Thursday, January 19, 2012

warung mak beng sup ikan

I've been to some pretty amazing places serving some pretty amazing food, all from the recommendations found in the blogosphere. That is not to say I haven't been to awful ones because I trusted a high urbanspoon rating, or maybe because a particular place is related strongly to a certain foodie keyword in google.

When I searched for "sup ikan bali" in google, the restaurant Warung Mak Beng (or simply Mak Beng) was coming up quite strongly.

"Sup ikan" in English is "fish soup".

For some reason, I was craving for some fish soup during my trip to Bali. Since bloggers gave the food in Mak Beng their collective thumbs up, we went to check the place out.

I had a pretty good feeling about the place, I've seen pictures of the place beforehand, and it looks pretty authentic. The patrons seem to be mostly local. And surely I can't go wrong dining on fish in a tropical island like Bali.

When we asked our driver to find this place, he didn't know where it was, so that's a pretty good indication that it's not a tourist hotspot. He had to get some directions from one of his friends who lived in the Sanur area, where Mak Beng is located. Even so, we got there without too much fuss.

There is only one menu item in Mak Beng, and that is what you'll have to order. This is common practice in Indonesia. A restaurant or warung can sustain itself economically by doing one dish superbly and able to do so for generations.

Mak Beng's menu is a prix fixe consisting a plate of rice, a bowl of fish head soup and a piece of fried fish. All for the very reasonable price of Rp 28,000.

The rice was correctly done, not too dry, not too mushy.

The fried fish was fantastically fried, crispy on the outside, sizzling hot and moist on the inside. The sambal that comes with it is volcanic, off the chart spicy, so take care before you dive into it.

The centerpiece of the set menu, the fish heads soup, however, was a huge let-down. Sure the fish heads were gelatinous like fish heads are supposed to be. But, a strong fishy odour wafted up my nostril as I sipped on the mild broth.

I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid few years ago, when I didn't know any better. But, I do know better now.

Fresh fish are not supposed to be fishy. Only old fish are fishy.

The fishy soup ruined the whole meal for me. You can probably mask the fishiness with the chilli and lime from the fried fish. But, nothing can possibly mask my disappointment.

Perhaps I may have gone there on one of their slightly off days, seeing as virtually everyone in the blogosphere raves about the place. But, as I always said, I can only comment on my experience, and my experience on this occasion tells me that you should probably pass this one up.

This was one of those occasions that could benefit from some fresh fruit to clean the palate. Fruit carts like this can be found all over Indonesia, Bali included. "Buah segar" written on the cart means fresh fruits in english.

Warung Mak Beng
Jalan Hang Tuah 45
Sanur BALI
Open 7 days 10am-5pm

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