Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Bali High!

better known as the
Island Of The Gods 
has charmed many visitors to her shores.
From the painter
Don Antonio Blanco
to designer 
John Hardy
 to writer
Elizabeth Gilbert.
This mystical island 
5633 square kilometres
is indeed a special place on
Planet Earth.
Balinese culture is perpetuated
through daily rituals
colourful ceremonies
that are both unique and beautiful.
This spiritual island
is located between
Nusa Tenggara.
The Balinese are 
the island is blessed
with a tropical climate.
My very first visit was way back in the early
Already populated with
 eager tourists
intrepid backpackers
searching for 
the island was and still is,
thriving with 
enterprise in every form.
Skillfully hand-crafted souvenirs
 decor objects made a strong 
Over the years,
I've returned many, many times
to observe changes that come along with
Some good,
others questionable.
five star hotels and equally 
glossy restaurants,
have mushroomed across the island
as if a 
tropical torrential storm
of foreign currency has rained
upon this
 island paradise.
As we all know,
there is a huge difference between
good and great,
passable and ridiculous,
 mediocre is found everywhere.
Eat, Pray & Love
On Bali,
the dining scene is as varied
as the
 geography of the land.
Local & regional
free-standing food stalls,
are found everywhere,
while international cuisine
has migrated here in full force.
One such restaurant named
opened this year,
in a quiet corner,
far removed from the
Let me present
Melanie Baylis.
Originally from France.
One part French & the other,
Transplanted to the island via
Arrived 12 months ago.
Restaurant Manager
rolled into one.
I've met Melanie several times at the restaurant.
She's totally charming.
Always smiling.
Really pleasant.
A fake personality you could tell straight away.
But Melanie comes across
as genuine as the pearls harvested
on the archipelago of 
Not only is she picture-perfect,
she's also very competent
from my observation of her
in action.
Her language is exacting,
while her demeanour is very French.
This girl has verve!
Black or white?
What's missing in your life?
Horse riding & snow.
Fish or meat?
What is your passion?
My job.
High heels or flats?
Your hobby?
Being with friends over a good dinner.
Favourite film?
Je t'aime Moi Non Plus.
What is underrated now?

Favourite cuisine?
Biggest daily challenge?
To build up this restaurant.
Can you cook?
My favourite dish to prepare is
What motivates you?
My job!

Most favourite wine?
Rosè Cotes de Provence- Saint Marguerite.
Next holiday destination?
Japan...for skiing!
If I say Orange, what would you say?
Banana !!!
What irritates you?
Favourite restaurant in the world?
Joel Robuchon in London.
Favourite perfume?
Touch of Pink
What keeps you awake at night?
My guests!!!

Bali's ultimate high 
has certainly captivated  
The ancient temples are like
sirens, drawing us in with
their mystical energy.
After a stint in Dubai,
Melanie was enchanted by this island
which exudes ideal exoticism
"she needed a place which is green 
and has fresh air."
Bali has a great many lofty
Spa is BIG here.
From the most luxurious
to the
genuinely humble,
one could get pampered easily.
Our conversation over
 good coffee
in the late afternoon was almost over.
The restaurant had a few customers in
for a quick bite 
to relax away the afternoon heat.
Holidays does that to you...you let yourself
immerse in the 
local rhythm.
Abundance of artistic expression 
well as a 
strong cultural bond,
Bali is certainly captivating.
Melanie comes across as a lass
who is
 cool & comfortable 
in her own skin.
Her tone is gentle...
her manner amiable.
She believes that good food has to be "simple".
Flavours must not be too complex,
 French food will never be passé.
Happy Hour
was upon us
as we wrapped up our
easy-flow chatter.
As the Balinese
return home after 
another day of
work & prayer,
brilliant orange sun
hovers over the
Indian Ocean,
we bid each other
"au revoir".
Just as the bright ball of light
a glowing nod to another day in paradise,
I thought it was fortunate to have met someone
who certainly will have
her own restaurant one day.
The locals believe in the
alignment of the
stars & planets...
and so
time will come.
It's written all over her.
She has the energy 
that compels us to be taken in...
to be
What's next?
"...to change for dinner service
to make myself pretty!"

You already are my dear!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Her name is Lolla!

" Keep smiling, keep shining,
Knowing you can always count on me
For sure
That's what friends are for..."

Burt Bacharach

Last weekend, we as in
Jack, Indi 
decided to drive down to
to dine at our friend
Hian Tee's 
new eatery called
It was early Saturday morning
I just managed to have a cup of tea...
pick up time was 8 am.
Jack was kind enough to be the
designated driver.
Showing support to
a new business venture is
a kind of an endorsement.
It says...
"we believe in you
your vision".
This was the car that got us there 
in stylish comfort.
The drive south to
took us less than four hours.
Our in-car friendly chatter made time
A short hop
 over the bridge into 
this island city
just in time for lunch with our other friends
Joy & Elsa.
A quick check-in to the hotel 
a short cab ride landed us into a fabulous 
Nasi Padang curry lunch at,
"shrine to curry",
Rendezvous Restaurant.

We had heard so much about the planning of 
Hian Tee kept us posted to
the lead up of the opening.
We were excited...
...tense with
when it finally opened,
how could we just sit in 
Kuala Lumpur
when all this was happening
down south?
" The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it...
I can resist everything but temptation."

Oscar Wilde

We got to Lolla at 6 pm.
You read right. 
6 pm.
Since the eatery does not take reservations
it was 
Saturday night,
we decided not to take any chances.
is located on the charmingly quaint
Ang Siang Road.
It was a pleasant evening with
the sky still bright
temperature warm,
yet comfortable.
Resurrecting an old idea 
could be an
uphill challenge.
done meticulously
with careful planning
a little
re-working of the wheel,
could lead to a wonderful outcome.
sits about 13 upstairs,
along the "industrial" style 
metal bar counter.
Around a communal table downstairs,
one could share with 17 others, comfortably.
Funky chairs of metal & wood
completed the 
"warehouse & raw concrete" look.
Our friend was there to 
greet us with open arms.
Amidst hugs and kisses,
super chilled
Legras et Hass 
champagne was served
to a very appreciative group.

"Oh...the joys of smooth bubbles
 swirling in your mouth
cannot be described in any language!"

Peter Hoe

The idea behind the concept...
"Everything listed on our drinks menu,
 as in our food menu,
has been put through our very exacting
 but simple test:
If we don't like it, we won't serve it."

Simple is the new complex.

Our group of ten individuals
 soon arrived,
dressed for the occasion.
Excellence, in this case is when people
have the utmost confidence to
come together just..."because".

Act 1,
could be the friendly greeting
from the staff.
The atmosphere
is at once 
Soaked with positive spirits,
we soon embarked on an evening 
decadent indulgence.
Hian Tee took charge
of all our needs.
We left it to his competence.
The atmosphere was
relaxed & jovial.
The humour 
quick & shrewd.
The main room is set in what appears to be
raw concrete.
Incidentally as the photos show,
is a fantastic back-drop
to any fashion.
 This neutral palette,
is not only camera-friendly,
it enhances the subject's inner glow.
Soft lighting carefully considered the room
as well as lit us 
to our advantage.
The delightfully relaxed
atmosphere is a joy indeed.
This is not a 
T shirt & shorts
Small tapas-liked tasty treats started to appear
in front of an appreciative audience.
Conventional is for others!

"The only real stumbling block is
fear of failure.
In cooking you've got to have a

Julia Child

You know it's going to be a 
great evening
when food is passed around
This is Ming.
The man responsible for the
impressive food
that links
 plate to stomach.
A political science graduate
turned chef.
Hey...why not?
Small details like this
row of crystal glass objects
above the bar,
enlivens the elegance!
Thumbs up flew all around & so often!!!
Hian Tee
beaming with pride & joy.
International traveller 
he entertained us with
grace & care.
Having hosted many secret-super
events around this island city,
the idea of this eatery
soon materialised from a
partnership of 6.
the tropical night was taking shape.
Inside the chic confines of 
we were chatting away to welcome the night in.
"Happy is when you loose your inhibitions."
"Marvellous is an occasional moment...
...when strangers start to talk.
The plates kept on coming & coming.
The food can be deliciously described as a
 subtle twist on
Fresh ingredients as well as an 
open-minded approach,
 probably gave rise to the 
superb treats.

Sea-Urchin Pudding to Crispy Breaded Pigs Tail
Scrambled eggs with Bottarga di Muggine,
the meal made us all 
swoon with abandon.
 A wonderful thing occurred in between the 
French Buchot Mussels
Chanterelle Mushrooms 
we lost time from our
And when this plate
Goose Fat Potatoes
we were onto the 
Foradori, Teroldego Rotaliano 2007.
If you've never experienced a
magnum bottle
of red wine,
do so now!!!

Act 2
will most definitely be
her impressive wine list.
Specially hand-picked,
she has well over 80 wines on the list.
You may call that an "extensive selection."
As the evening progressed,
we were onto 
one good thing after another.
By the time we hit the
Grass Fed Ribeye Steak,
our cup did runneth over!
I would use to describe this
group of overachievers
perpetual merry-makers.
This is all that's left of the 
I deliberately tried not to 
photoshop this plate...it shows the juicy
goodness oozing out from the meat.
Trust me...it was that good!
Tasmanian Grass-Fed Beef at it's best.
"Why, sir, for my part I say the gentleman had
drunk himself out of his
five senses."

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 1
Scene 1

William Shakespeare

Friendship begins when you connect.
Sometimes it happens
sometimes the sparkle is missing.
Once you've established the link,
over time the 
bond strengthens
 the relationship
rises to another level.
An understanding of one another sets in.
You respect the boundaries.
At this point in time,
I'd rather be 
with people who matter.
People who bring substance
into our lives
to the table.
Shallow is not a thing
I would like to cultivate.
Our evening at
was meaningful
I've known most of the people
in the group for
over 15 years.
Indi, Kathy, Richard, Tim,
Hian Tee, Jack, Aaron, Esther, 
Henrik, Vicky
you made the evening special.
It was worth the journey.
This was our
final act.

Act 3.
Turkish figs flown in
casually sliced,
alongside mascarpone.
Simply stunning!
As the photo shows,
simple is best, as in life.
But then again...
doing simple may be the 
greatest challenge yet!!!

Hian Tee
for a truly memorable evening.

22 Ang Siang Road
Tel: +65 64 23 1228