Potato Head empire adds another jewel to its crown with Kaum in Bali, restaurant paying tribute to the Nusantara

COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Potato Head Bali’s newest addition, Kaum, a restaurant on the beach club’s upper level is the place to go in Seminyak if you’re looking for elevated Indonesian food (and if you’ve got cash to spare). 

Kaum, meaning “clan” or “tribe” in Indonesian, first opened in Potato Head’s Hong Kong location, then later launched in Bali back in September 2016 (with a branch in Jakarta forthcoming). The restaurant serves a range of dishes from across the country, paying tribute to the 600 ethnic groups that make up the Nusantara. 

Kaum Bali

Since its Bali opening, Kaum has shown it’s serious about sourcing its ingredients locally and using the freshest stuff it can find, while also choosing foods and cooking methods that are traditionally Indonesian. 

The rice isn’t just any plain old stuff. It’s Jatiluwih Heirloom Rice, naturally grown in Tabanan subak. The salt comes from craftsmen in Amed, East Bali, who use aged coconut trunks to give it a clean taste, apparently without any bitterness. While one of the peppers in their dishes is cabe jawa, Javanese long pepper which gives an aromatic and peppery flavor. This cabe was used long before red chilies made their way to Indonesia. Go item by item in Kaum’s pantry and each ingredient will have a similar sort of origin story that may be traced back to some far-flung corner of Indonesia. Seriously, Kaum’s chef and brand director say they traveled the country, village by village to look for the best ingredients and hand-pick their suppliers.

Other than the posh beach club setting, seeing how painstakingly each ingredient is sourced, helps explains why you’re paying more for this Indonesian food. For instance, a gado-gado at Kaum is Rp 65k, versus a mere Rp 7k for gado-gado on the street.

Gado Gado at Kaum
Gado-Gado Kaum: Assorted blanched garden vegetables tossed in a peanut dressing with free-range egg, tofu, garlic crackers, and fried shallots. This is what a Rp65k gado-gado looks like, FYI. 

We do love our street food, but we’ll level with you and say we were pretty satisfied with the sampling of dishes we tried at a media tasting, for the most part. 

satay at Kaum
Sate Buntel dengan Acar Rujak: Grilled lamb satay served with pickled vegetables rujak style. This one was as good as it looked and nice and juicy. 
sambal at Kaum
Sambal Selection: top left-Sambal Matah (shallots, lemongrass, torch ginger, red bird’s eye chili, and coconut oil salsa); top right-Sambal Mbe (fried crispy shallot, garlic, and red chili relish, with kaffir lime leaves and coconut oil); center-Sambal Kluwek (roast black nut and mixed chili relish); bottom left-Sambal Rica-Rica (crushed lemongress, ginger, red chili, and fresh lime juice relish); bottom right-Sambal Ikan Teri Bakar (salted grilled whitebait and red chili relish); 

Wouldn’t be Indonesian food without sambal! These were all divine but the rica-rica and mbe are our top picks!

mie at Kaum
Mie Gomak: Wok-fried grilled noodles with shredded chicken, andaliman spices, fresh curry leaves, and coconuts milk sauce. For us, the most underwhelming item we tasted and could use a little something. Maybe we just missed our MSG too much.
Gohu Ikan Tuna at Kaum
Gohu Ikan Tuna: Fresh tuna marinated in coconut oil, calamansi juice, and fresh belimbi, served with kenari nuts and ginseng leaves. This was our absolute favorite of the day. It’s like the Indonesian version of a poke bowl. As fresh as it gets!
Kacang Mete Karamel at Kaum
Kacang Mete Karamel: Flores cashew nuts, coconut shortbread, Amed sea salt, caramel, and Bedugul vanilla ice cream. NOM. Don’t leave without dessert!

Though the management insists their restaurant is not “fine dining”, we’ll still say it’s ambitious to open up a restaurant dedicated to Indonesian food with such steep prices, compared to local warungs and nearby Indonesian restos. It’s one thing to open up in Hong Kong where Indonesian food is a novelty, but a totally different ballgame to operate in Bali, where you can find similar dishes (albeit likely laced with MSG) for a tenth of the price. 

That said, as we commented when Republik 45 popped up, we’re excited to see more Indonesian restaurants enter the scene. Look in the lifestyle magazines about the Bali culinary world and you’ll see that Western menus often dominate the glossy pages. 

As we see it, Kaum’s a great place for visitors who want to get acquainted with Indonesian food and who may have not yet developed the stomach tenacity required for digesting street food (i.e. ‘Bali belly’). If stomach stuff’s not an issues for you, or you’re already familiar with Indonesian fare, then we’ll say it’s a nice place to make a night out and still get your favorite Indonesian dishes, done with a fresh take. And don’t forget to look at their cocktail menu for some fun. They’ve got some pretty interesting mixes. We liked the Pedas Margarita. Combine spicy chilis with tequila and we’re sold. 

Kaum Bali

The ambience isn’t so bad either. Set on the second floor with one of the walls a glass panel overlooking the beach club, you’ve got a great view of the sea and the action going on down below. The space isn’t huge so it’s not overwhelming. The walls are concrete, stamped by wood panels, hand carved by artisans in Toraja, Sulawesi. The tables are teak wood from East Java—there’s a super long one running the length of the restaurant, which was intended to give you that communal dining view. 

Kaum Bali

Kaum Bali

If you can see pattern between how the restaurant sourced its building and interior materials with how it sources its food, you’re not wrong. 

Coconuts Hot Spots are notable new restaurants or undiscovered gems around Bali that we think are worth a visit.
 

FIND IT

Kaum
Potato Head Beach Club
Jl. Petitenget no. 51B
Seminyak
+62 (361) 300 7990
Monday-Sunday 12pm – 4pm | 5pm – midnight

 

Photos and words: Juminten Jones/Coconuts Bali

 

ALSO READ ‘Potato Head’ name born as counter to elegant and exclusive Jakarta culture

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This article is filed under the Bali Neighborhood of “Seminyak District�