CUCA - Jimbaran
A bit lazy, I must admit, to go to Jimbaran for dinner, as we live in Canggu area, we made an exception, learning that Cuca’s Chef Kevin had changed most of the menu, bringing a lot of novelties while keeping some of the most popular dishes. With all the same dynamism, Cuca really hasn’t changed much in the past five years since it opened, still blowing off the roof of Bali’s culinary scene as one of the most innovative table of the island.
Nestled in a lush garden, out of sight and away of the noisy streets of the neighbourhood, Cuca is a haven for any epicurean eager for new discoveries and culinary experiences. The first thing to know about Cuca is that it is not pronounced “Choo-chah” but the correct pronunciation is “koo-kah”.
Developing his skills in three-stars restaurants worldwide, Canadian born Chef Kevin Cherkas’ strong passion for cuisine, combined with his constant desire to invent and re-invent classics, allows him to create unique flavours and textures combination, using only local produce. According to the master, the recipe is simple: “We start by getting the basics right: the most amazing ingredients carefully selected and sourced exclusively from Indonesia to maximize freshness, support local farmers and growers and showcase the uniqueness of delicious local products.”
The real challenge is to understand each ingredient, the use of it in genuine Indonesian cooking, and to develop new norms applying western cooking techniques. Marrying familiar and unfamiliar dishes presented into easily shareable bites, the Tapas menu is split into 3 categories: Harvested, for vegetables based dishes; Hooked for all that is fishing and Farmed for meat lovers.
Cotton Betutu Amuse-Bouche
First thing first, the Cotton Betutu as amuse-bouche. Made of non-sweet cotton candy sprinkled with Betutu bumbu, a spice mix consisting of shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, wild ginger, galangal, candle nuts, chili peppers, shrimp paste, and peanuts all finely ground. Barely had we started, we were already flabbergasted. Following was the Broccoli Caesar. Expect nothing like the traditional Vegas’ signature. The charbroiled broccoli crunchiness with the soft whipped coconut foam and the boiled egg bridging all the elements, enliven beautifully the saltiness and fishiness of the anchovy crumble.
Then came the balls of Hot Potatoes with onion fudge, charred scallions & spiced keluak gravy served on a bed of crushed cocoa pods. No risk here, but the raw seed of the buah keluak or kepayang “fruit” has cyanide and is deadly… But when properly cured or fermented, the fruit is a culinary miracle. All over Indonesia this product is used for one recipe, and one recipe only, rawon. Hat off to the Chef for finding a new way to use this unexploited seed and its singular essence. I recommend to eat a ball of potato, then a bit of cocoa powder, to savour the peppery finish that comes delicately all over the palate.
Left: Sun-Gria | Right: Ginger Tonic
In between, we slurped a few concoctions crafted in-house, like the refreshing Ginger Tonic made of homemade lime soda, gin & ginger blossom nectar and the Sun-Gria blending red wine, iced fruit, brandy soda. The beauty being the Iced Fruits coming as ice cubes so the mixture never gets watery but gain more fruity flavours as you sip. For kids or those in alcohol-free diet, all the cocktails can be prepared as mocktails and are very enjoyable this way too.
Left: Bali Soft Tacos | Right: Ricotta Gnocchi
Next was the Ricotta Gnocchi. Once more, forget everything you know about conventional gnocchi! The cheese dumplings were firm on the outside and soft on the inside, while the roasted watermelon brings freshness and the vaguely acidic tomato pesto rounded up the ensemble delightfully. I could also tell you about the Bali Soft Tacos or the Hawaiian Cracker with its exquisite doubled smoked ham, melting cheese and clove-spiced pineapple, or the Turkish Meatballs of caramelized chicken served with a creamy cauliflower hummus and torn mint, even about the luscious dessert selection like the Snow White for instance, but I rather let you discover all these delicacies, and many more, on your next visit. One thing for sure, nothing will dissatisfy you.
We’ve noted one thing that is not 100% local anymore; the wine selection. Great move! Thanks to Virginia Entizne, the managing director and Chef Kevin’s (life) partner, for selecting some excellent value-for-money flacons, stored and served in perfect condition. Also, our utmost compliments for the first-rate and tactful service received all along.
Being located a stone's throw from the airport, with a last order never before 11pm, travellers and residents alike can experience this marvel before a fly over the “koo-kah’s” nest! A worth pit-stop or journey for a global but local artistic culinary experience like no other.
by wlw - 2018.05.02
Average Check: IDR300.000 per person
(starter - main - dessert - excluding beverages)