Written by Darren Lim and Annemei Pikaar
Aperitif Bali, located within the Viceroy Hotel in Ubud, has gotten us exploring the world through plates with their eclectic degustation dinner. Belgian Executive Chef, Nic Vanderberkeen, concocted this prestigious experience inspired by the Spice Islands with a modern European culinary approach. Dining in this elegant dining room is always highly anticipated and today is no exception.
We set out to experience a gastronomy dinner with the finest globally-sourced ingredients combined with unconventional Indonesian spices, complimented by the property’s own greenhouse harvest.
First Bites are More Than Simply Amusement
We considered this amuse-bouche a highlight of chef Nic’s artistry. They may be bite-sized but the flavours are sublime and beautifully balanced.
The presentation of the fish tartar stuffed “Potato Leaf” wafer shows the kind of attention to detail you’d expect in a first-class restaurant. Slightly spicy with tart citrus flavour, the Fish Tartar is flavoured with Yuzu Kosho (A Japanese spice made of chilli peppers and Yuzu peels), the play on textures with the delicate wafer is really good. Served beside it was a mini tartlet with squid, clam, yoghurt, and Suna Cekuh (A combination of Balinese aromatic ginger and garlic).
Martino Filo Pastry cones, with their “crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside” texture and the elegant and subtle flavours, the amuse-bouche live up to their intention to amuse the taste buds.
Drink for The Dolce Vita
A pleasant Aperitivo came in an exquisite glass of Gin and Tonic, the bartender makes it at the table with the locally-produced East Indies Archipelago Dry Gin infused with butterfly pea flowers, making it a pretty blue colour, and housemade tonic water. The tonic water is not simply made with quinine, they’ve added lemongrass, citrus peels, elderflower, and citric acid. Nothing is better than stimulating our appetite by savouring sips of this very well-made Aperitivo cocktail.
The Page Turned to Begin Our Delicious Journey
This is definitely one of the stars of this degustation. More than simply an upscale oyster mignonette, the fresh oysters were perfectly poached and topped with an oyster stock foam. The flavour is incredibly delicate and the texture is perfect.
Definitely a perfect complement to the oyster mignonette. Pleasingly simple with a distinctive umami taste, the dish is perfectly blended with the fresh flavour of herb-infused Leche de Tigre sauce. It packed more of a punch after the delicate oyster dish.
This dish defines the eclectic nature of the dinner; it’s a traditional Indonesian corn soup with a luxurious Western approach. Binte originates from Gorontalo province in Indonesia, the largest corn producer in Indonesia. The original binte uses seafood as a secondary component to the corn, such as smoked fish or shrimps. However, crab is used as the seafood ingredient here and it is a delicious entrance to the main course.
Steak Experience Taken to a New Height
Steak as a main course is a firm favourite of mine, but this time it’s extra special as it starts with a presentation of artisan knives, including a French Laguiole & GR 1227, Swedish GR 1227, or Italian Viper. We picked the French Laguiole because it looked so beautiful, cut through the tender steak easily and felt sturdy yet light in our hands.
Kagoshima A5 Wagyu Steak
Known as the “crème de la crème” of meat, this wagyu is a descendant of the Japanese Black cattle breed, which is entirely composed of thoroughbred cattle. Every bite is buttery and marbled, and literally melts-in-the-mouth. Accented with tarragon herbs, served with a beautiful enoki mushroom sauce, the spiralized potato crisps added the perfect textural contrast.
Desserts That Belong on The Red Carpet
We finished our extravagant degustation with a jewel-like range of desserts. We began with a pre-dessert that came as a yoghurt popsicle, inspired by the Indonesian Es Lilin with yoghurt crumbs.
Strawberries are delicious solo, but this time they take the cake out with this Fraise (A French for strawberry), a fresh and light dessert consisting a mascarpone and strawberry sorbet topped with frozen champagne, and an additional subtle sourness from the balsamico. The elements play beautifully together and the sweet-sour dynamic is irresistible. The plating is a feature throughout the meal and in this case, a black plate contrasts wonderfully with the Fraise’s vibrant colour.
Following our two desserts we were escorted to Aperitif bar to enjoy a Petit Four by Dayu Chintya that came with a chocolate cigarillo using Yogyakarta’s famous Monggo Chocolate. It was a sweet ending that sat well with us.
Beautiful Dishes, Exquisitely Presented in Light Portions
We had such a memorable evening at Aperitif, Darren had his first experience at Aperitif lunch and Annemei had recently arrived from Holland for the first time to Bali, it was amazing to enjoy such a high level of food and service. They are conscious of every element of the customer experience. Every aspect from the hospitality to the atmosphere, where a 1920s-inspired elegance is successfully captured, was inextricably linked. Creativity was presented in both the presentation and the culinary skill. It really was experiential dining at its best and gave me a real taste to discover more of Bali’s famous restaurant scene!