Chitose Japanese Restaurant, Denpasar, Bali

Last night we went to a Japanese restaurant in Denpasar called "Chitose". It was near the end of Imam Bonjol street (if you are traveling from Denpasar), about across the Carrefour Alfa. At first we passed it by, my wife thought it's a new restaurant since we never noticed a Japanese restaurant there and think of trying it out sometime. However as our target for that evening, Takigawa at Pullman Hotel is dead; out of business, we thought why not give Chitose a try, and headed there.

Upon parking our car, the condition turned out to be suspicious; the place looks dead, with odd interior and two very large tatami room fits for like 16 people each. There's a reception desk up front which looks more like a small office's lobby, complete with a waiting room with sofas. Upon scouted the menu however, they seems to have a lot of authentic Japanese menu choices, with price range a bit above Ryoshi, so we decided to give it a try.

However upon walking further into this big restaurant, our first impression was correct; this place is old, and looks quite abandoned. Seeing how they have some "waiting room" with sofas on the side, dark corners, we came to even doubt that this is a real restaurant. On top of it the place is empty, and we were the only guest that evening.

We chose to sit at the large tatami room, facing a gigantic painting hung on it's back wall. The 60 cm height wooden floor cracked upon I stepped on it, giving an impression it will break, as if it's only a 3 mm thick plywood with no supporting beams underneath, scary. There's a recess area with a very heavy glass-top table on the center of the room that is practically immovable, and it was placed at some distance from the seating's edge so we have to lean over to eat. It wasn't as thoughtful, or pleasing, even compared to my memory of eating in tatami room at the old Sushi Tengoku in Radio Dalam, Jakarta, 10 years ago.

Scouting at the menu, we then discovered that many of the items are marked with faint "X", alias no more available. My instinct told me to bail out, but wife was quite hungry and so we stayed. I ended up ordering a bowl of Curry Udon, which is my old-time fave, while wife ordered a Tempura Nigiri. As appetizer they served this pickled jelly fish salad with sesame oil and vinegar dressing that was quite nice.

The Tempura came first, with its sauce steaming hot. While its presentation is very minimalism  and no grated daikon included, surprisingly it's quite good: the shrimp was big, sweet and juicy, while the other vegetables included was fresh and flavorful as well. The batter was white and crumbly, and dipping sauce tasted just right.

The Curry Udon on the other hand, has a more serious, striking presentation with its very large ceramic bowl, and the thick brown curry filling half of the bowl with bulks of the thick white udon between. It was delicious! The gravy was rich, thick, so it was quite satisfying. While the udon is slightly overcooked, it was the best Curry Udon I had in years, after stopped visiting the small authentic Japanese restaurant in the corner of Pasaraya Blok M many years ago.

As the aftermath, even though the eating experience itself leave small to be desired, and service was quite slow, what we can conclude from that dinner is their Curry Udon was delicious. However with the same 175K bill we can get a far more exciting eating experience in Ryoshi, or even Take.

Now I don't know how Chitose is during peak hours or weekend, or were they used to be happening or something, but they surely a bit out of place to reach authentic Japanese food lovers, looks way past its prime time, and feels quite gloomy. What would be good for Chitose I think is to salvage what's left from its current restaurant, trim down the menu, then start over with a new business concept. (byms)