Beachside Samaya Seminyak
Published 03 February 2007
The Samaya Seminyak has it all. Luxury, style, taste and set right in one of the best beach neighbourhoods of Bali. With the glorious views over the white sands and the blue Indian Ocean, it’s possible to believe you can see heaven in the distance. Yes, it has it all, so, what’s the problem? David Trauts makes a visit to the beachside location to find out more.
I’ve lived near The Samaya for many years; driven past often and walked along the sand on that stretch of beach countless times. Strangely enough though, I’ve never really noticed that it was there. For the last 5 years The Samaya was a mysterious place of an unknown size and content, and above all, very private. The entrance always struck me as grand in the typical Balinese resort way and I wondered what kind of luxury was behind the façade. Actually, the first time I really noticed The Samaya in recent history was last month when an invitation arrived at our office inviting us to the opening of their new restaurant, Breeze. This intrigued me, and I couldn’t resist going along that night to take a look. Since then, I have been there a handful of times and on all occasions have had a wonderful experience. It is very clear that it does have great potential. So much potential in fact, that they will, in all likelihood, be overrun with a multitude of demanding guests very soon and the challenge right now for The Samaya is to get it right.
The new GM, Mr Ray Clark, moved to The Samaya recently from the Nikko and Nusa Beach Hotels where he had been general manager of both, respectively, during the last 5 years. When we sat down to have a drink and a chat at the beachside restaurant he explained in his jovial, Scouse accent why he made the move to The Samaya from the large hotels. “I was tired of the big hotel atmosphere. Here, I get to know all the guests staying at The Samaya on a personal level and have a hand in everything, including the restaurant. I’ve known the chef here, Torsten Schubert, for many years since he first arrived in Bali and I knew I could make something of The Samaya with him in the kitchen,” said Clark.
I’ve tasted some of Torsten Schubert’s food, too on a couple of visits and both times have been wowed by some of his dishes. I could see clearly to what Ray Clark was referring.
The Samaya Resort has been in existence; under a different name, for 5 years and the recent change to The Samaya is the beginning of a new luxury arm of the owners of the resort, Santika Hotels Indonesia. The luxury villa group will be known as the Royal Collection and The Samaya is set to be the flagship with two more resorts nearby and one in Ubud coming on line during 2007.
The fact of The Samaya already being in existence for 5 years is possibly one of its greatest hurdles. The restaurant and bar staff haven’t had to perform on an international level and appear to have been lulled into a state of nonchalance. The Samaya has all the elements to make an outstanding beachside restaurant, but if they want people to stay, and most importantly, return, they have to tighten up the service. At this stage though, it’s new and early days and GM Clark is onto it and I get the feeling, he’s up to it.
One of the most important tools he has in his hands, which, of course, he is well aware of, is the man in the kitchen, Torsten Schubert. Schubert trained and worked his first years as a chef in some of his homeland Germany and France’s finer restaurants, including being the chef for the German Ambassador in Paris, before taking a position for two years as head chef at the Sahid Jaya Hotel in Jakarta in 1997. He later moved to Bali, now has an Indonesian wife and 3 children and as one can see, has sufficiently ingratiated himself in local flavours. For the first 4 years of his time at The Samaya the beachside restaurant was a very private affair for in-house guests only. Recently, the owners decided that this needed to change and with one look along the street there in Jalan Laksmana—KU DE TA, The Legian, La Luciola, which is just the beginning of a long list of high-end dining neighbours— it’s easy to see why.
The newly built kitchen, raised dining area, beachside bar and dining space constitutes the new Breeze restaurant. It’s sited on the beach side of the 24 villas, next to the main swimming pool and grassed area of The Samaya resort. A barrier of katang-katang grass keeps the beach just out of reach from the bar area, creating a natural barrier between the table settings and the beach sand. Torsten says Breeze’s cuisine is Euro – American, meaning some ‘south of the border’ TexMex influences have been incorporated into the traditional French styled cuisine. While using the freshest ingredients and mostly, flour free sauces, the menu is full of traditional and sometimes sublime western dishes including Foie Gras, Duck, Meats and Fish—the typical fare one would associate with fine dining. Highlights of the Breeze menu that I tasted were the imported Alaskan Black Cod with Charred Jalapeno-Basil Vinaigrette and Pan-fried “Yam” Mash. You’d be hard pressed to find a better fish dish anywhere on the planet. The pure white, imported Cod falls away easily as the flakes of fish separate, chunky, but moist and fresh. Combined with the chopped Jalapeno, Basil dressing and Yam mash it was definitely one of the tastiest dishes I’ve eaten in a long while. Another highlight was Torsten’s signature dish, the “Duck Tasting”. This one bordered visually on a work of art with multiple arrangements of color and form, and culinarily, a delicious sampling dish of his extensive experience in duck preparation. A variety of textures and tastes await the diner with this tempting duck dish and many others on the menu. Indonesian dishes are also given an attractive light and there’s also a Tapas menu available for a snack at any time. The Samaya’s comprehensive wine list is world class, too. Wines from all over the world can be found. Many wines from one of my favorite parts of the wine world, Margaret River, are also there, which speaks volumes for Schubert’s taste in fine wines.
All in all, The Samaya is a big event waiting to happen. It’s in good hands and with the right tweaking it will possibly be one of the shining lights on Bali’s wine and dine circuit. The location, the sunsets, the relaxed ambience, but above all the food, is going to make this restuarant and bar one of the finer choices for the Seminyak beach area. The Breeze at The Samaya is to be savoured and enjoyed from early morning breakfast, lunch, and afternoon drinks to excellent dining till late.
Seminyak Beach 80361