Before leaving for our Bali babymoon, the husband did a little bit of research on the dining scene in Bali. Two restaurants that stood out for us were Cuca and Locavore.
Once we arrived we Bali, we made a call to Locavore for a dinner reservation but was saddened that it’s been booked full for both lunches and dinners for weeks! When hubs made a call to Cuca, I was literally crossing my fingers because I really, really wanted to eat at Cuca.
Thank goodness, we got a reservation on the evening we wanted :)
Cuca serves tapas made with ingredients carefully selected and sourced exclusively from Indonesia to ensure freshness, support local farmers and showcase delicious local products.
# – Cuca.
This is the description of the chef and co-owner on Cuca’s website:
“Chef Kevin Cherkas has an enviable track record developed in some of the world’s most outstanding restaurants. In Spain, he honed his skills at Michelin three-star Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastian, Michelin three-star El Bulli in Roses, and Michelin two-star La Broche in Madrid. He also left his mark in New York City during his tenure with Daniel Boulud at his highly regarded Michelin three-star Daniel.
As testament to his culinary talent, he is the recipient of numerous awards. These include gold and silver medals at the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs national and regional competitions in 2003, a gold medal at the USA Chicago Culinary Salon Team Canada 2001, and three gold medals at the British Columbia Chefs Association Hot Culinary Competition in 2000, to name a few. Most notably, he joined the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest 2001 as an apprentice representative and achieved a fifth place finish.
Most recently, Chef Kevin helmed BLU at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore and prior to that Restaurant Lafite in Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.”
Cuca’s located about 30 minutes away from Sanur via taxi. The location was quite secluded and our taxi driver had a little trouble locating it but everything was soon solved by a simple phone call to Cuca who gave our driver good directions.
# – The outdoor seating.
# – The building that houses the dining room.
The interior of Cuca was modern and comfortable, the tables set generously apart from each other with retractable blinds for privacy.
# – View of the kitchen.
We opted for the Chef Tasting Menu, which consisted of 7 tapas and 2 desserts. For drinks, I had the mocktail version of the Sun-gria (red wine) and hubs had the Moon-gria (white wine), which are their signature sangria inspired beverages.
# – Sun-gria and Moon-gria.
These are beverages that keep on giving! You drink it by pouring the main wine (or non-alcoholic wine in my case) into a glass filled with with frozen fruit juice cubes and the drink transformed as the frozen fruit cubes melted. It’s like having a new drink everytime I took a sip. Very clever!
Our meal started with the complimentary “Cotton Betutu”, inspired by the traditional Balinese dish, ayam betutu.
# – Cotton Betutu.
This fluffy clouds of savouriness was a delight to the palate. It melted on my tongue, reminding me a little of Chinese chicken floss, but without the stringiness of course.
The Chef Tasting Menu started with “Emperor Fish Ceviche” with watermelon ice, toasted pumpkin seeds and basil.
# – Emperor Fish Ceviche.
The ceviche was meaty and flavourful. The watermelon ice and basil kept everything refreshing while the pumpkin seeds lent a wonderful crunchiness to the dish.
Next, we were served “Smoked Butterfish” with beetroot yogurt, avocado, bread cracker and wild fennel.
# – Smoked Butterfish.
The savoury smokiness of the meaty butterfish was perfectly balanced by the mild beetroot yogurt and avocado. Very delicious!
After the butterfish, we were served the “Glazed Young Carrot Salad” with whipped avocado, mountain strawberry, cashew nuts and lemon balm.
# – Glazed Young Carrot Salad.
The husband loved this dish and insisted I whipped up something similar at home. He was blown away by the combination of the salad ingredients and I must say that I agreed with him. It was an extraordinary bowl of salad made with ordinary ingredients.
Next up, the “BBQ Octopus” with asian gazpacho, fresh apple, caramelised cauliflower and coriander.
# – BBQ Octopus.
Octopus was grilled to perfection, springy and tender. It went so well with the refreshing gazpacho while the apples and cauliflower contributed crunch and flavours without overpowering the main seafood.
After the octopus, we were served “Crispy Fried Chicken” with wild honey, country coleslaw, sesame dust and asian basil.
# – Crispy Fried Chicken.
Not just any fried chicken! The meat was tender and juicy with a crispy exterior. I loved the sesame dust which lent some creamy texture to the dish.
This was definitely my favourite dish of the evening – “Roasted Tiger Prawns” with sweet & sour baby zucchini, red chili, coconut broth and kaffir lime.
# – Roasted Tiger Prawns.
The roasted prawns were fresh and tender. It was delicious with the coconut broth, which was not just any common coconut broth but was perfectly cooked prawn bisque with generous drizzles of lucious coconut cream! So addictive, I wish there was more.
“Premium Beef Chica” with shaved cabbage, young zucchini and parsley followed. For me, this was probably the only dish that did not stand out.
It felt like I was eating a fairly bland beef patty on top of fancy wild rice. It was nice, just wasn’t earth shattering like our previous courses.
# – Premium Beef Chica.
By now, we should be served desserts but husband decided to add another dish that’s not on the tasting menu – “Rice Crusted Soft Shell Crab” with blended bbq tomato sauce, shaved pineapple and curry leaves. Oh what a wonderful decision!
# – Rice Crusted Soft Shell Crab.
This was possibly the best deep fried soft shell crab I have ever tasted. The crab was well-seasoned, meaty and crunchy. Although deep-fried, there was no hint of greasiness or sogginess. They were so delicious with the bbq tomato sauce and shaved grilled pineapples.
And then it was dessert time. My favourite time! Jeng jeng jeng!
First up was the intriguing “Bali Breakfast”, which was described as sweet runny mango, frozen passion fruit and whipped coconut arrived on our table.
# – Bali Breakfast.
This thing that looks like an egg yolk was actually a mango sphere, a display of molecular gastronomy technique.
# – Mango oozing…
Once popped, it flowed into the creamy whipped coconut like, beckoning you to dig in. And dig in we did.
There was another layer of surprise at the bottom – frozen crunchy passionfruit. So delicious…just mind-blowing.
And just when I thought that nothing else could top “Bali Breakfast”, Cuca came up with “Cocoa 99”, described as warm organic podchocolate, mint ice-cream and cocoa croutons.
# – Cocoa 99.
Oh my gawd…I don’t know how they do it, but they managed to combine decadences and freshness all in one bowl. What is this sorcery?
The mint ice cream was so delicious with the creamy chocolate ganache thingy and the cocoa croutons, made of dehydrated chocolate cakes. Truly life-changing.
Dinner concluded with “Cuca Brews”, house-made alcoholic brews that we enjoyed at the bar. Hubs had both the Vanilla & Berry brew and Pineapple & Rosemary brew while I had water only…
# – Obligatory I was there.
# – Hub’s I was there.
Dining at Cuca has definitely become one of our most treasured eating experiences. Every dish was special and mind-bending despite using pretty humble ingredients.
Service was of course impeccable. Every dish was named and explained by the waiting staff before being served on our table. The pricing at Cuca was also very agreeable, we have definitely paid more for far less inspiring food in KL.
We highly recommend eating at Cuca if you’re in Bali.
Jalan Yoga Perkanthi
Opening hours: 12 pm to 12 am
Tel: +62 361 708 066
5 thoughts on “Cuca – mind blowing tapas in Jimbaran, Bali.”
The food, the ambience, simply sublime.
And that carrot salad just blew me away, the local ingredients, the merging of eastern and western flavours.
Seriously, probably the best meal I’ve ever had anywhere in the World ever in terms of mind-bending new flavour and texture combinations, quality ingredients and just an overall jolly pleasant experience.
thank you so much for such a detailed and kind description of your dinner at Cuca.
I am Virginia, the co-founder of Cuca with Kevin, the Chef. We put lots of love and effort in building it and every day we dedicate all our passion for food and hospitality to make Cuca a truly special restaurant.
We are very glad both you and your husband enjoyed your experience dining with us, nothing makes us happier than guests who see, feel and taste how much we and our team care for what we do.
Thank you from our hearts and we hope you will return to Cuca next time you come to Bali so we can tell you thank you again in person!
Warm regards from Bali!
Wooo looks good! Will see if I can try this when I’m there this weekend.
Kimberly, you and Gareth both look so happy! Bali must have been a great p
lace to visit. A long way from North America. Just round trip tickets to Bali cost $3400.00USd per person round trip. Then there would be hotels and other items!
My wife and I just returned from an Alaska cruise and inland tour. The Radiance of the Seas will voyage to Australia and New Zealand in the fall. Cruise season in Alaska ends the second week in September. Shipboard food was excellent.
The food at Cuca looks so appealing and your description left me hungry.
Now where it that peanut butter and jelly . . .
Hi Kimberly! I randomly ended up on your blog while searching for interesting things to do in Penang.
And from there I naturally ventured further into your other posts, and wedding posts.
Your writing makes everything seem fun and easy!
Its great to see that you are having the time of your life, and most importantly you look like you really enjoy it!
I think that’s something I want to achieve in the future.
Living a life that I love.
Have a great day with your Husband & little one! ;)