The Cove at Banyan Tree Bintan serves Modern European cusine, supervised by Indonesian executive chef Edy Santoso. I know what you’re thinking–I thought of it too–an Indonesian chef cooking European food in a Mediterranean setting with its blue-and-white decor against the blue sea? But give it a chance to surprise you.
It is most romantic to come here for lunch because at dinnertime, the sea is dark. They don’t have any set lunch here and you have to order a la carte, which is quite costly. Starters alone range from 250K IDR (S$24) to 470K IDR (S$45); mains from 314K (S$30) to 659K (S$63); and desserts 73K (S$7) to 250K (S$24). This price point is definitely equivalent to some of the fine-dining restaurants in Singapore. Who says Bintan is cheap?
For starters, you must get the crab (300K IDR, S$28). That’s the actual name on the menu: the crab, you know, kinda like Adele, so well-known that when you mention Adele, there is only the Adele.
The crab meat is sandwiched between orange segments, mustard seed pickle, and ratatouille, sitting on a bed of fennel orange coulis. A vanilla foam gives it a dessert-like sweetness. There is mustard seed pickle in there somewhere.
Crab has a light delicate flavour that can easily be overpowered by other ingredients. But here, the flavours are deep and complex. The ingredients list doesn’t do the dish any favour; you can never tell from the ingredients that they can come together to produce such orgasmic flavours.
Between the veal (510K, S$49) and the chicken (410K, S$39), the latter is better. Quality of beef matters and I think most developing countries do not have access to good beef, and this is so here. The tenderloin beef is stringy. It is paired with butternut squash puree, foie gras powder, and shimeji mushroom.
The chicken, however, is great. It’s difficult to come across chicken as a main course that is this tasty. They use free-range corn-fed chicken that skin is seared crisply. The parsnip puree almond milk jus is an interesting touch; nutty, milky, sweet, to counterpoise the aroma of the plantin black winter truffle. The carrots and the oh-so-sweet pearl onions serve to undercut the richness of the sauce. Excellent.
Like beef, I think developing countries haven’t mastered the art of desserts yet. The Chocolate (149K IDR, S$14) consists of chocolate mousse cake, sea-salted caramel chocolate ice cream, and caramel sea salt gel. All three are much too sweet and much too sticky that the orange crumble isn’t able to lift up the dessert. The combination doesn’t work well together. So great, save your money and your calories and skip the desserts.
But on the whole, the food here is quite fantastic and exceeds my expectation. It is definitely expensive but the Crab dish is the best thing I have eaten this year, and the Chicken here is much better than similar dishes at many fine-dining restaurants in Singapore. Also: why is the service so excellent in Bintan?
Banyan Tree Bintan, Jalan Teluk Berembang Laguna Bintan Resorts, Lagoi 29155
11.30am – 11pm daily
Decor / ambience: 10/10
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–Saffron, Banyan Tree Bintan: Thai Food in Indonesia at its Best, One of the Best Meals This Year
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.