Merah Putih Restoran

Merah Putih Restoran


Although the dining experience at Merah Putih on Bali’s uber-trendy Jalan Petitenget in Seminyak feels as if it has been a staple on the island’s must-see, must-do culinary scene for years, the architecturally stunning eatery only recently opened its doors in April.


The restaurant’s name says it all — classic Indonesian cuisine. Yet, the cutting-edge architecture, hip location, and innovative cooking techniques tell a different story. Throw in a fearless restaurateur committed to exceeding expectations and challenging stereotypes and Merah Putih might just be the best example of fine-dining Indonesian cuisine available in the archipelago today.

Merah Putih has created quite a buzz for itself without marketing, a word of mouth whisper that business owners can only dream of. As we enter the restaurant, totally discreet and unassuming from the exterior except for the switched on parking attendants who jump into action to help you navigate from the popular thoroughfare, our first thought is: there’s no reason to rush to our table.

The modern minimalist entry opens into a sophisticated, sultry lounge; offering sleek steel grey velvet upholstered sofas, hand cut hanging wooden lights, a fully stocked, backlit bar appointed in marble and granite and a variety of cosmopolitan tunes enhancing the already very cool ambience of the space from concealed speakers.  Jasper Manifold, the restaurant’s owner, sits at the bar, getting ready for the busy evening ahead with his ritual cappuccino. As the former manager of Ku De Ta, you could say he knows a thing or two about Bali’s hyper competitive, ultra chic dining scene.

In describing his previous experience with one of Asia’s most revered dining and late night establishments, Jasper says, “When I was hired to manage Ku De Ta, the club was already experiencing astounding success. My job wasn’t to change much except for three key things: the music, lighting and making sure I was on the floor every evening chatting and checking in with guests. A comment I often received was: we’ve had an amazing evening, but please tell us where to go tomorrow night to get “real” Indonesian food.”

“Merah Putih is a realised dream: bringing together many concepts including fine-dining Indonesian cuisine, products that are sourced straight from the producers, a design team that could support my creative vision to have a space that was enjoyable any time of year; under clear skies or in a torrential downpour,” he explains.

Instead of avoiding the reality of the “rainy season” here in Bali, as many architects and interior designers tend to do, restaurants that are absolutely stunning when the sun is out can turn into a complete debacle in December. With the help of architect Charlie Hearn from Inspiral Architecture and Design Studios, the ceiling of the main dining room was constructed from fabric, cleverly allowing sunlight to filter into the interior space and to encourage rainwater to pour dramatically into Art Deco style columns placed throughout the first floor dining area. Custom underwater LED lights are placed within the columns to highlight the indoor waterfall feeling even more. When the rain hits, as we were lucky enough to experience during a quick shower, the mood of the restaurant kicks up a notch, everyone is in awe, watching Mother Nature do her thing. Ninety-nine-percent of the rainwater is then filtered with a state-of-the-art system that renders it clean, allowing the restaurant to be able to utilise it for washing vegetables and even for drinking. Jasper admits that he and his staff drink the water freely, but serve bottled water to guests.

With an average nightly head count of approximately 150 guests each evening, something unheard of for a restaurant that hasn’t even celebrated its 6-month anniversary, Jasper says that although the design of the restaurant garners a lot of attention, it’s the food that steals the show. With a diverse team of chefs in the kitchen including an ‘ibu’ and a saucier from Bandung, the renowned Wayan Mustika from Jimbaran and Kieran Morland, an Australian executive chef who joined Jasper from Ku De Ta, at the end of the day it isn’t just about the ingredients, but the cooking techniques.




“Our fish is hand selected every day by guys who know the fishermen at the market. All of our red meats are imported from Australia and we work directly with Bedugul farmers. To appeal to both Indonesian connoisseurs and curious visitors, we split our menu into two sections: traditional and modern. All of our dishes provide the intense flavours Indonesian food is famous for, yet we’ve lightened everything up. Our duck falls off the bone, it hasn’t been cooked to a crisp.”

After a mini soto ayam soup served as the evening’s complimentary amuse bouche, we try a stylish variation on beef rendang, the Padang Beef Shin ‘Bak Pao,’ which features tender, bite-sized portions of the meat presented sandwich style in steamed buns, accompanied by a flavourful green sambal or chili sauce. The Balinese Yellowfin Tuna is prepared tartare style atop a delicate wafer, spiced just right with a hint of chilli. A small dish of very spicy sambal also graces the table, in case you feel like heating things up a bit, but it is never overpowering. The chefs boil the chilis first then grind them into a chunky paste with mortar and pestle, giving you a quick heat that gently fades after a few seconds.

For vegetarians, the stuffed tofu is an absolute winner. Overflowing with a variety of Bedugul’s prized miniature mushrooms, this dish presents the perfect opportunity to sample the spicier sambal. Arriving to the kitchen of Merah Putih straight from the seas off of Java, exquisite slipper lobsters are served with a delicate crisp on the outside, complemented by an array of flavours including tomato sambal, chilli aioli, pickled cucumber and radish. And then, of course, you have to have your corn fritters, a staple starter in all Indonesian restaurants starting first with the local warung. Normally very heavy and laden with the oil in which they’ve been cooked, Merah Putih’s ‘Perkedel Jagung’ are light and fresh with kernels of corn that pop in your mouth and chunks of tiger prawn mixed in with the batter.

No Indonesian restaurant is complete without the honoured Balinese Suckling Pig – Babi Guling, and Merah Putih’s version is prepared to perfection. Spicing things up with a slab of very spicy skin, this can easily be remedied with the very calming effect of the accompanying coconut cream sauce. If you want to play it safe with a dish that evokes comfort food, pure and simple, go for the Gulai Kambing, not your typical ‘goat curry,’ as this variation is made with the best Australian lamb on the market. The spice is mellow with light and crispy potato fritters and a chargrilled lamb satay on the side.

In keeping with his Ku De Ta roots, Jasper understands how important mood, music and cocktails are. A live DJ is in the works and Jasper’s wine cellar offers many of the most attractively priced international selections on the island. His choice to offer Beluga Russian vodka as the house spirit proves to be a wise choice as our Classic Martini and Jasper’s company proved to be just the right mix in an industry where personalised experiences mean everything.


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