Like a secret, the Fuzion Café surprises you with its friendly and attentive service, relaxing ambiance, and meticulously prepared, delicious food.
From the outside, the Fuzion Café on Jalan Lungsiakan street looks like an ordinary café. Also, it’s advertised as an Italian Restaurant and there is a big sign outside with Italian Pizza written on it.
I thought I’d have a cup of coffee and write while my wife Gabi went to her massage appointment across the street. Still jetlagged, we woke up around 11.00 and by the time we had walked from our villa which is 630 meters to the main road. I was already hungry and was thinking about bebek goreng, the Balinese specialty of duck confit with fragrant rice and vegetables topped with spices. Gabi was looking forward to her indulgence and said she would catch lunch afterwards.
When I walked into the café, the waitress led me through the short, narrow hall flanked by a bar area and the entrance to the kitchen. The hall opened up to a larger, rectangular space with a raised deck and cushions on the floor. The whole wall in the back of the café is a window. Just outside the window is a natural trellis from the stems of a bougainvilla plant, and a circular stone fountain trilling with the melody of flowing water.
I chose the deck, of course, even though I knew sitting cross legged on the floor would make my legs fall asleep. Being close to the window and the running water of the fountain was lulling. I immediately knew I would feel relaxed here.
The waitress brought the menu, and although much of the first few pages are pizza and pasta, Western style salads and sandwiches, there was a selection of Indonesian dishes and a Chef’s menu.
They had a bebek goreng bumbu rajang. The hedonist in me exclaimed silently in satisfaction.
A moment of doubt came to me when I tasted the first drink I ordered, the mint and lime juice. The mint was overgenerous and made the drink bitter. I could not taste too much of the lime. So I ordered a mango juice next, and that was unsweetened and fresh.
At that moment, Gabi came in to the café reporting her massage place was closed, sat down and said she might as well have lunch with me. She ordered the vegetarian Nasi Kuning, which is a fusion of West Java and Bali style.
Her dish was beautifully laid out, like most Indonesian meals are, featuring sambal or spicy sauce in small square boats made of banana leaf and held together with a piece of rib from coconut frond. For non-vegetarians, the dish would come with chicken, but for Gabi it was a generous piece of fried tofu and a square of tempe, a pair of clever ‘satay’ of mashed potatoes quick dipped in very hot oil, like tempura on barbecue sticks. The steamed bean sprouts and beans, and sate lilit, the satay sauce that accompanies the satay added other textures to the nasi kuning. The ensemble was almost too beautiful to eat.
The rice was flavored with turmeric, giving it the yellow color. I tasted everything (we often taste each other’s food). Tofu was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The tempe was a little stronger in flavor, and Gabi explained it is because tempe is fermented longer than tofu. The tempe had whole soy beans in it, giving the bite a more chunky feel. The different flavors of the elements of the dish had a wonderful harmony to them. Not a single element stood out as overpowering, and that was the triumph of the dish.
The dish I ordered, the Bebek Goreng bumbu rajang or literally “fried duck chopped spices” was more plain-looking. A bed of steamed rice, topped with a layer of cherry tomato halves and rucola, and then the duck leg on top, with a generous smattering of chopped chili and other spices, and a smear of a sauce on the side.
Sometimes, the bebek goreng can taste overwhelmingly oily. Duck is a fatty meat any way, so this over-oiliness can be a bit much. Also, duck can be a dry meat if overdone. The Fuzion bebek goreng was none of the above. Instead, it almost seemed that the skin was seared so it would be crispy and then the leg was baked in the oven. The meat was juicy and cooked just right, to the bone.
But the hero of the dish was the suffixed phrase, “chopped spices.” The smear on the plate is a finely chopped, almost a puree of ginger and garlic, adding the slight punch to each bite.
Gabi and I cleaned our plates.
The Fuzion Café’s slogan is “The Taste of Harmony,” and it is well-chosen to describe the food we had. The characteristic of our meal was that both dishes had layers of flavor, and these were balanced in the most harmonious ways.
Location: Jalan Lungsiakan, Kedawatan, Gianyar Bali
Hours: 8.00am to 10.00pm
Recommendations: Nasi Kuning, Bebek goreng bumbu rajang, cold brew coffee, mango juice and Indonesian tapas
A note on the author
Antun Miron is an itinerant traveler and author of Superficial, a novel partly set in Croatia. His frequent travels make him a student of what it means to be human.