I’ll admit to being a little jaded when it comes to Bali’s food scene. So many fantastic places didn’t survive the pandemic and closed down, and so many new ones are opening that aspire to be mediocre at best. But Tanau literally inspires me to write about them so hopefully, you too can discover this secret gem of a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant just off the beaten track between Umalas and Canggu.
TANAU is owned and managed by Brigette and Nathan, a young couple from Jakarta who transplanted themselves to open their restaurant in September 2020. The fact they’re still going shows grit and fortitude lacking in most other restaurant start-ups, and it’s the extraordinary quality of their food and flavours that mark a bright future for this humble and clearly hard-working young couple.
Brigette focuses on Asian cuisine and developing the layered flavours that make this place at the top of my must-visit list on your next Bali holiday. She studied at culinary school in Malaysia and has worked at brand-name eateries Nobu and Mozaic (Bali’s only Michelin-star restaurant) and spent a year in Sydney studying nutrition before coming to Bali to open Tanau with her partner Nathan.
Nathan brings high-end Western techniques to the kitchen after studying and working in London with stints at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze and Social House, and between them, the couple plate up dishes punching way above their price range.
I’ve had far lesser quality dishes at well-known restaurants that charge twice the price. Think of it as up-scale hole-in-the-wall secret fine dining.
It’s tiny, seating maybe a dozen people inside and less than that outside. So do yourself a favour and book ahead.
Theirs could be called Indonesian fusion but let’s go with awesome local ingredients cooked with European flair and massive Indonesian flavours. Their style and flavours remind me of Merah Putih, possibly my all-time favourite restaurant in Bali (which recently reopened).
But that menu! It really is a work of art all by itself, with a limited number of choices that still seemingly cover the gamut of anyone’s picky palate. Seriously, when people talk about a well-balanced menu, this is what they mean. It’s also one of those places that make me want to come back with a few more people and just ask them to cook everything on the menu so I can try it all (which will likely happen quite soon).
I highly recommend the cauliflower burnt ends (around USD$6) for the impressive but not too spicy zing and is a main course size by itself. The core could have done with a bit more time being blanched (or even better, roasted) but the sauces made scraping the plate the very definition of more-ish.
And the black cod would just be another piece of fish without the bang bang of the sambal matah-inspired sauce (around USD$9) with the kind of after-taste that makes you want to write home about it.
This young couple of chef/owners are going to be stars in their own right. They are both wonderfully humble, clearly hardworking and now number one on my must-try list of restaurants to visit for your next Bali holiday.
I’m going to make a pretty easy prediction and say that an experienced restaurant investor will discover and back them into bigger premises before too long, so this is your chance to sample the dishes from a couple of rising stars and nail bragging rights when they own a bigger place with a few more zeroes on the menu prices.
The lighting was pretty poor towards the end of service when we were there, so I didn’t want to hassle the staff before closing by taking photos, but you can check them out on Instagram. I’ll post some more when I return for round 2 with a crew to take on their whole menu.
Tanau: Jl. Bumbak Dauh No.102A, Kerobokan, Bali
Open: Mon-Sat 5pm – 11pm
Tanau is tucked away just beside a busy corner, so it’s not at all hard to get to from Seminyak or Canggu and is well worth the visit as a destination restaurant.