The Big 6

The Yak Magazine, Vol 45, Dec 14 -Jan/Feb 2015

Ondy Sweeting and Susan Hu tell us where to find the finest grains on the island.

Rice has magical properties and has been considered sacred since before Elvis was a boy. The rice terraces of Jatiluwih in Bali and the {philippine’s Cordilleras are heritage protected by UNESCO. The Lamet tribe of Northern Laos believe that a special energy is shared exclusively between humans and rice. Chefs around the world have seized the grain and made it a rock star. Italy’s legendary risotto and Spain’s fabled paella are the gastronome’s go-to dishes of the Eurocentric pantheon of rice while those clever Dutch took the Indonesian national dish of nasi campur and created a feast of flavors with the fanciful rijsttafel.

Lock the number into speed dial to get your fix of outstanding risotto. For those with a coastal taste, order up big on the black squid ink and prawn risotto that allows diners to digest the sea and for the tastebuds to sing the song of the sea. Salty and smooth, this is a winner for those who like to venture into the dark side of rice. Chef Luigi has added professional finesse to his grannie’s take on stracciatella - chicken and egg drop soup made with rissoni. While rissoni is not exactly rice but rice-shaped pasta, this meal is so outlandishly delicious that it deserves a mention in this revered column - neither soup nor stew but a magnificent melange of nourishing chicken broth, crisp wine, egg drops and a touch of salt. Zibiru also has a dynamite mountain man risotto made with locally produced sausage - Luigi’s recipe - fresh radicchio and a handful of Italian washed-rind taleggio cheese. Romans will love the rendition of strawberry risotto, which is not a dessert but a uniquely savory newcomer to the family.

Zibiru Restaurant

Zibiru is an Italian restaurant in Seminyak, Bali founded by Luigi Calcagno in 2012. Zibiru offers farm to table regional cuisine in a traditional Balinese setting. Dinner 5pm - 12am. Live jazz: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Live opera: Thursday.