Jln. Kartika Plaza, Tuban, is lined, both sides, with restaurants. A few work well and many others do not. The long street frontage at Bali Garden Hotel used to be solely used for car parking. Not any more!
There is now, instead, a strip of 7 unique restaurants. The bookends are Warung Domar [Indonesian] and Ari Bar [Mexican] at the southern end and the innovative Il Tempio [Italian] at the northern.
Four new restaurants are now operating, between the bookends. All four are both interesting, and surprisingly affordable. They all have an air-conditioned inside area with covered terraces in front.
KaBar is at the southern end, closest to the car park. Apart from the terrace seating there is also a wantilan between the restaurant and car park, with two large bench tables, great for family groups. KaBar is German, and as Germans are renowned for their thirst it has a great snack menu, something to nibble whilst sipping your beer, wine or whatever.
A Pretzel with a cream cheese pepper dip or Brats in a Bun with mustard, are both great standard bar snacks. For me the Grilled Curry Sausage made the perfect snack, the type that you just keep on eating, piece by piece. The sausage is sliced, thumb nail size, the pieces sitting up topped with tomato sauce and curry. They can be pork or beef. The Sausage & Sauerkraut Fritters, which are in fact meat balls, drizzled with honey-mustard, are just as good!
The Frikkadel, titled 'Oli's Famous' is a patty, a minced combination of pork and beef, full bodied mustard for the dip, very good. An intruder on the all German menu is a memory jogger from OZ dining in the 60's, Fried Brie with cranberry sauce. I lie, it was always camembert, but sama-sama.
It is amongst the snacks but the Goulash Soup is almost a main. Thick and powerful it is served with thin toasted baguette slices, use them almost as a spoon. Similar is the Lentil Stew, with smoked sausage and potatoes, both are excellent!
Grilled Thuringer Pork Bratwurst, Schnitzels, Kassler and a 'Hunter Style' Meat Loaf [topped with a fried egg of course] are great and popular standard German fare. Intrusions are the international Beef Burger and an English Bangers & Mash.
Curry House is naturally all about curries. The cuisines are Thai and Indian, as you would expect.
The Indian segment begins with Vegetable Pakoras and Lamb Samosas. Lentil Fritters use the red variety combined with ginger and coriander leaves, top them with mango chutney. But this is a curry house. The Beef Vindaloo is hot as it should be, in a rich blend of tomato, onion, tamarind, potato, malt vinegar and a host of herbs and spices. Tikka Masala combines chicken with nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, garam masala, yoghurt, ginger, garlic and cream, everyone?s favourite!
The classic mild Rogan Josh is even loved by those who do not like curries. Boneless lamb simmered in yoghurt, cardamom and paprika. Another popular mild curry is the Korma, a rich and creamy vegetable curry. The Fish Curry is of Malaysian Indian origin, fragrant with a blend of cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, tomato and coconut milk.
Thai and Indian curries are so different it is amazing they are referred to by the same name. Thai means chilli related but contrary to general belief that does always mean hot, many just producing a gentle mouth tingle. Mildest of all Thai curries is the Massaman, originating in the Thai south, sharing the dish with northern Malaysia. Beef and potatoes as fragrant as a curry can be.
The unique Roti Chennai may be of Malaysian Indian origin but here it s served with three small pots of Thai curry; red, green and yellow. The roti flat bread is perfect, best ever served in Bali, the strips being so easy to separate to facilitate dipping in the curries.
Kaeng Phed Ped Yang is the classic Thai red duck curry, also quite mild, in fact it could almost be called sweet as it is combined with lychee fruit. However if you want a Thai curry with a bite, then the Green Curry is for you.
Set menus, served on a tray include the Indian Lamb [yellow dhal, curried [vegetables, cucumber yoghurt salad, biryani rtce and chutney] and the Thai Green Chicken [vegetable omelette, coconut rice and pickles, papaya salad and sweet chilli green beans].
On the side are many dhals, rice, naans and roti.
Wok Mie has items from all over Asia. Dim Sum, noodles and sushi rolls, a mixture of hot and cold dishes, the type of which I could snack on forever.
There are many Pao [steamed buns]; Lotus [filled with paste from lotus seeds], Tausa with its orange dot [sweet red bean], Naiwong [egg custard] and the classic Char Siu [BBQ pork]. Innovative are the Rendang and a Vegetarian of mixed vegetables, which is surprisingly tasty.
Dumplings are the mainstay of Chinese dim sum, all the main ones are here; Hakau [prawn, sesame and soy in translucent wrap], Sio May [small rolls of pork, prawn, shiitake and leek], Ham Sui Gok [chicken with garlic, shallots and oyster sauce] and for a Taro dumpling, crisp fried taro, with a mix of pork, prawn and sesame oil.
Other dim sum include some in tofu skin, both steamed [pork, shrimp and oyster sauce] and fried [pork, prawn, nori and coriander], those Chicken Feet [which are loved and hated in equal numbers] and the essential Fried Rice. Invaders include Edamame from Japan, steamed soy beans, so healthy, and Spring Rolls from Vietnam, mixed vegetables in crisp rice paper.
Top of the noodle list is an excellent Szechuan Noodle using marinated pork with bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, carrot and leek in that spicy sauce, very, very good! Beef Kwetiaw is joined by Indonesian Mie Ayam Panggsit, Japanese Udon with teriyaki chicken and a Balinese [?} with prawns.
The Sushi rolls are surprisingly good for a non-Japanese restaurant.
Kopi n Kue is the essential café for dining any time of the day. Most essential for those on holidays who enjoy late evening entertainment are the All Day Breakfasts! Eggs with bacon and sausage, plus toast for just Rp.40,000++. There are many choices of omelette, wraps and pancakes. The Eggs Benedict, apart from being Bali's cheapest, are also a rare original; poached eggs on ham and English muffin. No cheap substitutes here!
Afternoon Tea is served English style, all items priced separately but as a set menu for couples includes assorted sandwiches, fruit cake, pastries and scones with butter, preserves and whipped cream. It is served with your choice of tea.
Innovative are the Salads, Subs and Wraps. All listed can be had any which way; they include Balinese [chicken with sambal matah], Tuna and sweet chilli, Beef Pastrami with horseradish and the very special Pulled Pork [shredded] with cucumber, beetroot, apple and sweet mustard dressing.
As fitting for a café many quiche, sandwich and pies, cakes, pastries and ice cream combinations [try the Black Forest Sundae!].
The most amazing thing about this intimate little café is their coffee! It is roasted in house from a blend of Balinese, Arabica and Robusta. Many customers buy a pack or two to take home. For take home parcels they will even roast the beans especially for you, with a light, medium or high roast?
So in total there are about 8 different cuisines available, side by side, all are mainly traditional with just a little bit of experimentation. Great taste is common to all and at very budget prices. Unlike so many other Bali restaurants, everything here is made and prepared on site, pastries, dumplings, and all. Nothing is bought in ready made and that even includes the coffee. There is even car parking, something that is becoming almost impossible to find in Bali.
Great value in Tuban!