The Place I had one agenda on my recent stay during my Bali trip at The Apurva Kempinski Bali – a meal at Koral, Bali’s first aquarium underwater restaurant. Koral is a restaurant located within the hotel property and is opened to hotel guests and public. The restaurant is located underground, with the entrance right beside the main swimming pool zone.
There is a staff stationed at the entrance to check your reservation, before you are given the green light to head down to the restaurant as there are quite a couple of strict restaurant policies in place. Firstly, advance reservation is required. Secondly, you cannot enter the restaurant to take pictures even if you are a hotel guest. Thirdly, no specific seating requests are allowed. This is probably one of the strictest restaurant policies I have ever come across.
My first impression as I stepped into Koral is how beautiful it is. Granted, it is not a big restaurant space but it just feels magical once you are immersed in the underwater experience.
Here is another policy to adhere to – you have to decide if you want the tables in the tunnel section or the non-tunnel tables in the main dining area. The main difference is that the tunnel table definitely gives you a better view of the fishes throughout your meal, and is more worthwhile if you are very particular about your pictures.
Otherwise, the non-tunnel tables will also give you a view of the marine life, just a less dramatic view.
And you might have guessed it, there is a different minimum spend per person depending if you opt for tunnel or non-tunnel seats. Do note that while some non-tunnel tables are right beside the glass panels, there are also tables where you are not directly beside the fishes.
Children below 12 years old are welcomed during Lunch time, open at 12.00 and close at 15.00 (last reservation is at 13:30). Koral only serves set menus with minimum spending of IDR 950,000 +21% tax and service charge per adult and IDR 550,000 +21% tax and service charge per kid in a Regular Table. A minimum purchase of IDR 3,000,000 +21% tax and service charge per table for a tunnel area.
Dinner time is from 17:30 to 22:30, and only caters for adult reservation, where set menus come with minimum spending of 950,000++ per adult for a regular table and IDR 3,000,000 +21% tax and service charge per table for tunnel area (17 years and above).
The Food The dishes are inspired by Indonesian coastal flavours and crafted from local ingredients, and there are four set menus to choose from. I asked for recommendation since it was my first time and decided on the Koral Gourmet Set (IDR 1,500,000), a 5-course meal.
The meal started with some snacks and complimentary bread.
For the first course, I had the Koral Carpaccio where the Barramundi is marinated with Balinese flavours and topped with Kaviari caviar. Quite a good start to the meal as I love Carpaccio.
The second course is the Fish Rice where the coconut rice is stuffed with minced fish, tropical spice, black garlic and green kemangi coulis. It is like a fish cake stuffed with rice, where the texture is crispy with hints of slight spiciness in the fillings.
In between the courses, it did not feel like a long wait since I was constantly fish watching, and stingray spotting. That is the whole point of dining here.
The third course brings me to the Lobster which is grilled with chilli and garlic, topped with kaffir lime, parsley and mashed potatoes. The lobster portion is generous, and you get a good slab of flavourful fresh lobster meat where the mashed potatoes are hidden beneath the lobster.
The last savoury course is the Beef Rossini which uses Wagyu tenderloin marbling 9+, along with foie gras by the side. I was looking forward most to this course, but it is also the most disappointing one. The beef was a tad too dry, and it did not look as well-marbled as it should be. I struggled to finish this.
Dessert is the Black Pandora which is chocolate mousse with dark chocolate ice cream, followed by Petit Fours to conclude the meal.
Rants Professional photography equipment is frowned upon. You can only take pictures from your table, with a phone camera. The staff also reminds guests not to take pictures of the tunnel away from their seats to safeguard the privacy of other diners. However, other diners can capture one another from their own seats as well.
Will I Return Again? Koral is a destination dining. Come here for the aquarium dining experience, and the food is really secondary. Service is generally professional, and I like the fact that the underwater crew makes the effort to lure the fishes to the glass panel right in front of their table for the perfect picture moment. Overall, it feels more magical than Ocean restaurant in Singapore, but that is if you select the tunnel seats.
Taste bud: 3/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
The Apurva Kempinski Bali
Jl. Raya Nusa Dua Selatan
Sawangan, Nusa Dua, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 to 15:00; 17:30 – 22:30
Ranted by The Ranter