A restaurant that takes you to the depths of beachy Repulse Bay has already raised expectations a little high. I was expecting a restaurant that would reflect the blush sunset on the one side of the road and the expanse of the sea on the other. And so, I was a little skeptical when I walked into the large concrete infrastructure that was The Pulse, with the Tesla showroom firmly nestled into its side. However, Le Comptoir’s latest offering, TRi, took me straight to the lush Bukit Peninsula.
Deep, natural wood, fragrant bamboo and smooth stones formed the basis of TRi. Amidst a mix of small and grand natural trunk tables are lotus-shaped bamboo pods sitting in tranquil pools of water. We were directed to one such pod; if you’re able to take off your shoes you will enjoy the low and cushioned seating, almost temple-style, but if you’re dressed all fancy, request a higher table seat.
We started, as I would on any of the luxurious beaches in Bali, with an exotic drink – the signature Tri Cooler, made with cool coconut water and honeydew (there is an alcoholic version of this sublime mocktail). While we were perusing the menu, our host brought us crispy taro chips and a spicy dipping sauce (damn, I liked the pampering!).
The menu itself was a reflection of Chef de Cuisine Wayan Mustika’s humble and honest approach to food – an earnest connection between food, the person and God (which is in fact what TRi stands for). Touting itself as Hong Kong’s first truly authentic Balinese cuisine (which sounds a whole lot more seductive than ‘Indonesian food’), the restaurant steers away from expected clichés such as Laksa and Nasi Goreng – instead introducing us to the very colorful and flavorful array of authentic local foods, which were presented in an elevated, contemporary manner. While those not very familiar with the cuisine might struggle a little with the local names, the hosts are great at explaining them.
We started with a cold vegetarian starter, the Gado Gado Salad ($100); and a warm non-vegetarian starter, Duck Goreng ($180), which came served with a chili mango sauce, mini segments of grapefruit and crisp spirals of cucumber. The Gado Gado (which literally means ‘mix mix’) was presented as lightly cooked vegetables aside an earthy log of tempeh (compressed soy cake) – all with with a smooth, creamy peanut sauce in clever little rice paper rolls. This helps you collect all the flavors of the vegetables at the same time, and many will find this really refreshing (though I personally needed more of a kick to my salads and found this a little bit bland). On the other hand, the fried duck leg – which was by far my favorite dish of the night – was perfect, served delightfully in little squared layers of crispy skin, tender meat, and juicy fat. This formed a perfect savory Napoleon, which caused a riot among us when eaten with the sweet mango sauce and acidic grapefruit.
For our mains we ordered the Vegetable Kare ($180), a creamy Balinese vegetable curry with cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, and yellow and sweet potatoes. Somewhat similar to a Thai yellow curry, the saffron-colored curry here tasted denser and sweeter in flavor. I especially loved the addition of sweet potatoes into the curry, which gave it a richness and depth to what would otherwise have been a predictable dish – as I am a fan of sweet/savory combinations and anything that has coconut in it (though some may find the use of coconut lacing the dishes a little overpowering). The curry went really well with Nasi Kuning ($50), which was organic rice cooked with turmeric in coconut milk (similar to South Asian-style sweet saffron basmati rice). Our second main was the Gule Lamb ($250), thin slices of chargrilled lamb served on a bed of diced curried lamb and wing beans. The saltiness of the tender meat – which didn’t have an overwhelming meaty taste – worked extremely well with the sweeter, crunchier diced mixture.
We finished with two desserts. The first was the Es Buah ($80), which contrary to its underplayed description of ‘exotic fruit salad’, was beautifully flavored with pandan crème anglaise. The second was an incredible icy herb sorbet, which was intense with the flavors of mint, coriander and lemon basil. This was a wonderful palate cleanser, which balanced the creamier dressings on the curry and lamb. What took me by surprise however was the Dadar Gulung ($80), a set of thin pandan-flavored pancakes which were coiled Swiss-style and served with an intense medley of caramelized coconut, poppy seed crumble and mango. This common Indonesian marketplace snack was presented true to Le Comptoir’s motto – ‘Fine dining redefined’.
The bill for two (without wine/cocktails) came to $1,100 – steep for sure, but it wasn’t too bad considering that we’re talking fine dining. And it felt worth it, given the exotic ambiance, the delicious food, and the chance to escape from the hot, noisy and crowded city. It was certainly more affordable than booking my next trip to Bali. I would recommend TRi as the perfect place to take someone you really want to impress out (or are trying to bribe); or maybe a small intimate group of friends for a quality night out. Either way, end the meal with a walk on the beach in Bali… erm Repulse Bay.
TRi | Shop 302, 3/F, Lobby C The Pulse, Repulse Bay | 2515 0577