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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bali 2016: Seafood Dinner @ Menega Cafe, Jimbaran

Days go and nights come, but in between is a beautiful evening sun set.  After strolling through the town of Kuta we settled for a sunset dinner at seafood heaven Jimbaran.  Known for its local-tourist discriminating prices and its posh set menus featuring matchbox size crab and lobsters, most brand Jimbaran with the “do not go tag”.  But when you’re with a local, Jimbaran becomes a pretty damn good seafood spot.  Two years ago I came to Menega Cafe and left dreaming of the amazing butter sauce they used on their clams.  This time, I am re-visiting Menega Cafe.  Will I still be impressed?

The scenery earlier, as the sun starts to set is lovely!

Menega Set Menu:
The set menu which gives us a few of the basics.  Fish, squid, and lobster were “OK”, but hardly necessary.  These comes as part of a set so I just have it.  The best thing in the set are the 6 clams it comes with.  We  had to ordered more of it for sure!

Grilled prawns.

Grilled clams with Menega Cafe's special sauce.
The verdict from before still stands true.  Set meals at this seafood heaven is still less than impressive but is every bit quintessential in getting the evening started.  You get bit and pieces of seafood, vegetables, some drinks, rice and condiments.  The basics.   But what really made the evening great were the grilled prawns and clams.  Menega Cafe’s grilled prawns were super good. Briny, sweet and the smokey chargrilled flavours from the coconut husk is just sensational.  Then come the tender clams topped with a  rich garlic butter sauce.  God these were superb.  Menega Cafe still impresses after two years.  The cooking style is simple, but tastes spot on.  

Note: Do not shower before dinner because the smokiness of the grill is sure to stay with you for awhile!

   Menega Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bali 2016: The best Babi Guling? @ Warung Bakas Sari Dewata, Denpasar.

With the disappointing meal of Babi Guling at Warung Ibu Oka now behind me (said no one ever), I headed to my last Babi Guling meal of my trip.  South of Seminyak in the city Denpasar is Warung Bakas Sari Dewata.  The crowd this morning is hardly convincing that this was the place to be, perhaps 9am was too early for Babi Guling!  But the only thing that mattered was the pork on the fork.

For myself I had the Babi Guling Campur whilst the other two had the Babi Guling Special.  My Babi Guling Campur from Warung Bakas Sari Dewata looked amazing.

1,2,3,4,5,6 and …7.. SEVEN dishes on the plate.  Now that’s a party.  But what amazed me even more were some of the dishes I got.  One of the really tasty ones was the bits of smokey crispy bacon that was spiced sensationally.  Then you also get this stringy pulled pork that was super dry almost like a pan-fried pork floss.  As you chew it all the flavour just oozes out.  God it was magic in the mouth.  Also not to forget, were the  tender skewered pork and the spit roast.  The spit roast was slightly drier than the one at Pak Malen but it was not hard to eat.  The string beans were sauteed with some sambal so that was pleasing too.  Oh and the crackling here?  Absolutely cracking!

My two other friends ordered the Babi Guling Special.

Ok let me tell you something.  As ironic as it sounds, I hate to break it to you that it was nothing special.  If anything, it was indeed less special. My friends were going crazy by getting the most pork on their fork but because it was only spit roast on the plate, the party on the plate got a bit monotonous after the first few bites.  Also, remember how I said the Babi Guling at Warung Bakas Sari Dewata is drier than Pak Malen?  Now imagine having to eat all of it =.=!!  Folks, less is more sometimes.  This is one of those times haha.

Regardless of your choice, it will come with a complimentary bowl of soup cooked with bone broth, and heart of banana tree.

So yay or nay?  Definitely a yay from my side but definitely a nay for my other friends who ordered the Babi Guling Special.  Warung Bakas Sari Dewata has definitely put some good pork on the fork with the Babi Guling Campur.  The variety of dishes  on the plate for the Babi Guling Campur makes it a strong contender for best Babi Guling in town.  That salty-sweet smokey bacon was to die for and I enjoyed every bit of it.  But it has to be the right proportion to not be sickening.  While proportioning on a plate is a very fine line, I have to say that Warung Bakas does it well!  Note that Warung Bakas Sari Dewata’s location is fairly inconvenient when compered to Pak Malen and Pak Dobiel, both of which are located near to the touristy hotels.  But with convenient service like Gojek and Uber, it is easy to get your food brought to you or have you brought the the food.

Warung Bakas Sari Dewata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bites: Another Meal of Babi Guling @ Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka

Done with the breakfast, our driver paced through the small roads leading to the sleepy town of Ubud.  After over an hour of driving, the only thing that have seemed to pass really quickly was time.  The road leading to Ubud is a cross between a rally trail thanks to its windy road and a bumper car with all the holes in the road.  We soon reached Ubud and decided to get something to drink as the windy road took a toll on our stomachs.  After coffee at Seniman Coffee Studio, I recovered my appetite and was ready to go.  If there was ever one thing that I wanted to try so badly, it was the famed Babi Guling by Ibu Oka.  This Ubud staple is a household name that is popular amongst tourist and locals alike.  While its fame saw it grow to three shops around the town of Ubud, was it really worth the hype?

The all season Indonesian drink and a Babi Guling essential, Teh Botol.  I have probably had 15 bottles while I was there haha.

There is only one thing people order when they dine at Warung Ibu Oka.  It is the Babi Guling.
On first glance, it looks like every other Babi Guling out there.  You get the bits and pieces of pork stir fry, a little element of crisp from the deep fried pork, a chopped up spit roast pig and to top it off, a glossy shard of pork crackle.   While all Babi Guling look about the same, it was in the finer details where the difference was.  Here, the pork crackling failed to deliver the crunch that other places did.  Instead, it came with the need of a dental floss.  The sticky shards of crackle between my gums was the worst feeling ever.  Then comes the overly oily combinations that coated my rice with a yellow stained grease. But what was Warung Ibu Oka’s no.1 failure?  There was no standout flavour among the many elements on the plate.  Its as though everything on the plate summed up to nothingness and not the porky goodness one would normally expect.

Babi Goreng Tepung was an extra that we ordered.
This is essentially deep fried battered pork, except that it did not come out piping hot and crunchy!  :(  I really wondered whether it was just a bad day at Warung Ibu Oka or its just the way it is.

In my last trip to Ubud, my friend previously advised against going to Warung Ibu Oka.  But hearing how this institution built a reputation for the sleepy town of Ubud, I just had to try it.  Alas, trust the local and move on.  Warung Ibu Oka might previously be the king of the Babi Guling's porky goodness, but it was now clear to me that whatever mention Ibu Oka get is just a momentum of the past.

Babi Guling Ibu Oka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato