CHARA brings another taste sensation to Bali, that of Caribbean, predominantly Jamaican, cuisine.
Jamaican cuisine includes a mixture of cooking techniques, flavors, spices and influences from the indigenous people on the island of Jamaica, and the Spanish, British, Africans, Indian and Chinese who have inhabited the island.
CHARA brings these unusual and very healthy dishes to Bali. A good way to start is with the Chinese influenced Jamaican Patty, here called a ?burrito?, coco loco fish or grilled seasoned chicken, wrapped in flour tortilla with cheese, fresh vegetables, kidney beans, tomato salsa and sour cream. Authentic Jamaican fried rice is very different to the local Nasi Goreng, it is made with chicken, or seafood, but tossed with pineapple, pumpkin, zucchini, bell peppers and onion.
Simple Sweet Potato Fritters [ball-shaped patties of mashed sweet potato dusted with breadcrumbs and pan-fried], served with a salsa and sour cream lime sauce, are great to munch on whilst studying the rest of the menu. Or maybe just some glazed Chicken Wings? Chicken Wings are on many Bali menus but none are quite like these! Marinated in garlic, cumin, tamarind and onion with orange juice and honey they have a distinctive taste that lingers, pleasantly, long after the meal.
Coco-Loco Prawns [pictured] are amongst the favourite dishes here, large jumbo prawns that have been lightly breaded and coated with caramelized shredded coconut, served with a tangy orange dipping sauce. As much as I like prawns I actually preferred the Coco-Loco Chicken, strips of so tender chicken, prepared and served the same way. Don?t share this one!
Salads are fresh and healthy. The Tropical Salad combines nuts, mango, orange and vegetables with a spicy but sweet orange sauce. The Garden Salad [lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, tomato and onion] is served with a peanut sauce and can have slices of jerked chicken added.
Even the pasta served at Chara has a Caribbean influence. The Fettuccini has been tossed with fresh pineapple, bell peppers, tomato, onion a special pasta sauce.
Colombo style Beef Curry is thick stewed beef with potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and Colombo curry spices, served with rice. Cuban Style Mojo Steak uses grilled imported US tenderloin marinated with the unusual Mojo sauce [olive oil, large amounts of garlic, paprika, and cumin] served with mashed sweet potatoes, buttered vegetables, and homemade chips. This dish is described as Cuban style although ?mojo? actually originated in the Canary Islands, a part of Spain found off the west coast of Africa.
The international Chilli con Carne [minced beef, kidney beans, chopped tomato and onions with cumin, green and red peppers] is served with crisp tortilla chips.
Grilled Bahamian Mahi-Mahi is grilled fillet of Mahi-Mahi with Bahamian jerk seasoning served with salsa, beans and rice. Grilled Jamaican Jerked Chicken has a robust flavor enhanced by warm spices. Jerked seasoned marinated chicken is served with chunks of juicy tropical salsa, beans and rice.
Traditionally, jerked chicken is cooked on barbecues constructed from big oil drums [the same type of drum is used for the famous Jamaican steel bands]. The 'jerk' bit refers to the seasoning used, which is hot, spicy and has flavors of allspice, thyme, cloves, nutmeg and just a hint of cinnamon. There are many different recipes for the ?jerk? varying from island to island and even from village to village.
Desserts include an unusual Baked Apple Crumble. The apple is hollowed out before stuffing with green apple, cookie crumbs, raisins and cinnamon. The top is re-attached and then it is baked in the oven. Served with vanilla ice cream CHARA is a refreshing change in the restaurant scene of Bali. It introduces new flavours, all surprisingly healthy, with many vegetable and fruit combinations. It is a small restaurant, clean and functional, and very budget priced. Just a 5 minute walk from Bali?s famous Eat Street [down the lane beside Ultimo, swinging right at the German beer garden], and very much worth the effort.