This has been a regular haunt of mine, when the occasion arises for a special lunch, for quite a few years. A recent, accidental, evening visit has now been repeated many times. The Terrace restaurant at the Amanusa hotel juts out, atop the knoll above Nusa Dua?s golf course, open on three sides with majestic views everywhere. The eastern coastline of Bali faces Badung Strait to your left, Penida Island fills the skyline to your right.
As soon as you are seated, you at once feel at peace with the world. Just to be in a setting like this is a wonderful way to commence any dining experience!
The menu here is small, but to the point. You are not presented with the far-too-common Bali menu, comprising 100+ choices, some from mysterious origins. But, with due respect, the prices here are not from those types of menus either. The lunch menu gives you a choice of Thai and Indonesian, with a few `international? dishes. After all, The Terrace is virtually the `coffee shop? of the exclusive Amanusa Hotel.
I cannot comment on the Indonesian dishes served here, as I was originally drawn to this establishment because of the background of it?s Australian executive chef, Sean Flakelar, and his known expertise with Thai food. My experiences have been so memorable that I have not, I confess, strayed from Thai ever since. Being addicted to Thai food does not help very much either. Shockingly narrow-minded, and non-adventurous I must admit, but with Thai food this good I think I can be forgiven.
Sean Flakelar was introduced to Thai cuisine when he worked for David Thompson at his unique Darley Street Thai in Sydney. Prior to that, he had learned his base skills working under chefs Manfred and Hanz Zurcher at the multiple award-winning Turtles Restaurant.
The Thai luncheon menu comprises 5 entrees 2 soups and 5 mains, and the Indonesian comprises an entree and 3 mains. As well there are a few of the usual coffee shop offerings. The Thai entrees include the wonderful crispy, crunchy Hoi Jo, bean curd stuffed with prawn and crab-meat and fried to a golden brown, then served with a plum sauce. How do they make boring old bean curd taste so good? Yam Gai Yang is a grilled chicken salad with mint and peanuts, so light and refreshing! A traditional Tom Yum Goong, hot and sour prawn soup with lemon grass and lime, sipped along with a main or two would make an excellent lunch for 2-3 people.
The dinner menu contains 4 entrees, 3 soups and 7 mains on each of the Thai and Indonesian sides of the menu. The Thai entrees carry a little more oomph, than their lighter luncheon counterparts whilst the mains are grander as befitting a real Thai banquet.
The entrees and soups are all priced at Rp. 60,000++, but whilst the entrees may be served first, the selected soup should be served with the mains, and sipped along with portions of the other dishes. Thai food is eaten, with rice. So, naturally, the wonderfully fragrant Thai Jasmine rice is forever eaten between the different dishes. You should be looking for a contrast of hot, sweet and sour so that you have a total Thai experience. A soup, a curry, a stir-fry, etc. Even though you are selecting off a small menu, it is a very well constructed one, and the choices to enable you to arrive at a balanced meal, are numerous.
Entrees include Gai Hor Bai Toey, tasty pieces of marinated chicken wrapped in Pandanas leaves and deep fried to impart some of the leaf flavour through the chicken. A Yam Som O, pomelo salad with steamed pork and prawns, has a bit of a bite to it! Guaranteed to wake you up! Balance that out with the Sang Wa Pla Meuk, a grilled octopus salad with chili jam, lime juice, mint and ginger, and you have the classic sweet, hot then sour combinations. Naturally you take very small portions of each in turn, not eating one whole dish at a time as in most western cuisines.
As well as the ever-present Tom Yum Goong, the soups also include a duck meat in duck broth, Gang Jeud Ped, and the wonderful, fresh-tasting Tom Khar Gai, chicken in coconut milk with galangal. Whatever you select should be taken with the mains. The mains are in the Rp. 100-120,000++ range and are fit for a Thai King! The sensational Gang Ped Pet Yang, a red curry of roasted duck with pineapple, leaves you savouring the after-taste for hours. It even includes real pieces of tender duck flesh [it has to be imported, unfortunately] not just skin and fat. Add to this the Goong Pad Namphrikpow, stir-fried king prawns with chili jam and basil, and a Gai Kratiem Phrikthai, deep fried chicken with garlic [chunks of it] and peppercorns, and your taste buds should be ready to burst.
Now, you will have feasted like a King!
You will, of course, by now be fully sated. But you must stay and have a dessert! The chef has come up with a simple creation that leaves your palate so fresh and clean I cannot think of a more pleasant way to finish the evening! The ingredients are stolen from Australian chef Phillip Searle's famous chequerboard ice cream, but put together in a much less time-consuming manner. In fact they are just on top of each other in a glass. On the base of a tangy frozen pineapple granita sits a large scoop of luscious vanilla ice cream. That is topped with liquid licorice. Simple and unusual, yet effective!
You sit back and gaze out into the black void, dotted with the flashing lights of life on Bali, reflecting on an outstanding dining experience.
Even after paying your bill, you really will be...on top of the world!