Indonesian chef Ray Adriansyah recreates the exotic menu of his signature Bali restaurant, at Alta Vida, Pune

At the newly launched Alta Vida, Adriansyah represents Nusantara by Locavore, his signature restaurant in Ubud, Bali

author_img Pranjali Bhonde Pethe Published :  13th November 2022 06:17 PM   |   Published :   |  13th November 2022 06:17 PM
Juhu, Rabeg

Juhu, Rabeg

Everyone knows about ‘nasi goreng’, but Indonesian cuisine goes beyond that,” says Ray Adriansyah, one of the top chefs in Indonesia’s modern gastronomic scene, who’s currently helming the kitchen at Alta Vida, the restaurant at The Ritz Carlton-Pune.

The Southeast Asian country is the world’s fourth most populous, yet unlike China and India, “its cuisine has hardly made a mark on the global stage,” says the chef, under whose watchful eyes the open kitchen at the al-fresco grill and bar comes alive with meats being prepped to be grilled and sweet corn and shallots—neatly wrapped in banana leaves—ready to be smoked.

At the newly launched Alta Vida, where the menu is a blank canvas for a rotating line of chefs with the first season ending in March 2023, Adriansyah represents Nusantara by Locavore, his signature restaurant in Ubud, Bali. Keeping Nusantara’s beverage programme in mind, each of the eight fruit-forward cocktails on the menu are a tribute to different islands in Indonesia and highlight native ingredients such as grapefruit, rice, chillies, pandan, coconut and lemongrass.

This is also evident in Rujak Denpasa, which is inspired by Rujak, a Balinese favourite afternoon snack. The drink is infused with vodka, tamarind syrup, chilli, cucumber, pineapple and lemongrass. Another tropical drink, Java, is based on the eponymous Indonesian wonder fruit. “The menu is based on our current and previous menus at Nusantara.

We selected dishes that we thought would best introduce gourmands to ancient grilling techniques used in Indonesia and attempt to revive forgotten culinary traditions,” says Adriansyah, whose Locavore is a regular on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Illustrating the method of cooking with woodfire, where the marinated meat is first wrapped in palm husk, he says, “Bebek Betutu is my favourite dish, where we cook a whole duck that has been smothered in Balinese spice paste, wrapped in palm husk and slow-cooked for hours over the woodfire. This results in soft and succulent meat, which has a rich flavour from the spices and smoke.”

Other techniques that Adriansyah employs in his open kitchen are cooking inside young coconuts or bamboo like jukut kelor mesanten, where moringa leaves, base genep and torch ginger are cooked over an open fire. Known to be a crusader for sustainability and farm-to-table—his restaurant bagged the Sustainable Restaurant Award in 2019—the chef has tied up with a local farm in Pune to grow some of his favourite ingredients like chayote, Japanese cucumber and moringa leaves.

From hearty soups made with coconut milk to the soupy sambal curry paired with burnt garlic rice, the food is a celebration of the tropical provinces. In desserts, the Bika Gula Merah, a tapioca cake baked with brown sugar and fresh coconut milk, pairs perfectly well with Es Legenda, chopped fruits served on
top of frozen coconut milk infused with pandan leaves, cane syrup, avocado and white bread. The Balinese experience, with tropical cocktails and native food cooked using local ingredients, is a treat for the senses.

Start with the Minuman Rasa Kelapa cocktail, then proceed to the Balinese platter and marinated tuna grilled on bamboo skewers or rice and sambal curry. Finish off with the bika gula merah and end the night by saying selamat tidur (Balinese for goodnight) with coconut water.