Naughty but Nice

From a modest warung in Ubud—the lovechild of avid cook, Isnuri Suryatmi, and her foodie (late) husband, Brian Kenney Aldinger – Naughty Nuri’s has become a hot franchise flaming the craze for their BBQ Pork Spare Ribs, and you may be surprised to discover how good—and world famous—their dirty martini is. Now there’s a seven-month old Naughty Nuri’s in Seminyak (Jalan Mertanadi No.62, Kerobokan), which is already a favorite dining spot for locals and tourists alike in the area. We spoke with the franchise owner, Ed Balma from the U.S., about his inclusion on the Naughty list.

So tell us how you became a franchisee of Naughty Nuri?
Well I’ve always known Naughty Nuri’s since its early days in 1995 and I’m close with the owners, so when the opportunity came up—which was about two years ago—when they were looking to open another place in Seminyak or Kerobokan, I said, Oh wait a minute—I’ll take that (laughs). Even though now I work in the musical instruments export industry, I actually have a 25-year background in restaurant management. I was a high-end chef and a country manager in America and in Jakarta I worked for the Ponderosa Group.

But what was the main reason that lured you back into the F&B industry?
The only reason why I wanted to do the restaurant was because I know it has something that works, it’s a proven thing. We put the sign up and 100 people a day asked us if we were open. See, that’s the power in the brand.

What was your first impression of Naughty Nuri’s?
Funnily enough I’d never actually tried their ribs until two years ago (laughs), but then I tried it—and it was really good! When I went to Naughty Nuri’s at the beginning I always ordered the fillet mignon, which I think is the best, the burger, the tuna, and they still have until today their Tuna Night every Thursday and the sashimi is very popular. You know I’ve tried all kinds of barbeque all over America, and Nuri’s barbeque is quite unique. It’s different than [the one’s we have in] America, it’s a more tomato-y, smoky sauce, and people love it. In some places you get kind of tired with the dish, but not this one.

What do you do in terms of making the flavors consistent with the original and also how do you expand it?
The unique thing about this franchise is that after we nail down Nuri’s signature dishes, like the ribs and double whammy burger, we can do other things within a reasonable [parameter]. The focus with this franchise is to have a small menu and make it really good; if it’s too big then it’ll be difficult to be consistent. Some restaurants would have barbeque menus, then Mexican dishes, then other kinds of food; but we sell a lot of pork here, from pork rib eye, pork satay, pork chops, pork stuffers, and pork fun buns. And we’re probably adding more pork-based dishes to the menu in the near future.

So you will add new menus as well?
Yes, we have a new menu called Barbeque Pork Spaghetti, an idea I got after traveling to Memphis and it was popular there. So we decided to add it to the menu using our pulled pork and secret barbeque sauce, and so far it’s doing quite well. Then of course we don’t try to replace a menu item but improve it, like one of our biggest side sellers right now, the Mix Bag of Truffle Fries, with Nuri’s secret dipping sauce.

And of course Nuri’s is also famous for its martini…
It definitely adds a good feather in Nuri’s cap by having Anthony Bourdain saying that it’s either the best cocktail outside of New York or possibly the best cocktail in the world! But Nuri’s has also got one of the best margaritas because we make it with fresh ingredients instead of a mixer that usually contains preservatives. Here we try to give guests a unique experience with a challenge that if they can drink three martinis or four margaritas straight—accompanied by our waitresses doing the shake shake dance—then they can carve their name on the wall. Sometimes the guys would do it again just so they can carve their girlfriend’s name (laughs).

Try Naughty Nuri’s Seminyak for yourself on Mertanadi, 7 days a week from 11am to 11pm.

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