Tucked away in a back road just off the small town of Tegallalang in Ubud and after passing through a small village of Desa Kelili, on arrival, expectations are heightened by the fact that the entrance is so secretive and not only the security check on each vehicle entering the gated property of the entire estate, but what is about to unfold in front of you is a guaranteed wow moment of its visionary stunning nature surroundings, unless you are a fool that has not much sense of having an admiration of any sort of architectural or design and decor aesthetic, then you are forgiven.
You alight from your vehicle and then you are escorted down a path whereupon you are confronted with an amazing sight of many small tent-like structures, which are unique “tree hanging” guest rooms, restaurants, a spa, a gym house, guest lounge, outdoor terraced rice field design swimming pool and so forth. It is truly a stunning sight that you will not expect and we were bowled over within seconds. At the tented ‘lobby’ we were confirmed for our dinner and escorted to another larger tent pavillion where Api Jiwa’s action takes place which immediately screams destination dining, as there is nothing ordinary about this location and design.
Totally unconventional. With so much thought and challenging determined hard work by designing this one-of-a-kind luxury “camp-site” that blends in aesthetically with the nature, the design team helmed by globally renown atelier landscape architect, Bill Bensley always make things work with an unexpectedly sophistication of enlightenment and winning results. The interior design is so quirky and makes you smile. All installed elements are referencing an old steam laundry and it really leaves you gobsmacked and you almost laugh in disbelief. Laundry baskets, laundry boards, charcoaled cast irons, copper tubs, rusted water pipes, cast iron framed doors, blanket sticks and many more, all thoughtfully aligned and displayed on the complex wall.
Beautifully presented and the taste was as good as it gets for fresh produce on a beautiful stoneware plate.The large chunky flesh of the oyster was dressed with oyster mushroom, garlic and watercress. Visually invisible but its all in the taste, the Lombok meaty oyster is lightly seared to a smoky flavour and the combination components adds a little more breadth of flavour and texture, which is rounded off by the garlic oil and watercress to create quite a delicious start to this culinary journey.
Despite the seaweed had collapsed and lost the crispiness due to the high humidity, for 12 plus pieces handmade at the same time resulted to enjoy this delicate unagi at its peak, the eel was served with a chili and ginger topping, brushed with mirin and soy sauce with a light sambal matah match. Subtlety is king, as the eel is not a very strong flavour, so no other ingredient dominates, resulting in a pleasant mouthful.
Probably it was the soul dish of Api Jiwa’s omakase experience with a great combination of smoked bacon, egg custard and a bite size piece of lobster on the top, served hot and beautifully presented in an eggshell and is simply divine. The umami flavours derived from all the ingredients used was carefully crafted and presented in a great flavour. By far the best dish for the evening, the way omakase goes. Paired with the fruity and floral light crisp 2022 Hawker’s Bay Haha Pinot Gris from New Zealand.
This is one of the all time classics for Indonesian’s iconic national dish with a slight twist whereby two birds kill one stone, as the expression goes – the chicken skewer sitting atop the cup of fragrant clear chicken broth was tender and between the two pieces of chicken thigh is a chicken heart for a different texture that adds richness. The chicken broth consists of turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, celery and lightly thickened with coconut milk. We love the idea of one dish in two separate ayam flavours and textures despite the broth was a bit ordinary and lacking of the omakase surprise and can be done more distinctively with a twist to enhance the palate. The chicken skewers of meat quality were palatable, but in one of the skewers we had, the meat was more than 80% fat.
The cabbage and kimchi sauce was not quite a successful execution, it was underwhelming, not only tasteless, tough and not well marinated to deliver the pungent kimchi flavour. While the kambing meat itself was already a standout, tender, juicy and flavoursome and needing no further accompaniment to enhance it. Stainless steel skewers should also be replaced by wooden stick/bamboo or even the entire lemongrass stick for omakase dining experience as well as authenticity by paying homage to Balinese cuisine, for its organic presentation and additional aromatic plate added to the entire dish. Paired with a 2016 Naked Range Merlot for its smooth and dark cherry notes.
This dish elevates a humble vegetable to legendary status with great taste and a complexity of curry and coconut cream. The cauliflower was barbequed into a tender and smoky state and then served in an Indonesian curry with coconut cream and cumin, to add that flavour dimension. A pleasant vegetarian dish that stands on its own.
<Grilled River Prawn>
The prawn is marinated overnight and served with bean sprouts and green beans, along with a small portion side of Nasi Goreng. While Nasi Goreng is the soul of Balinese cuisine and in any Asian culinary sphere, it is always a huge challenge for a simple dish not done right, unfortunately, this version here was not up to an ordinary Nasi Goreng standard of its flavour and texture. Not only the rice was pre-cooked and reheated on a small induction stove that can’t offer any smokey flavours nor fluffiness, but dry and tough, nearly a soggy-burnt version which was not too pleasant to enjoy. One of us had only two scoops and could not continue. The halved river prawn was beautifully grilled with a light char flavour and with great texture, fresh and tender. Yet, the ‘salad’ sauce is subtle and a pleasant accompaniment that does not overshadow the sensational prawns. Once again, the sauce is so unnecessary and did not bring out the best from the prawn, so it would have been better to have a citrusy and pungent dressing instead. Paired with a 201 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon, the vanilla aromatics fruity notes gave a rich mouth feel yet didn't seem to go well with the prawn dish.
The Australian Angus beef smoked with rosemary and thyme, dressed with beef jus, red onion and BBQ sauce that has paprika and mustard was beautifully cooked and presented on classy stoneware. All flavours harmonized and balanced well and were totally spot on for omakase and the degustation experience.
Time for a palate refresh with crushed ice drizzled with coconut and lime. A beautiful melange of flavours, tasty refreshing tangerine with a hint of sweetness although the granita had already suffered in the humidity and collapsed to become more like a juice. Expect a little more like a crushed-ice plate when granita is mentioned yet too smooth and watery in texture.
This confection is a combination of banana sponge with caramelized banana sauce, with the miso parfait placed in the middle of the sponge that was not soft, nor airy and not much on a miso palate either. The plating presentation is quite attractive but didn’t highlight much of the content.
A lovely selection of delectable bites to round off the omakase journey but not impressive at all. The “Madelene” was soggy, lacked sweetness and minused the mandarin or fruity hint, the sesame ball and the other nutty bite was tough sitting on a chunky dull stoneware.
Design & Decor: 5/5
Food & Beverages: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.