Nuoc Cham was the original name of this small simple restaurant on the main road between Ungasan and Uluwatu, but now it is called My Kitchen and some Malay and a few local Indonesian dishes have been added to the original Vietnamese menu.
Nuoc Cham is central to Vietnamese cuisine, it is the name for many different dipping sauces that are served with entrees and some mains. The base is a fish sauce with lemon, sugar, water and a little vinegar. To this different ingredients are added depending on the accompanying dish; minced garlic, chopped peppers, shredded carrot, and even a little lemongrass. At My Kitchen the Javanese connection kicks in with a touch of chilli as well, which for me gives it that extra little kick!
Unfortunately the menu at My Kitchen utilizes only the Indonesian and English translations and rarely mentions Vietnamese names for the dishes most of which are very close to the original though usually simple versions thereof. The prices are at local warung level.
My Kitchen is small, clean and fresh, just like the food they serve. Start with Vietnamese Spring Rolls [Cha Gio], these are the cooked variety, 4 'small finger' size rolls and that pungent dipping sauce, just a mouthful each but only Rp.12,000. Minced chicken, white radish and shredded vegetables wrapped in rice paper and deep fried to a crisp. Most of the serves at My Kitchen are individual portions, and the prices reflect that, so multiple ordering is called for.
Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls, or Rice Paper Rolls as they are often called, are on many Bali menus [Goi Cuon]. They are normally offered with a traditional Nuoc Cham but not here at My Kitchen where they are prepared the Malaysian way with an unusual mix of hoisin and peanut sauce already combined with the ingredients [small juicy prawns in shredded lettuce with spring onions] in the soft rice paper wrapping. There is one large cross-sliced roll per serve, just enough for one person [here labeled Lumpia Salad Roll].
Banh Xeo is the famous Vietnamese Savoury Crepe full of small juicy shrimps, bean sprouts, sliced mushrooms [surprisingly the Japanese Shiitake variety] and beef strips, all wrapped in a crepe made from rice flour and water with a touch of turmeric. Whilst the beef is a bit on the chewy side and the crepe is served soft here rather than crisp as is normal, it is a dish to be enjoyed. Open it up and pour the accompanying nuoc cham all over it. It is difficult to stop yourself from ordering a 2nd one!
Salads can be simple, the Papaya Salad is made from young papaya combined with shredded carrot, tomato, coriander and mint, which almost gives it a Vietnamese-Thai taste, but I am not complaining. But the great salad dish is simply called Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad, A large bowl is presented full of lettuce, cold vermicelli noodles, sliced cucumber sticks, carrot, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and beef strips that have been grilled in lemongrass. Accompanying is a smaller bowl of nuoc cham sauce. Pour it all in and mix, the wonderful after taste will stay with you for hours. Once again whilst the beef is not overly tender the overall taste is great, fresh and clean.
The most famous Vietnamese dish is Pho Bo. Here it is the original Hanoi North Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup with beef, rice noodles and bean sprouts flavoured with sweet basil leaves. Fish pan-fried Vietnamese style is Gurami in garlic, chilli and coriander.
A Vegetarian Hot Pot uses a base of clear vegetable broth with Muk Yee [black fungus], Chinese cabbage, cauliflower and soft tofu..
More general Asian is their Kiew Tiew, flat rice noodles stir-fried with chicken and vegetables. Other chicken dishes include Ayam Goreng Bawang Putih, pieces of garlic flavoured chicken, deep fried.
Udang Pasir Mas is another Malaysian dish, stir-fried prawns with salted egg yolk and spring onions. Udang Asam Pedas is Thai style, more hot and sour than sweet and sour. Gurami Tahu Taosi is fish fried with Japanese tofu and fermented black beans. Gurami Sayur Asin is a fish soup with pickled salted mustard.
Finish with a Vietnamese Coffee, hot or icy cold.
There is nothing flash about this place, but is cheap, friendly and clean with dishes well prepared and simply presented. Nice fresh flavours with that lingering aftertaste if, like me, you pour the nuoc cham over everything!