LIAP LIAP, Modern Indonesian Grill - Ubud
Living in one of the largest, if not the largest archipelago of the planet, one could think it’s easy finding a variety of local cuisines at every corner of the streets. Nay. At least not in Bali. I found it extremely difficult to catch an Indonesian restaurant offering more than the everlasting nasi goreng, ayam goreng or lalapan, sop buntut among many.
Well, it’s with pure delight that we found LIAP LIAP. As we strolled in Ubud, a delightful BBQ flavour took my nostrils by storm, filling up my stomach with butterflies, dragging me in. In the middle of Monkey Forest street, this recently opened 40-seater has developed a menu around heritage Indonesian cuisine, moreover on tribal grilling and smoking culinary techniques, all prepared on coffee wood and coconut open fire, by Head Chef Roy Qira, a Karangasem native, who received the backing of famous Chef-Patron Mandif Warokka, to create a rarely seen list of options.
Beside the refreshing Pomelo & Heart of Palm Salad with Prawn & Asinan Dressing (a pickled vegetable based vinaigrette), or the subliminally Grilled Octopus and its Semi Dried Tomato Sambal, there is plenty appetizers to choose to wake up your taste buds. For instance, the Sundanese Karedok, a raw vegetable salad with peanuts sauce, or simply some Snacks like the Otak Otak made by mixing fish paste - as in fish cake - with a blend of shallots, garlic, scallions, egg, coconut milk, and sago starch, grilled in banana leaves wrap.
If you are not attracted by the fresh fish and seafood selection, from Squid to Lobster, Blue Swimmer Crab or Black Papua Crab, not even by the Fresh Caught Fish, you’ll certainly be by the carnivore section. Tenderloin, Rib Eye, Lamb Chop... I picked the Quails Bumbu Kalasan, a specialty of Sleman regency, in Jogjakarta northern region, sweet and savoury at the same time, and so tender.
Another forte here is the Bamboo Grill collection. No matter your choice, the concept is to prepare the ingredients mixture within a large bamboo over the grill. The process takes a few hours for all the filling to be “steamed”, so Chef Roy prepares a batch in the morning (another one in the afternoon), keeping it high enough above the fire, to keep the inside food moist. The Organic Farm Duck with Green Chili & Basil Spices was orgasmic. Unfortunately, the Smoked Sting Ray was sold out already, so be there early if you want your choice to be untaken.
If your table includes 3 to 4 foodies, go for the Nasi Liwet Seafood. It’s cooked like a paella, it’s served like a paella, but ain't a paella. I’m not sure if it’s Nasi Liwet Sunda or Solo, but one thing I’m certain, it was succulent. Rice in coconut milk with prawns, clams and scallops in shell, a pinch of chef’s secret spices, cooked in a paellera over firewood. Ayo, makan yuk!
Dessert menu is also surprising, with Cendol, an iced sweet dessert that contains jackfruit, sago pearls, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup, or the Wajik, a traditional glutinous cake - currently very difficult to find - marked over the grill, served with homemade mango ice cream and coconut cream, or the Sarang Semut (Ant’s Nest or Beehive Cake), named after its silhouette.
For once, in an Indonesian restaurant, a more than decent wine list! From old to new world, with not less than 12 wines by the glass, all very well priced (for Bali). Beer is your drink? Then you’ll be happy to find an assortment of craft beer like Black Butte Porter, or a few Tuatara between others. For cocktail lovers daring to taste something unusual, the Liap Liap Fantasy and the Signature section will tease you for sure.
If you like to discover somewhat out of the box Indonesian culinary legacy, in a décor giving nods to home-grown accents, with tropical touch points, providing a pleasant, airy vibe, start from here while in the city of the artists.
by wlw - 2018.06.29
Average Check: IDR250.000++ per person
(starter - main - dessert - excluding beverages)