Ketupat, Kuta, Bali
On my first trip to Bali a few years ago, we rented a private villa. Along with that came the in-house cooks, but they weren't very good (the restaurants that we went out to eat at were nothing memorable either). The only solace was finding this little place tucked away in a back alley off the main strip in Kuta called Ketupat (109 Jalan Legian, 0361-754209), which had a great deep fried fish that finally made up for those bad meals earlier. On this trip, we rediscovered Ketupat, and even found out along the way that this place is considered to be one of the best on the island for true Balinese cuisine.
I had heard a number of times about this great slow-baked duck called bebek betutu available in Bali, so I was elated with joy to find this on the menu tonight. Unfortunately, we were told that it must be ordered one day in advance (more on that later), so we scrambled for other seemingly local dishes, such as lumpia langsing, sate lilit kambing, and nasi kuning.
Each of those struck me as a bit odd at first since they are usually associated with cultures other than Bali's. Lumpia, for instance, is of course largely from the Philippines, but this one was not deep fried (instead, it was raw and stuffed with veggies and thus a bit boring). The sate lilit was unlike satay from Singapore in that it was skewered with a stick of lemongrass. Here it is usually done with seafood like minced fish too (I don't know why I got mutton though; I should have tried the fish). And nasi kuning is something that I ate very recently at Ivins Peranakan restaurant, but here they surround it with all sorts of little potently packaged sides like a spicy eggplant and some sort of deep fried egg (yes, like a Scotch egg, but without the meat).
To round off the meal, we also got some spicy noodles called mei selera pedas, but they tasted way too much like instant noodles. At least I got an arak madu, which is a mix of the local liquor combined with lime juice and honey.
While all of this food was respectable, it still wasn't the home run that I was hoping for (that fish last time really blew me away). But I have faith in this place, and I must try that duck before leaving Bali. So we pre-ordered the duck for tomorrow in the hopes that it is as good as everyone has made it out to be. Stay tuned.