Whenever I travel to a different country, I insist on consuming a fair share of that country’s cuisine, often refusing to eat anything but that particular cuisine. Thus, on a recent trip to Bali, when advised to try the island’s newest Mexican restaurant, I scowled at the idea and opted instead to try the island’s newest Indonesian restaurant, Merah Putih.
Bar the odd warung, along Seminyak’s Jalan Petitenget, you’ll struggle to find many Indonesian restaurants, particularly fine dining ones. Merah Putih, named after the colours of the Indonesian flag, has therefore arrived to fill this void and give those craving some authenticity a truly satisfying experience.
From the moment you arrive at Merah Putih, prepare to be wowed. The space is absolutely beautiful, with tall cathedral-esque pillars, giant palm trees and waterfalls; take it all in, pick your jaw up off the floor and let the incredibly friendly staff guide you to your seat. Not only is it designed to look beautiful, but the restaurant is actually its own little ecosystem; the tall pillars collect rainwater, which is then recycled and very little is wasted. It’s little details like this that British owner Jasper Manifold took into consideration so that even on the rainiest of Bali days, Merah Putih still delivers the same uniquely wonderful evening.
Before getting carried away on the food order, I implore you to check out the cocktail list and be wowed once more. You can go boring and classic if you like…or you can have a Ginger Flower Martini or a Daun Jeruk and enjoy the fact that you’re on holiday in paradise.
Merah Putih’s menu is split into small plates and large plates, each of which are further divided into traditional and modern Indonesian dishes, all designed for sharing; just the way I like to eat.
From the traditional small plates section, we began with a serving of deep-fried soft-shell crab topped with sliced chillies. Not only were the portions of crab generously sized, but they were also perfectly crispy and full of flavour.
It was the dish from the modern small plates section that really wowed us however – Padang beef shin ‘bak pao.’ Imagine a soft steamed bun encasing tender, rich beef rendang, crunchy shallots and green sambal, and you will have yourself the most amazing parcel of joy. I was sad when it ended and was very close to demanding a second helping, before realising that if these were only the small plates, the large plates were sure to amaze us just as much, if not more…
Amaze us is precisely what they did. On the modern side, the Balinese suckling pig served with long bean ‘kalasan’ and crispy skin was as tender and as comforting as could be. The flavours were bold yet still maintained an element of traditional Balinese style.
Words cannot begin to describe how delicious the Sulawesi prawn, squid and snapper curry was – from the traditional large plates section. The seafood was exceptionally fresh and tender, doused in a fragrant coconut curry sauce that packed a satisfying punch.
A side of nasi goreng was not the size of your average side dish; it was enormous, enough to feed a small family! I know this is a very bold statement, but this nasi goreng was also quite possibly the best nasi goreng I have ever tasted. For those who know my feelings about the HKFC’s version, I think Merah Putih could certainly teach them a thing or two.
The dessert menu offers ‘amuse desserts’. I took this to mean that, as they are smaller in size, no matter how full you are, it is possible to have at least one each and not be considered a fatty. We therefore shared the Kue Lapis and the Coklat Rokok. The former was a spiced layer cake with ginger crème brûlée and poached pears, whilst the latter was a warm, gooey chocolate cake served with peanut butter ice cream and a chocolate wafer. Do I even need to tell you how delicious they both were? Just take my word for it.
Service was utterly faultless during the whole meal, further enhancing the overall experience. The total bill, including drinks, came to IDR1,200,000 – the equivalent of about HKD600 each – a lot less than it would have been if the same restaurant with the same outstanding food, service and ambience were located in Hong Kong. I will most certainly be back for more of Merah Putih’s treats on my next trip to Bali.
Jalan Petitenget No. 100x
Tel: (0361) 8465950