As a long ago restaurant reviewer in the States, imagine my elation when I met the owner, Chas, and management team, Neeta (consultant) and Katut (food and beverage supervisor) at Manik Organic. I had already been there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a yoga class! Their menu exhibits a passion for wellness cuisine with organic, free range and local ingredients. The new studio upstairs features a variety of meetings, art classes and a plethora of yoga classes. Guest yoga teachers share their practice every Saturday. I get to teach Hatha Yoga for Baby Boomers and mature age travellers in June and July, every other Saturday.
Each dish I tried, but one, covered all superior criteria. Years ago, I created an acronym for my sixth cookbook; Arranging Food Beautifully. PAPG covers presentation, arrangement, propping and garnish.
As a consultant for a large salad bar chain, my creations were reviewed by another acronym called FATTS. This means flavour, appearance, texture, temperature and smell, often not noted in reviews and focus groups. The Manik Organik salads are stellar! I always smell my food first much to the consternation of some priggish dates. Aromatherapy is the distinction of the edible art to classic art along with taste, of course. You can use these acronyms to review your own dishes and restaurants too.
But to the food! Our opening flavour (and more) was simply titled Tapas Tasting Plate and it was both vegetarian and gluten free. Bruschetta, though basic, was one of the best I’ve had in three countries. A spring roll was light and tasty and the flavourful falafels not dry at all. We both agreed the baba ganoush was the very best, with a traditional smoky rich flavour. I just learned how to make this the traditional Middle Eastern way by grilling or barbecuing the eggplant first.
Mike, a fellow great NW expat, joined me and chose the vegetarian lasagne. This had just the right ratio of vegetables to cheeses and pasta layers. The bold impactive flavours fully satiated the palate without leaving one leaden, as from a traditional meat and cheese lasagne.
My choice was the Ikan “Sambel Matah” the fish lover’s option. I love the fact they serve brown rice instead of the traditional polished white, which becomes tiring after a week and has no nutrient density. The additions of spiced fresh coconut and lemon grass shallot salsa made for a party in the mouth. The vegetables, a medley, tasted as if they had just been pulled from the garden and cooked al dente. Sadly the fish was over-cooked and the server didn’t ask me if I wanted it steamed or grilled. The coating and burnt crust looked as if the fish had been deep- or pan-fried in too much oil (whether it was reheated or not).
Desserts more than made up for this one discrepancy and we couldn’t just choose one, so two it was, but for the next day! My fav’ (and Neeta’s) are the Balinese Crepes stuffed with coconut and palm sugar with just a bit of green tea ice cream.
The big mama of the dessert menu is the Tropical Banana Split (V/GF). Again, that would be vegetarian and gluten free; however does this make one feel less guilty for the calories and fat? Sometimes I know too much. I found that the chocolate sauce overwhelmed the dish and overpowered the black rice pudding. Bananas were like soldiers marching round the full goblet of ice cream, and there were little almond cookies. In both dishes I would have like to see and taste the textural crunch of any nut.
Food and dining are like many experiences, very subjective. Mike loved the dessert just as it was and copious quantities of chocolate are never too much for him.
What could be the only one dish I wasn’t impressed with? It is one of the first and favourite vegetarian burgers for Manik Organik. That must be because it’s called MO’s Special Burger. For me the red lentils in the patty were gummy, bland and rather insipid. I met two vegans from Melbourne who came in every day for the last week and they were really enjoying the broccoli rice veggie burger, so there are choices.
A word on the servers: they are lovely and gracious. The young lady during our restaurant review was so genuinely friendly and accommodating. She was so embarrassed when she accidentally knocked an empty bottle of beer at our table. The number of gaffes I made as a server from yesteryear is innumerable. I tried to alleviate any chagrin, no harm was done.
The whole environment of MO is relaxing with fresh green colours, pillows, in and outdoor seating, with wonderful world music featuring Sade and others. The music is set at a gentle background level. As the introduction to the menu says, it “serves those who appreciate the best lifestyle options…good food for the mind body and soul…and a gathering place for seekers and travelers” It’s true. I’ve met fascinating people every trip to Bali when I’ve visited and dined at Manik Organik. Another story or three in this…
Cooking classes coming up every Sunday in June and July too!
Susanne E. Wilder, CFE is a Home Economist (Washington State University), Reformed Cordon Bleu chef, nutrition consultant, food stylist for print and film, writer, author of seven cookbooks and culinary consultant in the food industry with three decades of experience in the foodservice and consumer food segments.
Susanne has written for newspapers from San Diego to Seattle, magazines from the U.S. to Australia, International websites and an e-book on sustainability: From Sustainable Garden to Table.
Avocationally, Susanne is also a Hatha Yoga instructor, as well as a roller-blading, biking, kayaking, and fishing bon vivant! Chef Wilder is currently working on new formulas and revisions of her favourite classics for a series of e-books Wilder by the Dozen.
0407 649 437 52 Bates Rd. Innaloo WA 6018