There are several things I’ve chosen not to eat in life and one of those things are mussels. I’ve never liked mussels due to its jelly-like, squishy texture which I consider to be gross. So, if you manage to make me eat mussels, you’d have to be a hell of a great cook.
Apparently, the cooks in Krisna Gallery & Restaurant in Denpasar have managed to do just that.
The restaurant is situated in the heart of Bali on Jalan Diponegoro. Although it would be nice to visit it during daytime, but I truly recommend enjoying dinner here after sunset when all the pretty lights come on.
(See what I mean by pretty lights?)
The restaurant itself consists of an indoor dining area with ordinary dinner tables and chairs, semi-outdoor area with couches and coffee tables, and the outdoor alfresco dining area with wooden chairs and tables with umbrellas. There are also several bale bengong as part of the outdoor seats. I personally recommend the alfresco area for a much more romantic setting because aside from the hanging, spherical lanterns, your source of light only comes from these floating candles.
So technically, when you’re having dinner outside, you’re having a candle-lit dinner. Hoorah!
If you’re on a date at this restaurant, worry not that your date will have awkward silences in between. There’s a live band performing every evening at the restaurant and even when they go off stage, there’s a recording of an acoustic cover band (Boyce Avenue, perhaps?) playing in the background.
(A glimpse of the band)
And now, let us talk about the food.
Ayam Betutu Men Tempeh
On my last trip to Bali, we gave Ayam Betutu Gilimanuk a try and it was surprisingly not that spicy nor even as tasty as its reputation. But we’re not giving up on ayam betutu just yet. For those of you who don’t know, ayam betutu is the Balinese way of cooking chicken by submerging it in spicy condiments. We tried this one by Men Tempeh (part of the restaurant) and boy, was it spicy.
They included some extra chili sauce to our order of ayam betutu – as if the original spices of the dish weren’t spicy enough.
I tried taking a strip of chicken and ate it by itself in case it wasn’t spicy. Upon some first chews, I was like “oh yeah, this is fine. This is just as spicy as Padang’s chicken.” But then, boom! That chili just felt like it exploded in my mouth and I quickly stuffed handfuls of rice to tone it down. I only made it through three chicken strips, no more. Even my mom was in tears and she eats almost everything with chili.
As for the texture, it was incredibly tender and cooked to the perfect temperature. A lot of people in Indonesia tend to overcook chicken which makes it too crispy for the teeth. Finally coming across a perfectly cooked chicken feels nice.
Grilled Prawn with Sweet Sauce
The prawns were honestly a disappointment to a furious grilled prawn eater such as myself. The sauce was not sweet at all and the entire dish tasted just like any other grilled prawn with a hint of smokey flavor. It tasted rather salty for something that claims itself to be sweet. The prawns were obviously overcooked. Their texture was incredibly mushy and melted too quickly.
It was a rather forgettable dish and I wouldn’t recommend it for you.
The cooks were awesome cooks for making me eat multiple portions of this. These mussels are the best mussels I’ve ever tasted – ever.
The mussels were grilled with some homemade barbecue sauce with a bit of black pepper to spice things up. There was a hint of smoke in the sauce that came upon tasting it. The best thing about them was that they didn’t taste squishy or jelly-like at all. They tasted the way I believe mussels should be – just a little bit squishy on the outside but tender and nice on the side.
The best way to eat it is by using the shell as a spoon and eat the entire thing with the sauce. Lick the sauce or spread it over your rice just because it tasted so good.
Deep Fried Calamari
The calamari was a bit of a letdown for me. Correction: it was a whole lot of letdown!
There was simply too much flour batter and too little squid. The little bit of squid amid the flour batter was squishy and a little bit under-cooked, I believe.
The condiments for the dish were simply bottled chili and tomato sauce which was a bit boring. It’s much better than the sickening mayonnaise other restaurants might serve the dish with, but it’s much of a letdown compared to the sweet and sour sauce other seafood restaurants have been experimenting.
It was a memorable deep-fried calamari in a bad way. No one finished this dish.
This was one of the new drinks at the restaurant so why not give it a try?
I’ve always been a fan of lychee tea and I’m pleased to say that this one is a bit above par. The lychee flavor was strong and you could taste it right away the minute you take a sip, but the tea is not missing here. The lychee and tea came together so nicely and made this drink a lot more enjoyable than any other lychee tea I’ve ever tasted.
So, overall review?
The restaurant could use a lot of improvement in some of its dishes – particularly the prawn and the squid. But they would have to maintain the quality of those mussels. They need to advertise those mussels more because they are truly incredible. And even though some of the dishes in the restaurant weren’t up to par, they could give themselves a pat in the back for having cool, romantic vibes.
So, if you happen to be staying far from Jimbaran but you want to eat some seafood, head over to this restaurant for a cheaper version of the Jimbaran dinner and the best mussels in Bali!
Ps: this restaurant also serves some western and Italian food aside from seafood! Make sure to give those a try too.