Those who rarely venture to North Bali may not have heard of The Damai. This boutique villa resort has quietly been the choice destination for those looking for a peaceful escape away from the busying crowds down south. However, it’s The Damai Restaurant who’s reputation has spread to distant reaches and has regularly brought guests to it’s doorstep.
Since the restaurant’s opening 20 years ago, it’s high standards of service and taste have earned it the nickname of “Bali’s Gourmet Retreat”. Whilst yes, the villas enjoy many guests, The Damai Restaurant has lured patrons purely for an evening of wining and dining – that’s right, diners have driven to Bali’s northern coast just to enjoy a meal here.
What makes it such a special dining destination? How is it so worth the 2-hour drive north? Well it’s certainly a combination of factors.
The first defining factor is its beautiful setting; high in the hills of Kayuputih Village, Singaraja, The Damai Restaurant enjoys expansive views from its perch down to Lovina Beach. In fact, it is precisely it’s location that makes an here experience so memorable, dining in this seemingly isolated haven enclosed by the tropical vegetation of the region.
The scene may have been set but The Damai has also complemented it’s surrounding through design. Both the villas and the restaurant adopt a classical luxury design, embracing handcrafted furnitures, antiquities and local motifs. Dark woods and natural materials take precedence, the open al-fresco space blending the indoor and outdoor into one. When weather permits, white-clothed tables are set up around the pool for a dinner under the stars.
Without saying, ultimately it is the food that has patrons regularly visiting this secluded dining destination. Whilst certainly recognised as the region’s finest, The Damai Restaurant has also been the subject of cookbooks, including one in Danish which made it the talk of the town in Copenhagen for years. “Our cooks are professional trained on a regular basis by a renowned chef from Europe”, explains Christy Guna Desa, General Manager of The Damai.
The Damai’s menu is a combination of Western and Indonesia (or Balinese) specialities, prepared with produce from The Damai’s own farm or sourced from local farmers. New versions of local dishes are brought into creation and western classics are prepared with a new, tropical twist.
One favourite item on the extensive menu is The Babi Damai (or the Peaceful Pork), a take on Bali’s traditional Babi Guling. “Our Babi Damai takes approximately two days to prepare,” continues Christy Guna Desa, “it is slowly cooked for nine hours before it’s combined with other ingredients. It is then baked and chilled for two days to let the meat absorb all the flavours of the spices.” The pork is then seared to give it a crispy exterior before being served on top of a bed of peanut puree, sauteed corn, homemade pineapple sweet sauce, pickled shallot shells, and a bowl of fried rice.
“It’s an explosion of flavours and textures,” says Christy, “The meat is super juicy and tender, the peanut puree is creamy and rich, the corn adds texture and the pickle helps to balance everything out.” This is but one example of the specialties offered on The Damai’s menu.
The restaurant is open for lunch, when fresh, light meals are prepared. However, those who really want to enjoy The Damai Restaurant’s full experience to settle in for dinner. Starting early just before sunset to enjoy the views and a few glasses of the extensive cocktails on offer, until the breeze comes in and the bonfire is lit by the staff for a one-of-a-kind meal in North Bali.
Of course, for those enjoying cocktails or a glass of wine are encouraged to book one of The Damai’s wonderful villas and stay the night.
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