Bali could be called the Boracay of Indonesia. It’s a popular tourist beach/resort destination that is at once commercial and deeply spiritual. After the Japanese occupation during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, Bali became a province of Indonesia, but managed to maintain a separate, specifically Balinese culture; whereas the dominant religion in most parts of Indonesia is Islam, in Bali it is Hinduism.
The island is ringed by coral reefs; the beaches in the south have white sand, while those in the east and north have black (volcanic) sand. Bali has a population of around 3 million. There are large fruit plantations in the east of Bali, as well as cornfields and coffee plantations.
Coffee from the Indonesian island of Bali was formerly sold exclusively to the Japanese market. The changing face of world economics finds the first exports of Balinese coffee arriving to coffee connoisseurs ever-hungry for new blends.
Enter Bali Blends, a new coffeeshop-slash-restaurant at the Mega Strip A in Ortigas. Upon entrance, I’m hit with a strong scent of sandalwood, emitting from the various scented candles. Coming here is like coming home, since I lived in Indonesia for eight years. So many familiar things: snapshots of familiar Indonesian sights, Indonesian puppets called wayang kulit and wayang golek; the waiters also wear a kopiah, a native hat worn by most Indonesian men.
Bali Blends is a full-service restaurant serving Indonesian favorites: nasi goring dan satay, fried rice with meat kebabs served with a peanut sauce; martabak, a type of filled pancake; and gado-gado, a mixed vegetable salad with peanut dressing. I feel like I’m reliving my childhood.
But it’s early afternoon and I regret having had lunch elsewhere, so a return visit is soon to come. So my friend and I settle for the coffee. Served in either 12 or 16 ounce cups, it’s sophisticated and well-prepared. On my friend’s Café Mocha (P100), there is a delicate flower painstakingly “etched” with chocolate sauce. So pretty and dainty at the same time, I think that if all coffee comes to me looking like this, I may not want to drink coffee again, hesitant I’d be to mangle such artwork with my mouth.
My Sumatra coffee (P80) on the other hand, is plain looking but pungent. Balinese beans are washed (wet-processed) like neighboring coffees from the Indonesian islands of Java, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. My cup has traces of the earthy character, but only in the background. It is a classic, clean cup with much body and mildness.
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.
Megastrip Bldg. A