While in Bali, AD and I enjoyed local favorites like curry and rice porridge, but we also took the opportunity experience fine dining at an exclusive restaurant nestled among the mountains of Ubud call Blanco par Mandif.
Guests are offered a choice of four, six, or eight courses, with or without cocktail and wine pairings. Only ten seats are available per night, each of them at a bar that faces the kitchen where six chefs prepare their dish for the evening.
AD and I chose the luxe six course dinner with pairings. With a choice of two options per course, the two of us ended up having quite different meals. Freshly baked bread with two dipping sauces arrived, followed by kerupuk, a complimentary selection of thin and puffed rice crackers flavored with cuttlefish, eel, kale, and spinach.
My first course was sawi, a delicate baby cabbage pickled with artisan Singaraja vinegar and decorated with Bedugul herbs, served in a little glass jar. It was intensely green and tart, with plenty of heady cilantro leaves. AD ordered cakalang, a substantial bowl of noodles with pickled vegetables. Mini cocktails were paired with each dish.
Both of us ordered ranjungan, a chunky corn soup with morsels of crab, made with creamy coconut milk and tart lime juice. The chefs at Blanco par Mandif combine the traditional flavors of Indonesian food in a sublime, modern way, utilizing lots of culinary gadgets like submersion blenders and sous vide machines.
We both ordered the octopus as well, served on a disc of chilled, compressed black beans and semidried tomato. A delicate slice of quail egg was the finishing touch. Unfortunately, I found my octopus nearly too chewy to eat, overcooked from the double process of smoking and baking. A margarita matched well with the flavors.
We continued with seafood for the next course, AD with a lovely piece of fresh caught snapper, and a tiger prawn for me. Sambal balado provided a vibrant contrast against the black ceramic plate. The crispy potato net was clever but provided no substance. And I wasn’t wild about the dry white wine chosen to accompany my dish.
A dramatic ceramic egg that looked like a meteorite was presented to each of us, opened by the chef to reveal a colorful palette cleanser of soursop sorbet with hot pink cubes of rosella (a type of hibiscus) jelly, floral rosella syrup, and edible flower petals. Fresh pomelo kernels exploded with each bite.
AD chose the lamb, or gulai babat, as her final course. She enjoyed it but was getting full. Meanwhile, I was still hungry. Intrigued by its exotic menu description, I ordered ayam pelung; sambal matah and aioli, glutinous rice roll with coconut floss. It turned out to be chicken on a stick, but the flavor was great anyway.
Dessert was an artful presentation of pandanus ice cream, exploding spheres made of jackfruit, ginger palm sugar, and ethereal coconut bubbles. An assortment of tiny Indonesian cakes were brought out in a mirrored case. Many of them were packed up to take back to our amazing resort, KajaNe, just minutes away.
Flavors extracted from the culture of Indonesia were transformed into edible works of art by the chefs at Blanco par Mandif. Coupled with their intensely attentive service, this one of the most memorable meals of my Asian adventure.