While we were staying in Ubud I was keen to visit all the sites of cultural significance and the beautiful natural wonders, but I had one other place on my mind too: Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique. Mozaic is the one of Bali’s most famous and best restaurants, the first of its kind on the island and the forerunner for fine-dining. I love trying local food but I was also keen to visit this award-winning restaurant that I’d read so much about.
The experience begins in the upstairs lounge where were given champagne and canapés and a chance to have a look at the menu.
I loved the zen feeling of the lounge with it’s gentle colour palette, Balienese embellishments and hanging lanterns.
There are three choices for the menu: the Grand Menu with a choice of six or eight courses, the six course vegetarian menu or the surprise menu which uses some of the world’s finest seasonal ingredients such as truffles, lobster and caviar. As I often struggle to enjoy too big or rich a menu, we opted for the Grand Menu with six courses.
After our aperitif we were led down to the main restaurant which is actually located outside in a romantic tropical garden, I felt like we were in the middle of the jungle! I immediately loved the atmosphere of the place as I was worried that the billing of ‘fine dining’ meant great formality. When I’m visiting a country, I want my dining experiences to in some way reflect the location – I don’t want to feel like I could be just anywhere.
And in a beautiful setting, with the promise of a fantastic meal ahead, we ordered a bottle of champagne to accompany our dinner.
The chef at Mozaic is Chris Salans, who was born in America and raised in France where he trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. After working in top restaurants in both France and the USA, Chris settled to work in Bali before opening his own restaurant, Mozaic, in 2001. Chris has an absolute passion for local ingredients, which has him foraging all over Bali, including throughout the mountainous region of Bedugul.
Before the meal, this platter of local ingredients was placed on the table. Some of the items were familiar and some new to us but throughout the meal the waiter explained which ingredient featured in which dish and how Chef Salans integrated the flavours of Indonesia into his Western cuisine.
Our amuse bouche was a cute cornetto of raw beef topped with parmesan cream cheese.
Then the tasting menu began proper with each dish being led by a key local ingredient; the first was ‘Kecicang,’ an Indonesian fresh torch ginger flower used to flavour these seared Indian Ocean prawns.
Our next dish showcased a Balinese spice called ‘suna cekuh’ which was used as seasoning for confied snapper with smoked corn puree, baby corn and aromatic ginger.
Rice husk smoked duck breast and foie gras terrine was complimented by Sudanese ‘Kluwek,’ with beetroot and anise herbs. Though not one of my favourite dishes, I really appreciated the juxtaposition of the Balinese ingredient with the French. Interestingly, Kluwek, the Balinese spice that was being showcased, is deadly poisonous unless prepared properly; the seed must first be boiled, then buried in ash, banana leaves and earth for forty days. I didn’t realise this at the time but I lived to tell the tale!
We chose different main courses, I had a Tasmanian salmon in Balinese ‘Basa Gede’ oil with a lemon and tumeric reduction with spiced cauliflower and laksa leaf. Everything at Mozaic is incredibly carefully conceived and prepared and a sauce can take a few days work with several different chefs working on it! Actually Mozaic placed in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2013, holds a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and has been ranked No.5 in the Miele Guide of Asia’s best restaurants in 2013.
Mr Silver had Australian lamb loin with young Jackfruit Purée, sautéed bok choy, rock spices and a caramom infused Demi-Glaçe.
We cleansed our palates with fresh belimbing sorbet with confied star fruit and star fruit chip.
Our dessert was that classic fondant with chocolate oozing out of the middle but once again paired uniquely with local ingredients, nutmeg sorbet, dried banana, grape, pear and sweet yet sharp sage balsamic reduction.
It’s clear to see why Mozaic is the best restaurant in Bali, the food is so inventive and beautifully presented and the setting is really quite magical. We left feeling like we’d had so much more than just a good meal, it was an unforgettable experience.
Jl. Raya Sanggingan
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