For travellers who seek the finest that the world has to offer

Rediscovering the culinary delights of Mama San, Bali

A night dining on the culinary delights of Mama San in Seminyak is a tantalising experience for Cathy Wagstaff on her most recent trip to Bali.

As a passionate foodie, I am always on the lookout for unique dining experiences that tantalise my taste buds and take me on a culinary adventure. During my recent trip to the vibrant enclave of Seminyak in Bali, I made time to pop into the newly refurbished Mama San. This renowned restaurant has been a gastronomic hit since it opened in 2010. And I was keen to be back to try the dishes created by talented Executive Chef Will Meyrick, who owns multiple restaurants throughout Indonesia and Australia.

Mama San captivates you from the minute of arrival. Stepping into the restaurant, I was instantly charmed by its ambience. The stylish yet cosy interior exudes an aura of old-world Asian elegance, with glass lanterns casting a soft glow over the dimly lit dining room. Chesterfield leather-clad banquettes line the walls with a massive mural of Mama San – the traditional name given to a woman in charge of a geisha house acting as the hostess – takes centre stage. This artwork is by textile designer Justine Missen with black and white pictures showcasing Will Meyrick’s food travels around Asia adorn the opposite walls.

Mama San Bali interiors
The stylish yet cosy interior exudes an aura of old-world Asian elegance © Mama San

Sophisticated Asian fusion plates

The staff greeted me warmly and guided me and my dinner companions – daughter Cara, her partner Ben and baby Poppy – to our table, where I eagerly perused the menu of sophisticated Asian fusion plates. Made to be shared, from small to significant in size, the flavour influences cross the Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The new open grill adds a menu section focusing on traditional cooking methods on an open flame – tandoori, robatas, and wood ovens.

To start, we opted for the Lobster and Prawn Siew Mai. These delicate dumplings were a work of art, meticulously handcrafted and bursting with flavour. The combination of succulent lobster and prawns were delicately seasoned and wrapped in a thin dumpling skin that was green, having been infused with pandan leaves. It arrived on the plate with the lobster head for added table pizazz. It was an excellent introduction to the exquisite flavours that were to come.

Lobster and Prawn Siew Mai
Lobster and Prawn Siew Mai | Dendeng Balado © Mama San

The dish I couldn’t resist

Next, the Prawn and Pomelo salad. The freshness of the prawns paired perfectly with the juicy bursts of citrusy pomelo, creating a harmonious medley of flavours. The salad was elevated with fragrant lemongrass, cherry tomatoes, and a zesty tamarind chilli dressing for a light, refreshing dish that cleansed the palate.

As I ventured further into the menu, I couldn’t resist the allure of the Halong Bay Soft Shell Crab. The crispy exterior of the crab gave way to tender and succulent meat, complemented by the tantalising heat of a chilli salt seasoning. This dish showcased the skilful balance of flavours Mama San is renowned for. I savoured each bite as I dipped pieces of crab into a small bowl of nuoc cham, the Vietnamese sauce made of lemongrass, chilli, fish sauce and fresh lime.

The menu celebrates the diverse flavours of South East Asia © Mama San

Yet the standout dish was…

One of the standout dishes of the evening was the Dendeng Balado Wagyu beef cheek with green mango salad. This dish exemplified the marriage of traditional Indonesian cuisine with a contemporary twist at Mama San. The slow-cooked wagyu beef cheek was tender and melt-in-your-mouth, infused with rich spice flavours. The green mango salad provided a refreshing contrast. It’s tangy lemongrass, kaffir lime, chilli and lemon basil dressing perfectly complementing the robustness of the beef.

Finally, a warming bowl of Nyonya Laska. Layered with juicy prawns and chicken, Hokkien noodles, and bean sprouts in a rich, slightly sweet coconut broth. With added spice from a dash of sambal beacon, the condiment you’ll find all across Malaysia.

Mama San Bali food shots
Sophisticated Asian fusion plates perfectly paired with cocktails © Mama San

And not to forget the expertly crafted cocktails

Mama San’s skilled mixologists create drinks that perfectly complement the flavours of the dishes. The curated menu features a mix of classic and innovative concoctions. Cara opted for a Coconut Mojito, based in rum with the zest of citrus, mint, and coconut water. I opted for a Strawberry Basil Spritz. Based in gin with rose cordial water and citrus and topped with Prosseco. Which had a refreshing and herbaceous twist, with the fragrant basil complementing the vibrant strawberry notes. Both were delicious concoctions ideally suited to the tropical setting.

The Signature verdict

After such an incredible meal, it felt almost sinful not to share a dessert. We ordered the Peanut Ronde to finish off – we couldn’t resist. Drenched in rose water syrup on a sesame seed crumble with a scoop of the most refined coconut ice cream.

Executive Chef Will Meyrick and his team continue to successfully run this famed Bali dining establishment that not only celebrates the diverse flavours of South East Asia but also showcases the artistry and passion that goes into crafting each mouth-watering dish. The sophisticated Asian fusion plates, expertly paired cocktails, and impeccable service left an indelible mark.

This article is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter.