The major 5 star hotels in a tourist area such as Bali have very difficult decisions to make about the cuisines that they offer in their restaurants. The larger complexes often have 4, 5 or even more food outlets so it is a bit easier for them to cater for a wide variety of tastes. For the boutique hotels, no matter how up-market they may be it is much more difficult.
The current management at The Oberoi took a very brave decision to offer a very high class of cuisine under the guidance of their highly talented German Executive Chef, Enrico Wahl and his assistant Executive Sous Chef, Joko Triasmoro. Most of the basic every day requirements are there but so are many exciting gourmet offerings. Ingredient sourcing is limited to obtaining the best they can, irrespective of cost. They believe that is what their quality of guest demands and appreciates. I think they are right!
Even the bread is served with style. You have a choice of three loaves, fresh from the kitchen [white, brown or a walnut that is difficult to resist]. Sliced beside your table your own choice extends to butter or a blend of extra virgin olive oil and balsamico, a pinch of salt and grind of cracked pepper added.
In recent years the Amuse Bouche at fine dining restaurants often foretells the wonders that are to follow. Here a Tartar of Tuna with caperberry on top or a roll of Beef Tongue studded with pieces of purple potato and gherkin hold true to form.
On the menu a Marble of Foie Gras with Valrhona served with snake fruit compote and a pistachio brioche, leaves you totally puzzled as to what it will look and taste like. Well, let me tell you it is an outstanding combination! The square of foie gras mousse is crossed with thin lines of chocolate. I was not surprised to later discover that it was the chef's signature dish.
Even more daring is Ravioli stuffed with the meat from the head of a suckling pig combined with Porcini Mushrooms and Black Pudding, rich and luscious. There is more! Warm Unagi [eel] is a pair of fillets first grilled then braised with a soya glaze, sitting atop a papaya salad. Slices of Abalone are served on a seaweed salad.
Oberoi for all its changes, has not lost its Indian heritage. Fresh Naans can still be ordered, with plain butter or garlic, a wonderful Sheekh Kebab [minced lamb and spices on skewers] or Jingha Prawns from the tandoor. Amongst the mains there is an unusual Duck Biryani, duck meat with basmati rice, vegetables and herbs. One of the all time favourite Indian dishes is also here, a Lamb Roghan Josh. This version sees a whole lamb shank braised with garam masala and is served with a garlic naan.
The exciting menu options continue with the mains. I have on many occasions eaten that sensation of the decade, Wagyu beef, often wondering what the fuss was all about. Now I understand, although once again I am sure that the ingredient quality and source and its subsequent handling in the kitchen has a lot to do with the result. Chef Enrico uses the Sous Vide method of slow poaching and has done for many years although only selectively and for those meats that requiring it. Sealed in air-tight bags with jus and spices it sits in water at 65 degrees in the oven for 48 hours. The result is Wagyu Beef Cheeks or Tongue that is so tender but still so rich in taste, unique!
As impressive was the Australian Wagyu Beef Fillet, sitting on a potato confit, pure perfection! An Open Ravioli is stuffed with a confit of pork rib, combined with an onion compote and foie gras emulsion
Duck is a duo, the breast being honey glazed and the leg as a confit, and Lamb a Rack with stewed shiitake mushrooms, warm babaganoush and thyme gnocchis. No expense has been spared to present the very best on the table at the new Kura Kura.
For a restaurant on a Bali beach, an array of seafood dishes is imperative. The Ahi Tuna is rare, peppered and glazed, with three different crushed pepper corns; Javanese comet tail, Balinese long and Szechuan. Grilled Swordfish is with red smoked salt and vegetable minestrone with squid, clams and tarragon. The Jumbo Prawns are flamed at your table and served with gnocchetti sardi and dried cherry tomatoes, braised Chinese cabbage with bacon and crab tobico mayonnaise. Sable fish was a shock for me, never have I tasted such a fish before. Also known as Alaskan Black Cod it is found in the muddy sea beds of the North Pacific. Such a subtle taste, so soft yet still firm, it is served with a puree of caramelized shallots and a mix of fava beans and black pudding with fresh oregano. Not to be missed!
The Chef's Tasting Menu gives you 3 alternatives; all seven courses or your choice of only three or five courses, depending on your appetite. After the Amuse Bouche, a Geoduck Clam Sashimi, with a papaya salad and ginger sugo, a Seared Sablefish with black pudding and a parsnip mousseline, Pan Fried Foie Gras with grilled dragon fruit, Striploin of Pork from a Berkshire Black with Porcini mushroom confit, baby leek and green cabbage etuve with chorizo. Finish up with a selection of aged cheeses and refreshing raspberries for dessert. The choices change on a regular basis.
There is also a series of Vegetarian dishes, both small and large serves, available as well; a Mousse of Yellow and Red Bell Peppers with Daikon radish and cherry tomato salad, a Warm Ragout of Shiitake, Straw Mushroom, Morel and Wood Ear Mushroom with baby spinach and macadamia nut oil, a Paccheroni Rigati Pasta with stewed Porcini mushrooms or the Chef's Selection with a Vegetarian Tapas Plate.
A new venue in Bali for that very special dinner, fine dining in every sense!