Rich taste of Bali takes a bow

WHEN I think of Balinese food, I think rich flavours, rich colours and rich aromas.

Traditional Balinese cuisine is the order of the day at a small, unpretentious restaurant on Emu Bank, Belconnen.

Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant, established by chef Handra Tjhie in 2007, has picked up a couple of restaurant and catering awards for excellence for Asian dining, which – from the first bite – is no surprise.

Sate Sanur’s $18.90.

I was fascinated by the “Soto Corner” section of the menu. Soto is meant to be a common soup, and is created in an endless number of regional ways, but I’ve never found anything common about it.

Sanur’s soto soup, which you can order with traditional or clear broth, is to die for. The combination specialty of the house ($16.90) is made with authentic Indonesian herbs and spices (still very much alive in my memory bank) and the full-bodied broth almost indescribable with flavours so intense and so exotic – chilli, lime, coriander, coconut and vegetables.

The wheat noodles, chicken tenderloin, prawn dumplings, king prawns and soy bean cake are tasty, but also filling (this is a big bowl of soup). The rational side of me, which warned it would be too much to finish the dish, had a real tussle with the emotional side of me, which cried out for me to do so (I got about half way through). Sanur’s also has gluten-free soto soup, with the noodles replaced with rice cake.

My friend’s Gulai Bebek ($21.90) was equally exotic and I would not hesitate to order it on another visit. This Balinese-style, yellow duck curry is served with lychee and piping-hot Asian vegetables. The duck was tender (and there was loads of it) and the authentic flavours out of this world. So lovely with fluffy, white rice.

The décor at Sanur’s is as warm and inviting as the food, with earthy Balinese tones. The tables are a good size and can easily accommodate several dishes if sharing is what you love to do. If you visit at lunch, as we did, take a look at the quick specials for just $10.90. The day we dined specials included slow-cooked beef rendang and Opor Ayam, tender chicken cooked in spiced coconut curry.

Sanur’s service is friendly and efficient. My only complaint, and this is not particular to Sanur’s, is what happens when you hit the tail end of the lunch period as staff get busy setting up for dinner. We could have done without the noisy scraping of tables and chairs along the floors. It’s just a bit annoying sometimes and disturbs meal conversation.

Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant Shop 1, 114 Emu Bank, Belconnen. Call 6162 1688. Take away menu available. Fully licensed. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and Tuesday-Sunday for dinner.

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