Sometimes the best things are worth waiting for, and that’s so true at Naga Eight, a traditional Chinese restaurant set in a spacious garden pavilion that offers a respite from modern Bali.
Once famous as Telaga Naga, run by Bali Hyatt and renowned for its beautiful service and classic Chinese cuisine, today it has been reborn as Naga Eight after nearly a decade in the dark. Beautifully renovated with accents of its extensive history, Naga Eight now sits once again in a glorious, light-filled setting on a tree-lined road in central Sanur.
There’s a Chinese proverb that goes ‘Preserve the old but know the new’ and quite frankly it could have been written for Naga Eight. What’s new about this restaurant is its fresh and vibrant look in an open-sided, park-like setting now free of what was once an overgrown garden jungle; yet the old magic still remains – Naga Eight is a restaurant that can be both an event and an intimate experience.
And then there’s the food! We must start with the food. This month (July) Naga Eight launches a new menu that mixes both Chinese classics and wok-prepared dishes. Central to the culinary journey is the Roasted Duck, a mainstay of any decent Oriental restaurant, which comes with traditional plum sauce and has a light, crispy skin.
Order it half, or whole, or opt for the Combination Platter in which it is accompanied by Roasted Pork, Char Siu, Soy Eggs and Tofu. Sensational, truly. Or you can order the pork dishes separately and opt for a plate of Honey Glazed Pork Spare Ribs to top it off.
Sharing is the name of the game here, and Naga Eight’s generous portions allow for a wide range of choices. Small bites are extensive, ranging from fluffy Chinese Pork Burgers to Roast Duck Spring Rolls or Marinated Tofu with Century Egg. Soups are again traditional – Pork Soup or Hot and Sour Seafood Soup are both traditional Chinese staples and feature on the menu here.
If duck is too rich for your palate, Naga Eight also offers a range of chicken dishes that includes roasted Hong Kong-style, Hainan influenced or Poached. Or if it’s just a lunch bowl you are looking for, then enjoy the fabulous wok-fried Rib Eye with Black Pepper Sauce, a dish in itself. There are other dishes that work great as sharing options too – Wok-fried Lemon Chicken or Gong Bao Chicken with Cashew Nuts. The King Prawns in Singapore Sauce and Braised Codfish in Black Bean Sauce feature in the seafood offerings. The vegetables are fresh and crunchy too – Bok Choy, Broccoli, Green Beans and Eggplant come in a variety of soy and garlic styles.
Rice and noodles are of course essential when eating Chinese cuisine, and Naga Eight nails both with a large variety that mixes Kwetiau, Nasi Goreng Specials, Nasi Hainan and Duck Noodles, among others. Or just opt for a glorious, steaming bowl of white rice.
Drinks are not left out. There’s a tremendous range of juices, cocktails and spritzers that make a great opening event to any meal. A good selection of wines and even a classic Tsing Tao beer also feature; there are coffees and thirst-quenching ice teas, mocktails and more. Desserts (if you’ve still got room!) include Guilinggao, Mango Pudding, a selection of Naga cakes, then there are pastries at a display counter and of course ice cream for the kids.
It all adds up to a memorable dining experience that is surprisingly affordable. The breezy garden setting adds to the sunlit experience during the day and comes alive with charming lights at night. It is a picture that will have you coming back time and again, whether you live in Bali, or are simply revisiting a memory of a golden afternoon or evening at Naga Eight.