Alit Mendala: Bali All The Way

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G.N. Satya Utama Alit Mendala from JuMaNa was born in Denpasar, Bali, and raised surrounded with Balinese food. However, Bali still surprises him in the most unexpected ways possible.

Alit originally hails from Singaraja, but because his parents worked in Denpasar, he is more familiar with Denpasar. He was raised by a mother who was passionate about food and cooking.

Growing up, Alit would have ayam betutu, Balinese minced beef or chicken satay, garang asem, jukut undis, Balinese tum, and berengkes polo which is made from the head of suckling pig.

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“My favorite dishes are Balinese foods, especially babi guling because the taste is very rich and complex. You also have everything in one dish as it consists of soup, vegetables, satay, rice, pork meat and crispy pork skin.”

Exposed to Balinese culture and cuisine, being a chef seemed to be most reasonable thing for him to do. Not to mention that he was surrounded by cooks.

“I’m very lucky, I have a smart mother who cooks good food. I also got some influence from two of my uncles. One is living in Brisbane; he has been living there for 25 years and works as a chef. Another one is in Bali; he is a renowned executive chef who works at a five-star hotel.”

The first dish he tried his hand at was a dish called lawar made from cooked minced beef or chicken, mixed with Balinese spices and chopped of steamed young jackfruit.

Alit is now a working at JuMaNa at the Banyan Tree Ungasan which employs French cuisine with a Japanese twist.

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JuMaNa pairs fine dining with spectacular views from its lofty 70-meter-high cliff perch over the Indian Ocean. It is armed with sophisticated decor and contemporary art. Sculptures and rattan chairs adorn its interiors, and large seamless floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows allow great views for visitors.

The menu at JuMaNa is an eclectic selection of French cuisine. The menu lists gourmet creations based on fresh seafood, meat and vegetarian choices. The presentations are mini works of art on stylish plates that make everyone gasp with admiration. Recommended dishes range from Alaskan king crab and Kobe beef to foie gras terrine.

Alaskan king crab is made from king crab cooked in court bouillon combined with transparent consommé gazpacho with some Japanese flavors from yuzu aioli and soya emulsion. The flavor is rich and complex with some sourness and spiciness, a must have for a starter or appetizer.

For Kobe beef, Alit chooses only the best quality Japanese Wagyu beef. He combines the beef with ginger butternut squash puree and spring vegetables, iberico and potato croquettes, completed with truffle just on the side.

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“Some of the guests don’t want any sauce to get the real flavor or taste from the beef itself, that’s why we put the sauce on the side,” explained Alit.

For the fois gras terrine, Alit marinates French duck liver with Japanese spices and leave it overnight. When it has absorbed the spices, he steams and layers the liver with gelee au muscat de beaumes de venise mixed with kumquat chutney and truffle brioche.

In the future, Alit would like to dig deeper into Balinese cuisine as it is a big part of his life.

Quick BITES

Midnight snack?
Potato chips

Baked or fried?
Fried

Hangover cure?
Milk

Food on a skewer or a tiny spoon?
Food on a skewer

Last meal on earth?
Gelato

Soup or salad?
Soup

Chicken breast or thigh?
Chicken thigh

Breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast?
Dinner for breakfast

If you were stranded on an island with just one type of food, what would it be?
Young coconut

BANYAN TREE UNGASAN
Jalan Melasti, Banjar Kelod
Ungasan, Bali
T: +62 361 300 7000
www.banyantree.com
Instagram: @banyantreebali


Written by Tatu Hutami Photographs by AKI July 29, 2017.

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