Before we left for Bali, we had quite a few friends telling us where we ‘absolutely must’ dine. One name that kept popping up was Bambu and so it was definitely on our list of experiences we must have before we fly back to Sydney.
Without even trying, we actually stumbled upon Bambu. On the day we arrived in Seminyak we took a walk along the street that led from our accommodation and by total surprise, we suddenly saw the sign for the restaurant. We went in and were able to make a booking for 6pm that evening. Now…I don’t normally dine that early but it does help with the photos!
Bambu only recently opened and is currently regarded as one of the best restaurants in Seminyak. Owned and operated by the highly successful team which created La Lucciola, Bambu is beautifully presented Indonesian cuisine with a modern twist.
From our accommodation, Drew and I were able to walk to Bambu. We struggled along the dirty, narrow, noisy and hazardous street that was so challenging it left you feeling stressed and exhausted. Then we arrived at the entrance of Bambu that was fairly unassuming and with a security guard at the entrance.
There is a high wall in front of the restaurant that’s bland and nondescript so there is nothing to suggest there is anything different behind that wall to the hot and sweaty and noisy and hazardous environment you are experiencing on the street.
But walking in to Bambu is such a contrast of worlds it takes your breath away. Just a few steps inside the restaurant and you are instantly far removed from the environment you have come from. The Bambu world is an escape that is welcoming, beautiful and serene.
Bambu is an oasis and that’s before you even peek at the menu. There are many water features and so many under my feet I almost felt I needed to be like Jesus and walk on water. The open entry is mostly water set with the occasional paver so you need to either be like Peter who plucked up the courage to walk on water or watch your step and look for the pavers.
There is a relaxing bar area that is generously proportioned however we didn’t have time for a pre-dinner drink. The restaurant has a very open feel with few walls, lots of fresh air and no overhead roof. There are two levels however we were shown to a table on the ground floor that appeared to be on a floating island in the middle of the restaurant.
All around us was a perimeter of water about a meter wide that was lit up by candles as the night descended. The waiters were full of smiles and dressed in traditional Indonesian dress. There are many of them so there is certainly no lacking of service.
The menu features all the cuisines of the different regions of Indonesia. To start with we had house made ‘rempeyek’ crackers with tumeric and lime leaf. These were like a pappadum but lighter and aromatic with a very fragrant aroma of lime leaf.
For an entree I ordered the Ayam Baker Kecap Manis from Java which was coriander marinated char grilled chicken that was cooked on stalks of lemongrass. The chicken had that charred flavour while also being very succulent and soft. The lemongrass flavour came through on the chicken and the kecap manis sauce gave a lovely sweetness. The presentation was also gorgeous.
Drew ordered the Kepiting Soka from the region of Sulawesi. It was crispy soft shell crab, jicama and rose apple salad with sweet chilli sauce. I thought the presentation of this dish was outstanding and Drew said it was ‘bloody beautiful’. Nothing more needs to be said!
For a main I ordered the Bebek Betutu from the region of Bali that was slow-roasted duck with galangal and lemongrass, toasted coconut and a green bean salad. At first I was disappointed that the duck wasn’t more recognisable as I was expecting something like a duck leg on the bone, however, I couldn’t fault the wonderful and aromatic flavours of this dish and the meat was meltingly soft.
Drew ordered the Ikan Masak Di Buluh from the region of Sulawesi that was coral trout baked in bamboo, sour star fruit, chilli, tomato and lemon basil leaves. There was a bit of theatre when this dish arrived as it was all done up like a parcel and needed to be popped out from the bamboo it had been cooked in. It was then unwrapped and Drew found the fish had been intensively flavoured by the fruit, spices and herbs it had been cooked in. The fish was meltingly tender and soft.
For dessert I ordered their very famous Dadar Gulung from the region of East Kalimantan that was pandan crepes with shredded coconut and palm sugar and a scoop of toasted coconut ice cream. This was a beautiful way to finish the meal. The crepes were a stunning colour and the pandan and coconut flavours are a match made in heaven. The toasted coconut ice cream is made on the premises.
Drew ordered the Terang Bulan from the region of Sulawesi that was street-style pancakes with dark java chocolate, roast nuts, toraja coffee and ginger ice cream. The pancakes were served in a rolled-up style and were very light and moist with beautifully dark chocolate flavours. The ginger ice cream was a beautiful compliment and worked beautifully with the chocolate.
Bambu is a pristine and soothing oasis amongst the congestion and bustle of the streets of Seminyak. The architectural design of the restaurant is stunning and the abundant water features, calming and relaxing. The staff are attentive, friendly and competent, and with their engaging smiles, clearly wish to give you a wonderful dining experience. The menu proudly features the flavours of all the regions of Indonesia and this is a cuisine with many highlights. This is a high-end dining experience yet the prices are incredibly reasonable. It was difficult to find fault with Bambu and our only regret was that we didn’t have time for a second visit.
Verdict: Get yourself to Bambu
Bambu: Jln Petitenget No 198, Seminyak
+62 361 8469797