Thursday 25 October 2012

Spices: Mozaic (Bali, Indoensia) - Ranked 12th as Asia's Best for 2012

When I was researching on places to eat in Bali, there was one restaurant that always pop up in travel guides, books and websites. The restaurant was Mozaic, located in Ubud, it is considered to be the best restaurant in Indonesia and holds the 12th spot in the Miele Guide Asia's Top 20 for 2011/2012. Aside from being a restaurant, it is also a  lounge bar and it also offers cooking classes.


I easily made a reservation through e-mail three months before our trip and all they required was the contact number of the place where we'll be staying. On the day of our expected dinner, they called us up to confirm our reservation. We arrived really early, we glad we did cause we got to chill out around the cozy bar lounge area. The bar lounge area looks so chic, beautiful and elegant.

The chef was so kind to send out a complimentary snack for us. The Parmesan and Edam Cheese Filled with Truffle Puff Pastry was to die for. The puff pastry was buttery and flaky, at the center was an aromatic creamy cheese treat. 

Parmesan and Edam Cheese with Truffle Puff Pastry

When the server escorted us out the dining area, we got so awe struck with how the dining area looks like. It was an outdoor themed dining experience, palm trees and plants surround the whole area, lanterns and table lamps with yellow and orange hue lit up the place. On the table was a relatively simple classy set up of the dishes and cutlery,  the folded cloth napkin has a print that goes well with the theme.  

Dining Area

Table Set Up

As daylight fell, the place turned into a beautiful romantic setting.

Dining Area at Night

As soon as we sat down, a complimentary bread and butter was served. There were two kinds of bread, the  earthy colored Apricot Bread and the elongated Bean Sprout Bread. The apricot bread didn't look appetizing because of it color but it tasted good, it had the slightly sweet and tarty flavor from the apricot. The Bean sprout bread was interesting, there were bits of the vegetable in the bread and the it smelled of it too.

Apricot and Bean Sprout Bread with Butter

There were four tasting menus that changes regularly. I'm going to breakdown the the three tasting menus that we got to try out.

The Vegetarian Menu was a surprise since there were no details on what was to be served. It costs Rp600,00 around Php2,400

Amuse Bouche: Mushroom Agnolotti or Mushroom Ravioli. This dish was served uniquely, rather than chopping the mushroom and putting it inside the ravioli, the whole mushroom was put on top of a ravioli pasta. The sauce was a simple and frothy vegetable emulsion.

Mushroom Agnolotti

First Course: Pumpkin Curry Soup. The common pumpkin soup was made extraordinary with the addition of curry. The flavors of the sweet pumpkin and curry goes so well together.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Second Course: Green Mango Cucumber Salad with Kaffir Lime Dressing and Almonds. On the side was salt with lime rind. I initially thought that the salad dish would taste so sour due to the green mangoes and Kaffir lime dressing. I was wrong, the salad had the perfect balance of sweet and sour. The green mangoes used was on the brink of being ripe, the cucumbers with mint leaves tasted light and refreshing, the almond clutters added texture and the nutty flavor, the citrusy sour dressing was the link that combined all the flavors into one harmonious bite. The lime rind salt brought out the sweetness of the salad.

Green Mango Cucumber Salad with Kaffir Lime Dressing and Almonds

Lime Rind Salt

Third Course: Mozaic Vegetable Platter. There were a lot of components in this dish. Eggplant puree with Lemon Turmeric Dressing, Olive Crumble, Roasted Eggplant, Bokchoy, Cherry Tomato and Stirfried Cauliflower Mushroom and Fermented Soya Bean. Every vegetable component was cooked to perfection though some lacks flavor. I enjoyed the dressing the most, I wanted more of it. Of all the dishes we had that night, this is my least favorite but still it was pretty good.

Mozaic Vegetable Platter

Fourth Course: Celeriac Pasta served on Light Truffle Espuma. Crispy Strips of turnip with bits garlic and spring onion. At the bottom was a frothy and creamy Truffle Espuma. When the dish was served, I sniffed at the beautiful aromatic smell of Truffle, intoxicating. The flavors were relatively simple but the addition of the truffle oil espuma took it to the next level.

Celeriac Pasta served on Light Truffle Espuma

Fifth Course: Green Apple Sorbet with Cucumber Emulsion and Goat's Cheese Biscuit. Among the three palete cleansing dishes, this was my favorite. I've tasted goat's cheese before and I was so surprised that the biscuit tasted like it, strong, salty and in local parlance, maanggo. The green apple sorbet tasted like the real thing, it was a sweet and a bit sour. The cucumber emulsion also tasted like the real vegetable but in a foamy form. When I took  a bite of the biscuit followed by a spoonful of the sorbet and emulsion, it rendered me speechless and made me want to go at it again. The combination of the flavors were spot on, it was a salty, pungent, sour and sweet treat.

Green Apple Sorbet with Cucumber Emulsion and Goat's Cheese Biscuit

Sixth Course: Caramelized Pineapple with Milk Puree, Chili Pepper Pineapple Sorbet with Pineapple Chip. A dessert with a pineapple overload. What I found really unique with the dessert was the Sorbet, it tasted of fresh pineapple with a spicy kick at the end.

Caramelized Pineapple with Milk Puree, Chili Pepper Pineapple Sorbet with Pineapple Chip

The Chef's Tasting Menu was the most expensive among the three menu that we had. It costs Rp900,000 around Php3,600.

Amuse Bouche: Eggplant Curry Capuccino. Frothy and foamy hot soup that taste of curried smokey eggplant. It was hearty and savory.

Eggplant Curry Capuccino

First Course: Vanilla Pan Seared Atlantic Sea Bass, Pineapple, Cardamom, Cured Duck Breast and Kemangi Leaf.  The Sea Bass was excellent, it tasted fresh, moist and had the melt-in-your-mouth feel. I don't remember seeing and eating duck breast in the dish. The sauce was a sweet and savory pineapple puree, it had slivers of Kemangi leaves. The Kemangi leaves smells cirtusy and it reminds me of fresh lemons. The sauce with the Kemangi herb complimented the fish so well.

Vanilla Pan Seared Atlantic Sea Bass, Pineapple, Cardamom, Cured Duck Breast and Kemangi Leaf

Second Course: Blue Fin Tuna "Tataki Style", Kafir Lime Dressing, Young Fennel Salad, Red Radish and Chili Esplette Oil.  Tataki style is a Japanese way of preparing a dish, usually the meat is briefly seared then sliced thinly. The blue fin tuna was of excellent quality, it was so fresh. I really enjoyed the salad and dressing that was used to seasoned the fish, it was light, refreshing and flavorful.Plus the Esplette (a kind of peppercorn) oil gave the right amount of spiciness to the dressing. One can choose to eat the almond cluster with the salad and fish, it added a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to the already delicious treat.

Blue Fin Tuna "Tataki Style", Kafir Lime Dressing, Young Fennel Salad, Red Radish and Chili Esplette Oil

Third Course: Crispy Seared Duck Foie Gras in a Trio of Mango: Puree, Candy and Chip. Everything was going smoothly, the plates were making it around in synchronicity. But as soon as each of us took a bite of the velvety smooth Foie Gras, the pattern broke. We wanted the whole thing for ourselves. The Foie Gras was cooked beautifully, it had a seared crispy crust with a buttery smooth center. The sweetness of the trio of mango absolutely went well with the salty flavor of the duck's liver. What's more incredible was the play of textures in the dish, one can choose to pair the liver with either the creamy puree, the caramelized tender slices of mango or the crunchy dehydrated mango chip. One more thing, notice the outer layer of sauce? Its a tangy peppery spicy sauce that adds a kick to each bite. This is one of the best Foie Gras dish I've tasted.

Crispy Seared Foie Duck Foie Gras in a Trio of Mango: Puree, Candy and Chip

Fourth Course: Slow Cooked Pigeon, Earthy Beets, Cepe Mushrooms, Coffee Infusion. The beautiful aroma of coffee mesmerized me when this dish was placed in front of us. Aside from the coffee smell, it also had hints of cinnamon,  to my delight a piece of cinnamon bark was placed on the plate. Three fillets of pigeon breast lay on top of the Cepe or Porcinni muhsrooms, doused with the sauce that was giving out the intoxicating smell. When I took a bite of the meat, I was blown away on how tender and flavorful it was. I'm used to eating pigeon in Chinese lauriats, usually the pigeon is fried with salt, pepper and or a Chinese five spice rub. The meat would be kind of tough and rubbery. This pigeon was SOOOOO... tender and the lingering aroma of coffee and cinnamon stays inside the mouth. This was my favorite dish for the night.

Slow Cooked Pigeon, Earthy Beets, Cepe Mushrooms, Coffee Infusion

Fifth Course: Fresh A.O.C 'St. Vernier' Cheese, Red Wine Reduction, Quince Pudding and Sorbet. When a cheese is stamped with 'A.O.C', one can be assured that it has passed through high standards given by the issuing body in France, it's similar to the D.O. standard in Spanish wines and D.O.C standard in Italian wines. The St.Vernier cheese is a soft mellow cheese, it went well with the sweet red wine reduction. I haven't taste a real quince before but from researching, quince is a fruit that taste like a cross between an apple and pear. The pudding was light and fluffy, it literally just melts away inside your mouth. The sorbet was cool and refreshing.

Fresh A.O.C 'St. Vernier' Cheese, Red Wine Reduction, Quince Pudding and Sorbet

Sixth Course: Valrhona Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse, Green Pepper Corn Gel, Kemangi Ice Cream and Snake Fruit Salad. The mousse was excellent, it was chocolatey and it wasn't too sweet.  This time around the kelangi herb which we had with the fish was made into an ice cream. The ice cream flavor reminded me of basil ice cream. I haven't seen or tasted snake fruit before, it had a grainy texture of turnips and it was sweet like an apple. I liked how the green pepper corn gel gave a spicy tingling feeling.

Valrhona Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse, Green Pepper Corn Gel, Kemangi Ice Cream and Snake Fruit Salad

The Discovery Menu looked the most interesting among the three, each dish uses a particular Balinese local ingredient. It costs Rp700,000 around Php2,800

Before serving the amuse bouche, our server brought out a plate of the local ingredients. She proceeded to tell us what the ingredients are and informing us that the dishes would be serve in the order of how the local ingredients are placed.

Frm L to R: Ginger, Tumeric, Tamarind, Kluwek Nut, Kalamansi and Star Fruit

Amuse Bouche: Cuttlefish with Mangosteen. This was the favorite among the Amuse Bouche. Dice pieces of cuttlefish was place inside the shell of a mangosteen. The cuttlefish was soft and tender and it had hints of the sweet mangosteen flavor.

Cuttlefish with Mangosteen

First Course: Char Grilled Tiger Prawn, Pink Grapefruit infused with fresh Ginger Flower. The prawns were grilled to perfection, it was still moist and it had that charred smell and taste. It is common to use citrus fruits with high acidity for seafood, it takes away the fishy smell and it brings out the flavor of seafood. Instead of using lemons, a similar fruit with the same citrusy flavor was used, the grapefruit. It was such a clever idea, aside for having the same acidity and citrusy flavor, it also had that tinge of sweetness. The dish had the right amount of julienne strips of ginger flower to add some zest and spiciness to the prawn.

Char Grilled Tiger Prawn, Pink Grapefruit infused with fresh Ginger Flower

Second Course:  Tasmanian Salmon cooked in Fresh Coconut, Turmeric Risotto , Caramelized Cauliflower and Smoked Milk Emulsion. The dish was kind of a let down, the salmon was  under seasoned, it needed some acidity and a lot of salt. I barely tasted any coconut flavor but nonetheless the salmon was perfectly cooked. The risotto was really nice, it was creamy and al dente. The flavor was interesting, it was like eating an Indian dish.

Tasmanian Salmon cooked in Fresh Coconut, Turmeric Risotto , Caramelized Cauliflower and Smoked Milk Emulsion

Third Course: Baked Quail and Foie Gras Pastilla, Balinese Rujak Sauce and Apple Saffron Marmalade. A Pastilla is a Moroccan meat pie. The dough was flaky and on its own the tender pieces of quail and bits of Foie Gras was delicious. But the addition of the Balinese 'Rujak' Sauce plus the Marmalade made it awesome. The rujak sauce's main  ingredient was tamarind, it was just sour enough to balance with the sweetness of the apple marmalade.

Baked Quail and Foie Gras Pastilla, Balinese Rujak Sauce and Apple Saffron Marmalade

Fourth Course:  Wagyu Beef Sirloin, Balinese Long Pepper, Oxtail, Porcini Mushroom, Young Carrot and Kluwek Nut Broth. Upon doing some research I found out that the Kluwak Nut is supposed to taste bitter but the kluwek nut broth that I tasted was exquisite. I found myself scooping the broth off spoon after spoon. Together with the super tender piece of beef, the earthy flavor of the mushroom, the gelatinous bits of oxtail and the sweet crunchy young carrots, it constituted one delightful bite.

Wagyu Beef Sirloin, Balinese Long Pepper, Oxtail, Porcini Mushroom, Young Carrot and Kluwek Nut Broth

Fifth Course: Frozen Kalamansi Lime Sorbet, Black Rice cooked in Pandan Leaf and Lemon Pepper Tuille. The kalamansi is something so familiar to me, I was so delighted when I tasted the sorbet. It was sweet and sour and it had that strong astringent dry feeling that stays in your mouth. The black rice tasted like suman, a sticky sweet rice dessert. The crispy tuille was crunchy and smelled of lemons and black pepper.

Frozen Kalamansi Lime Sorbet, Black Rice cooked in Pandan Leaf and Lemon Pepper Tuille

Sixth Course: Valrhona 'Guanaja' Chocolate Fondant, Fresh Star Fruit Sorbet and Spiced Young Star Fruit in a Corriander Seed Caramel. Hands down our favorite dessert for the evening. The biggest surprise was found inside the moist chocolate fondant cake. When one of us broke a piece off the cake, a thick, shimmering and  creamy chocolate ganache started to flow out from the center. Made with 70% cocoa, it was so chocolatey good and it just had the right amount of sweetness. Taking a bite out of the rich chocolate can cause a feeling of satiation, this is where the Star Fruit Sorbet and Corriander Seed Caramel comes into play. The sorbet and caramel was slightly sweetened, it tasted so light and refreshing. It was the perfect palete cleansing accompaniment for the chocolate.

Valrhona 'Guanaja' Chocolate Fondant, Fresh Star Fruit Sorbet and Spiced Young Star Fruit in a Corriander Seed Caramel

When our main was served, we were also given a plate of mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes was creamy and smooth. It's not as good as Robuchon's mashed potatoes but this was one of the most memorable ones I've tasted.

Mashed Potato

The Petit Fours includes  a White Chocolate Truffle, Chocolate Peanut Truffle and a Madeleine Cake. Everything was excellent.

Chocolate Peanut Truffle, Madeleine and White Chocolate Truffle

Usually when the petit fours are included in the menu, it is automatic that coffee would also be serve to go with it. Sadly, we had order and pay for our cups. When I took a whiff and sip from my cup, I exclaimed in delight how good it was. When I asked what brand they carry, it wasn't a surprise to hear that it was one of my favorite brand of beans, Illy.

Brewed Cup of Illy - Rp25,000 around Php100

*Eating under the moonlight was fun but there was something that might irritate guests,  there were flying insects around. It was great that under the table there was an anti-mosquito lamp so we didn't get any bites. The problem was above, the mosquitoes were flying and buzzing around our ears. Luckily it didn't land on any of the food but we did spot some on the table. I guess this is something that Mozaic should looked in to.

Having dinner at Mozaic was the perfect way to end our adventure. The meal pretty much described and concluded of what we thought of Bali, it is a tropical paradise. Most of the dishes had that tropical feel and taste, the incorporation of the fruits and local ingredients was amazing. Chef Chris Salans is  a genius, he deserves to be commended on how he conceptualized and executed his dishes. No wonder, Mozaic is one of the best, if not the best place to dine in Bali.

Adress: Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Gianyar, Indonesia
Tel Nos: +62 361 975768 (reservation is a must)

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Spices: Ku De Ta (Bali, Indonesia)

After hitting the waves in Kuta, there were two options to where we would have our late lunch. The first of which made it to the Asia's top 20 list for this year and the next option was Ku De Ta. Having seen features and hearing great things about the latter, we headed to Hotel Oberoi.

Ku De Ta

Ku De Ta has been consistently making the cut in the Miele Guide's Asia'a Top 20 for the previous years. Aside from being a wine and dine place, the restaurant can also be a lounge, a bar and a club. Before coming here, I was skeptical on how everything can fit in one place. But upon walking and looking around the different areas, I became a believer that the concept of having a resto/lounge/bar/club all together can actually work. The whole place was just gorgeous.

Inside Ku De Ta

Ku De Ta has a weekly lunch set menu that changes regularly. There were two choices for the entree and main course and a single dessert.

Ku De Ta's Lunch Special (three courses) - Rp180,000 around Php750   

A complimentary bowl of bread and olive oil was served.

Complimentary Bed with Olive Oil Dip

Aside from having the three course lunch set, we ordered a No Kisses for You Tonight Pizza. A garlic confit pizza with Parmesan and Mozzarella. The pizza tasted satisfactory, it was decent but not great. The crust was not to my liking and I was looking for more of the garlicky flavor.

No Kisses For You Tonight Pizza - Rp130,000 around Php520

The first entree was Tomato Gazpacho, on top of the soup was a micro herb salad and a piece of sourdough bread. I really hoped they just put the bread on the side instead of putting it on the soup. The chilled gazpacho was perfect for the scorching sun. Though we had to add a tinge of salt in it, the soup was great, it tasted sweet, savory and refreshing.

Tomato Gazpacho

The next entree was the Shaved Baby Squid Salad. Chopped squid with julienne strips of vegetables on top of Vermicelli noodles, it was doused with a dressing of Nuoc Cham which is a Vietnamese dipping sauce. The squid was tender and the vegetables strips were fresh and crunchy  The sour, sweet, citrusy dressing was so good, we just had to add a tinge of salt. The salad dish was light and refreshing, perfect again for the weather.

Shaved Baby Squid Salad

The first main to be served was the Hand Made Parpadelle. The fresh pasta was cooked to an 'al dente' perfection. The sauce was simple and hearty, it consists of wild mushrooms and sage sauteed in olive oil. If only it had a little drizzle of truffle oil on it, this would have made the pasta dish divine. We had to add a tiny dash of salt to the dish to bring out more flavor in it.

Hand Made Parpadelle

The other main which is the Herb Crusted Pork Loin took a while before it was served to us. We followed up our other three times and it took more than 20 minutes before it came out. I don't have any idea what happened, the servers just kept telling us that it was coming. The long waiting time was my only major gripe about this place.

The Herb Crusted Pork Loin was served with a celeriac remoulade on top and with a side of smoked potato puree. The herb crust was a bit under seasoned, it needed more salt in it. The pork loin was delicious, it was so soft and tender. The smoked potato puree tasted satisfactory, it didn't have the smokey flavor as it claimed to be and we felt that it was kind of dry. What I really like about this dish was the celeriac or turnip salad, the nutty, citrusy and tangy flavor of the salad complimented the pork loin really well.

Herb Pork Loin

The Juicy Thick-Cut Pork Loin

The dessert was a simple Vanilla Creme Bulee served with two mini lemon cupcakes on the side. The Creme Bulee was perfect, it had the right balance of sweet and citrusy flavor plus the caramel on top cracks like how it's supposed to be. The Lemon Cupcakes was divine. We all loved how soft and moist it was, it had that melt-in-your-mouth texture. It tasted of lemons and it left a tangy feeling in your mouth. I really liked the combination of the two desserts. As soon as I took a bite off the cupcake, it leaves a warm tangy feeling on my palete. I would then grab a spoonful of creme bulee and let it swirl and melt inside my mouth, it was perfect.

Vanilla Creme Bulee

Cracking the Caramel on Top

Mini Lemon Cupcakes

There was one common denominator for the dishes we had. As you might have noticed, we always had to add a dash of salt on the entrees and mains. We felt that the dishes was under seasoned, I reckoned that this was done intentionally. Since the beach was just beside the dining area, most of the diners would order and eat immediately after getting out of the sea. As for us, we had to walk and take a cab ride before getting here, it desensitize our paletes of the salty feeling from the sea. The food was wonderful and well thought of, I tip my hat off to the chef for his clever choices of food to be served. The food complimented the ambiance, atmosphere and most specially the weather.

Ku De Ta
Address: Jalan Hotel Oberoi, Bali, Indonesia
Tel No: +62 361 73 6969