Mozaic Restaurant, Bali. For Gourmet magazine

We couldn’t get reservations at Mozaic during our first visit to Bali. It was the lean season and we were just two cuoples, but they were fully booked, they told us. The next time, we made reservations right after booking our airline tickets.

Like most high-end restaurants today, Mozaic is both global and local. The décor– tropical plants, rattan-and-bamboo chairs, silk upholstry, stone sculptures of Hindu Gods– is Balinese. The culinaire and cook-shop near the foyer could masquerade for a hip boutique in the Meatpacking district. In the open kitchen, American chef-owner, Chris Salans barks orders in Balinese, swears in French and expedites in English. Trained under David Bouley and Thomas Keller, Salans sources ingredients from the region (lamb and cheese from New Zealand, Indian Ocean King prawns), visits the local market for fresh produce and uses Asian spices with the authority of a native. His technique and sensibility however is Contemporary American.

Our group opted to have the Chef’s Tasting Menu, which priced at $29 (CK) per person, was a steal. Salans attempts to surprise and awe guests by not repeating dishes even within the same table. While this can result in some harried moments in the kitchen and amidst the servers, the food made us forget we were in Bali. The tender grilled Moutard duck foie gras with roasted hazelnut emulsion and caramelized apples was all about restraint and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. On the other hand, his beef carpaccio was marinated in the classic rendang spices of Indonesia– sambal paste, shallots, cumin, coriander, curry leaves and lemongrass. For the global travellers that are his clients, this is all par for the course. Our group enjoyed his lamb tagine– New Zealand rack of lamb with toasted almonds, bean fricassee in a tagine-spiced infused demi glace. By the end of the evening, you start believing the people who call Mozaic the best restaurant in Southeast Asia.

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