RESTAURANT : BALI
CUCA HAS ARRIVED The mediocre dining scene in Jimbaran in Bali has welcomed a place that will not only liven up the neighbourhood but serve great food. It is called Cuca.
uca is the pet name owner Virginia Entizne’s Spanish grandmother used to call her as a child: it sort of translates as ‘Sweetie.’ And it is pronounced ‘Kooka’ although it is often bound to be ‘Choocha’ in Indonesia.
Cuca’s menu states there are three reasons to come: tapas, cocktails and desserts. They do specialize in tapas, although there is a concept you should understand before you go. The plates do not contain half a dozen nibbles all the same: they are composed small meals but definitely everything is meant for sharing. Apart from the great food, Cuca is grand to look at. The main restaurant and bar take up a long low building – the rest is a huge coconut grove where they have now installed a garden lounge. And, all around, are little herb gardens. Already popular, especially with the single diner and foodie, is the Food Bar on a raised floor where you look across an eight-metre
teak table into the kitchen so you can watch all the action. On the other end of the building is the cocktail bar, where you can enjoy wine, beer and Cuca’s own cocktails, which are served in a house-labelled bottle and a hand-made glass. The air-conditioned dining room is interesting in that it is indeed one large room but every table can be separated at will by a linen curtain. Overall you have the impression of a large, airy and comfortable space. Cuca is casual but that does not mean they skimp on décor or delicious. At home on the range is award-winning chef Kevin Cherkas, who happens to be married to Virginia and the pair is constantly talking food and hospitality. Together their enthusiasm for food is totally infectious. “Every single thing in the restaurant is fresh: fish (direct from the boat), vegetables (thankfully a lot of these), meat, spices, coffee and chocolate. And every single thing we use comes from Bali and the rest of Indonesia.” (This includes the Artisan wines