Dine Like a King
Indulge in refined authentic Balinese cuisine in a luxurious royal setting...
The tables are covered with white flower-patterned tablecloths. On each table, bronze plates and cutlery are placed neatly, and a bronze goblet becomes the center piece. Some Balinese wooden artworks adorn the walls, while on the other side of the room, a sphere and a kober (usually used for a Balinese ceremony) and several silver bokor (to place offerings during a ritual) are on display.
That is the luxurious setting of Raja’s Balinese Restaurant at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa which is very much inspired by Balinese royal families. Located near the hotel’s swimming pool, Raja’s takes Balinese cuisine to a whole new level by recreating age-old Balinese recipes using premium local produce and serving them in a sophisticated presentation. “Raja” means “king” and at Raja’s, diners will be treated like one...
The dishes at Raja’s are inspired by several areas in Bali, one of them being the Puri Klungkung. The resort’s Sous Chef Tournant Ida Bagus Oka stated, “Puri Klungkung is the pioneer of Balinese food. The people there often make new innovations that become our traditional dishes. Here in Raja’s, we present these traditional dishes with a five-star presentation.”
It took the culinary team of Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa around a year to do research on the Balinese traditional dishes and cooking techniques for authenticity. “We gathered some chefs and cooks from several areas in Bali. We held a competition where they had to present the signature food of their hometown,” the resort’s Senior Sous Chef Ketut Mudana explained how they did the research before opening Raja’s. “Then we researched different kind of cooking techniques. We tried to implement modern techniques to elevate the traditional dishes.”
The result, Raja’s was born in 2001 with the hope of introducing and preserving Balinese dishes to the world. But it’s not the only unique value that Raja’s has. Raja’s is different from any other Balinese restaurants as it is certified as a halal dining venue – meaning, all the dishes are made with ingredients that contain no pork.
Taste of Bali
On the night I had dinner at Raja’s with some friends of mine, I knew I was about to embark on a remarkable Balinese culinary journey as I entered the restaurant. Raja’s has a luxurious interior design, yet the restaurant feels unintimidating with warm lighting and top-notch hospitality service. When my friends and I sat on our table, a waitress put a bowl of rempeyek (Indonesian crackers) in the bronze goblet in the middle of our table.
As we munched on the crackers, the waitress patiently described the menu to us. The selections of Balinese dishes at Raja’s all seem delicious, it was quite hard for us to decide. With the help of the waitress, we finally decided to start our dinner with some appetizers from the Tapas sections. We were still enjoying our talk and the crackers when our appetizers were served; Prawn Sate, Sate Lilit, and Shredded Chicken with chili and lime sambal. But my favorite was the 12-Hour Braised Beef Cheek – the meat was so tender and flavorful with aromatic Balinese spices. Another highlight from the tapas menu was the delicious Crabmeat and Green Papaya Soup.
Not long after, the main courses were served. The Udang Pantung Mebase Kalas was the perfect option for me – it was a lobster dish that had my jaw dropping, it looked so appetizing. The lush Balinese lobster meat was cooked to perfection and was served in delicious coconut turmeric curry sauce. Another highlight from the main course is the Sate Gede which is a gigantic barbecued chicken, lamb and beef skewer served with long bean salad and sweet chili coriander dressing.
Of course, as the signature menu of Raja’s, the Bebek Betutu is not to be missed. Served for four persons, the slow-cooked whole duck is marinated with 16 different Balinese spices and wrapped in palm leaves. The slow cooking technique does not only make the meat tender, but also makes the spices blend beautifully together. And unlike the other dishes that are served on a plate, the Bebek Betutu is especially presented on a trolley, and the waiter or waitress will carve the meat and serve it to the diners.
To have a sweet ending, don’t forget to save some room for dessert. The Balinese Sweets is the star of the dessert list as it elevates Balinese street-food sweets to a high-quality dish, consisting of fried bananas, coconut ice cream, dadar gulung, jaje ketan, kacang hijau and more. The cendol is another delicious option inspired by street food. Raja’s also has selections of ice cream made of local ingredients, like the red bean ice cream.
Raja’s Balinese Restaurant
Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa, BTDC Lot-N4, Nusa Dua
By Risty Nurraisa
Magazine issue > Dine&Delights