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Red White and Grill

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When Merah Putih opened in 2013, It turned on the fine dining game for Indonesian cuisine a concept that many have applied since then. So when co-founder and executive Chef Kieran Morland opened Sangsaka couple of years ago, we just had to check it out.
Meeting chef Kieran is quite the privilege, since the man is probably one of the busiest chefs in the clamoring Seminyak area – especially now that he’s running two places. Arriving at the little restaurant, we’re surprised to find it more modest compared to its extravagant big sister. It’s a little dark box with large windows and a wooden door with a nearly-inconspicuous sign above it – thanks to the uniquely thin golden lettering. Inside, the 40-seater place is as wide as the eye can see, sitting at any table enables you to witness everything that’s going on in that room – including the bustling open kitchen and the bar.
Chef Kieran greets us for a few minutes before retiring to the kitchen to start today’s menu. In those short minutes he explains that he wants Sangsaka to be the more laid back joint in contrast to Merah Putih’s fine-dining spectacle, and for it to focus more on grilled dishes. Looking at the menu a moment later, we realise that the dishes are unconventionally named, based on their main ingredient. The dishes have zippy and catchy names like Telor (egg), Sayur (vegetable), Babi (pork), Kepiting(crab), or Kambing (mutton) on the left side of the menu, and the complete components on the right. The same goes for the drinks menu, named after each cocktail’s main spirit. The menu changes regularly (at least twice a week), but for a more thorough experience, a tasting menu of nine dishes over four courses is also available. This afternoon Kieran makes us a set menu of his own.

RED (SNAPPER)

While waiting for our starters, a bowl of complimentary amuse bouche is served. Not a spoonful, not a shot, not a skewer – a bowl! Just from this light opening we can see how refined and creative their creations are: squid ink rempeyek and thin crisp coriander bread, with two different sambal – eggplant and yellow fin tuna. The fancy snack bowl is quite the lovely introduction. Our dinner starts with Ikan, a cured red snapper crudo garnished with different kinds of grapes (red, green, black), salmon roe, fern tips, dried seaweed floss, drizzled with calamansi, soy, and ginger dressing. We adore this dish because of the contradictive yet balanced flavour and texture from the fresh raw fish, sweet grapes, and tangy dressing – and generous amount of fish as well. The outstanding starters are accompanied with a glass of Gin, a mix of Tanqueray dry gin, cucumber, mangosteen, and coriander. So fresh and goes hand-in-hand with that

WHITE (NOODLES)

Stepping into the heavier part of the meal, the kitchen serves Kerang – though this isn’t one of their signature grilled dishes, it’s a nice surprise nonetheless. It’s a seafood dish comprising Lombok batik clams, served with squid noodles (made by rolling the squid and then shaving it into strands), and little black rice cubes (rice cakes cooked with squid ink to give it the black colour). It tastes as adventurous as it looks, with the relatively lighter noodle and rice cubes actually hogging more spotlight in terms of texture diversity, while the clams already-pungent flavour brings the dish to a livelier note. We haven’t moved on from that powerful dish when they bring out our next dish, Celeng. It’s Balinese suckling pig ribs and loin (cooked sous vide for 16 hours, before being thrown into the wood-fire grill), and fried parts of the pig’s head (cheeks, tongue, skin), served with seared red cabbage and authentic Singaraja siobak sauce. It has that lavish taste from the meat, a more playful texture from the fried pieces, and a compelling aroma out of the sweet sauce. You can just imagine the long and eloquent effort to cook and balance all those different components into a cohesive work of art.

GOLD (CONCLUSION)

Our protein session is accompanied with another glass of Sangsaka’s signature cocktail. This time it’s the Whisky – basically an Old Fashioned with Bulleit bourbon and nutmeg. Punchy, but it gives a proper balance to our rather abundant dishes. Lastly, Kieran serves us a dessert of Borneo honey cream made into a delicate panna cotta, with mangosteen ice, poached pineapple, palm sugar crumble, and mango sorbet. Again, so many ingredients, but all work wonderfully together. Chef Kieran couldn’t stay more than ten minutes that evening as he had to dash back to Merah Putih. But what the man lacks in words, he makes up for through his food. If we want to talk about how good the food at Sangsaka is, ten minutes is far from enough.

Sangsaka
Jl. Pangkung Sari 100x, Kerobokan
T: +6281236959895
sangsakabali.com
Tuesday-Sunday | 6PM – 12AM

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