This Balinese chef first worked at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, back in 2015 before taking a hiatus to W Maldives to broaden his horizons. Then at the end of 2023 he returned to Ubud in his new capacity as Executive Sous Chef, taking command of the resort’s fine dining riverside restaurant, Kubu.

Straddling the banks of the Ayung River, Kubu welcomes diners into an al-fresco, all-bamboo enclave that blends into its natural surroundings. Guests can cosy into one of the private cocoons that look out over the flowing waters as they are taken on a ten-course degustation journey of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. It takes its name from the Balinese rice barn, an apt title given Chef Eka’s penchant for locally-grown produce and his ability to transform them into impeccably presented fine dining creations.

Growing up in Buahan, a village in rural Gianyar, Chef Eka was often part of the required communal cooking, learning local Balinese recipes from his mother in preparation for ceremonies and family gatherings. These early days in the paon, or Balinese kitchen, provided insight into the unique ingredients used in traditional cuisine on the island. Despite serving a Mediterranean-inspired menu at Kubu, each dish is a subtle homage to the bounty of Bali. One will find nods to the island ingeniously infused into his creations: ‘Mangrove Crab’, features the meat of a particular crustacean that scuttles through the mangrove forest estuaries around Serangan Island. ‘Tuna Cheek’ is enlivened by a tapenade made from Bali’s popular snake skin fruit, or salak, served with a banana blossom commonly used in Balinese dishes. ‘Yellow Tail’, a serving of wild-caught amberjack from Jimbaran is prepared into a delicate carpaccio, topped with the Kintamani lemon gel.

For this homegrown chef, the local ingredients are a reflection of Bali’s nature, which in turn brings about an awareness to one’s environment, be it people or place. “Being a chef is a source of pride for me,” shares Chef Eka, “as it allows me to collaborate with farmers, sharing innovations that contribute to improving quality.” Chef Eka’s creations can be savoured in Kubu through two degustation menus, The Gourmet and The Plant Based; as well as at Sawah Terrace an all-day dining restaurant perched above the river serving a range of Balinese, Indonesian and Asian cuisine. 

@kubuatmandapa |  

NOW Bali Editorial Team

NOW Bali Editorial Team

This article has been written or uploaded by NOW! Bali's in-house editorial team.