooms, but for a nice cool lunchtime snack the thin baguette stuffed with a chicken waldorf salad mix takes a lot of beating.
Different Pastries and Quiches are baked every day, and are displayed on the long central table. For Aussie Kids, of all ages, there are even Cup Cakes with flavoured icing sprinkled with hundreds and thousands!
However any real Aussies who visit rarely get past the Beef Pies on the menu. A rich meat paste liberally studded with large chunks of tender beef wrapped in a flaky pastry [reminiscent more of French pies than their English/Australian equivalents]. They are served with tomato sauce of course [if you dare call it ketchup you have to sit in the corner!]. They are so good that some have been known to take extras home with them. They also have a sate-flavoured Chicken Pie. Check the Specials Board as often there is a wonderful Lamb Pie. A Shepherd?s Pie is also sometimes available as is a Fish Pie, similarly made with a creamy fish mixture topped with mashed potato.
Whilst Biku is the sort of place where snacking comes naturally, there are main dishes as well, both local Indonesian and International. Beef Rendang [that spicy Sumatran beef dish] and a Balinese Pepes Ikan Laut [snapper wrapped in a banana leaf] are served along with the usual sates, mie and nasi goring.
The International menu includes a Marinated Balsamic Chicken Breast, T-Bone Steaks and Fillets of Fish simply pan fried. Other international dishes are regularly featured on the Specials Board, including Veal Shanks and much more. A variety of mini meals are available for the kids in the Childrens' Corner section of the menu.
Biku, himself, stands at the rear of the tea house, overlooking all. He is always smiling and appears to be very content with what is happening around him. The guests must also be happy with the experience, as they keep on returning.
Free Wi-Fi is available but that is now a standard requirement for any new café in Bali in 2009.
How refreshing for something new to appear on the Bali scene, when so many others only know how to copy! A sure winner!