Have you ever walked-in to a great restaurant, you were greeted and welcomed by the Executive Chef/Owner itself at the door? For us : never, until we met Kevin and Virginia from the newly launched Cuca, in Jimbaran, Bali, rushing to the front terrace, when we thought we were entering the restaurant from the wrong door. This humble couple gave us a warm welcome, as if we were a family member visiting a house warm party! I knew that this was going to be a special night for me, Benny, and Baby Geo.
My journey to Cuca started actually back in April 2013 when I received an email of introduction from Virginia, followed by a teaser they sent with a very look like a personally written by Virginia on the envelop enclosing: a small tin of container of Chicken Touch Cuca Salt made of : Bali sea salt, chill, kaffir lime leaf, and ginger flower.
Kevin’s commitment to create delicious, diverse, tasteful and yet affordable food, led to a firm decision to use lndonesia’s only best and freshest produce ingredients. Unlike other western restaurants pride of their “premium imported meat that will rip off your dinner budget”, Kevin said there’s no doubt the top quality of beef meat can be found in the country, IF ONLY chefs know how to treat, and cook the meat correctly to make a great dish! I thought straight away to Rendang, Indonesia’s well-known beef dish and agreed that if imported beef quality surpassed local meat, all Warung Padang-West Sumatra restaurants in the country serving Rendang would have used it instead of local – am glad they don’t! So when you go to Cuca, expect Bedugul strawberries, Jatiluwih organic rice, Karangasem cashews and Pandawa Seaweed on the menu!
It is fascinating to know how Kevin and Virginia made their restaurant dream happen. A Canadian born chef, and a Spaniard couple landed in the green and blue wonderland of Bali – which already has vast and impressive gastronomy port folio – wanted to pin up their place onto Bali palate map. I’m one of the big fans of Cuca’s blog and social media pages where you can follow this couple’s story making a restaurant dream into reality literally from scratch! Choose the location – searching the salt – build the restaurant – hire the right employees that can translate their mission and goal in Cuca’s daily operational. They’ve done a great job!
Serving only Tapas – Cocktails – Dessert, this is the place we’ve been looking for in our neighbourhood, Jimbaran, to enjoy great food and share them, very casual, no snobbish atmosphere – as we are enough with some fine restaurants in Bali where we pay a lot of money for the food, but you didn’t get the real ‘value’ of taste you’re looking for, nor you enjoy the food, and you can only get a little nod from the ‘holy’ Executive Chef from a distance, if you’re lucky. Cuca is minimalist, clean, not white-not grey- but green, earthy brown and orange! No annoying candle lit burners with hideous colour of spiritus, and you don’t have to eat under the dimly light to enjoy a romantic dinner, you can be private yet casual and can still enjoy the restaurant vibrant live, green garden, and off course beautiful people at this prestigious eatery area. Three spaces at Cuca for you to experience : Sit in the Garden Lounge or Cocktail Bar for a sip of their signature cocktail and mocktail; watch Chef Kevin and his green team in action at the interactive and exciting Food Bar; enjoy a relaxed and intimate dinner at the Dining Room.
TASTE LIKE HEAVEN (who’s been to?)
How many times you eat in a fine restaurant, the beautifully crafted delicious dish on your plate scream at you saying : “don’t you dare messing my gorgeous garnish, I’m too pretty to be eaten“, then you left the tomatoes, the green leaves, the rosemary and thyme, the ridiculously peeled curly carrots, the funny flowers and ate the chunk of meat – the only edible element from your food.
At Cuca, I want to eat everything, until the last drop of sauce! Even the lavender petals on the Mushroom Puddle (whole natural red rice, crushed hazelnut, pumpkin, sage) taste like yummy liquorice. Instead of bread and butter, the super innovative Cotton Betutu is served – giving a crazy sensation of deflated food in your mouth I have never tasted! I saw Benny is busy biting the frozen red and yellow watermelon popsicle called Blush. Cuca’s food is scrumptiously fun!
Blush Cocktail that looks like watermelon having fun!
Tapas is what you come to Cuca for. They divided the category into four distinctive group which called : Inspired, Chichas, Ceviches and Puddles. Most favourite dish everyone is talking about : Crispy Fried Chicken with wild honey, country coleslaw, sesame dust, lemon basil. And from their comfort food meal ‘Puddles’ : the very popular Mushroom consists of crushed hazelnut, pumpkin, sage poured over traditionally farmed organic rice.
Inspired Tapas – The famous Cuca’s Crispy Fried Chicken
Inspired Tapas – Roasted Tiger Prawns (sweet & sour eggplant, red chili, light coconut broth, kaffir lime)
Another ultimate reason to visit Cuca is their dessert heaven. You must try Bali Breakfast, the brilliant idea of enjoying Mango ice cream with frozen passion fruit and whipped coconut. Since I am a huge chocolate lover, there’s no better choice than Cocoa 8, (warm dark chocolate mousse, mint ice cream, cocoa croutons). The rocks that are cocoa croutons made from premium Indonesia dark chocolate is making you wanting more and more cracking pop melted sensation in your mouth, yumm…I’m in heaven and heaven taste so icy and warm and sweet and crunchy!
Break the Mango Yolk! Bali Breakfast (sweet runny mango, frozen passion fruit, whipped coconut)
Cocoa 8 (warm dark chocolate mousse, mint ice cream, cocoa croutons)
If you check out their Cocktails and Mocktail list, some signature drinks are worth to sip, such as Pink Lime, Blush, Tokyo Mojito, Moon Gria, Moo – all with special and unique taste and surprising presentations. Since I’m still breastfeeding, Baby Geo could only approve the non-alcoholic drinks for his thirsty mommy.
What I love about CUCA food : fresh – colourful – taste so so good – affordable – and small portion!
KIDS, CUCA IS FOR YOU!
Ever since Baby Geo came to our life, he’s always coming with us to taste Bali’s best food, or traveling to other cities and we’re always keen to write about a kid-friendly restaurant that not only serving decent Kid’s menus but provides top quality high chairs (we often see mommies or nannies running around following their active toddlers during meal time, not being able to sit still and enjoy the food, not gonna be the case for Geo!), caring staffs to assist us look an eye of our kids while we’re trying to taste the good food, and a nice playing environment that will keep your kids out of a boredom.
First user of Cuca’s TOP quality of baby high chair!
Baby Geo chillax at Cuca’s Garden Lounge, while mommy’s sipping Pink Lime
Cuca has it all, so do not hesitate to bring the whole family sharing the tasteful Tapas, sipping the freshly shaken Mocktails, and slurping the melted in mouth Desserts.
Chica Tapas – Country Pumpkin Chica made for Baby Geo (sundried tomato, spring onion, pink radish, watercress)
To even better introduce Cuca Flavor into their guests who already fell in love with Kevin’s food, they have produced traditional Balinese flavours ‘magic salts’ with special touch of Vegetable, Seafood, Poultry, Meat, and Pork you can actually taste it (did that, salty and sensational!). Available exclusively at Cuca Restaurant, see what their artisanal infused salts offers here: http://www.cucaflavor.com/cuca-salts.html and make it to your own kitchen soon!
Cuca Salt – Pork Touch, does NOT contain pork but sea salt, young ginger, turmeric, lemon basil
It is an honour for me, Benny and Geo to be invited to sample the glorious food of Kevin Cherkas. Bravo to Virginia to bring Cuca into Bali’s hottest and ultimate culinary destination. Right now, everyone wants to go to Jimbaran, and dine at a Cuca! Cuca is a devotion to taste, an obsession to foods and drinks in Jimbaran, and an unforgettable flavour for all day cuisine.
About award winning Chef Kevin Cherkas : Chef Kevin Cherkas has an enviable track record developed in some of the world’s most outstanding restaurants.In Spain, he honed his skills at Michelin three-star Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastian, Michelin three-star El Bulli in Roses, and Michelin two-star La Broche in Madrid. He also left his mark in New York City during his tenure with Daniel Boulud at his highly regarded Michelin three-star Daniel. Most recently, Chef Kevin helmed BLU at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore and prior to that Restaurant Lafite in Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Opening hours : Mon – Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Jl. Yoga Perkanthi, Jimbaran 80364 (next to Kayumanis Villa)
T : +62 361 708066