Two popular restaurants from Bali have set up shop here and one more is in the works.
Indonesian restaurant chain Bebek Tepi Sawah, renowned for serving Balinese dishes such as deep-fried duck, opened in Chijmes yesterday.
Following suit later this month is Texas-style barbecue joint Decker Barbecue in Robertson Quay.
It is a joint venture between the owners of Smokehouse BBQ Restaurant in Kerobokan and local restaurateur Min Chan, 32.
And Naughty Nuri's Singapore, a local offshoot of the Ubud-based eatery that serves barbecued pork ribs and martinis will open by December. Its owners are still scouting for a location.
The owners of these three restaurants are confident that the eateries will be a hit among diners here as many Singaporeans are well acquainted with Indonesian cuisine, and some have dined at the original restaurants in Bali.
Which is why Singapore was a natural choice for the Bebek Tepi Sawah chain's first overseas outlet, says Ms Gracia Adiwibowo, 32, who owns the Singapore outlet.
Ms Adiwibowo, who also owns the brand's franchise in Batam, notes that 30 per cent of her customers on weekends are from Singapore.
The chain's original restaurant in Ubud, which has rustic dining pavilions set amid tranquil padi fields, also enjoys a loyal following from Singaporean tourists.
Mr Phillip Poon, 38, a director of lifestyle group Massive Collective, which is bringing Naughty Nuri's here, shares Ms Adiwibowo's sentiments.
"Naughty Nuri's is a famous brand in Bali, so we want to develop it as part of our portfolio of clubs, bars and restaurants."
Massive Collective owns nightspots and restaurants including Bang Bang Dance Club and Match in Pan-Pacific Singapore and Sear Restaurant in Raffles Place.
For Decker Barbecue's co-owner Chan, who also owns restaurant-bar Club Street Social in Gemmill Lane, her decision to partner Smokehouse BBQ to set up Decker Barbecue happened "quite serendipitously".
She met Smokehouse's co-owner, Mr Elliott Decker, 32, through friends and later travelled to Bali to try the slow-smoked meats in his 11-month-old restaurant.
She says: "Their ribs blew me away - they are very moist and soft, which is as good as those I have tried in Austin, Texas. I decided to bring the concept here as it is difficult to replicate the flavour outside of Texas."
But diners here should be prepared to pay more for similar dishes.
Ms Adiwibowo says prices in Singapore will be at least double those in Indonesia because of higher rental and cost of ingredients. For example, Bebek Tepi Sawah's signature crispy duck dish in Bali costs about $10 but is $26 here.
Still, some are eager to visit the Singapore restaurants.
Civil servant Reuben Lim, 26, who dined at Bebek Tepi Sawah and Naughty Nuri's in Bali last year, says: "It will be more convenient to try their food here even if prices are higher."
Events manager Ira Iskandar, 30, who has dined at Bebek Tepi Sawah in Ubud twice, says: "This is a great way to showcase another type of Indonesian cuisine here, besides Javanese and Palembang food."
But some diners are not willing to pay more at the Singapore outlets.
Singapore-based Indonesian architect Evelyn, 27, who travels to Jakarta twice a month for work and to visit her family, would rather eat at the Bebek Tepi Sawah restaurant there.
"While I like its sambal and crispy duck, it is not worthit to pay double for the same dishes here."
Luck of the duck
Ms Gracia Adiwibowo, owner of Singapore’s Bebek Tepi Sawah.
Bebek Tepi Sawah
Where: 02-01B/C Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street
Open: Noon to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6336-1015 or go to bebektepisawah.com.sg
The restaurant's name, which means ducks by padi fields in Bahasa Indonesia, references the idyllic setting of dining pavilions next to padi fields at the original Ubud restaurant.
However, the only padi field in the 4,800 sq ft, 150-seat Singapore outlet is found on a huge oil painting that adorns a wall.
While the restaurant's setting is unlike its name, Ms Gracia Adiwibowo, 32, owner of the Singapore outlet, says the menu is 70 per cent similar to the Bali one.
The menu offers duck, chicken and fish cooked in three styles - deep-fried, grilled and smoked with banana leaves.
Signature dishes include the Bebek Tepi Sawah, or crispy duck ($26), which is boiled with spices such as turmeric and lemongrass for two hours, before being deep-fried.
The Ayam Betutu Tepi Sawah ($22) is chicken that is stuffed and topped with spices such as garlic, lemongrass and chilli, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled.
Each meat dish comes with rice, vegetables and three types of Balinese sambals.
The menu also offers grilled mixed seafood ($30).
To ensure the flavours remain consistent, the Indonesian head chef of the Singapore outpost spent three months learning the recipes at the Ubud restaurant.
Opened in 1999, Bebek Tepi Sawah was started by Balinese artist Nyoman Sumertha, who wanted a traditional Balinese restaurant which could also showcase his collection of artworks.
There are now 15 restaurant outlets in Indonesia.
Ms Adiwibowo is banking on the brand's niche in Balinese cuisine to stand out from other Indonesian restaurants here.
"Our food is more flavourful, as we use spices such as kecombrang (ginger flower). We also have a speciality sambal, which comes in three levels of spiciness."
Barbecued ribs from Naughty Nuri's Warung in Bali
Naughty Nuri's Singapore
Open: By December
Expect luscious racks of barbecued pork ribs and martinis to be shaken in front of you when Naughty Nuri's Singapore opens.
The local offshoot of the famed Naughty Nuri's Warung And Grill in Ubud, Bali, is opened by lifestyle group Massive Collective, which owns clubs, bars and restaurants here.
Mr Phillip Poon, 38, the group's director, says: "The casual and sexy concept of Naughty Nuri's fits with the group's concept of restaurants, bars and clubs."
While the menu is still in the works, he says it will have a mix of Western and Indonesian dishes, such as salads and burgers.
He and his team will visit the Bali eatery later this month to iron out the details.
But he adds that the dishes offered in Singapore will be more "refined and sophisticated" in terms of the quality of ingredients and plating of food. A diner can expect to spend $40 to $60. The decor of the Singapore restaurant will "retain elements of Balinese charm".
Naughty Nuri's was started in 1995 by Ms Isnuri Suryatmi, 53, and her late American husband, Mr Brian Aldinger.
The modest roadside barbecue stall, housed in a wooden shack in Ubud, has since grown into a franchise with eight outlets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Macau.
On the simmering competition among barbecue eateries here, Mr Poon says: "What sets us apart are the meats and the sauce, which are very tasty."
Texas-style ribs from Bali
Co-owners of Decker Barbecue Elliott Decker (left) and Min
Where: 01-17 The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay
Open: When it opens later this month, its hours will be 5 to 11pm (Tuesday to Friday), 11.30am to 11pm (weekend) and closed on Monday
Another eatery has joined the trail of restaurants serving smoked barbecued meats here.
The 45-seat casual eatery is set up by local restaurateur Min Chan, 32, and Mr Elliott Decker, 32, co-owner of Smokehouse BBQ in Bali.
The menu does not stray too far from Smokehouse's, which focuses on Texas-style barbecue.
It consists of meats such as beef brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork, sausages and turkey breasts, which are slow-smoked for up to 16 hours.
In the 500-sq ft Decker Barbecue is a 3m-long custom-built wood- fired smoker, which can smoke up to about 30 slabs of beef briskets at once.
Mr Decker, an American who relocated here last month to helm the kitchen, is considering using woods such as oak, apple, lychee and pecan to smoke the meats.
Side dishes will include macaroni and cheese, kale salad with tahini sauce and roasted potato salad.
There will also be a selection of American craft beers such as Redhook and Sierra Nevada.
Expect to spend about $50 a person for food and drinks. The self-service eatery, which is designed to evoke chill-out backyard barbecue sessions, will come with picnic tables and self-help counters.
Smokehouse BBQ in Bali, which opened in December last year, is founded by Mr Decker and his high school buddy, Mr Jesse King, 31.
The pair grew up in Jakarta where their families were based, and decided to set up a barbecue joint in Bali. Mr King picked up barbecuing from working in a food truck selling barbecue meat in Austin, Texas.
Their no-frills space in Kerobokan, Bali, consists of a kitchen in two shipping containers and an outdoor wood-fired smoker improvised from a drilling pipe.
On what gives Decker Barbecue an edge over other smokehouses, Mr Decker says it is the use of a wood-fired smoker.
"I hope to adhere to barbecue traditions and put simple spices on the food, so you can taste more of the wood and meat."
This article was first published on October 11, 2015.
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