Top: the dining room at Chandi isn’t normally this empty, but we eat dinner at 5:00 nowadays; bottom left: a chocolate fondant cake with crispy ginger and caramel swirls; bottom right: the chicken sisit bumbu Bali
Our hands-down favorite meal in Seminyak goes to Chandi, an almost unnoticeable little haven tucked in between bars and boutiques on one of the main drags in town. The menu and website promised pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on Balinese influences, and, as the hubby summarized aptly, someone was firing on all pistons back in the kitchen. We couldn’t stop clapping our hands with excitement every time a dish was laid down in front of us.
Amazing crunchy tofu squares
We arrived at Chandi at just after 5:00 pm after calling to ask Chandi if they wouldn’t mind taking us a bit early, since most of their reservations begin at 6:00. The fact that they were willing to accommodate us, Gravy Baby and all, set the precedent for what turned out to be truly outstanding service. We chose to start with crunchy tofu squares breaded in panko with a roasted peanut dressing and topped with cucumber shreds, and as soon as I bit into one, my mind was reeling with how I might duplicate such an amazing snack for myself once we were back home. We also shared a really fun chicken sisit bumbu, a shredded chicken seasoned with kaffir lime, chili, and served with mango inside a crispy tofu skin.
The special of the night was local grilled squid stuffed with lemongrass and chilies, which we decided was mandatory for anyone who happens upon the restaurant in the future on nights when this special is on tap. The squid was meltingly tender, and the accompanying daikon “noodles” tossed in a sweet and spicy chili sauce really made for a nice, crunchy textural contrast.
We also dove into our 3-way beef curry noodles, which came with shredded beef (known also as beef “floss” or rou song in this part of the world), crispy beef jerky and a slow-simmered beef rendang (kind of like a braised beef stew made with tamarind, shallots, garlic, chillies). All I wanted to do was paint my face in these noodles, and as soon as we were finished, I wanted more.
This is what I love about Bali. While I love the local, unadorned food, sometimes it’s nice to see where the simple everyday dishes we eat can be taken with just a little imagination and finesse. Chandi has the latter in spades. I’m not sure if I would’ve appreciated this place two years ago, but I sure am glad we’ve had the pleasure of knowing it now.