Be Prepared for Something Different at Cuca

February 3, 2014 frvtravel

Cuca is a new restaurant in Jimbaran, Bali, which opened five months ago and is creating quite a buzz with the island’s foodies. It’s not often you are surprised and exhilarated by a menu anywhere, let alone Bali, but Canadian-born chef Kevin Cherkas does just that with his inspirational, ‘local product cooked in a western way’ menu. The chef has an impressive resume, having honed his cooking skills around the world in famed Michelin starred restaurants like Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastian, El Bulli in Roses, and La Broche in Madrid, later spending two years at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in New York and then more recently in Shangri-la hotel restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore. Spain is obviously a great influence at Cuca and with help from his Spanish partner, Virginia (from whose nickname the moniker of the restaurant derives,) who brings a wealth of management experience with her, Cuca restaurant is probably one of the most challenging and experimental restaurants on the island. And besides all that, it’s obviously an expression of culinary love and passion.

The menu, just like everything else at Cuca, is in fact quite simple. It’s all about tapas, or better said, sharing plates, when it comes to the food. And then there are the cocktails – you would be hard pressed to find a more intriguing cocktail list in the land. And let’s not forget the finale in their trilogy of culinary hedonism: the desserts. All of the above are exemplary in taste, ingredients and execution. Well, this was all at our first and only dining experience at Cuca recently. However, from what I hear, the standards are kept at a top level at all times, and since it was the sous-chef, Malaysian-born and old time cohort of Chef Kevin’s, Chee, in control that night, I wouldn’t be surprised. We were a group of five people, three adults and two teenagers.

Click to view slideshow.

The menu is broken up into four sections. Inspired. Ceviches. Puddles. Chichas.

Inspired is a selection of dishes based on the best seasonal local produce available. (Rp30k to 95k)
Ceviches are tangy combinations of raw fish, chili, lime and their special shaved ice. (Rp80k to 90k)
Puddles are basically soups, but we didn’t try them on the night. (Rp50k to 65k)
Chichas are rather large slices of chunky sausage made in a selection of chicken, wagyu beef, seafood, pork or country pumpkin. (Rp55k to 110k)

chef Kevin Cherkas inspires with his ‘local product cooked in a western way’ menu.

As you can see the prices are not out of this world and really quite manageable. The dishes came out one after the other. In total there were 11 different dishes we ordered, some one serving, others two servings. Everything served was super fresh and tasty. Things like whipped avocado, beetroot yoghurt, caramelized cauliflower and sesame dust were all jumping off the respective plates and screaming, eat me! Everything had an inventive twist to it – molecular cuisine springs to mind – but all the ingredients were there for a reason and the dishes were all extremely interesting. For the kids with us it was all a bit bewildering, but the adults were savouring every taste.

Dining at Cuca is a unique experience. As Sous Chef Chee, who has had seven years experience working alongside Kevin, told me after our meal, they try to combine three elements in their dishes; bitter, sweet and salty. Possibly a hint of too much fruit in some, but overall an incredibly good mix of ingredients and ideas that leave one uplifted more than satiated.

Jalan Yoga Perkanthi
Jimbaran, Bali.
Tel: +62 361 708066


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