Bali or my very own “Eat, pray, love”
(Part 4. Balinese cuisine & where to eat)
Besides traveling, I also have a crush on food. This might sound funny for some of you, but I know I have a few ones out there that get me completely. It is said that there is no sincerer love than the love of food. So every time I travel, I try to find some of the best eating places that include both good food and lovely atmosphere. I must admit I didn’t manage to check all the places I planned in Bali, but I can recommend you some pretty good alternatives.
Firstly, let me start by telling you some things about Balinese cuisine so you will know what to expect when you first arrive on the island.
Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Nasi Campur, Bebek Garing or Pisang Goreng – No clue what am I talking about, right? These are just a few traditional Balinese dishes that you should definitely try on your Bali holiday. Don’t be afraid though, I am not going to poison you. Believe me they are yammy!
As you would expect, steamed rice is commonly consumed in every meal, even at breakfast which was a surprise for me. Using a variety of spices, blended with fresh vegetables, meat and fish, Bali cuisine manages to steal your heart right away. As Hindus however, Balinese never or rarely consume beef. They will use instead chicken, pork, seafood and fish. This doesn’t mean you will not find an excellent medium-rare steak if you want to. Living almost entirely from tourism, they know how to keep tourists happy.
The good news is that you can eat delicious dishes everywhere and for every pocket. From night markets, warungs (food stands) and fruit vendors to luxurious beach clubs and restaurants.
Here are some of the most important traditional dishes you should try.
MAIN COURSE – great variety to choose from for both meat and vegetables lovers
- Nasi Goreng – probably the most popular food in Bali. You can find this dish practically everywhere, even for breakfast. Literally meaning “fried rice” in Indonesian and Malay, typically consists in stir fried rice in a small amount of cooking oil or margarine, spiced with sweet soy sauce, shallot, garlic, ground shrimp paste, tamarind and chili and accompanied by other ingredients, particularly egg, chicken and prawns.
- Mie Goreng – is a flavorful and spicy fried noodle dish common in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore. It is made with thin yellow noodles fried in cooking oil with garlic, onion or shallots, fried prawns, chicken, beef or sliced bakso (meatballs), chili, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, eggs and other vegetables.
- Nasi Campur – a dish that contains white rice accompanied by small portions of a number of other dishes, which includes meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and fried-shrimp.
4. Bebek Garing – here comes my favorite crispy duck. Of course, it is accompanied by white rice, but it tastes incredibly good!
5. Sate Lilit – marinated, skewered and grilled meats served with spicy peanut sauce, veggies and coconut milk. Also known as Chicken Satay in Thailand.
- Gado Gado – for veggies lovers. It is basically a salad which contains vegetables with peanut sauce. It is eaten lukewarm or cold, accompanied with rice, and is a must have vegetarian food in Bali for Indians.
DESSERTS – I must say I was not very impressed with their sweets, except for the classical Pisang Goreng.
- Pisang Goreng – or fried banana, definitely the most popular dessert in Bali that can be found everywhere on the streets, but also in the most fancy restaurants where it can be accompanied by ice cream and other sauces and fruits.
- Bubur Sumsum or black rice pudding – Its sweetness means that it is often eaten as a dessert, but also serves as a breakfast or snack option. Batter of rice flour is cooked in boiling coconut milk with pandan leaves, until thick. It is usually served hot with more coconut cream and banana slices.
RESTAURANTS AND BEACH CLUBS
So here are my top picks for you:
I. South of Bali
- The View Restaurant at La Joya Biu Biu II in Jimbaran stole my heart, probably due to its breathtaking views, but also with its delicious dishes. It offers Indonesian and Mediterranean cuisine served in a stunning cliff-top setting overlooking the Indian Ocean. For fish lovers, I totally recommend the tuna steak. Also try the appetizers.
!Tip 1: The place offers a stunning view of the sunset as well.
!Tip 2: Prices are affordable and they offer good value for the money you pay.
- Rock Bar Bali at Ayana Resort and Spa in Jimbaran – just a few kilometers away from The View, you can find the well known Rock Bar. Perched atop distinctive rock formations along Jimbaran’s pristine sunset coast it is widely respected as one of the globe’s most popular sunset, cocktail and entertainment venues. The only sad part is that guests of Ayana have the privilege to make a reservation during the beginning of peak sunset time starting 4pm, outside guests being able to book a table only after 7pm.
!Tip 1: Prices are much higher, but how many times are you able to see such an amazing sunset in a widely known location?
- KU DE TA in Seminyak – probably because I am a sunset chaser, I tend to find places with the best views of this moment of the day. KU DE TA is also one of them. As Bali’s original sunset destination, here you find a restaurant, bar and beach lounge set to an eclectic soulful soundtrack with panoramic views across the Indian Ocean.
Open from 8am until late, the restaurant serves a variety of dining options from informal grazing to relaxed fine-dining.
!Tip 1: Do not forget to book in advance. The place can get quite crowded.
!Tip 2: You should check their website for dishes and prices.
- La Plancha Beach Bar & Restaurant in Seminyak – one of my favorite places in Bali, both for sunset view and for food. Full of colors, umbrellas and beanbags, this is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day visiting the island.
!Tip 1: If you love seafood, this is the place for you; As a plus, prices are more than affordable!
!Tip 2: Be sure to secure a spot for sunset around 4-5pm because the place is always packed out. You do not need to book in advance.
- Motel Mexicola in Seminyak – a colorful Mexican fiesta in Bali that you should not miss. This is one of the coolest restaurants I have been to lately. Do not expect luxury, but be prepared for good Mexican food and the time of your life. The design makes this place special: emerald green, peach, cobalt blue and lemon yellow on the walls easily flow in together. Including the addition of a lot of pineapples, candles and quotes on vintage bords.
!Tip 1: Check out their website for drinks and food menu, prices included.
!Tip 2: I recommend booking a table in order to secure a spot. You can do that easily on their website. If you do not have a reservation though, you might get lucky if you try around 9pm. We got a table in less than 10 minutes.
!Tip 3: Try the tacos! Buen Provecho!
- One of the best meals I had on the island was in a market just 5 minutes away from Beachwalk Shopping Center in Kuta. Unfortunately, I did not remember its name, but it should not be hard to find. Here you can try traditional Balinese food at very cheap prices.
- Bebek Teba Sari Restaurant – On our way to Ubud, the driver took us to this amazing place with rice terrace views, tasty food and floating little huts from where you can feed the colorful fish. A truly traditional Balinese restaurant with great service and good prices.
!Tip 1: Order Bebek – Crispy duck – cripsy on the outside and juicy inside. The condiments include snake skin fruit (or salak), which is really appetizing, as well as the fantastic sambal. The BBQ pork ribs are also a very good choice.
!Tip 2: Even if you need to wait a little more, ask for a floating hut over the pond full with colorful fish! They even offer you food for feeding them!
!Tip 3: Check their menu for dishes and prices on the website.
- Terasi Ubud – If you are a sushi lover as I am, you should definitely check out this gem in Ubud. This was one of the best sushi I have ever eaten. Tasty combination of flavors, fresh ingredients and a great variety to choose from – the perfect mix for a great lunch or dinner. I loved this restaurant so much, I could not resist and I went twice. I do not usually do this on my holidays since I want to experience as much as I can.
!Tip 1: You don’t need to book in advance, just go there and you will find a table.
!Tip 2: Prices for sushi are very good compared to any other places and especially to Europe. Around 15-20 EUR for two persons with drinks included.
These are my top picks for you in Bali.
I also have some tips for places to eat in Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan in my next blog on the islands around Bali. So do not forget to subscribe and follow me on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to get all the travel secrets.
Till next time!
And remember: Life is short and the world is wide…