It’s Bikini season all year round in Bali, and we’re not talking about the two-piece swimwear. Bikini, the restaurant, first opened its doors three years ago and has been going strong ever since, thanks to its creative concept and vibrant venue.
Bikini is the brainchild of hospitality and lifestyle group 8 Degrees Projects, previously known for establishing the successful Sisterfields and BO$$MAN restaurants. Highly-creative chef Jethro Vincent is at the helm, who originally had the idea to re-image what fine dining could mean by creating a fun and unique experience through sharing.
“We want to offer an exceptional product, as well as a very high standard of service, but in a much more relaxed and comfortable environment,” Jethro explained. Forget silver service and white tablecloths, replace them with colour, vibrancy and music – in this case curated with DJ programmes, even with a DJ booth in the dining area.
Serving global fare with influences from around the world and flavours inspired by different gastronomic genres, Bikini is more than just the fantastic food it offers. “It’s the combination of flavours, textures, the food and drinks, the music and the building,” Jethro mused. “Everything coming together at different moments is what makes the Bikini experience unique.”
Diners can choose from three dining experiences, à la carte, where you are free choose anything off the menu; a Feed Me menu, where the team will curate highlights based on any dietary requirements; and a Signature Feed Me option, where the team has prepared a set choice comprising Bikini’s most stellar dishes – from a pearl oyster tartare starter to a fermented banana and single origin chocolate ending.
The pearl oyster tartare is a perfect sample of what Bikini is all about – a lovely coalescence of fermentation, sustainability, locally sourced ingredients and smoothly explosive tastes. The plate meticulously mimics a real oyster shell and is made by Kevala, a leading ceramic brand in Bali. With oysters sourced from the neighbouring Lombok, the dish comprises locally sourced finger lime caviar that is usually found in Australia, mustard oil usually found in Indian cuisine, and locally sourced palm hearts, all topped with a homemade pineapple vinegar.
The eggplant curry is also a work of art, to say the least. Drawing inspiration from Thai yellow curry, the dish is starkly black and white and looks like something out of the Museum of Modern Art. That said, it’s more than a feast for the eyes and will surprise you with its playful flavours and textures.
The aforementioned fermented banana and chocolate dessert consists of rich elements, including local single-origin Tabanan chocolate, fermented banana juice, Balinese cashews, condensed milk and banana snow. The presentation is simple and sophisticated, presenting rich tastes and textures.
Bikini offers an always evolving set of evolving dishes and some classics, like lush suckling pig or a now legendary chicken liver and guava parfait cigar. The best thing about the Bikini experience is that all the degustation dishes are served sharing style in such a lively and relaxed fashion that it feels like a dinner party with friends and family.
We also got to sit down and converse with Jethro about kitchen talk and more.
E: Can you share new or upcoming projects that we can expect from 8 Degrees Project?
Jethro: We have just opened fika, a café aimed to get back to honest produce-based simple food, and we are about to open a Thai-Pan Asian venue right across
the street from fika. It’s going to be a mixture of Asian, but predominantly Thai. The concept and inspiration behind the building and the bulk of the menu is from Thailand, but we have little Asian accents, like beef cheek rendang, some Chinese influence. Asia is such a melting pot of cultures anyway.
E: You have to oversee a number of outlets, what’s the key to making it work?
J: Definitely having a team you can rely on. This is a people business, and I’m only one person, so it’s important to have a strong network and family – I like to think of ourselves as family – behind you. You also have to have passion for the industry. I’m a kind of self taught cook, I haven’t trained under a famous chef, I haven’t travelled the world and worked at these renowned restaurants, so I had to push myself to learn everything I know from every attainable experience – it’s just about loving what you do.
E: What goals do you want to achieve?
J: I’d love to see Bikini pushing forward for Bali’s presence in the culinary world map. I want the world for our amazing team, they deserve everything. But the real goal is creating great food, great experiences and something that people want to come back to. If you had asked me before I moved to Bali if I’d be the executive chef of five restaurants, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here I am in that position today, and I’m thankful for that. I’m super passionate and keen about doing this. I think if you stop thriving and trying to achieve new things, that’s when you just become boring.
PEARL OYSTER TARTARE
- 12 oysters (meat and juice)
- 20g fennel, chopped
- 10g celery stalk, white part only, finely diced
- 10g white spring onion, white part only, finely diced
- 5g garlic
- 10g neutral oil
- 400ml milk
- 100ml cream
- 6g agar agar powder
- 1kg pineapple, sliced
- 1kg water
- 120g sugar
Finger lime vinaigrette
- 90g finger lime (the pearl only, without skin)
- 58g pineapple vinegar
- 12g mustard oil
- 24g rice vinegar
- 3g sugar
- 3g salt
- 22g pomace oil
- 1g orange zest
- 8g pineapple fresh
- Sweat celery, spring onion, garlic and fennel with oil. Add milk and bring almost to the boil.
- Remove from heat, add oyster meat, and leave to steep for 20 minutes. Depending on the flavour, you may need to blend in the oyster, either way, when finished, strain the milk and throw away the solids.
- Pour the flavoured milk and cream into another pot with agar agar and heat to 90C while whisking for one minute.
- Allow the milk to cool and add the oyster juice. Leave to set in the fridge and blend until smooth.
- Put the sliced pineapple in fermentation crocks and put a weight on it.
- Cover with sugar water (water blended with sugar until dissolved) and leave in crock for two months, then strain.
Finger lime vinaigrette
- Mix all ingredients with a whisk.
- Mix pearl oyster meat with a small amount of pineapple vinegar and oyster crema, chopped palm heart, salt and white pepper.
- Put 1.5tbsp oyster mixture in an oyster shell, then dress with finger lime vinaigrette and garnish with micro herbs and flowers.
- Plating is where you can get creative. Channel your own artistic flair and be adventurous.
Jalan Kayu Cendana No. 6, Seminyak
Bali 80361, Indonesia
T: (+62) 81353382346
Exquisite Taste March – May 2020