There are way too many blogs writing about every single meal they had. I find it laborious. Because honestly, not every meal is worth writing home to mama about. But those that hit the mark, and stay in my mind even months after the fact, definitely do deserve a mention. (As do those that fall under the mark imho.)
I have always wanted to try this restaurant in Jimbaran, and finally made it this year on June 15, 2015 – and can I just say Cuca, Bali did not let me down.
First and foremost, know that this place is backed by some major street cred. Chef Kevin used to be at El Bulli. (I MEAN… if that’s not already a draw. You crazy.) His lovely wife, Virginia, is the brains behind the business. And though I’ve only communicated with the restaurant several times on Instagram whoever replied on the other end always seemed warm and sincere, and it had me really intrigued. Most places with food this fancy usually have snobby staff, so it was nice to have conversations with someone who also enjoyed great food, over our mutual adoration for wines from Rioja.
It probably would have rigged up some preferential treatment if I had dropped them a DM to reserve my tables when I ventured there, but I wanted a truthful and honest experience of the place that my sister had raved so many times about. And after an expat hotelier based there said that he thought it was the best restaurant in Bali, bar none, I really wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.
But to not mention a meal as good as this, would be the real crime.
The first impressive fact about Cuca – this establishment is 100% local. Everything on the menu is farmed, harvested or hooked in Bali. And prices are still kept very reasonable, with even the chef dinner starting at 450,000 IDR. (approx S$45)
If you want a fancy dinner in Bali – then I have no hesitations recommending this place. Bear in mind I had a really fancy dinner less than 3 days before at Plantation – one of the poshest places in Bali now- that cost at least US$100+++ each, and this restaurant still wowed me, hands down.
Cuca is a winner in so many ways. For one, it is not pretentious. Yes, it has a great entrance area, and the property they are on is gorgeous. Yet, they tout themselves as a casual, tapas type of place. So you could walk in wearing bermudas and not feel judged. (Though, I always feel that it’s a mark of respect to dress up for a nice dinner.) The service is great – on the ball, helpful, friendly and yet unobtrusive at the same time. And you can chose to eat outside, in the romantic garden, or inside, separated by curtains of chainmail – with table spacing that was close enough to suffer table envy, but far enough, to not be able to hear conversations from your table neighbours.
Most importantly, almost every single item we ordered – DELIVERED. And for three people, we ordered almost everything on it!
Let me start with my favourites:
Mushroom fritters: Crispy, fried balls of battered ricotta are topped with a pickled mushroom. These were served on top of a bed of artificial grass which totally ups the instagram factor. I was wowed. And we ordered a second serving of these crispy melt in your mouth cheese balls. A definite must-try.
Baked scallop: I did not even know Lombok had scallops. Or that they could be this juicy and delicious. But the freshness of the scallop still came through – and that crispy buttercrust top was so good. I scraped and licked the scallop shell clean. And yes – these babies served atop a bed of sea grass saw a second serving as well.
The piece de resistance to me was the meat and potatoes. I actually was a little crestfallen when it first arrived at the table. It looked absolutely unappetizing – green crumby bits and white whipped potato. I was tempted to call the waiter back and reprimand him for recommending this dish. But this.. was a surprise. Just like those clothes that look limp and lifeless on a hanger, but does wonders to your figure once you put it on.
As soon as my teeth sank through the creamy, whipped potato that melted in my mouth, and gave way to that hearty beef and mushroom red wine ragout that tasted like a bowl of mother’s love – I was in heaven.
The crispy fried chicken and the soft shell crab were equally delicious. I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite between the two because while I loved the sesame topped crispy chicken that was tender and not stringy and overdone, I also swooned over the accoutrements that came with the soft shell crab – the garlic aioli was amazing. And if the bbq pineapple and curry leaf were merely meant as decoration – then don’t tell my tummy that, because the dulcified pineapple, balanced the pow of the curry leaf and made my tastebuds tingle with delight.
You can tell the chef likes using watermelon in his dishes. And why not. Bali is usually sweltering so it is perfect. And while it tasted great on the ceviche, I definitely preferred the watermelon salad that was refreshing and light – the crumbly feta and mint combining in my mouth almost like minty mouths of snow.
I do not drink much at all. In fact, save my trip to Spain, I’m more of a one-glass-champagne-sipper. But the cocktails in this restaurant are definitely worth a try. Every single one was served with style, and packed with flavour. Though the ginger tonic – while tasty – was less photogenic than the rest. Definite must-trys are the sun-gria and moon-gria, the blush and the bali mary. But don’t think that just because they are pretty, they are pussy drinks. Be warned. For most normal people, two to three of these should get you suitably sozzled.
The desserts are also amazing. I love dishes that challenge you and your perceptions when you eat. And bali breakfast was exactly that. Served like what looks like a sunny side up in a bowl – once you break the runny “yolk” of mango – the nectarous fruit puree leaks like lava, meshing with the tartness of the frozen passionfruit, countered by the subtle creaminess of the coconut in a dessert.
And of course there is my love-affair with chocolate. My heart broke a little when I looked at the green mounds of mint ice cream that seemed to dominate the cocoa 99 dish, with chocolate hardly in sight. But oh. The warm organic chocolate that was practically like a liquid ganache was ambrosia, and the chocolate croutons added a crumbly crunch to the love affair that happened in my mouth.
Cuca flavour. You were a divine dream that is definitely worth repeating.
Ambience: Perfect for romantic dinners, proposals even. Family dinners. Corporate dinners. Functions. Weddings. You name it. They also conduct culinary classes!
Details: Cuca Flavour Restaurant
Address: Jalan Yoga Perkanthi, Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 708066
Hours: Open today · 12:00 pm – 12:00 am