Azul’s Tiki Touch

Azul Beach Club Bali has three levels of epicurean experiences, magic mixology and a funky island vibe aimed at Bali’s social and jet set elite. Ondy Sweeting slips in. Photos: Lucky 8.

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WITH a Tiki Bar offering inspired cocktails, a tropical aesthetic of sand white and azure blue, casual dining in a bamboo tree house with a more elegant dining scene on the ground, Azul seems to have it all. There is an infinity pool flanked by sun lounges and pods and a Jacuzzi that glows in the dark. Then there are the uninterrupted beach and Indian Ocean views.

The only way to kick off an Azul evening is with a cocktail or two at the second level Tiki Bar. Order Island Nectar in an Easter Island-influenced vessel. This fresh and fruity mix is a secret recipe but hues of passionfruit and rum with a teeny tad of rucola are ever present. Creative spark is everywhere even among the non-stem stemware. A Golden Colada – made with the original Puerto Rican recipe – comes in a rose gold metal pineapple. Remove the top and perch the cup upon it. It’s fun and frivolous. The cocktails are supernacular. In fact just about everything Azul is both chilled and fizzing.

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Don’t expect elegant couture and high heels – do expect an awesome dining destination. Behind the pans is Chef Arief Wicaksono. He was Chef de Partie at the 2000 opening of Bali’s first beach club Ku De Ta. He then moved to a concept restaurant in Dubai’s Wafi Complex. Chef Arief returned to Bali as Chef de Cuisine at Spice restaurant in the Conrad Resort and Spa and later opened Karma Kandara. After another stint in Dubai, Chef Arief joined the legendary Metis as Executive Chef.

He now aims to create a type of culinary revolution at Azul Beach Club with a captivating menu that draws from his extensive training, which is more than a little euro-centric.

Think classic steak tartare with shaved Italian Grana Padano cheese or the sumptuous hand prepared lobster and crab tortellini served in a lush kaffir lime butter veloute. Ikura caviar bombs deliver deeply pleasurable salty blasts to lemongrass and coconut foam.

Chef Arief dips into India with an impressive tandoori oven that produces a remarkable green tandoori chicken and coriander raita to go with the charcoal naan bread.

Simple numbers like a sweet and citrusy snapper ceviche sprinkled with green chilli, coriander and soaked in lemongrass and lime granite and the Yellowfin tuna tartare with black tobiko and a creamy avocado guacamole are a strength that suits the location.

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Those with a taste for traditional Western food will adore the Salt Bush lamb shanks slow cooked in a Moroccan tangine with chunks of carrot, chickpeas, parsley and a rich meaty sauce. Perhaps roasted lamb loin with butternut pumpkin mash will satisfy the urge or maybe an Australian cut of rib-eye steak with Cajun wedges and garlic herb butter will set a meat feast straight.

Azul has five choices of wood fired pizza including a classic Napolitana with tomato, anchovies, capers and cheese through to a Tom Yum King Prawn pizza with green mango slaw and kaffir lime leaves.

Those who want to explore local cuisine can opt for a crispy Balinese pork belly that has been cooked for 14 hours.

Do not miss the Spanish churros for dessert. These are feather light and crunchy and dusted with cinnamon powder. Three dipping sauces are passionfruit, an opulent chocolate and a sublime salted caramel sauce. The chocolate chilli cake is a single portion of warm lava cake that produces only the faintest palate of chilli. It is served with house-made chocolate chilli ice cream and an elaborately decorated praline. Azul’s kitchen is clearly occupied by a committed chocophile.

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A tight wine list offers French and Italian choices of Sancerre, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and a Pinot Noir by the glass, while wines from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, the USA and Chile come by the bottle. It’s easy to secure a good wine without wading through pages of cellar stock.

Already Azul has gained a reputation as a superb Sunday beach club destination for Bali’s expat influencers who arrive with family and friends to settle in for a day of eating from the barbeque and enjoying the expert mixology. Kids disappear into the pool or hang out at staff-led activities.

Azul’s menu has been so carefully put together that it defies the casual ambience of the restaurant. Service is sharp and knowledgeable and the environment has a chilled beachside wow factor that only hard work, clear vision, and faultless taste can produce. Like everything about Azul Beach Club, the music has not been left to chance and rolls through cool island tunes to fabulous drumming in the Tiki bar and excellent live acts.

Azul will easily secure a well-deserved place as a go-to dining destination where diverse tastes from across the globe are beautifully satisfied by Chef Arief’s menu of expertly executed dishes that have the flair that only comes with deep experience. Jump in.

www.azulbali.com

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