Chef's Surprise Menu - Mozaic @ Ubud, Bali
Reservations are highly recommended. They practise a policy of reconfirming your reservation on the day itself (they'll either call you or you have to call them by 4pm Balinese time to reconfirm your reservation for dinner). If you fail to reconfirm your reservation, your table is given away. I have visited Bali 9 times in the past 8 years and dined at Mozaic 3 times. Prior to this trip, my last visit to Mozaic was in October 2006. They were operating a 2-seating arrangement back then which didn't seem to be the case this time around. February is low season in Bali.
The restaurant is located in Ubud so if I happened to be staying at Seminyak for a short trip, I would usually give Ubud (about an hour and a half's drive away) a miss. The ambience is romantic but still suitable for meals with friends and family. The extremely dim lighting was a major challenge for our cameras and one had to look hard to discern the items on the plate.
I hoped the pork skin would fare better as it looked crisp. I was disappointed to discover that not only did the roasted pork skin lack the "crackling" quality that is a mark of skill, it was hard and had a gummy texture. The bits of skin and fat stuck to the teeth! It was in short, awful! The only reason I can think of for this that the excess fat had not been rendered off but was absorbed by the skin during the roasting process resulting in an unpleasantly chewy and sticky mass.
Perhaps, they should spend some time with Ibu Oka (an establishment in Ubud that is famous for Roasted Suckling Pig) or with some Chinese/German chefs who are worth their weight in salt to learn the art of creating a crisp crackling.
I didn't like the Chocolate Ganache that accompanied the dish as it was a little too tart for my taste and I didn't like how it went with the squab. I am aware that Charlie Trotter has made a dish with chocolate vinaigrette and smoked squab breast with much success but not having tasted his version, I cannot draw a comparison with the one before me. I can only say that it was not to my liking though to be fair to Mozaic, the squab on its own was succulent and adequately seasoned.
The clash of flavours on my plate was nothing compared to the clash that my 2 friends had. They had Lamb with Apple Jelly, Caramelized Apple, Toasted Spices (yes, the same weirdly sweet combo that I had) and Calvados Sauce which they totally hated.
Kudos to the service crew for their professionalism throughout the evening and concern with customer satisfaction. We had noticed a sizeable young Chef (not Chris Salans) swaggering around our dining area throughout most of the evening, checking in with the Caucasian clientele on their experience but left the Asian clients (which were in equal number to the Caucasians) to the care of the able wait staff. We figured that he either wasn't sure if the Asians (who happened to be about 50% of the diners in our area) could speak English or that he was afraid that we wouldn't think that the use of Asian spices was exotic enough to warrant the gushing reviews that he seemed to be enjoying from his Caucasian audience. Gone are the days when one could see Chef Chris Salans at work in the open kitchen and waving to his clientele. The food and dining experience had descended to the deepest levels of mediocrity only to be kept afloat by the well-trained service personnel. If only we had more service staff like that in Singapore.
Mozaic Jl. Raya Sanggingan,