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Gastronomic Delights at Cuca Flavor in Jimbaran Bay, Bali

How times have changed in the last few years; I used to scour Lonely Plant and other guide books to find ideas for restaurants and places to go while on holiday. Now my methods are completely different – I check out my favourite blogs first and follow their tips for what to do and where to eat in a particular destination. When I was reading Shikha’s wonderful blog, Why Waste Annual Leave, I came across her recommendation for Cuca Flavor in Jimbaran Bay not far from The Four Seasons Jimbaran where we were staying. The food looked incredible and I immediately added it to my list.
As I have a *mild* obsession with food, before I visit a restaurant I’ve generally already decided what I’m going to have from the menu. After reading Shikha’s post this beautiful smoked butterfish in the shape of a rose served with a unique accompaniment of beetroot yoghurt, zucchini pickle and parsley crumb was high up on my list. It definitely didn’t disappoint, in fact none of the food at Cuca did!

Of course, we started with the cocktail menu and rather interestingly, there is a mocktail version of every single one; Cuca-Flavor Cuca-Flavor
I went for a Bali Mary which turned out be vodka ice cubes with Balinese chilli and citrus and tomato water poured on top.Cuca-Flavor
Mr S chose a Tokyo Mojito that was a refreshing blend of lemon balm, soda, rum and fresh citrus.

The menu is made up of tapas tasting size dishes intended for sharing and split into the categories of harvested, hooked and farmed or in other words vegetables, fish and meat. Knowing we were in for a treat, Mr S and I chose several different dishes.Cuca-Flavor
A beautifully tender octopus dish served with Asian gazpacho, apple, caramelised cauliflower and coriander.Cuca-FlavorCuca-Flavor
Grandma’s chicken meatballs was a great way to describe this dish as it was definitely comfort food. A hug in a bowl; a hearty stew of tomato gravy, zucchini noodles and a good grind of black pepper.
Our absolute favourite dish of the night, rice crusted soft shell crab with garlic aioli, BBQ pineapple and curry leaf. I’ve had soft shell crab in batter many times but never in crispy rice, I loved the unique take on this dish.

Cuca is run by devoted owner Virginia Entizne and Chef Kevin Cherkas who developed his skills in some of the world’s best restaurants. Kevin worked in Spain at three Michelin star restaurants Arzak in San Sebastian and El Bulli, voted the best restaurant in the world. He later work in New York in Daniel Boulud’s three Michelin-star restaurant, Daniel – that’s quite a starry past! Virginia and Kevin carefully selected their kitchen team based both on personality as well as skill and whilst eating at the restaurant you can peer through into the open kitchen and even eat whilst watching the chefs at work.
Cuca-Flavor Cuca-Flavor
We ate at private table instead. Actually my one complaint about Cuca was I thought that the dining room was very minimalist, I loved restaurants with a sense of place and a view but I felt we could have really been anywhere. Having said that there is an outdoor garden lounge, where you can sip cocktails under coconuts trees, that has a much more Balinese feel to it.Cuca-Flavor
Of course, KFC-loving Mr S’s eyes lit up when he saw crisp fried chicken with wild honey, country coleslaw, sesame dust and Asian basil on the menu. I love the fact that though the dishes were westernised the chef integrated local ingredients and fresh market products.Cuca-Flavor
Our final savoury dish was claypot chicken rice with slow cooked chicken broth, Balinese organic rice and sweetcorn. Though the dishes were small, they were quite creamy meaning they were pretty filling and only a few each were needed. But once again I remembered the delicious desserts from Shikha’s post and I already knew what we were having, and no Mr S didn’t have any choice in the matter.
I adore the combination of chocolate and mint and ordering the cocoa 99 with warm organic chocolate, mint ice cream and cocoa croutons was an absolute given! The dish is basically a deconstructed After Eight, and I loved the sweet chocolate off set by the chilled flavours of the mint.
Our second dessert of strawberry cloud cake made with freshly baked sponge, pandan gelato and berry cream which was beautifully light and refreshing. Though I’d already decided what I was having, I have to say that all the other desserts looked incredible and so inventive – how good does caramel apple with black pepper ice cream, caramel and waffle crumbs sound?

If you’re looking for a break from super spicy food and something different to grilled fish whilst in Jimbaran, I would certainly recommend a visit to Cuca! Thanks Shikha for pointing me in the right direction 🙂

Have you been to Bali? Did you try any restaurants in Jimbaran? 

  • Angie this looks amazing! I agree – reading blogs is definitely the best inspiration before traveling! I love the idea of the Western dishes becoming more Balinese in flavour. Those cocktails also seem so fun!

    Lauren xx | The Lifestyle Diaries

    • Exactly, everything here was so good, I couldn’t fault the cooking.

  • This has been our fave meal in Bali so far, also thanks to Shikha’s recommendation. Mind you we have a few nights to go yet!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • I’m really glad that you enjoyed it too! I know it was right next to your hotel 🙂 Definitely a must do!
      Lots of love,

  • Everything looks so good! x

  • Looks so amazing! I love bright and colourful food, and those cocktails look fantastic! xxx

  • Thank you so much for the very kind mentions Angie! I’m so delighted you enjoyed the food too! It’s funny what you said about the decor because I felt exactly the same way about it. Also, I think our husbands would get along rather well – mine chose the same cocktail as Mr S and his face also lit up at the first mention of the fried chicken!! And honestly, as the teetotaler who rarely holds any drinks more glamorous than an OJ, I can’t tell you how exciting it was to have such diverse mocktail menu! ?

    • OMG, that would be so funny if they got together for fried chicken ;). I agree, great to have such a large choice of mocktails.
      Lots of love,

  • georgemula

    Yes, the Four Seasons in Jimbaran Bay is very relaxing although we found their other hotel in Ubud, being
    in the jungle a little more exciting. The chef their was kind enough to design a special menu for us. The most
    memorable aspect of which was the dessert made mainly with Tapioca, which was amazing. I had hated tapioca
    all my life since being forced to eat it by the nuns at school and this changed my views completely.

    In Jimbaran Bay I recall a restaurant on the beach itself where we chose a lobster so huge that the two of
    us struggled to eat it. Fantastic!

    • Agreed, Ubud was my favourite area of Bali. Where was it you stayed? The bespoke menu sounds amazing?

  • Wow at the Bali Mary! Vodka ice cubes? Definitely unique! x

  • sonderbarmii

    Looks amazing!! I had to chuckle a bit at the “*mild* obsession with food” part 🙂

  • Mehreen A

    I love how the cocktail glasses bend – after a few that’s gotta look pretty psychedelic! Your pics have come out so beautifully too, really nicely framed x

    Mehreen A | wrapyourlipsaroundthis.com

    • Lol! The glasses are drunk themselves! Thanks lovely, always difficult when it’s dark but they have come out nicely 🙂
      Lots of love,A

  • Cuca Restaurant

    Thank you so so much Angie for your wonderful article, beautiful pictures and your kind words about Cuca! We are super happy to read. It means a lot to everyone in Cuca 😀 We hope to see you again soon and
    have a pleasant day ahead!

    Warm regards from Cuca.

    • I’m so glad that you liked it! Please do share with all your followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 🙂
      Lots of love,

      • Cuca Restaurant

        We will of course share it with our followers. We have a schedule for our Social Media so it may take a few days but we will post it everywhere soon!

        Thank you again for coming and we are so glad you enjoyed Cuca!

  • Finding good restaurants can be hard and when on holiday you want to make the most of the experience. Reading blog post is a great way to learn what is good. This looks yummy, I like he tapas idea and the strawberry cloud cake looks wonderful Lucy x

    • It was amazing Lucy and completely different to any other restaurant there!
      Lots of love,

  • I think everyone’s eyes light up when it comes to crispy chicken! Also, a deconstructed After Eight is about the only deconstructed dessert that actually sounds amazing to me! 🙂

  • May

    I’m really loving your food photography xx