What is Fine Dining? That is an age old question. For me the food quality must be unquestioned, service quiet and efficient [in Bali, unlike the rest of the world, you also get a smile as a bonus], the place relaxing. Overall a meal that you want to take you time over, enjoying every minute.
Minami is extremely high quality Japanese with food tastes that are subtle and delicate. No chilli or spice blasts here. If you need that or your T Bone steak hanging over the edge of your plate then this is not for you. Minami is the perfect place to spend an evening, with perfect company!
The large double ceiling 3 sided room opens onto a garden courtyard. There are only 8 well-spaced tables inside and a couple more in the garden. With responsible fellow diners you will not overhear a word, nor will they. Pure classic white and garden green predominate. In fact clean, fresh and restful describes much about Minami.
Whilst Minami is open for lunch with a menu of the more simple dishes, it is the full dinner menu that I am writing about. Dinner begins with a Japanese style 'amuse bouche', a small ceramic pot contains home made tofu, and you can already see what the difference will be between what you are about to eat and what is generally available elsewhere. Beside is a tuft of deep fried seaweed, sprinkle it with the special Fugu salt. Perfect contrast with the tofu you are spooning into your mouth.
The Bento Box is a Japanese tradition for serving a luncheon for one, often with small compartments to keep the tastes separate. At Minami they use these lacquer wood boxes to serve a number of small tastes that will most likely include grilled fish, miso-marinated grilled beef, shrimp tempura, chirashi-sushi and classic miso. Whilst this is the recommended starter you may also order your own taste combinations.
Everyone knows of the super healthy Edamame bean, but Edamame Tempura is very different. The beans are individually dipped in a tempura batter and deep-fried, served with Fugu salt. Eat them as an appetizer or as a bar snack. Vegetable salads can be with pork [a dressing of onions, carrots, apple and roasted sesame seeds] or with rice noodles [a dressing of Yuzu onion]. There is also a Tuna Carpaccio, very lightly seared tuna with sliced onions and ponzu sauce.
Miso Soup is the foundation of so many Japanese dishes, and also wonderful on its own. At Minami it is prepared daily from 15 different ingredients. Osuimono is a clear fish soup and for a bit of rare fusion here there is a Japanese version of Vichyssoise, a chilled soup of soy beans, potato, mushroom, onion and chicken broth
Dashimaki, is an egg broth that has been folded and rolled finishing as a rectangular block topped with grated daikon radish, and is the 1st of four appetizers that can be sampled in a special Tasting dish for 2 persons. 2nd is Shiro ae, organic vegetables in a tofu sauce served in a small ceramic bowl. 3rd is the very tasty Nasu - Miso ae; minced beef and minute strips of eggplant combined in a sweet miso sauce and the 4th a wonderful miniature bowl of super soft baby chicken with gratings of carrot and radish in a miso broth. For variety add the Korokke, three small bell-shaped croquettes of finely chopped meat and vegetables mixed with mashed potato that have been rolled in breadcrumbs then deep-fried.
Teppanyaki is normally prepared in front of you by a special chef, but you have to sit right there at the teppan. At Minami all the fish and meat has been pre-marinated and a grill is brought to your table for you to cook as you wish. You have the choice of Miso Zuke Beef or Fish that have been marinated in a blended miso, Chicken with garlic in tangy Sansho spices or sashimi-quality deep water fish.
There are a variety of other mains. The Pork Cutlet 'Minamieno' is thin layers of so tender pork interspersed with tomato, cheese and herbs, rolled then cross-sliced. Very tasty! Crackling Shrimp Tempura is unusual in that the tempura batter has been studded with crumbled rice crackers. The Fish Tempura is more traditional. Mushi-Tori is steamed baby chicken in a sake sauce, yum!!
Whilst there are a couple of rice and noodle dishes the Okonomiyake is not to be missed, particularly if you feel like one course that is more filling than the rest. The food of Osaka, I can imagine grandmothers feeding this to their hungry grandchildren. It is often referred to as Japanese Pizza but there is no similarity other than the flat oval shape. Finely shredded cabbage and pork is combined with flour, eggs and grated yam, and fried in a special sauce with a vague similarity to the old English Worcestershire, making a super thin crisp cover, top and bottom.
Asian Desserts are uninspiring more often than not. At Minami there are a few exceptions. The Japanese Tea Set comes with a strawberry Daifuku, s fresh strawberry is wrapped in a glutinous rice mix that in the mouth feels like a cross between sticky rice and marshmallow, eaten as a whole a pleasant surprise. Kakigouri is fresh fruit glazed with raw palm syrup and sits on a bed of crushed ice. Vanilla Ice Cream is served with Ogura Sticks made from those very high fibre adzuki beans that have been boiled and wrapped in spring roll skin.
What a stylish addition to the Ubud dining scene. Refined dining! The bright lights may be down south, but Ubud is the home of classic dining.