Decadent di Mare

Dining | Written By, Sachi Kondo |

Radiating a bright white Santorini atmosphere but with views over the Indian Ocean, nothing screams Mediterranean in Bali quite like this clifftop fine dining venue. It even comes complete with a glittering infinity pool to rinse off Bali’s 30-degree heat.

di Mare Restaurant is perched atop the immaculate Karma Beach within Karma Kandara. Its recent menu makeover by Michigan-native Chef Joseph Antonishek gives you a million and one reasons to head to the stunning Uluwatu coastline (like you needed more reasons!)

Chef Joseph Antonishek, Photo by Namhar Hernanto

With its name meaning ‘of the sea’, di Mare invites you to savour fresh and decadent seafood fare. Favourites include Fine de Claire Oysters or the Gambas Pipil (prawn, garlic, chilli and cherry tomatoes) from the tapas menu, often enjoyed with a glass of wine over sunset. However, if you continue at di Mare after the sun goes down, you’ll be able to indulge in the restaurant’s finest fare all in one sitting.

The Chef’s Table experience (available on request) is set within the VIP wine cellar, exclusively for a private dining occasion. You’ll meet the chef who will tailor the 5-course meal (IDR 850,000/person) to align his kitchen innovations to your palate’s every desire. Chef Joseph mindfully creates each plate using quality farm-to-table ingredients, revolving around ideas retrieved from his ventures and snorkelling trips through Java, Lombok, Sumba, as well as ingredients obtained from his own home garden. Chef Joseph has taken his creative skills beyond the kitchen and into the crockery, as he himself designed the intricate ceramic plates, which as the port for his culinary voyage.

For all the oenophiles out there, the tasting menu can be paired with wine. If you prefer your bubbly, ask for the Karma Group Reserve Champagne (Prosecco, extra dry), which is a Karma private collection exclusive to the resort.

Chef Joseph’s favourite ingredient is the element of surprise. So, expect the unexpected.

The amuse-bouche is a Sumbawa Oyster, edamame dumpling, tempura-style hon jameji mushroom lineup, in a creamy but gentle bonito butter bath topped with rumput laut caviar. The twist is the ginger shavings – giving the dish a piquancy kick.

The Amuse Bouche
Photo by Namhar Hernanto

The first course of Plaga Tomatoes is a vegan play on a caprese salad. It comes with macerated lemongrass, Japanese tofu, tomato sauvignon blanc gel, and kemangi (lemon basil). “It’s an exploration of the 9 regencies of Bali,” chef added.

Plaga Tomatoes
Photo by Namhar Hernanto

The Roasted Beetroot Mochi is the chef’s special take on savoury mochi, made with puréed mirin roasted beetroot, goat cheese, lime labneh, mint, and pistachio dukkha. This is one of chef’s surprises as he reinvents the conventional mochi, which is normally best served sweet but he makes it work perfectly with both the beetroot and goat cheese’s earthy flavour.

The Green Tea Leaf Salad (still within the first course) is based on a ten-day processed tea leaves from Java. It comes with iced cabbage, peanuts, dried ebi, lentils, coriander, green chillies, and tea leaf fish sauce dressing. Expect some bold flavours in this one.

An unintentional play on ‘predator vs prey’, the Rabbit Rillettes from the second course is sourced from Bedugul and elevated by Sauternes-compressed snake fruit. The rabbit meat is shaped into a roulade and further rolled onto a bed of pistachio mint crumbs. It comes with pickled baby carrots and carrot kaffir lime gel.

The Rabbit Rillettes
Photo by Namhar Hernanto

The next dish is a series of stories in itself. Chef Joseph doesn’t serve barbecued chicken, but he will serve you Ayam Cemani Agnolotti made with sacred black chicken from Java. The ayam cemani is a prized breed of Indonesian chicken, glorified for its jet-black beauty and supposed magical properties. In Java, people spare them from the grill and use them in cultural or religious ceremonies. In di Mare they roast the bones to make a high-grade sauce.

Ayam Cemani Agnolotti

Bringing street food into fine dining, Chef Joseph’s innovative juxtaposition of Foie Gras Martabak is a must-try. Made with pan-seared duck liver, confit leg ricotta kale filling, caramelised mango jus, and mango ginger chutney; the dynamite star is the Lombok green chilli, gifting local-tongues a familiar taste to the classic street food.

Foie Gras Martabak
Photo by Namhar Hernanto

The stars of the main course are the Red Mullet (not unlike a rich, fragrant coconut-based curry taste) and Lamb Loin. The latter is Australian glazed with Borneo guajillo chilli pink peppercorn, paired with uni goat cheese gnocchi, caramelised root vegetables, jinten (from chef’s home garden), and kluwak demiglace. Avoiding a ‘carby’ gnocchi after-feel, chef’s secret is to make it so light that your tummy will ask for seconds and thirds.

The Red Mullet
Photo by Namhar Hernanto

Inspired by a snorkelling trip, the Oyster and Pearls pre-dessert is a show-stealer. Chef uses real shells to create the white chocolate template using silicone rubber; coconut tapioca, compressed jackfruit, kedondong (june plum) sorbet, and salted caramel pearls to complete the coral-based stage. Those familiar with Indonesian street cuisine will compare it to a refreshing ‘es teler’.

The Oyster and Pearls
Photo by Namhar Hernanto

The smorgasbord of desserts at di Mare is to die for. The sweet selection includes Black Magic Candy Bar (peanut butter-based shortbread, feuilletine, mousse, java chocolate ganache, and shiitake ice cream), Strawberries & Cream (Bedugul strawberries, kemangi ice cream, and strawberry firecracker sorbet), Kopi Luwak Gelatine (port wine-poached local figs, burnt candlenut anglaise, chocolate-covered espresso beans), and a vegan option: the Dragon Lady (cashew-based vegan gluten free dragon fruit cheese cake).

di Mare Restaurant

At Karma Kandara, Jalan Villa Kandara, Ungasan
+62 361 848 2200
www.karmagroup.com

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Sachi Kondo

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