March 21, 2009

Bali wedding day 1: Balinese delicacies

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I'm in Bali for a few days attending a friend's wedding. For my first meal in town, I went back to Ketupat, the fine Balinese restaurant which is hidden amongst the tourist traps on Jalan Legian in Kuta. I first visited Ketupat in January 1998. The Asian Financial Crisis was full-blown, and IDR went from around 2,400 to 10,000. This made everything extremely cheap as most places hadn’t adjusted their prices in IDR. On that visit, we ordered so much of the mango juice that the restaurant ran out…

It took us a bit of time to figure out where we wanted to sit, and we finally ended up by the pool as the ladies wanted. I’ve always loved coming here, as one can choose to sit in the open courtyard and look up at the stars, or in more traditional ‘cabanas’. The group faced a dizzying array of dishes shown on the menu, and decided to order a few appetizers first to quash the hunger while we took more time to figure out the rest.

Meanwhile, we ordered a round of drinks and tried out arak, the Balinese liquor made from rice (or palm sap). I had mine on the rocks (arak es) so I could get the true taste of it. Actually it tasted like a stronger version of Korean sochu. After a few sips of our drinks, we were ready for the food...

Lumpia langsing – bean sprout salad wrapped in crêpes. Not bad but essentially a veggie spring roll…

Perkedel jagung - these fried corn fritters were disappointing. Kinda soggy and pretty salty, these are nothing like the ones made by my friends' Indonesian helper in Hong Kong.

Rempeyek - these are the delicious peanut crackers I've had before as snacks. Large, thin chips topped with lumps of peanuts and local spices. Yummy!

Nasi goreng petani - not sure why the vegetarian fried rice were served right after the appetizers, but it was pretty delicious.

Sate campur - a mixed selection with chicken, pork, beef and mutton. Served with two types of sauce and some ketupat - the rice dumplings for which the restaurant is named.

Udang batolok - prawns stir-fried with chilli and green tomato. This was actually pretty good.

Ikan bakar colo colo - this grilled snapper was served with a salsa of tomato, shallots, basil and lemongrass. Pretty nice flavor and the salsa was a surprise.

The waiter forgot to take our order of roast duck, and we decided to give it a pass as we were pretty full at this point. We looked around for some Indonesian sweets but wasn't able to find anything really intereting.

I'm glad I came back to an old favorite, and used the opportunity to introduce Balinese cuisine to my friends. Next time I'll make sure to have the duck and a few other classic dishes, maybe I'll finally do the rijsttafel!

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