Cuca flavor is currently the most-talked about restaurant in Bali, since the opening in mid 2013, it’s been reached the top rank on Trip Advisor website in short period.
Before moving to Bali, Kevin Cherkas had spent some of his career at several starred restaurants around the world including El Bulli and Arzak in Spain, and Daniel in NYC.
Before Cuca, I heard and red some articles about him during his time at BLU restaurant in Shangri-La Hotel Singapore. He’s known for his molecular approach on his food such as “breakfast” dessert which looked like an sunny-side-up, but made from coconut cream and mango juice (they served it at Cuca too!).
Tired of working in fast-paced fine dining environment, he then tried to open a place where he can deliver high quality food with more relaxing environment. His philosophy is using only Indonesian ingredients, but focusing mainly from Bali. Basically, he tries to apply modern technique on local ingredients.
Most of the food here is tapas size because they’re mean to be shared among your dining partners. It’s good really, since you can try different dishes without worrying about getting full too fast.
“Pan Con Tomate” and Betutu Cotton Candy
Famed Bread, Crushed Tomato, Chili, Parsley, Garlic Aioli
Cuca’s version of original spanish tomato bread. I really can’t compare with the authentic spanish version, because they just different in terms of flavor. This one has more intense and bold flavor with Indonesian touch on the tomato dipping.
The cotton candy was close to unedible. The feeling was like having a hunk of cotton candy dusted with unpleasant betutu-flavored msg.
Beetroot Yoghurt, Avocado, Bread Cracker, Wild Herbs.
Intense smoke flavor from the fish, and the beetroot tasted mildly from the yoghurt which compliment the fish really well. Delicious.
Glazed Young Carrot Salad
Whipped Avocado, Bedugul Strawberry, Cashew Nut, Basil
This is one of my favorite dish. The carrot was very tender, but still managed to have the right bite. It’s perfectly glazed with a hint of cumin at the back. The strawberry delivered the right amount of acidity.
Crispy Wild Chicken
Wild Honey, Country Coleslaw, Sesame Dust, Lemon Basil
Some people says this is one of the highlight, but i feel that this one pretty mediocre. The only good thing about it is the beetroot-infused-cabbaged-slaw. The honey was to overpowering which make chicken tasted more like a dessert.
Asian Gazpacho, Fresh Apple, Caramelized Cauliflower,Coriander
Everyone has to agree that this plate looks georgeos! It’s clean, simple, green, and bright. At first I didn’t like the gazpacho, the flavor is too complex, and lots of coriander (I hate coriander by the way). But after awhile it tasted quite good actually. The problem here is the octopus itself. I know that octopus is difficult to be cooked properly, it has a very fine line between undercooked and overcooked, and between mushy and tender. The octopus meat it tasty, but it’s slightly mushy to my preference.
Roasted Tiger Prawn
Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Red Chili, Light Coconut Broth, Kaffir Lime
This dish was packed of flavor, especially the “light” broth which I personally feel that it has intense prawn flavor. The broth was slightly too thick to my liking, but flavor wise was just spotless.
Chilled Watermelon Salad
Calamansi, Pink Radish, Pandawa Seaweed, Sesame, Cilantro
Again, cuca managed to put simple ingredients together to create something flavorful. It looks fresh and simple where some of the watermelon balls wearing radish hats. The sweetness from the watermelon is well balanced by the calamansi.
White Wine, Iced Fruit, Brandy Soda
Sweet Runny Mango, Frozen Passion Fruit, Whipped Coconut
This “breakfast” dessert is one of his signature dish during his time at BLU restaurant in Singapore. Even though I haven’t tried the original version yet, I believe that the concept is still the same. The mango sphere is placed on top of coconut milk foam which created refreshing flavor.
Warm Dark Chocolate Mousse, Mint Ice Cream, Cocoa Crouton
This dessert is inspired by “after 8″ chocolate bar that you can easily get in the supermarket. Basically it’s a marriage of chocolate and mint. The mint sorbet was just can’t get any better than this. It’s packed with strong mint flavor, and mellowed by the luxurious warm dark chocolate mousse.
Grilled Mountain Strawberries, Almond Ice Cream, Pandan Custard
It’s hard to decide which dessert I like the most because most of them were just keep teasing my evening. The grilling treatment manages to reduce the sourness and let the sugar caramelized a little bit.
Since I went there in a big group, I didn’t really try the rest of the desserts.
BBQ Banana Pudding, Espresso Gelato, Hazelnut Dust, Whiskey Butterscotch
Roasted Pineapple, Sesame Ginger Pudding, Frozen Crumbled Yoghurt, Tarragon
To sum up the whole experience at Cuca, this place is all about the man, Kevin Cherkas, who knows really well how do flavors suppose to marry each other. I think almost every dish tasted delicious, and that is the most important thing on the plate apart from the gorgeous plating and so on. I really respect him since he tries to channel his passion by using local products in the middle of the trends where our local chefs tend to westernize their cooking mindset. This is the place where you can spend a romantic evening without getting any fine dining intimidation, or just spending time with your buddies in a good place that serves good food.
Jalan Yoga Perkanthi, Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia
+62 361 708066