Mejekawi, the new tasting kitchen concept from KU DE TA, offers multi-course meals that dazzle and delight in equal measure.



The sprawling KU DE TA complex has long been known as one of Bali’s premiere destinations for dining and partying for well over a decade. But not being ones to rest of their laurels, the F&B team has pushed themselves to create something new and very different – an intoxicating and experimental dining experience unlike anything else on the Island of the Gods. The result is Mejekawi, an exclusive restaurant whose name loosely translates to “sacred table.”

Located on a second floor spot that offers spectacular views of the ocean at sunset, Mejekawi features an intimate dining room that seats just 30 patrons around a wide open central kitchen that allows diners to watch the chefs as they construct their intricate dishes.  Described as a “tasting kitchen and laboratory concept,” Mejekawi, is where Chefs Ben Cross and Will Goldfarb play with the freshest local produce and cutting-edge cooking techniques to create dishes that push the boundaries.

The term “laboratory concept” is not just a marketing gimmick. Mejekawi probably has the most technologically advanced kitchen on the island, and one of the most sophisticated in the region. It is filled with gadgets like an immersion circulator, a rotary evaporator and even an ultrasonic homogeniser (just Google it) on hand to let the chefs push their craft to its extreme.

If this sounds slightly intimidating to you, worry not. While the techniques and tools used to make them are scientifically sophisticated, the dishes here are filled with flavours that are comforting and accessible, especially to anybody familiar with Indonesian cuisine. The difference is, and what makes Mejekawi such a singular dining experience, is the way Cross and Goldfarb are able to heighten and intensify those flavours to levels rarely seen before.

The Start of an Epic Dinner
Offering only seven and 11-course tasting menus, the goal of Mejekawi is to take each diner on go on a carefully choreographed culinary journey. There is also a wine pairing option that sees each of those courses accompanied by a thoughtfully chosen vino from KU DE TA’s extensive collection. On the night we visited, we opted for the 11-course meal with wine pairings, and while I could wax rhapsodic about each and every dish, I’ll try to limit myself lest this become a treatise.

The first few course consisted of smaller dishes, but each of these light bites offered a complete sensory experience. A mound of smooth, firm-fleshed coral trout ceviche, which came dressed with Balinese sambal matah (a traditional condiment utilizing chilli, garlic, shallots and lime) was aromatic and bursting with vibrant, fresh flavours. The ceviche is meant to be piled onto a delicately crisp slice of tempe, adding texture and a nutty, earthy note. The next dish, a pork terrine served atop a sourdough crisp, featured a similar construction but a completely different sensation. The kitchen’s take on Balinese urutan, a heavily spiced local sausage, the terrine was extremely rich but well-balanced by the spices and the tang of pickled palm hearts.

The wait staff at Mejekawi did an outstanding job of leading us through the epic dinner, providing detailed descriptions before every dish and carefully noting how quickly we were scarfing down our dishes and controlling the tempo of the kitchen’s output, meaning we never felt rushed or longing throughout the multi-hour affair. Chef Ben also stopped in throughout the night to explain some of the dishes and see how we were doing. It was one of the friendliest fine dining experiences I’ve had.

Masterful Mains
A dish near and dear to the heart of most Indonesian is sop buntut, or oxtail soup. At Mejekawi they have their own version of the dish that would be immediately recognizable to anybody who has tried the original and yet distinctly refined. Our server first brought out a bowl featuring cherry tomatoes raisins, charred onions, herbs and a piece of oxtail that has been gently braised for six hours before being pressed and seared. The server then pours the broth, which is based on an umami-rich Japanese dashi, into the bowl from a copper teapot. The smell of the broth, which is intensely meaty but without the usual gaminess of oxtail, wafted over my nose as I cut through the tender meat with just the edge of my spoon. One of the things oxtail lovers like about it is the way the meat comes surrounded with rich fat and cartilage, and this version keeps just enough of that to please while still being easy and unintimidating to eat. The soup comes paired with a sake that recalls the Japanese broth base while also cleaning the palate.

Another memorable course was Mejekawi’s ode to the barbecued seafood of Jimbaran Bay. The dish comes with a beautiful piece of coral trout, cooked to a perfectly moist internal temperature through the magic of sous-vide, and a juicy giant prawn smeared in a smoky and piquant Balinese spice paste. It comes with a side of fiery dabu-dabu, a chilli and tomato based condiment from Sulawesi, for those who want more spice.

Yet another amazing seafood dish was their take on an American Northeastern classic, the lobster roll. Their version actually uses a giant prawn, which comes wrapped in a blanket of iberico lardo atop a slice of steamed brioche. The lardo accentuates the rich sweetness of the prawn which is contrasted by the dollops of tangy kimchi aioli on the side.

You might think that after so many rich, flavourful dishes, the tongue might get tired, but the chefs here know just how to orchestrate a meal, with rich, spicy, sour and creamy tastes and textures played strong in one course and silenced in another. The meal came to its crescendo for me with the final savoury course, the slow roasted lamb shoulder. Like the oxtail, the lamb gets cooked long and slow before being pressed and seared. The meltingly tender meat comes in a small puddle of rendang jus, carrying with it the intense flavour of the evaporated coconut curry without overpowering the meat. This winning combination is served alongside a schmear of a deeply rich and smoky puree made from parsnips (I could easily have eaten a bowl of the stuff by itself) and some spicy urap, an Indonesian salad of vegetables and coconut, to balance the other elements on the plate.

Dessert Denouement
While the lamb may have been the climax for me, the desserts, courtesy of renowned Pastry Chef Will Goldfarb, provided some of the biggest delights of the night. In particular, my dining companion and I were tickled by his signature Pandabert. Served in a custom printed container, which makes it look like an actual round of cheese produced via panda, the elegant dessert somehow lives up to that image. Inside the package you’ll find a luscious panna cotta flavoured with pandan leaf and smoked vanilla. It comes topped with poached nutmeg fruit, salak (snake fruit) and crumples of crispy mung bean. The panna cotta is appropriately rich without being too sweet, and the brightness of the pandan leaf is a great foil to the vanilla and fruits. It’s playful and profound at the same time, which could easily be said of the entire meal.

After making our way through all of the eleven courses, I was amazed to find I was still capable of standing up. Don’t get me wrong, I felt quite full and fuzzy-headed from all the wine, but I didn’t have the bloated feeling of impending food coma I normally get after such multi-course meals. And yet I also felt like I had eaten more than I actually did, so intense and distinctive were the flavours of each course. It truly was a fantastic dining experience, one I hope to repeat someday soon.