Bland is the new black. Land of the Bland!

Cosy Corner, Kuta, 1980 – those were the days – real Bali food

My search goes on. Surely I can’t be the only person, in this area of Bali anyway, who wants good spicy traditional Indonesian cooking? It must be just the way Sanur has developed – geriatric city for the older group of Aussie tourists who don’t want hot food.

We went to a different restaurant for dinner last night. I won’t name it here for fear of retribution in the future (just joking), but it’s owned by an Australian couple. Very Balinese decor – AFL footy shirts on the walls. An owner who asks what footy team you barrack for, and if it’s not Carlton, he’s out to convert you. Other pictures of elephants and tigers, those traditional Balinese animals.

The menu was mostly steaks, burgers, sandwiches, Italian and so on, but there was an Asian food section and my eyes latched onto murtabak as part of an Asian Basket. Murtabak is one of my favourites, a griddle-cooked thin flat-bread pancake folded over with spicy minced lamb, spinach, onion, pepper and so on. It’s not far different from the Turkish pide at Warwick food hall, but much spicier. I needed a wet towel when I had it in KL.

Oh my goodness. What I got was a basket of two mini dim-sims, two standard Chinese army issue spring rolls, two chicken nuggets (!!) and one fried, folded, flattened seafood (I think) parcel.That was the murtabak. Chips were piled on top.

I tried, but it was like eating packet stuff from the Woolies frozen food cabinet.

Then for main, I chose Kweytiau, which from the description I took to be Kuay Teow. I love this in Singapore – flat noodles (present, sir), onion, garlic, prawns, squid, chopped chicken, and lots of pepper, chili, crispy onion etc etc.

What I got was a sort of pale whitish soup with the noodles and maybe a bit of chicken and onion, but it was as if they’d soaked all the flavour out with blotting paper. It was one of the most taste-free Asian dishes I’ve ever eaten.

The owner’s wife came over and said, “Everything OK, guys? Speak up if it isn’t, and I’ll go and tell the chef to get his act together.”  I didn’t dare say anything. I couldn’t have politely expressed my disappointment. I just put my head down and ploughed on.

It wasn’t cheap, either. It was about Rp. 55,000 or $6 for that dish. OK, no great loss, but I give up.
The other guys enjoyed their prawn cocktail, steak and salad, American club sandwich and fried chicken (just like the Colonel’s) with chips, and banana splits for dessert.

They wanted one more beer at the end, and I’d seen wine on the counter, so I thought I’d see what was available and give it a go. Only two choices by the glass – both the same local brand, Hatton’s, I think. One was in a bottle and described as a sweet, fruity white (Ugh! “Tidak manis, yah?”, I said). The other choice was a cask white, described as dry, elegant. OK, I had a glass for Rp. 35,000 or $4.

Well, the memory lingers on, just like the aftertaste. I couldn’t finish the glass. Astringent, metallic, with a lingering sensation on the palate would be a good description. Shall we say the food didn’t overpower the wine. Oh well, at least I know now.

The guys were going to go later, at 2am, to a bar to watch the Brazillian Grand Prix by satellite feed, but the beds were too soft and seductive, I think.

In the Ulu Watu area, 1985. Wonder what it’s like now…

I’m going to try to hire a taxi for a few hours today and go out to the Nusa Dua/Benoa/Ulu Watu areas to see where some of these villas for sale are located. I guess it’s changed in the 25 years since I rode my motorbike out there last time…

Lots more rain yesterday. Good stuff. now to look for real estate on the web.