Monday, 4 January 2016
Dinner at The Four Seasons' beachfront restaurant Sundara, Jimbaran Bay, Bali
I'm not sure I could've ended my trip in a better way than with dinner at The Four Seasons' beachfront restaurant, Sundara.
With a flight at midnight and The Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay being a mere 15 minutes drive to the airport, it was perfect.
Sundara is the loveliest of restaurants. As you'd expect from The Four Seasons, it oozes luxury, but at the same time it's super welcoming: the many many staff are ridiculously friendly (but not so much that it's annoying), the atmosphere is relaxed and the setting simultaneously informal and classy.
It's a big restaurant, and the interior is, naturally, stunning. Floor-to-ceiling waterfalls, fire, views out across the bay... It was gorgeous. Everything was so tastefully decorated and the location's incredible.
Unfortunately for me, the evening I visited Sundara was a cloudy one, so rather than a sunset it was more a general "going from light to dark", but it was still beautiful. I can only imagine what it's like to look out over the sunset though - the beach is on the western coast of Bali so it's perfect.
I was very kindly invited for dinner by The Four Seasons' lovely Adrian, who dined with me. He was definitely wowed by my ability to put away pudding but we'll get to that. (Eating is one of my best talents, as you may well know.)
We sat at a lovely table facing the water, and as well as listening to the gentle lapping of the waves, the soundtrack to the evening was provided by a lovely singer performing live. (A vast improvement on some of the places I dined on my travels - karaoke is strangely popular in South-East Asia!)
I was greeted with a cool, wet towel (so welcome) and after choosing between sparkling or still water, swiftly brought a bottle of San Pelleg and a few slices of lime (I was offered the choice of lemon or lime). Throughout the evening, our charming waiter kept my glass topped up for me, which was a delight.
He also talked me through the many options on the menu, answering all my questions and giving me suggestions.
The set-up at Sundara is totally unique: it's all about sharing food, which I love, and is a great place to go with family or a group of friends.
I had also been reliably informed that Sundara make a cracking cocktail - I thought it very cool to be given an iPad with all the cocktail details on, including pictures of each, which is always useful. Having been ill earlier in the day, I wasn't going to drink. Buuuuut then I saw the Christmas is All Around Us cocktail on the seasonal specials list and I was sold. (It was nearly Christmas, after all...)
I had drunk a lot of cocktails over the previous two months (it was basically one long holiday, #sorrynotsorry), but that one was definitely in the top three. It was diviiiiine! And super cool too with the cinnamon dusting all over the glass - you didn't taste it, but with each sip you got a little cinnamony infusion. Genius, I thought.
Rather than divide the menu up in the traditional way (appetisers, starters, mains...), you choose from hot dishes, cold dishes and boosters.
The thing is, Sundara is a restaurant that specialises in seafood. What don't I like? Seafood. Any of it. At all. Bit awks. Of course, they do other things as well but I felt a bit bad that I didn't want any of the dishes they're most proud of.
Everything we had, however, was sensational.
First up, we were served a delish plate of peanut brittle/crackers to nibble on. These are an Indonesian speciality that you find all over the country and they're so tasty.
I'd barely cracked into them however before our dishes arrived.
What. A. Feast.
So, we had...
Duck and chicken liver parfait with fig gel, house pickle and fresh toasted bread. I don't usually go for parfait but Adrian insisted and it was sooooo good!
Roasted pumpkin with lime and pam sugar caramel. Exactly my kind of dish - I was never not going to love that one.
Mixed garden salad - simple but perfectly balanced and delightfully refreshing.
Balinese fried rice made the traditional way - unbeatable really.
Drunken chicken with rice wine, soy master stock, spring onion and garlic - cooked to perfection and absolutely divine.
Tempura veggies including courgette, aubergine, cauliflower, broccoli and peppers - I LOVE my veg, so deep-fried veg is pretty much heaven for me.
It's hard to pick a favourite, but I think the veggie tempura and pumpkin are up there.
As someone who struggles to pick just one dish (what if someone else gets something better? What if I regret my choice?), the Sundara style of eating suited me just fine.
Sharing, trying different things, different combos, it was fab. You could tell all the food was perfectly fresh too.
The view wasn't too shabby either.
There was so much food leftover though which made me sad (I'd seen the pudding menu and so had to save some room, you know how it is). Fortunately, our waiter offered to wrap me up the leftovers to take away. I may or may not have eaten them two hours later at the airport but I was worried the oil would leak into my bag, and we couldn't have that now, could we? Even cold, it was v tasty.
A peppermint tea helped all the deliciousness digest...
And then it was pudding time aka the best part of any meal. It was a struggle choosing what to have but I eventually went for the chocolate fondant because, as Adrian and I agreed, who can resist molten chocolate?!
It was perfection. We've all had chocolate fondants that have been so over-baked that they're practically cake all the way through, haven't we? Oh, the disappointment. Not the one at Sundara though, mes amis.
Adrian went for the 'Sibang Kaja Road':
Looks amazing, right? Adrian explained how Sundara's head chef draws inspiration from everywhere and there's a story behind each dish - the Sibang Kaja Road was inspired by a journey down a particularly bumpy Balinese road, which I loved.
Adrian also let me sample some of his and I can tell you that it was absolutely scrummy. I really must stop being that girl who finishes everyone else's puddings but old habits die hard. And chocolate is delicious.
It was a real treat to be invited to dine at Sundara and the most indulgent way to end my trip. Feeling wonderfully satisfied, I made my way to the airport for a loooooong journey home. That was it! My South-East Asian adventures were over!
I'm definitely going to back though - now I know which places I want to visit again and Bali is top of the list. And when I do, I'm absolutely going to go to Sundara. I recommend you do too.
Thank you to Adrian and The Four Seasons for inviting me but as always, all opinions here are my own.
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