Spice by Chris Salans

Chris Salans is probably the most renowned chef in the paradisiacal Island of Bali, an American, educated in France, whose career developed alongside chefs like David Bouley and Thomas Keller and in mytihcal kitchens like the one of Lucas Carlton and the one at The French Laundry. After a first job at The Legian, the chef returned to Bali to make of the Island his home and take the autochthonous ingredients of the region to a differentiated level. That was the motto of the opening of his Mozaic, the first restaurant in Indonesia to enter the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants guide, but I’ll talk about Mozaic in a future post.

In 2015, and keeping the respect for the ingredients and flavors of the region, Chris Salans opened Spice, in the busy street Jalan Raya, right in the heart of Ubud. A relaxed concept that mixes the Balinese culture with the French Bistronomie, in a clear show of respect for the local culture, with the eyes set on the future of the region.

But on to our experience, the glass room allows us to enjoy the bustle of the main street of Ubud in a comfortable and modern environment that’s almost cosmopolitan. In the center, the room is dominated by the Bar and the open kitchen, so we can enjoy our meal while observing the nice team of cooks preparing our feast.

Bangkuang Dumplings (Mexican turnip), soy sauce

A light and fresh first starter, with the pasta nicely cooked and a good and denser filling, well balanced by the flavored soy sauce and the raw and the crunchy ingredients present in the dish. A good start.

Tuna Tataki, Sambal Kecicang and Tempe crackers

Slightly braised Tataki, cut into cubes, with a nicely cooked tuna, just missing a pinch of salt, compensated by the tasty Sambal Kacicang, a kind of seasoning with purple onion and ginger flower, which transformed and elevated the dish. Accompanying, some good crackers based on tempe, a very common product in Indonesia, made from soy beans.

Laksa, egg noodles, shrimp and egg  

Followed the best dish of the day, and probably the best Laksa I ever ate. Egg noodles cooked perfectly, succulent shrimps, egg cooked at low temperature giving even more greasiness to the dish, spicy enough, great game of flavors and textures hugging the entire palate. A comfort dish, perfect anywhere in the world.

Crispy Pork Belly, turmeric sauce and dukkah

There’s no Bali without Pork or Piglet, and here the belly of our tasty companion was flawless, moist, succulent and tender inside, with a thin crispy layer on the outside. To give the dish some lightness the Pork doesn’t have, the sides were pineapple and dukkah (seasoning with a basis on dried fruits and seeds, of Egyptian origin but very popular in Australia), all linked by a fresh tumeric sauce that worked harmoniously. Very good!

 Apple pie, almonds and Kalamansi lime ice cream  

In the dessert field, although serving us western creations, Chris always includes a detail that transports us back to the region we’re in. In this case, a Kalamansi ice cream, a complex citrus that seems to be an hybrid among a tangerine, a lime and a kumquat, that accompanied the warm apple pie, tall and nicely filled, taking us to a very American home with a grandma gifted for the kitchen. The ice cream balances very well the sweetness and temperature of the pie, with the acidic and citrus notes.

Chocolate Cake, jaca ice cream 

A classic chocolate cake, sugar balanced, moist with a good filling. Accompanying, an interesting jaca ice cream that showcases the fruit very well. Very good.

In terms of beverages, there are lots of cocktails, tropical fruit juices and a great homemade iced tea.


Final Remarks
With Spice, Chris Salans got closer to the general public, with comfort food, fair prices, a good image and lots of flavor, creating one of those spaces we’d all like to have by our door, without rules or demands, but with charisma and a lot of quality. The food is not local at all, but the ingredients breathe the identity of the region, and the technique with which the dishes are prepared reflects the future of the new Balinese cuisine. Spice is, sided by Locavore, one of the best informal options for a meal in Ubud. And yes, I wanna eat that Laksa again!!

Spice by Chris Salans
Jalan Raya, nº23 – Ubud – Bali
+62 361 4792420

Versão Portuguesa 

Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

Flavors & Senses in Bali with the support of Samsonite.
We were at Spice by invitation, whereas this not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author. 


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