Merah Putih, Bali – pretty as a picture
One of the main streets that runs through Seminyak in Bali is Jalan Petitenget. It winds around and around and, if you’re not paying close attention, can be easy to stray from. A bonus, though, is it’s lined with cafes, bars and restaurants.
We’d been recommended to try Merah Putih for the ubiquitous nasi goreng – one of Greedy Girl’s favourite dishes. On a lazy Sunday, with the sun beating strong outside, the restaurant was close by. And so, ascending the steps leading up to the restaurant’s reception area, we decided to give it a go.
Not knowing an enormous amount about Indonesian food, very little of the menu descriptions meant anything to us. We knew two things – the dining room was large and cool, and smoking was only permitted in the bar area upstairs (but more on that later).
Greedy Girl was delighted to find a potent frozen margarita (with a salt rim, although due to the high humidity and condensation, it mainly slid down the sides of the glass) and gluttonous husband took a dark wheat beer by a local craft brewer, Stark. It was a welcome respite from the run-of-the-mill Bintang he’d been drinking.
We chose a selection to share (as always) and that accords well with the Indonesian way of eating. Very shortly thereafter, we were brought a little treat – a small bowl of fragrant chicken broth and a dish of sambal. It was good for what ails you … Greedy Girl happily slurped it down.
Next up we had the dish pictured at the top of this post, Perkedel Udang. These were school prawn and sweet corn fritters. The prawns were beautifully cooked and the fritters were crunchy and light. The addition of radish and rings of pickled onion were welcome. The dots of mayonnaise on the plate looked like little pebbles. It was incredibly pretty and probably the nicest dish we had. A really good start.
Next, we took Jangkang Jawa – king crab ‘pepes’ (basically the claw meat), with deep-fried soft shell crab, salted egg, leek and coriander. Another dramatic-looking plate, with the seafood sitting atop a slightly sweet sauce. Greedy Girl wasn’t a huge fan of the king crab, but the soft-shell variety was delicious. There was also some small florets of cauliflower that went really well with the dish.
We moved then to Ayam Bumbu Sate (or satay, depending on how you prefer to spell it). This was somewhat deconstructed – rather than on skewers, the Maduranese chicken on the plate was a mix of thighs and legs. The meat literally fell away from the bone and the peanut sauce was to die for.
Finally, we took Greedy Girl’s favourite, Nasi Goreng. Again, this was presented nicely in a cast-iron pot, with a runny poached egg, a mix of pork and prawns and liberally topped with prawn crackers. By the time we’d got to the dish, the egg had started to cook through, which was a bit of a shame – we should have sliced it open to reveal all its runny goodness. The pork was also a little on the tough side, but the prawns were delectable.
Given some of the other diners had moved to the bar to smoke, it was time for Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband to depart. The bar is up a small flight of stairs but the smell permeates the restaurant, blown out by the air-conditioning units. A bit of a shame, but we’d eaten our fill.
Merah Putih (named after the red and white colours of the Indonesian flag) was established by Australian chef Kieran Morland with local chef Wayan Mustika. It’s an extraordinary space, with soaring ceilings and a dramatic feel, but the good looks hide several clever sustainability features, including rainwater harvesting.
Morland is on a bit of a mission to take Indonesian food to the rest of the world and this is certainly very inventive and exceptionally well presented cooking. Was there anything to really rave about? Not in Greedy Girl’s opinion but she’s had very limited exposure to the cuisine. It was certainly very enjoyable and definitely worth repeat visits to try more on the menu.
100X Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali