[BALI EATS]: Urchin Grill & Raw Bar does poncey with major appeal

On a weekday night during the off-peak season at Urchin, it's a silent, empty place of polished floorboards, stiff back chairs and mahogany wood stained atmosphere. Similar to other establishments winging the Seminyak stretch, the ill-fated predicament seems commonplace. A waiter appears and injects some life into the dry as dust persona, introducing us to the tasting menu we would be navigating. Albeit, alone in the expanse of the spacious dining room. Urchin defers from most other restaurants, no death-defying design stunts, devoid of tropical-vibe inducing paraphernalia. 

I had no qualms, of course. Settling in prompting with a comp basket of sexy warm sourdough flanked by a small dish of Kombu butter that had seen too long a time in the freezer.

Rolling over and placing ourselves in the expert hands of the chef, our first course is prepared and dished out swiftly to appease our ravenous appetites. A vogueish starter of Tuna Tartare Cone, arrived bejewelled with lime zest and dressed in a piquant wasabi dressing. You wash that down with a generous pour of la gioisa 'prosecco' DOC trevisso Italy. Dang, the sommelier got game.

Next up, the Coral Trout Crudo, its mysteriously translucent slices are made sophisticated with a melange of other flairs contributed by bittersweet pomelo, hits of obscure salinity from sea grapes and tobiko caviar. This blend of clever and confidently competing cooking sets the tone for the entire meal, and the service is top notch - the waiter accompanying the stellar dish with a bouquet of tropical fruits in the form of Oahu Gravels Woven Stone Sauvignon blanc. Match made in heaven.

Some dishes are merely extremely good - quietly harmonious flavour pairings such as Grilled Scallop with silky pumpkin puree are amped up with textural titillation from potato spaghetti; enoki mushrooms and rocket providing rest stops for the perturbed taste buds - others are downright extraordinary. My major stand-out being the Prawn Ravioli steeped in shellfish emulsion which you'll want to reserve extra bread for mopping up. Shellfish roasted so slowly before emulsifying with rich stock, the end result is outrageously intense, fetching back from the brink by a sweet and semi tart kick from tomato fondue followed by a intoxicating melt-in-your-mouth fresh prawn stuffed ravioli with edges not plagued by the usual 'too-thick' problem. So delicious that no words are muttered during consumption.

Just when you think the pinnacle has been surmounted, the kitchen pours its heart out on a plate with the succeeding main of Miso Glazed Gindara. The roasted cauliflower alone is worth getting excited over. Browned florets with a crunchy hollowness is a great companion to the oleaginous slab of fish so expertly cooked that it peels its layers off like a classy seductress - reminder, don't peel your eyes off this beauty lest it gets stolen off your plate. Watercress puree and Meyer lemon oil pushes the culinary envelope and the domino del pasta 'Crioz Torrentes' escalates the satisfaction factor. Truly a stroke of genius conglomerating on a plate.

The dessert is not the point of the meal to get squeaky about, although I admit that the Late Harvest Gewurtraimer does tip the scale from leaning towards borderline mediocre. Passionfruit and Mango Souffle has its fair share of theatrics when showers of vanilla creme anglaise are poured into a tiny hole bored into the souffle's puffed up surface and mischievous flanking of cream chantilly and lemon curd set about introducing inches to your hips.

Urchin is indeed a hidden gem amidst the tons of tourist traps in Seminyak. I'd argue it's rather refreshing to finish 6 courses contentedly satiated by the quality of the food rather than distressed from the sheer quantity force fed into your system; though, in retrospect, one more prawn ravioli won't hurt nobody.

Urchin dishes out their 6-course tasting menu for 425,000 Indonesian Rupiah (approx. $43 Singapore dollars) and 855,000 Indonesian Rupiah (approx $86 Singapore Dollars) for wine pairings. I'd say, take my money.

Urchin Grill and Raw Bar
Jalan Laksmana 22
The Colony Hotel
Bali 80361
Reservations: Chope

Operating Hours:
Mon - Sun: 4pm - 12am

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