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Eating out at Forrest Gump's restaurant

Forrest Gump

Image via Wikipedia

I was intrigued with this Internet testimonial on Trip Advisor website I’ve came across, that says Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co. in Kuta serves garlic butter shrimp in a bucket! While the bucket might not add special taste to the shrimp, it surely provokes interesting vision in my mind; a raw extravagance that usually only exhibited in Galia’s after-war party with Asterix and Obelix.

I love shrimps! However the funny thing about Bubba Gump in Kuta is that I have never heard anyone from my fellow foodies reccomends it, while this chain restaurant looks like garnering quite a success elsewhere. I wonder why.

Besides, if you have watched the movie “Forrest Gump” and becomes quite attached to it, then there’s a big chance you’d be curious to find out more about this imaginary Forrest’s business turns real, which was born by inspiration from Forrest’s late friend, Pvt. Benjamin Buford 'Bubba' Blue, the shrimp obsessed soldier.

Curious to find out, I think this shrimp in a bucket would serve as my entry to the eating experience in Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

The Visit

So at this one sunny day, I went with three guests including my little kid, to visit Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co at Jl. Kartika Plaza, Kuta. Most buildings located along this street are three to four stars hotels, which explains why this stretch of street are mostly occupied by touristy restaurants, spas, and attractions. To the locals, this location serves little interest except for the Discovery Plaza which housed Burger King and Domino Pizza among others, which has Kuta beach as its backyard. Tourists however, likes to stay here due to its closeness to Kuta beach, to Airport, availability of cool hang out spots, night clubs, gift shops, and other amenities.

Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co lies right beside the slingshot attraction which shots people into the sky; about the last quarter of that street, nearing the Kuta Art Market.

bubba-gump-bali-exterior-epicurina

Entering the premise we were greeted by the staff which asked about our seating preference. The interior upon the first glance is set to give the impression of a rustic, casual, yet festive feeling. You can chose to sit at the sidewalk seating area, with open air and street view to the busy Kartika Plaza Street; or you can sit inside at the air-conditioned dining room, filled with all the memorabilia that connected with the movie. To avoid smokes and the heat, and to have a better grasp on the complete eating experience this place offers, we opted for the latter.

bubba-gump-bali-interior-road-side

However I haven’t seen any Forrest Gump or Bubba so far, only the gigantic smiling shrimp which poses as the restaurant’s mascot.

The Service

After seated, a waiter came and introduced us to the menu which consisted of not only shrimps, but other kind of seafood as well, including some non-seafood selection like steaks, and the baby back ribs (pork).

An interesting thing then happen, it’s when another staff informs you about the use of two license plates existed on each table; one says “Run Forrest Run”, and the other says “Stop Forrest Stop”. As it turns out, Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co. uses these two plates as a communication mean; the first one is shown when everything is all right -- this is the default plate shown. The second one should only be shown when you’re expecting a help from the staffs. It’s a nice tidbit that draws the customer to get involved with the theme Bubba Gump & Co. set up.

Out of curiosity, after deciding on what to eat I flipped the plate to show “Stop Forrest Stop” and starts counting to find out how soon they will pick up the signal. Surprisingly just after the count of one we heard someone shout “Stop Forrest Stop” from the front of the dining area and a server then rushed in to attend to our table. Good observation.

The Food

Shrimp is probably the best known seafood in the world. While its skin looks greenish or grayish raw, it turns into delicious reddish orange upon cooked; it’s the nature way of telling us human that this is one of her prime products.

Shrimp is also versatile; either bathed in thick yellow curry, breaded and fried to the golden brown, grilled over burning coconut husks, slightly boiled to have it becomes crunchy, or have it raw as Amaebi sashimi, shrimp is a sure winner. 

After scouting the menu and found only some contenders worthy to challenge our preference of shrimp in a bucket, we settled for the main reason we’re here for; “Shrimper’s Net Catch” which consisted of cooked “Peel ‘n Eat” shrimp, served in a bucket. There are two flavors available; Bubba’s Garlic Spice, and Secret Recipe Cajun Spice; and you can have your order consisted half of each. Its price however is quite surprising; for a small portion consisting of 25 pcs, it's almost $1 a shrimp, and it's quite average in size. While it perhaps makes sense where the restaurant originated from, In Bali where you can have a feast consisting of fish, crab, clams, shrimp combo altogether for around 75K - 150K (US$ 9 - 17), and a good quality imported steak for about the same price, that's quite steep.

As the main course, we were tempted to choose the "Shrimper’s Heaven" which consisted of different cooking of shrimps, mostly fried. However we settled on the “Bubba’s Baked Seafood Rice” as it contains rice. For you unfamiliar with Indonesian culture, our Indonesians tummy won’t consider a meal as one without a healthy portion of rice thrown in; we're rice addicts.

After some times looking at the unique memorabilias, our order then arrived in two small buckets (metal pots to be precise), intriguingly similar to the pots usually used to cook Nasi Liwet Sunda, minus the burn marks. The server then place this big round plastic tray on our table, and laid a layer of a fake newspaper. I could smell the faint scent of garlic and butter emerged as the two pots of shrimp were poured unto it. The server then takes one of the pots away, and left the other one at our table for the shrimp’s peels.

bubba-gump-bali-pouring-shrimps

Quickly we rushed in to attend to the meal, filled with curiosity. The Bubba’s Garlic Spice looks tempting with its glossy skin shrimps, and the scent of garlic tickled my nose. It was not too strong, but the combination of garlic and butter was simplistic yet tasteful. We enjoyed peeling the shrimp and dabbing it on the spilled buttery oils, and then seize the liquid butter trying to escape from our fingers.

bubba-gump-bali-shrimpers-net-catch

The Secret Recipe Cajun on the other hand, smells a lot like dried paprika powder and nothing else. Again it eludes our expectation since it was just lightly spicy, nowhere near hot or exciting to be secretive. It’s also quite dry without any sauce to dip it into.

Our second dish came shortly after the Net Catch, presented beautifully in a brushed metal wok; Bubba’s Baked Seafood Rice is a feast to both our eyes and taste buds. It's colorful, while the sweet tasted seafood do mixed very well with the rich creamy cheese sauce, creating a wonderful orchestra in my mouth. It was certainly Italian in style, a decent one.

bubba-gump-bali-baked-seafood-rice

After we finished with the two, there’s still goodness left for us to dab from the shrimp tray to keep us busy; and we would have kept going on if not for the paper begun to get scrapped off as we swipe the juice off it. The free refilled soft drinks we had was certainly useful for a long dine, but even a single glass is quite mouthful for regular eats.

bubba-gump-bali-newspaper-fake

Beside of the soft drinks, they also offer variety of mocktails, and real cocktails for adults. And if you order the specific kind of cocktails the staffs will bring it to you accompanied with a dance! Some drinks are also served in LED colored bottom that emits vibrant colors during the liquid presence.

The Aftermath

Our lunch was then closed with the staff’s recommendation of "Key Lime Pie"; though this yellowish soft cake looks buttery and creamy from the outside, once you bite into it you’ll find that it packs a good sour sensation that cleanses your palate after the tasteful meal, quite a nice surprise.

bubba-gump-bali-key-lime-pie

So then we end our taste journey. The food was nice, service was great, and we had a good time. The main value of this place is the attentive and good customer oriented service, and the theme which for a while makes you believe you’re somewhere in Forrest Gump universe. The big cons is the cost, which resulted in about 450K IDR damage for two course lunch and three glasses of cokes. The dessert was free under their special promotion by the way.

The food I believe would be benefited from a more intense flavors, especially with the Cajun shrimp, as currently it’s just like having a tickle on your tastebuds, instead of the extravagant spice orchestra in your mouth. While it might sound barbaric but when it comes to attracting Balinese foodies, who idolize the scorching level-10 hotness of Ayam Betutu, the Cajun shrimps fell pale in comparison.

However since it seems that they aims more on visiting tourists, especially foreign ones; therefore the suggestion about strengthening the flavour would perhaps backfired at them instead of doing any good.

Our suggestion to you fellow good food lovers is to take your time, enjoy the atmosphere; this is certainly not one of those restaurants for quick lunch, nor are they serving lunch menus anyway. And as this is a themed-restaurant which maintains consistency, expect only slight differences with Bubba Gump’s branches elsewhere.

There are some free games to keep your kids occupied, and many things to observe for the adults, with menu consisting of both adult's and kid's choices. On overall it’s a good place for both family and buddies gathering.

Scoring:

Individuals   Combo  
Food: Budget (F+P): 2.25
Price: 2 Casual (F+P+A): 2.5
Atmosphere: 3 Dinner (F+P+A+S): 3
Service: 4    

Foods in detail:

  • Shrimper's Net Catch - Bubba's Garlic Spice:·2½
  • Shrimper's Net Catch - Secret Recipe Cajun:·2
  • Bubba's Baked Seafood Rice:·3
  • Key Lime Pie:·3

Legend:

F, A, S = 1 (Bad), 2 (Average), 3 (Good), 4 (Great)
P = 1 (> 1M IDR for 2), 2 (1M > x > 300K IDR for 2), 3 (300K > x > 100K IDR for 2), 4 (< 100K IDR for 2)

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (***)

Komplek Pertokoan Kuta Centre,
Blok A1 No. 1
JL Kartika Plaza No. 8X,
Kuta, Bali 80361
Tel +62 361 754 028
Fax +62 361 754 033
Web: http://www.bubbagump.com/

Note: At the time of writing, 1 U.S. dollar (USD) is equal to about 9K Indonesian rupiahs (IDR)

(byms)

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