Sunday Brunching Guilt-Free
The COMO Shambhala Estate is hidden away in the countryside on top of a dizzyingly steep gorge overlooking the Ayung River, just a 20 minute drive north of Ubud. Well-known for its highly personalised health and revitalisation retreats and dedication to maintaining the highest quality, this stunning secluded holistic centre also opens its restaurants to walk-in guests.
For those in the know, glow, the Estate’s contemporary open restaurant overlooking the gardens, has a Sunday brunch that is well worth the journey. Tables are mostly for two to four people, with a few set up for larger groups, all set alongside the long open kitchen. The simple design belies the intricacy of the food presented, which is, as would be expected, of the highest quality.
What makes this really special though, is the skill of the chefs in pulling together a range of foods that are incredibly tasty, zinging with freshness, beautifully presented and, at the same time, incredibly healthy.
Bali has a huge range of high-end eateries and chefs often vie to present something that is that little bit different, but at glow, the concept is so fresh and outstanding that all else pales into insignificance.
Accompanied by a reluctant carnivorous friend, who views all “healthy” dining venues with mistrust, glow worked its magic in an instant and both of us were seduced by the stunning food. The opener was a chilled tamarind and young coconut soup that was simply divine. The icy broth was refreshing and zesty, focusing your attention directly on the food, while at the same time managing to provide a warming undertone to soothe the senses. The tiny slivers of red chilli, coconut meat and cubes of tamarind jelly in the soup were the perfect accompaniment.
The menu is divided into sections, each with three options: For Late Risers, Garden & Pastures, Steamed, Hand Rolled, From The Grill and Local Specialties. The staff suggest picking five choices to start off, but we decided to let Chef Dewa choose our food.
The avocado & fresh soy bean dip with seaweed salsa & Chia seed crisps is a nod to the kitchen’s talents in raw food presentation as the crisps are made using a dehydrator, not cooked. The cool, richly creamy dip is slightly chunky and sits nicely on the lightly salty crisps.
Another delightful treat is the soft cooked organic egg, smoked salmon and asparagus with Green Goddess dressing. Arriving with artfully scattered nasturtium petals scattered across it and a generous handful of salad leaves and pickles, this medley of bright, colourful foods was light and zingy with the most heavenly salmon I have tasted in many years.
Already blown away by the delectable food served, we were delighted to find every dish presented by the friendly and efficient wait staff was remarkable. My personal favourite was the Mud Crab in fragrant coconut, sambal sauce with bean sprouts and Asian herbs.
The crab was so fresh it must have still been swimming that morning, but now it sat on my plate with slivers of chilli, fresh basil leaves and lime pieces scattered over it, with the shell conveniently cracked and a handy tool to fish out all the luscious flesh. The sauce managed to be light and creamy at the same time, spicy, but not hot, and it took my full attention until it was all gone!
Other notable mentions are the lobster, chicken and spinach Shao Mai dumplings with black vinegar, chilli oil and coriander, the tiger prawns with borlotti bean, celery and pickled onion salad with mint and tapenade vinaigrette, and the marinated lamb skewers with Chimmichuri sauce, avocado, cucumber, tomato and a red onion salad.
Despite being filling, the food served at glow is very health conscious and even the sweet treats at the end of the meal are a delectable pastiche served on one plate and ideal to share. While I was keen to try the rose scented meringue with passion fruit curd and berry salad – which was a real gem – it was the quinoa pumpkin pudding that took the prize for its subtle and lush taste, resembling neither pumpkin or quinoa, well, at least as I cook them! My carnivorous partner, meanwhile, declared the almond sorbet was a true taste of nirvana.
A range of drinks are also available, including an extensive list of nutrition-packed fruit and vegetable juices.
As if the beautiful location and indulgent non-guilt inducing food isn’t enough, on Sundays the COMO Shambhala Estate invites the local village to use the grounds for their traditional Balinese dance class and gamelan practice. From noon until 2PM, a group of girls from the age of 5 to 15 practice their dance skills under the eagle eye of their tutor, providing an entertaining and enlightening glimpse into the island’s dance troupes.
All in all, it was a Sunday to remember and we can’t wait to try the Indonesian menu at the Estate’s genuine joglo Kudus House and the raw and cooked offerings on the a la carte menu at glow.
glow, COMO Shambhala Estate
Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar, Ubud, Bali 80571 Indonesia
Tel: (+62) 361 978 888 / 81 238 982 16