Saturday, August 30, 2008

THE HIGHLY EXPECTED VS THE UNEXPECTED


THE HIGHLY EXPECTED
The only complain I have about staying in Kuta area is the lack of good local food. All the surrounding eateries seem to cater for tourists, as in Caucasian tourists. There are more western food in the menu than local food that comprises the usual nasi goreng (fried rice) and satay (skewered meat) which of course, not cheap too. While searching for food one afternoon, we wandered off quite a distance from our hotel. We couldn't find any restaurants serving local cuisine and almost decided to give up the search when suddenly, a big signboard appeared right in front of me bearing the familiar name "MADE'S WARUNG"!

Before my trip to Bali, I was told that Made's Warung serves great food and this was confirmed by the numerous good reviews I read online. I didn't bother tracking this place down because I have no idea how far it would be from our hotel. Imagine how lucky I felt at that moment, especially with an empty stomach begging out loud for food!!
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Made's Warung was established in year 1969 and is one of the famous restaurants in Kuta. Judging from the crowd consisting of both tourists and locals, I waited for my food with high anticipation! Menu here consists of western and Balinese cuisine and of course we opted for local specialities instead of spaghetti (hey, it rhymes!). They even have babi guling here but sadly, you need to order it 1 day in advance.

To start off with, Hubby had local Bintang beer. Diluted even for a non-alcoholic (am I?) like me.
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For appetiser, we had pork satay that came in 10 skewers for 38,000 Rupiah (~RM11.40 / USD 3.30). First bite, delicious! But would prefer it slightly burnt. Two more bites and I got turned off by the strong porky taste. Hubby who doesn't like to waste food ended up finishing my share. Bad start? Nah, read on cos this satay is going to be the best dish of this meal.
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I spotted the Japanese couple at the next table having a pot of crabs. I am such a sucker for crabs. Scanned through the menu and found it! Fresh Crab in Balinese Sauce at 75,000 Rupiah (~RM22.50 / USD 6.55). It was a HUGE crab as it filled up the whole pot! I was even more delighted when I discovered the crab was full of roes!!
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Look at that!!! Chunks after chunks of roes. I felt sorry for the crab. If I were the one to cook it, it would at least died with a value. This whole pot was completely inedible. It was OVERCOOKED!!! It was so overcooked that the roes were dry and coarse. Plenty of water needed to wash it down my throat. The meat was dry and hard. Gosh! Never eaten such bad crab in my life. And the gravy? I wouldn't even call it gravy. Bland and tasteless. BAD BAD BAD!
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The next dish, well, was a mistake. Hubby didn't read the menu properly. He wanted to have whole grilled fish and ended up ordering the dish Pepesan, a spicy fish pate that came with rice and some veggie. I never like our local otak-otak (grilled spicy fish paste) but after tasting this, I changed my mind. Hubby who doesn't like to waste food ended up finishing the whole plate.
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To fill up our stomach, Hubby decided to order a bowl of noodle soup. To my horror, this bowl of instant noodle was placed in front of me. Speechless!! Close friends would know that I rather starve myself than have instant noodle, in this case, the same principle applied. Hubby who doesn't like to waste food finished off the bowl of noodle.
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I am really surprised why this place has got so much good reviews. Did we order all the wrong dishes? Or something wrong with our tastebud? Or did I put up too much expectation on this place? One thing for sure, I left the place with a grumpy face. But if you are still interested to give this place a try, check out their location HERE.

THE UNEXPECTED
I was very upset over the horrible lunch. I was skeptical with Hubby's idea to give another restaurant serving Balinese food a try. I wanted something with assurance. I even suggested Pizza Hut and Hubby thought I was crazy. After walking aimlessly, we ended up at Bubba Gump Shrimp, yes, the Forrest Gump inspired eatery. I have always wanted to visit their outlet at The Curve but I guess I don't need to now. Hubby gladly obliged when I told him they served shrimps, our common favourite food (oh, we actually have an endless list). Actually it was the theme that caught his interest as he is a big big fan of Forrest Gump movie.
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I just love the attentive service by the staffs. Want some service? Just flip to the red licence plate and you will get IMMEDIATE service.
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The blue plate serves the same function as the "Do Not Disturb" door tag in your hotel room.
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I was torn between Pink or Blue Frozen Lemon-Ups priced at 28,000 Rupiah (~RM8.40 / USD2.44). I was told there is no difference in terms of taste, hence I chose blue to have a nicer contrast in my photo.
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To start off our meal, we had the Mama Gump's Garlic Bread Basket priced at 25,000 Rupiah (RM7.50 / USD 2.18). I got to say, that was the best piece of garlic bread I ever had in my life. It was butterly rich with just the right amount of garlic and best of all, it was cheesey too. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. I don't mind having just this for dinner. Hubby was delighted that the bread was served on a piece of replica of the newspaper in the movie. He was too shy to ask for a clean copy to keep so I gladly requested on his behalf.
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We had a small portion of Shrimper's Net Catch (98000 Rupiah / RM29.40 / USD8.55) to share. You can either opt for your steamed shrimp flavoured with garlic spice or cajun spice. While I was struggling to decide on the flavour, the waitress suggested for half portion of each. I felt like hugging her! A real hands-on dish as you need to peel your own shrimp. Best way is to pop the whole shrimp body into your mouth to suck the spices off the shell before stripping it from the body. Mmm...both spices won my heart but I like cajun more cos it was spicy.
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The moment I saw this in the menu, I knew I must order it: Dixie Style Baby Back Ribs (98,000 Rupiah / RM29.40 / USD 8.55). The slowly roasted rack of pork ribs were served with fries and salad. It was yummy. Tender and the well marinated meat fall off its bone without much effort. Yummy!
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It is funny how a place where you don't put much hope could end up so memorable. I definitely left the place with a wide grin and vowed to return again if I have a chance to revisit Bali.


Do visit if you have given up hope on local food there:
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Komplek Pertokoan Kuta Centre
Blok A1 No. 1JL Kartika Plaza No. 8X
Kuta, Bali 80361
Tel 011 62 361 754 028

By the way, this is the last post of my Bali trip!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

PEA'S CREAMY BUTTER CRABS

Another 3 unlucky victims! Crabs must be in season, lucky me! Still selling at RM25 per kilo at the wet market. These three darlings only priced at RM22. They seemed to be much more agressive than the one I bought last week. My conclusion would be because these 3 darlings here were female crabs. Bad news for them, I just love challenges! I will skip the killing part, but for those who are interested to know how to dissect a crab, please click HERE.
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I have been tempted to try this recipe from Kuali for quite some time but somehow I kept forgetting until Babe left me a reminder in her comment at my last crab post. I didn't follow exactly the recipe because the thought of using 200 gram of margarine in this dish sounded so artery clogging. If you wish to follow the recipe by Kuali, do click on the link above, otherwise you can follow the improvised recipe as follows:

Ingredients:
1kg mud crabs
100 gram butter
1 can evaporated milk
4-6 birds' eye chillies (leave whole and lightly smashed)
4 stalks curry leaves (leaves only)
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
A dash of fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs corn flour mix with 1 1/2 tbb water

I regretted following the recipe for poaching my crabs. I find it wasteful to have all the crab essence thrown away after poaching it. For my next attempt, I will surely cook the crab in the creamy sauce.
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Heat butter in a wok until melted then add the evaporated milk. I used a big and deep claypot for easy stirring. Add the curry leaves, chilli padi and seasoning. Gently simmer the mixture over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Keep stirring the mixture.
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Add the corn starch and stir gently over a very low heat until sauce is thick and glossy in texture.
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Throw in the crab and stir well and let it simmer for another minute. If you take my suggestion for not poaching the crab beforehand, then let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes. REMEMBER TO KEEP STIRRING.
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The end result? Ta da......a very yummy pot of creamy rich flavourful butter crab.
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I always find butter crab best to go with deep fried buns or mantou which you can easily get from the supermarket. I got mine from the wet market at RM4 for 6 pieces. Instead of having it deep fried, I had it pan fried with a little oil. The flower bun was really good. Very soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Too bad I threw away the wrapper, next time I will remember to take a picture of it.
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Dip it with the creamy butter sauce.....mmm....heavenly sinful! The gravy is really really good, I can proudly claim that it is as good as 'restaurant standard', really no kidding! Sadly the crab didn't absorb much of the buttery gravy since it was poached. More reason for me to give it another try.
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Still hungry for more crabs? Then, please drop by at:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lala Chong Seafood Restaurant @ Old Subang Airport

I met up with my old school pals for dinner yesterday. As expected, I was given the honour to choose the dinner venue. For a change, I didn't need to crack my head as I already have a place in mind. Somewhere that is convenient to all of us; Lala Chong Seafood Restaurant! Situated right in front of Terminal 3 of the Old Subang Airport, one would not miss the restaurant with its bright neon lights and the amount of cars parked in front of the restaurant. It was crowded even on a weekday so I could not imagine how it would be like during the weekends.

I did a bit of homework by going through a few blogs to check out what is good and what is not, cos as expected, I will be given the honour again to order the food. Since there were only 3 of us, we decided not to be overly ambitious but to stick to a couple of MUST-ORDER dishes.

Everyone seems to rave on their signature Lala in Superior Stock (RM10) and now I knew the reason why. The perfectly steamed lalas (clams) were juicy and fresh. But the best would be the stock. It was sweet and rich with essence of the lalas. Good till the last drop! I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this dish too.
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Another highly recommended signature dish of theirs is the stir fry paku (fern) with tuna (RM10). Initially, I thought it was a weird combo but since everyone is raving about it, how bad could it be? It was another good choice made. The paku was tossed with spicy chunks of tuna and goes really well with white rice. One word: DELICIOUS!
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For the third dish, I ordered the recommended Japanese-style Grilled Mackeral. Sadly, we were told 5 mins later that they ran out of Mackeral and the waitress suggested to substitute it with either Cod or Butter Fish. We settle for Butter Fish (RM20) instead. I didn't quite enjoy the fish. The texture of the fish somehow wasn't meant to be grilled. You know, there are types of fish that are meant to be steamed while some are meant to be fried or grilled, so this is definitely a big big mistake. Give me raw butter fish with wasabi anytime.
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Who could have thought after the 3 dishes with rice, the slimmest among us actually requested to order more dishes? She was torn between fried squid and oyster omelet, both dishes that she was eyeing on from the next table. From the gluttony look on her face, I knew she wish to have both but we insist that she can only order one. In the end, she settled for Deep Fried Squid (RM10). We were impressed when the dish was served. Each squid ring was so perfectly thinly battered and deep fried till golden brown. The batter has got some curry powder aroma to it. I expected it to be crispy but I was wrong. The batter was so thin that when you put it into your mouth, it actually melted away. Although I like my batter thin, I certainly would prefer it crispy as well.
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Total bill came up to RM66.15 including tea, rice, titbits, towel and 5% tax. Reasonable isn't it? Will certainly be back as I still have a long list of highly recommended food that I want to try. Will post it up when I revisit.

Lala Chong Seafood Restaurant is located at:
PT 6824 Terminal 3
Old Subang Airport
Tel: 03-7859.1906
H/P: 019-650.6824
Food: Halal

Monday, August 18, 2008

PEA'S SWEET SOUR CHILLI CRABS

Poor crabs! These 4 fellas were really unlucky to have bumped into me at the wet market yesterday. At RM25 per kg, these fellas cost about RM29 after I managed to bargain from RM30.
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I have a confession! Not only I love eating crabs, I enjoys killing them too! The most humane way to kill a crab is to put it into the freezer for few minutes. Or you can try my method. Turn it upside down and you will see the 'apron' which is the abdomen of the crab which is folded under the body; male's is narrow and long while mature female's is semicircular. Lift it up and using a sharp butcher knife, chop right into the middle of the crab all the way down right before reaching the shell. Your struggling crab will immediately ......well, stop struggling!
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Remove the 'apron' and you will see a gap. Using your finger, give it a soft pull and the shell will detach from the legs and body. Remove the gills which looks like spongey filaments arranged around a central axis. There are eight gills on each side. Pull it off and give your crab a nice scrub to remove mud and dirt. As for the shell, handle with care especially the roes.
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Separate the claws from the body and using the back of the knife, give it a light smash till see you tiny cracks.
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I like my crabs cooked the simplest yet tastiest way: STEAMED! However upon Hubby's request, I cooked sweet and sour crabs so that he could dip bread into the gravy. The ingredients are very simple:

4 medium-sized crabs
6 pips garlic chopped
1 red onion chopped
2 tbs ginger chopped
2 tbs coriander (stem only)
1 tbs birds' eye chilies
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For the gravy, I used:

4 tbs tomato ketchup
5 tbs chili sauce
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs soya sauce
1 tsp shaoxing wine
1 tbs lime juice/black vinegar
A dash of fish sauce
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With 4 tbs of oil, sauteed the onion, garlic, ginger, coriander stem and chilies over low heat.
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When the ingredients turned golden brown, increase the fire and pour in the crabs. Give it a good stir.
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Once the crabs turns orangey, pour in the gravy concoction and add one cup of water. Give it a od stir. Bring it to boil and cover for 3 mins.
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Continue stirring for 2 mins. Turn off the fire and pour in a beaten egg slowly while giving it a good stir.
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Dish up and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with white rice or bread.
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Verdict? YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!! Even Pea said so too!
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Wanna read more of my obsession with crabs? Proceed by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sunset Fishing @ Nusa Dua, Bali

No one could have guessed what we did in Bali. The moment we checked into our hotel, Hubby went through all the travel brochures we grabbed from the airport and decided to make this trip a memorable one for me. Something extraordinary: deep sea fishing! Hubby knew that I am hooked with this new hobby and frustrated at the same time as I have not caught anything decent apart from the infant tilapia. Immediately, he called to book for the trip which costs 640,000 Rupiah or RM192 per person and we were told that to date, none of their customers went back empty handed. Furthermore, we will be guided by an expert fishing guide, so why worry? With that assurance, Hubby went ahead with the booking. The package also comes with return transfer from the hotel, fishing gear, drinks and dinner.

We were picked up from our hotel at 4 p.m. sharp and headed straight to Nusa Dua, about 40 mins from Kuta. We were the only couple signed up for the trip, hence we got the boat all for ourselves. Now, isn't that great?

Nusa Dua is another popular tourist area with many luxury 5-star resorts lining along the beach. It is more peaceful and quiet here as compared to Kuta. Since it was low-tide, we walked straight to our boat. It was a beautiful sunny evening, proved that my prayers were answered.
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The naive me thought that it will be a big luxury yacth. Well, I was so excited and chirpy that day so it didn't really bothered me much.
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About 15 minutes away from the coast of Nusa Dua, the 'fishing expert' who accompanied us took out all the fishing equipments and started putting the baits for us. I was so excited and almost requested him to speed things up!
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The sea was rough and choppy that day. Bad sign! Anyway, since they said no one went back empty handed before, I was not worried at all.

Hubby: Yummz.....I hope they have some wasabi and soya sauce cos am going to have my fish raw!
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I felt a sudden jerk and immediately I reeled in the line. It was really heavy and I had to struggle quite a bit with the weight. You just cannot imagine how excited I was as the fish I caught must be really big! And guess what I caught?

Tada....a bag-full of seawater. Salt anyone? BUMMER! More of such incident happened with seaweed. Was told that presence of seaweed is not good, meaning NO FISH! We were like WHAT?? We tried a few location but the seaweed kept tangled with our line. The 'fishing master' was a bit frustrated too. But I didn't give up, I knew I have to be patient.
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After spending an hour on the boat, I can feel that my tummy began to feel weird. My head was spinning. SEASICK! I wanted to throw up but I cannot do that cos I had A LOT OF HOT AND FIERY BIRDS' EYE CHILIES for lunch! So I tried to be very very quiet, looking at the sky while praying hard that I will catch at least 1 fish.

Tick tock...tick tock...tick tock...tick tock...

It was supposed to be sunset fishing trip, hence, when the sun goes down, that would be the end of our fishing trip. I guess they pitied us and asked if we would like to stay longer, we gave up and requested for them to send us back. Adding salt to our wound, the driver told us that he is surprised that we didn't catch anything as the day before, the customer managed to catch a big fish. Grrrrrr!!!
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I guess we broke their record for being the first to go home empty handed. Well, not exactly empty handed as we were given a box each; our dinner! This would be our most expensive dinner ever cos all we get was some cold fries, a dry chicken pattie, a small piece of watermelon and a nausea stomach. But am still very glad Hubby arranged the trip for me, it is the thought that counts. Thank you Hubby!
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Something off the track, well, not exactly off but just want to share on my fishing trip last Saturday near my place in Setia Alam. We decided to join the group of Indonesians fishing at the pond since they have so much luck in getting one fish every few minutes even with using a broom stick as fishing pole!!! We were so well-equipped (with bags and accessories box), ended up a few Indonesians even approach Hubby to buy some hooks from him.
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Spent more than an hour there and proud to announce that I have caught my 2nd fish! An infant tilapia which I contributed to their dinner! I guess from now on, they are more than happy to see me there.
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Next post will be the last of my Bali trip. Food-related ;)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Romantic Sunset Dinner @ Jimbaran

Our full-day Bali tour finally came to an end, a memorable ending to our trip. We specially requested to have dinner at Jimbaran as it is a highly recommended dining place in all tourist guides. According to Wikipedia, Jimbaran is a fishing village and tourist resort and the beach is cluttered with seafood restaurants. For your information, one of the restaurants here was bombed during the 2005 Bali bombing.

Best time to arrive is before sunset, and do be early to have the best seat! All the restaurants here serve the same thing: Seafood! But according to my friend, the food is nothing spectacular but the dining experience and superb view are.
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We arrived just in time, about 20 mins before sunset.
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Since our driver stopped us at AMC (Artha Mulia Cafe), we didn't have the chance to explore other restaurants as we were ushered straight away to our table together with our citrusy welcoming drink. We were lucky to get the first table, hence no one was blocking our view in front. While I was busy taking photos, Hubby was busy studying the menu. The price of seafood here is not exactly cheap and you have the option of either choosing your seafood from the fish tank which is priced according to weight, or you can avoid cracking your head by ordering the seafood set starting from the price of 700,000 Rupiah or RM210 onwards. We find the price of the seafood set simply too unreasonable so we went to choose our live seafood from the tank instead.
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Can you spot the plane? Jimbaran is located at the south of the airport, hence we have full view of plane landing and taking off throughout our dinner. We spotted something else too...food, of course!
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While waiting for our food to arrive, Hubby suggested that we get something to munch. Well, I knew he was hungry since we didn't have much for lunch. (Remember the lousy babi guling and nasi goreng that we didn't finish off?). And so, we had one BBQ Sweet Corn to share.
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A choice of either Butter or Spicy sauce brushed onto our sweetcorn. We didn't want to be too adventurous so we stick to butter. I wonder if we were really hungry at that time, it was one of the best corn ever!
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My supposed-to-be-young coconut drink (18,000 Rupiah ~ RM5.40) was a big disappointent. The outer layer is turning to pale green-light yellow. Not sweet, bad bad bad!
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Complimentary chicken soup was served together with boiled potatoes. The soup was surprisingly tasty. We found some tuna pieces in the soup too.
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Stir-fry Kangkung (water spinach) with spicy sauce was also complimentary.
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Three different types of dipping sauce were served. Spicy sambal pasta, chili and onion salsa and kicap manis with cili padi (sweet soy sauce with birds' eye chili). The kicap manis was really good and it goes so well with the roast chicken we ordered. It was so tasty that I could simply have this with white rice alone. While asking for my second helping, I asked the waiter how the sauce was made. It's so simple, just sweet soy sauce with chilies! I bought two bottles of kicap manis home and I am going to recreate this to serve with fried fish soon.
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After the lunch disaster, I didn't really give much hope for the food here. When our first dish arrived, it looked promising. Half BBQ chicken (75,000 Rupiah ~ RM22.50) was grilled with chili paste. The burnt bits was so aromatic and the chicken was wonderfully grilled to perfection. Like I mentioned earlier, the chicken went REALLY REALLY well with the kicap manis sauce. Big thumbs up!
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We each had a Grilled King Prawn (220,000 Rupiah ~ RM66.00) and again, it was grilled to perfection. The prawn was juicy and bounchy. And again, it was smothered with the cili paste before grilled. It wasn't overly spicy, just enough to bring the flavour out from the prawns! YUMMY!!
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The waitress recommended for our 800 gram of squid (92,000 Rupiah ~ RM27.60) to be deep-fried but I insisted to have it grilled instead. I concluded by now that the chef is really good in controling the fire. Again, it was grilled to perfection! With a squeeze of lime over it, PERFECT!


And of course, how could we not order my favourite crustacean friend; Mr Crab! We only ordered one small crab about 400 gram to share (145,000 ~ RM43.50) since we we want more variety of seafood and am glad that they do now impose minimum order for crab like in KL. The crab meat was firm and sweet, a sign that the crab was indeed very fresh. 14

Our dishes were served before sunset, just in time for me to have a bit of natural light to take some photos of my food. While piggin out on our food and enjoying the cool breeze and sound of the waves, this is the view right in front of us.
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When it started to get dark, the candle on our table was lighted up. Romantic candlelight on the beach with tasty fresh seafood. Ahhh..that's life!
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The price of our dinner came up to 482,000 Rupiah or approximately RM144 / USD 43.30. With the view alone, it was already well worth the price, but with the unexpected good food, it was a big big JACKPOT! This is definately a moment in Bali that will be the most cherished!


Next post: Hubby arranged for a SPECIAL tour...don't waste time guessing cos you would never guess it. Stay tuned to find out!


 

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