Modern Contemporary Balinese Cusine @ TRi Restaurant

Since the opening of the 28 Repulse Bay, the new complex has become the new hang out not only for the residences in island south but also attracts endless weekenders flocking in to get away from the bustling city life. New and hippy restaurants and bars also plays the main key for its success. With only a short journey away, beach, water sports, sunset, cocktails with a complete relaxing lifestyle awaits, mylifestylenews heads to the chic and modern, beautifully imagined Balinese restaurant, TRi for a Sunday brunch indulgence……

Situated on the beachfront of Repulse Bay in the new restaurant precinct of The Pulse, TRi has a stunning sea views on the beachfront. As you arrive at the entrance and look down the long and narrow room, you instantly get that ‘WOW’ effect as the interior design is drop dead gorgeous. It is an exploration of the three causes of well-being in the Balinese philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana” – the harmony between man, nature and divinity.

From the holistic design, to the use of sustainable materials like bamboo, every element of the restaurant is considered, paying tribute to environment, creating a space that is reminiscent of the natural beauty of Ubud (If you have been to Ubud, you will instantly knows what this means).

The restaurant’s interior design firm Ibuku, with Elora Hardy at the helm, has transformed the 5,000 sq ft space. The extended long room is divided into three distinct areas representing a Balinese home – the homestead, the garden and the jungle. Bamboo wood is extensively used in carved and woven forms, creating a unique atmosphere that could be anywhere from the island of Bali.

A 400-year-old Balinese dragon measuring 12 meters long installed above the 15-meter-long single-piece communal dining table carved out of a single piece of antique teak.There are the lotus-shaped semi-private dining pods of woven bamboo, the stone tables - sliced from river boulders, an original batik copper tap wall feature, the vertical tropical plant wall as well as the lighting design add to this ethereal space that completely transports you to another world that is the modern contemporary Bali.

Opened in this July, TRi angled at modern & bold Balinese cuisine, with a delicate balance of authentic Balinese culinary heritage and contemporary presentation. Balinese cuisine presents strong, beautifully balanced flavours, utilizing a variety of textures and a playful approach to acidity and sweetness, resulting in a variety of refreshing palate tastes throughout the course of the meal.

 With dishes meant to be shared, you really do have a wide range of variety and flavours to enjoy. All ingredients, where possible, are sourced from sustainable supplies, with organic vegetables sourced locally and naturally coconut features prominently in all forms. Pastes are made from whole fresh spices like galangal, turmeric, ginger, jangu, lemongrass, salam leaf and a host of other aromatics to bring a depth of flavours to each creation.

The Sunday Champagne brunch begins with a limitless Louis Roederer Brut premier, if that can’t satisfy you, you may head north for the Louis Roederer Cristal 2007 vintage to go begin with the Balinese taste journey. 

A tropical introduction of <Urap Jagung> - a sweet corn with grilled coconut, palm sugar syrup and coconut ‘yoghurt’ and a mixed tropical <Fruit Salad> with kemangi and lime. Both dishes did not bring out the best of Balinese’s essence in terms of such tropical flavor and it could have been any dishes derived from anywhere in other part of Asia. They were not outstanding.

<Urap Jagung> & <Fruit Salad>

Next were the savoury starters, beginning with an <Heirloom Tomato Salad>, with the addition of kaffir lime, coconut oil, soybeans tempeh and red chili. It looks great on the garnish and presentation and yet we were still waiting for the taste buds to get that authentic zing of Bali spices.

So, we asked for some real spicy home-made sambal dipping and insisted the recipe shall be served to the Balinese’s palate instead of the modified version for the Hong Kongers who doesn’t really frequent the spice. The first request was denied by the server for not being able to deliver the sambal as they do not serve sambal on the side. We can’t help but to waive to the supervisor and he came backed with two different sambals in which none of them were rather hot or spicy but rather with a hint of sweetness. We couldn’t help but begin to wonder is TRi really dedicated in offering Balinese food with authenticity.

The next savorury <Potato Perkedel>, a potato fritter with chili, eggplant and lime leaf, was nicely deep fried by giving a great texture, with a crunchiness that we enjoyed, but still lacking from a Balinese hint of spice perspective. It taste more like a Belgian croquette instead.

The <Martabak> was presenting on the same plate, being a pan fried flatbread stuffed with chicken curry and sweet potato with acar pickles and sambal balado was another disappointment. It was soggy and the taste was flat. The moment we see curry and sambal on the menu, we prick up our senses and have great expectations, but alas, another ‘nice’ dish lacking in a kick from the inherent spices.

Last dish from the savory starter <Gurita Bakar> which is a grilled octopus dish with okra, shitake mushrooms and Jimbaran sauce. The grilled octopus taste more like a hotel buffet’s standard without much personality while the overly cooked orka doesn’t blend in with the grilled shitake mushroom either. It is more like a group of strangers reunion. When we looked back at all the savoury dishes, our palate was still waiting with anticipation for even a little explosion of heat on the taste buds, but nothing for the moment.

The picturesque lotus-shaped cocoon semi-private dining pods of woven bamboo and the stone tables offers you more privacy. This intimacy is best for the petit you and barely any movements if you weight 180 pounds for further comfort and limited room to stretch your legs. Beware of the sharp edges below the stone tables. Cushions was not aired to get rid of the sweat odor left behind by previous diners and spider webs begin to build their nest in between the woven bamboo which need further housekeeping attention.

When the main courses arrived, we wondered if this would be the moment of nirvana for our spice addiction. We opted for the <Baby Back Pork Ribs> glazed with a spicy Jimbaran BBQ and grilled leeks and a <Beef Rendang> with chili and coconut caramelized Wagyu beef cheeks with potato and cassava. We thought this could be the ultimate Balinese dishes served in TRi with more spice in complexity and authenticity. Without much expectation, there will be no disappointment.

Both meat dishes was perfectly cooked with plenty of expected flavor for each chosen cut of meat, but what happened to the Balinese kick we asked ourselves? We looked for the spiciness as one should expect given the wording and ingredients on the menu, the spices must have crept off for a nap while the chef was cooking, as there was nothing truly spicy to awaken the taste buds at all. These dishes could have come from any Asian kitchen, as they were lacking that defining depth of heat and spice of the Balinese’s authenticity.

 Still not truly satisfy, we have an additional order for the <Duck Soto> - a Balinese style braised duck soup, glass noodles, tomatoes, koya and cabbage which chicken were widely used in this dish, we thought with the duck substitute, this dish will be much more exotic. The shredded duck was tenderly cooked in great flavor and yet the stock did not absorb the essence of the duck in order to make this an outstanding all time favorite Balinese’s street food outstanding.

Now don’t get us wrong, we are not trying to imply that the whole brunch was disappointing. It is all comes down to what sort of heat level you expect with the inclusion of spices and mind you not every Balinese dish is spicy, we opted for its authenticity but when it is meant to be spicy, do ensure that it is, or at least offering the option on the level of heat and spice to cater for different palate craving.

We felt that a couple of desserts would put a smile back on our faces, so we had the <Dadar Gulung> a Balinese pancake with coconut filling and poppy seeds crumble and yet the rough texture of the paste ruined the delights if the coconut fillings. The only dish on the entire brunch that really capture our palette with pleasant surprise is the homemade <Green Mango Ice Cream with Curry Leaf and Kemangi Sorbet> with its intense tangy yet refreshing flavor from the citrus green mango and pungent curry leaf, it is exactly what TRi should deliver from all aspects of modern contemporary Balinese cuisine. Simplicity is king with the right ingredient combination used to achieve the desired outcome and extraordinary ceramic dinnerware are tailor made and designed to evoke a truly Balinese experience and adds additional craving onto the presentation of every dish.

We feel we should give you a heads up about this new dining concept, if you are looking for something different without being overloaded with a medium to high level of heat in other words, the flavours are safe, and TRi has what you need. Service was not as seamless as we expected, it was a bit uneven in the manner and lacking of warmth. The general front of house staff could improve on the smiles and service attitude with the exception of the hostess and manager who did look after every table quite well. If you can’t make it to Bali to enjoy Balinese food and ambience, TRi could offer you the instant sense of luxe of Bali while you are still in Hong Kong.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4/5
Design & Decor: 5/5
Food & Beverage: 2.5/5
Service: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5

Design & Decor
Home made Ice Cream

Authenticity of Balinese Cuisine

Shop 302
3/F, Lobby C The Pulse
Repulse Bay, Hong Kong
Tel:+852 2515 0577

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