The spectacular interior of Salazon.
Salazon is another large restaurant recently opened in Bali, this time right in the middle of ‘Eats Street’ Seminyak. It’s huge, with high ceilings and an open kitchen right along the right side. The drying room and wine cellar are at the far end. Furnishings are slick and well-spaced, giving lots of room for diners.
Written by: DAVID TRAUTS
The Salazon space reminds me a little of an Austrian ski lodge – especially with the deer horn chandeliers hanging in the roof and fires burning away furiously on the grills – and in fact the restaurant has a menu to match. It’s all about hearty meat and rich sauces.
The menu features a lot of meats and cuts served to you in many different ways. There are wood-fired, cured, smoked and grilled meats and fish on the menu, with dishes like dry aged beef tartare oozing with smoked egg yolk on nori crackers (120k) or chorizo sanga (Australian for sandwich they tell me) with an onion fennel and pickled pear tart and orange oil sitting on a large homemade pancetta (100k) you may begin to get the Salazon point. It’s large, it’s heavy and it’s also heartily inventive. This is not a menu for lightweights.
Dry aged and wood-fired.
On this rather quiet Monday, late November evening we sat down at the long bar of the open kitchen. Here we could get total access to the chefs preparing our food and observe exactly how they are putting the dishes together. Fascinating stuff, indeed, as there is much going on in these Salazon dishes. Our chef tonight was Executive Sous Chef Heri Evendi, who has been working with the Australian Executive Chef of Salazon, Paul Lewis over many years. Talking to Heri is like talking to the boss as they have been developing the style of cuisine over many years to what you find today in Salazon. “This is a new style of menu,” pipes in Director of F&B for the group, Helmut Roessler. And he’s not wrong. This is a totally different style of cuisine for Seminyak – it’s the first time dry-aged has taken the limelight. However there’s even more to it than that.
Everything served in the restaurant is made on-site; the dry-aged meats, the charcuterie, even the sourdough bread and the butter served with it. The Salazón team produces vinegars, tomato sauces and relishes, chili sauces, ice cream and pastries. They have to plan their menu well in advance and keep right on top of the dry-aging and pickling processes as each meat is different in length and process for cold cuts through to duck, fish, pigeon, chicken, pork and beef. For example some meats are dry-aged for two months, others for more or less. Spanish mackerel is dry-aged for 9 days, with a subtle and delicious result lacking any strong fishy flavor. So what does this dry aging actually do?
According to Wikipedia it’s like this. The dry aging process changes beef in two ways. First, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. The resulting process of desiccation (meaning drying) creates a greater concentration of beef flavour and taste. Second, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef. Bingo. Exactly what we are all looking for. But it comes at a price as the process itself is rather costly. E.g. the beef must be stored at near freezing temperatures which means large chillers and the time to do it. Plus there is also a certain wastage from the hardened outer skin process which has to be cut off and thrown away. So is all this work and expense worth it? Back to that question later.
We also tried the squid with Koji marinate, smoked tomato yoghurt and sea herbs (110k) which was possibly a little overloaded with flavours from the Little Plates list, and then from the Mains, a dry aged kampong duck (220k), which was smoked and arrived with a green pepper and cumin leaf almond cream, burnt honey sauce and spring onion, and also a 55 day aged sirloin steak (460k) with a black garlic puree, green tomato salsa verde and grilled romaine lettuce. They are all tasty dishes, with super rich sauces. We ordered side dishes; the delightful foiled baked mushrooms (70k) and the finely sliced Hassleback whole potato (55k) with smoked sour cream. They were perfect complements to the meaty dishes.
All this is washed down with an excellent selection of wines and the specialty of the house, the wood-fired smoky cocktails including a Negroni and a burned lemon daiquiri coming from the cocktail trolley and made right in front of you, next to your table.
Dry aging meat is an interesting concept and process. It brings more flavour and extra tenderness to your table. Mix that with smoking, curing and then grilling and you get quite an array of tastes for a piece of meat. It’s a different style of cuisine at Salazon and anything new is always exciting. I take my hat off to them for that. Whether it beats a slab of simple, grilled marbled wagyu or Kobe, I’m not sure, that would really be up to you to decide, but anything new is always of interest and merits a visit. Give Salazon a try, the place is pretty spectacular, ideal for special occasions, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Next up they will be opening their new, luxurious top-floor lounge, which will be the final installment of En Vie Lane. That’s something else to look forward to—opening in December.