Monday 27 January 2020

Our Picks: Kuala Lumpur

As we mentioned a few months ago, we are always sharing our favorite restaurants from every city we know with the hundreds of customers we meet in Cuca every week in search of the tastiest food around the world. People seem to trust chefs’ favorites when choosing food and since everyone asks our humble opinion, we decided some time ago to start a proper “Our Picks” section where we give you our recommendations on where and what to eat.

We have covered Bali, Madrid, Singapore and Vancouver already and today’s blog entry is about Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur has some of the best street food on the planet, period. The food is so good that we go at least once a year just to eat. No one is very friendly or cares about your feelings, but they do care about the dishes they put in your mouth and that is fine by me. So, go hungry and get ready to eat some of the best food you have ever tasted.

We go back to KL every year for this iconic institution. Open forever and packing in the tourist crowd this place serves brilliant Chinese style street food that is seafood-heavy. The menu is all with pictures and dishes are as shown. Dishes are available in 3 sizes, order everything small and try more. A must in KL!
Price: **
What to order: BBQ chicken wings

This place serves the best dim sum we have ever had, seriously! Go for lunch and get ready to be impressed. Stick to the dim sum menu as everything else gets very pricey and unusual.
Price: ****
What to order: Xiao long bao

This place has been around forever serving classic hearty dishes. The menu is a mix of Chinese and western comfort food and the taste is like eating at Grandma’s house. Portions are big so go easy. Go for lunch.
Price: *
What to order: Crispy roast pork

This place serves traditional wood-fired classic Italian pizza and it is very good. Great ingredients, perfect cooking and astonishing quality for Pizza in Asia. A simple menu does the trick with great German draft beer on tap.
Price: ***
What to order: Mortadella e pomodoracio pizza.

This place serves perfect classic Spanish comfort food in Tapas form. Wine selection is solid and drinks come quick so you won’t get thirsty. A busy bustling restaurant so do book ahead.
Price: ***
What to order: Coca (a classic Catalan style pizza) 

This place is famous for its fish head noodle soup. It does sound a little daunting but believe you me, it is not. The soup is a light fragrant broth full of clean flavors and a deep delicious roasted smoky taste. Think Chinese style fish Ramen. We think this place is a must eat!
What to order: Get help from a neighboring table by asking what is best. The menu can be a bit challenging. Rest assured it works out very well.

This place serves well-crafted cheeky Japanese influenced upmarket tasting menus. The chef Jeff Ramsey gained a Michelin star in Tokyo with his previous restaurant and the view of KL from the dining room of Babe is the best in town.
Price: *****
What to order: Tasting menu

Monday 23 December 2019

Help us help for Cuca’s 12 days of Christmas!

This year in Cuca, Christmas is not only about feasting, celebrating and spending time with loved ones in beautiful Bali. We want to make these 12 days, in the true spirit of Christmas, about giving, helping and caring, so we have handpicked 2 non-profit programs that are doing exactly that to combat some of the biggest challenges our community faces. How exactly? - you might ask. By donating 10% of our sales from Cuca’s best-selling signature Chef Tasting Menus!

From 21 to 26 December, profits will go to the “Bali Wise” program, a project aiming at empowering marginalized women through skill-based education. It has been Cuca’s philosophy from day one to train from zero young underprivileged Indonesians to become competent, qualified and self-confident hospitality professionals. Therefore, this program is definitely something that hits close to home.

From December 27 to January 1, earnings will be given to the “Zero Waste to Oceans” program, which is stopping land-based waste from getting into our oceans by teaching Bali’s youth green practices to create a sustainable environment. In Cuca, we educate our team in how crucial is to reduce, reuse and recycle and as a company strive to become zero waste, but since time is ticking, extending our efforts beyond our boundaries must be a top priority.
For all this we chose ROLE, a non-governmental foundation based in Bali, as encouraging and supporting their values and determination to make a difference is one of the best things we could all do this Christmas, don’t you think?

We all, residents and tourists alike, owe a lot to Bali, this paradise island that keeps on giving, so gather your loved ones, come to Cuca and help us help to create a better future and a happier, tastier today!

Sunday 24 November 2019

The boy named Budi

Let me tell you a great little recipe on how to make success using hard work.

I got a job in Spain. I spoke no Spanish. I knew I was screwed. With absolutely no idea of what anyone was saying and no idea of what I should do, I knew one thing for sure, it was only a matter of time before they would fire me. So, the plan was simple: survival, and this is how I did it. I needed to be the hardest worker in the kitchen, the first one in, the last one out and the one who said yes to everything, every job, and every task. My logic was that any human being with a basic conscience could not fire that guy, the guy who is giving it all, the guy who you feel sorry for, the same guy who is getting you zucchini when you asked for carrots because he has no clue what the hell anyone is actually saying. I did make many mistakes and I did get yelled at a lot, but the end result was victory. They didn’t fire me and I eventually learned enough Spanish to participate and gain their respect in place of their pity. So, this formula I know well, but I am always so proud of others who choose to apply it. One such example was Budi.

Our philosophy in Cuca from the very beginning was to train from zero and give young, happy, eager Indonesians a chance to become professionals. We are talking about 20-year-old kids with no English, and no previous experience. For most of them, the interview was their first time stepping into a restaurant. They would learn slowly, but they would learn our way, the precise way we wanted everything to be done. We were building professionals from scratch with no bad habits. The system was designed like high school, where each grade led to the next, and each one is necessary for the success of the one to follow. Graduation for each level came quickly, giving each student the feeling of success and motivating them to continue to the next grade, and by separating very well each level, the person above you was already a master of all the tasks you were doing, so the training could be done by them, providing a “big brother” system of caring unlike the standard military discipline of “life or death”. Now you can imagine the challenges, but the hope was we and the customers would benefit from the team’s fresh excitement and sincerity, and they from the opportunity of a future in hospitality. The idea came from years of doing the exact opposite and hiring the best bartender, the best cooks and the best waiters, where everyone wanted to score the goal and nobody wanted to pass the ball. So, Cuca would be a team where everyone would work together, with no superstars but a super team. One such example of this system is Budi.

Budi started working in Cuca from the day we opened our doors and was hired as stewarding. With no English, no restaurant experience and absolutely no clue, his task was to clean absolutely everything. He did, and after a few years, he wanted to learn kitchen. We granted his wish and transferred him, and he started from scratch, but with effort came skills and, before long, he was keeping up and getting it done. The more he learned, the more he grew, and last week we sat with him for yet again another promotion. Budi, the kid who started 7 years ago from zero, is now officially our Head Chef in Cuca. My right-hand man, the guy totally responsible for delicious. Now ain’t that a recipe of success through good old fashion hard work!

By Kevin Cherkas