Ahmad Hadi Ashari at the Griya Santrian in Sanur

A sneak peek at the new menu created by the Griya Santrian’s exciting new young chef.

Established over 30 years ago, the delightful Griya Santrian is set in the heart of the laidback Balinese coastal town of Sanur and was one of the island’s first resort hotels. The original design was heavily influenced by the traditional Balinese style, with open, airy construction

Recent renovations have transformed much of the small resort hotel helping cement its place as a popular choice for families and couples of all ages. Whilst being contemporary, the improvements are tasteful and have retained that special Balinese appeal perhaps unique to smaller resort hotels.

But it’s not just the buildings that have been upgraded. With the recent appointment of Ahmad Hadi Ashari as executive chef, the menu has been dramatically improved.

Chef Hadi graduated from Sahid Tourism Academy in Jakarta before gaining experience in some quality hotel kitchens in Jakarta and Central Java, then setting sail for a coveted role as chef on a yacht, plying his trade on the waters of the Asia Pacific between Indonesia (including Raja Ampat), Singapore, Thailand and the Andamans.

After some time at sea, he decided that a role on land was called for and so he has chosen Bali for his next culinary adventure, where he feels he can fully explore his creativity.

“I like big city hotels but they often have quite fixed menus and ideas. Because of the mix of local and international guests who visit Bali, here at the hotel I have the opportunity to innovate, to be creative and it’s very exciting,” he says.

After in a few months he has  produced a balanced and varied menu that will suit most tastes, based heavily on the influence of the sea, the beautiful beachside location and his belief in serving up good value, high quality food to his customers.

“I watched what guests were choosing, talked to them about what they wanted and this helped me devise a menu that catered to all, from kids by the pool to romantic couples dining by candlelight on the beach,” he said with a smile.

The new menu is biased towards seafood, inspired by the rolling ocean viewed from his kitchen. There are lighter snacks, such as pizza and sandwiches, with more variation still to come. The main cafe also serves a range of delightful local dishes, such as the perennial favourites satay and nasi goreng, while there is a separate steak menu plus a comprehensive wines and cocktails menu.

After a delightful entree of breaded calamari with dip and tasty tomato bruschetta, chef produced a selection of the new dishes that typify his extensive menu for us to sample. The vibrant Flores lobster with green caviar rice was meaty and firm and the large sushi roll topped with masses of caviar was a delicious accompaniment. The textures and tastes combined wonderfully to showcase this beautiful lobster to full effect.

Locally caught sea bass straddling slices of Balinese spiced aubergine served with a slice of lemon, a delicious sweet chilli dip and a black caviar topped sushi roll was next. The blend of sweet chilli and lemon drizzled onto the mild, firm and lean fillet added a lift to the already delicate flavour.

The final dish from the mains menu was chef’s take on the classic Tuna tataki. Thick slices of yellow fin tuna were gently seared and served with a nutty green salad and rich citrus soy sauce. Tender and tasty, the seared tuna was mouth-wateringly good.

For balance, chef brought over one of his simple margarita pizzas and a bowl of gelato made at the resort. The thin crust baked base covered in lashings of slightly sweet tomato sauce, cheese and sliced tomato wedges with oregano, like the dishes before it, was uncomplicated and ideal for the guests he will serve.

The early indications, plus the delicious samples we tried, suggest that the Griya Santrian has in fact plucked a young pearl from the deep tropical waters he so recently plied. Chef Ahmad Hadi Ashari is definitely one young chef to watch on the island, and we look forward to sampling more of his fine food in the future.