One of my favorite places in the world is Bali, the enchanting island of the Gods. Each time the wheels touch the tarmac, all stress vanishes and I feel instantly lighter. Feeling the coarse black sand squelching in between your toes as you run away from the crashing waves that always approach faster than you anticipated. Driving through paddy fields on pot-holed roads as you watch a large group of children pass by carrying a huge kite over their heads. Kayaking, or white water rafting, or cycling, or climbing, or playing with lion cubs at the zoo. For me, everything about this island promotes peace, tranquility, and a general sense of well being. And the food, oh my goodness, the food! The Balinese put so much emphasis on spices so that myriads of different combinations of them result in such a rich depth of flavour that it’s simply impossible to not be delighted.
All these reasons and more makes one appreciate Bali so fully, not only for the trendy tourists spots, but also for the small, no-frills restaurants that serve simple, honest and authentic Bali cuisine. I love watching the sun set at Ku De Ta with one of their stupidly expensive (yet amazing) cocktails in hand, just as much as I love to pull the flesh off a piece of ayam goreng and dip it in sambal before placing it on top of my rice and scooping it into my mouth with my fingers at a road-side warung.
So here I give you my Bali favorites, the posh and the plain, the hip and the trendy, the cheap and the cheerful.
THE SEMINYAK/LEGIAN AREA:
♥ POTATO HEAD/LILIN/TAPPING SHOES ♥
Potato Head has something for everyone – call ahead to reserve one of their day beds by the pool to enjoy cocktails and snacks in between dips. There is a minimum charge, but with their prices, you’ll have no problem covering it. The cocktails are around the same as HK prices, or you could opt for one of their awesome sangria mixes (around IDR560,000/HK$450 for around 6 glasses), served in large fishbowls. At the Beach Club, the food is of a very high standard and their burgers and desserts are to die for.
Check out Lilin in the evenings for Asian Tapas, a wonderful way to try all kinds of South East Asian cuisines in small portions. The grilled fish was great, although for the other grilled seafood options you’re better off in Jimbaran. I haven’t tried Tapping Shoes yet, their more upscale modern French restaurant (headed by Japanese chef Take Hikaru), but if the other food is anything to go by…
Address: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak Tel: +62 361 473 7979 Website: http://www.ptthead.com/
♥ KU DE TA ♥
In its 12th year as a Bali hot spot, KTC is the place to see and be seen. Indulge in a modern dinner and a really yummy and extensive cocktail list (Rp. 110,000). A nice place for a special occasion for dinner, but really, I’d prefer to eat locally, you can always eat this stuff at home. Go there to watch the sunset with an awesome cocktail and some cool vibes instead.
Address: Jalan Laksmana, 9, Seminyak Tel: (+62) 361 736969 Website: http://www.kudeta.net/
♥ NAUGHTY NURI’S WARUNG ♥
Don’t be surprised if you end up going to Naughty Nuri’s 3 times in a 5 day trip to Bali – their ribs are that good. I’ve heard good things about their pork chops as well – choose from a good range of side-dishes (porn corn, anyone?) as well as a choice of Indonesian dishes. Their slogan is spot on: “A funky streetside food haven, especially for the “naughty but nice!” With wicked ribs and brutal martinis, fun times and smiles are guaranteed.”
Address: Jalan Batubelig, 41 Tel: (+62) 361 847 6722 Website: http://www.naughtynurisbali.com/
♥ RYOSHI ♥
A Japanese Restaurant on the main Seminyak drag that we happened on by chance, and now it is a must-go. The restaurant is below with a nice and breezy open air bar at the top (where one can also dine). Reasonably priced and fresh sushi,sashimi, tempura and grilled items. The highlight for us was the live Jazz Band on Monday night. AMAZING, and so much fun. Make sure to make a reservation, grab a beer and watch the extremely talented band and their random guest stars (on the night I was there, a local trumpet player, a German rapper, and a NYC drummer) perform some truly great live music. With performances on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, call to check the gigs (or look at their Facebook page), but I hear Monday nights are the best. Also has branches in Kuta, Sanur, Ubud.
Address: Jalan Raya Seminyak 17 Tel: (+62) 361 731152 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ryoshi-Bali/150451234992751
♥ MADE’S WARUNG ♥
An institution for me, I’ve been going there since I was a kid. The food has gone downhill slightly, but still a great place for local (always my preference) or international food at reasonable prices. The gado gado, Balinese crab, grilled snapper with Balinese sauce, and nasi goring special are all recommended. The Legian branch is larger and has live music, the Kuta branch is in the center of it all, but not as big and harder to get a table.
Kuta: Br. Pande Mas, Kuta Tel: (+62) 361 755297
Legian: Jalan Raya Seminyak Tel: +62 361 732 130
♥ THE BALCONY @ UN’S ♥
A nice, really low key and unassuming place to hang out, grab some either local (apparently the chicken wings and frozen margaritas are amongst the best in Bali) or international food for reasonable prices. A place where local and international surfers hang out, as apparent from their wall of surf pictures. You never know, you may bump into surf royalty there!
Address: Jalan Benesari 16, Kuta Tel: (+62) 361 757409 Website: www.unshotel.com
I’ve never been but this is what my brother says: “THAT IS THE BEST FREAKING ICE CREAM I HAVE EVER TASTED!!!!”
Enough said…it’s on my list.
Address: Jalan Umalas 2, Kerobokan Tel: (+62) 81 338027041 Website: http://www.gusto-gelateria.com/english.html
THE DOUBLE SIX BEACH AREA:
♥ WARUNG MURAH ♥
This is one of my favorite food spots in Bali – literally translated as “Café Cheap”! It’s a no-frills, no-effort-for-presentation-and-decor place, a street-side café that serves curry in stainless steel buffet palettes, with a smile. Sit alongside surfers, local expats, and various other tourists with a beer and plate piled high with whatever you choose to eat. Food is charged according to what you select – IDR20,000 (HK$16) for a piece of ayam goreng (fried chicken), to IDR 2,000 (HK$2) for an extra portion of rice. You’ll end up with whole pile of yellow food tickets on your table and a VERY happy belly. It may not look pristine clean, but don’t worry – there’s no risk of Bali belly here!
Address: Jalan Double Six (with another branch on Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak)
♥ COCOON ♥
Double 6’s answer to KDT, a cool trendy place to hang out after a day on the beach. Order a cocktail (IDR 90,000) and you can have use of their swimming pool (so nice after a day of sea water and sand!) There’s a restaurant attached as well, haven’t tried the food yet.
Address: Jalan Double Six, Seminyak Tel:(+62) 361 731266
THE CANGGU AREA:
♥ DEUS EX MACHINA ♥
Deus is a brand/motorcyle culture that hails from Australia, focusing on custom parts, and hand-built or restored motorcycles, and surfboards. The store in Canggu oozes COOL, and encourages daydreams of flying down a quiet road on a truly beautiful piece of machinery. Once you’re done daydreaming, you can browse some of their COOL clothing range and surf/bike art and memorabilia, or sit down in their cafe where they serve a mean full breakfast and supposedly one of the best coffees in town. If you’re interested, you can take a peek around the back of the courtyard where they’re workshops are, you might catch them shaping a board or restoring a motorbike. If you fancy some live music, give them a call to ask when their next gig is – they play on the grass in the courtyard, under the stars.
Address: Jalan Batu Mejan No.8, Canggu Tel: (+62) 361 368 3386 Website: http://deuscustoms.com/
♥ THE BEACH HOUSE @ ECHO BEACH ♥
A great place to watch the sunset right on the beach and have a BBQ. Choose what you want from a large selection of seafood and meat, and they will cook it for you. You’re charged according to the food you select, and then help yourself to a buffet selection of salads and rice. There’s live music every Sunday night (no reservations on Sunday).
Address: Jalan Pura Batu Mejan, Canggu Tel: (+62) 361 7474604 Website: http://www.echobeachhouse.com/
♥ MONSIEUR SPOON ♥
A2013 new addition to the Canggu agrea, this French boulangerie/patisserie is bound to be a huge success! Run by two French guys, Greg and Rafi, who are so, so nice – they have the crispiest croissants (I’m sure in Bali weather, this is a challenge!), the moistest and most flavour-packed macaroons (made with all natural ingredients), and cakes that make you go ooooooooooooooh. I am not exaggerating here. We came here to look at wedding cakes, and the way things are going, we’re just gonna scrap dinner and just serve cake!
Address: Bakery/Shop – Jalan Umalas 2 #43, Cafe/Shop – Jalan Batu Bolong, Canggu Tel: (+62) 878 60506330
THE JIMBARAN AREA:
♥ MANEGA ♥
After years of being recommended to visit sub-par, expensive and disappointing seafood one after the other on Jimbaran Beach, we were finally directly to Manega by a Bali local, and have never looked back! This place is a gem, a diamond in the rough. You would think that the fact that this restaurant has been an unfortunate victim of a Bali bomb would deter people, but it just attracts more people to it. They are packed to the gills (no pun intended) every night so their seafood is guaranteed fresh! We don’t even bother looking at the menu, we just pick our seafood from the tanks and wait for it to be cooked. A dinner for 5-6 usually costs us IDR 800,000 (HK$650).
A few words of caution: Reservations are ESSENTIAL! Make sure you ask for a table as close to the waves as possible. Coconut husks are used to feed the grills, and they produce the most insane amounts of smoke – not good when you’re trying to enjoy your meal. Get there EARLY! Arrive and order before the throngs arrive, or you will be waiting for your meal for an hour or more. Order your beers in MULTIPLES! The waitstaff are inundated and you might wait a while for those too. ORDER LOTS OF CLAMS! They are like heaven in a half shell, with this gorgeous secret BBQ sauce that is so moreish. Oh, and I could eat BOWLS of their sambal matah – a lovely chili sauce with shallots, shrimp paste, salt and lemongrass.
A local expat we met who can’t be bothered with the popularity of Manega has recommended the next door Teba Café instead. Apparently the food is comparable, and it’s not as busy.
Address: Jalan Four Seasons Hotel, Muaya Beach, Jimbaran Tel: (+62) 361 705888
Address: Jl. Four Seasons Resort, Pantai Muaya, Jimbaran Tel: (+62) 361 703156 Website: http://www.indo.com/restaurants/tebacafe/index.html
THE SANUR AREA:
♥ WARUNG MAK BENG ♥
Another small, grubby warung that specialises in fried ‘ikan laut’, or a type of marine fish. It is famous amongst Indonesian locals and serves one thing, and one thing only – fried fish with fish & winter melon soup and rice. The chili sauce that is loaded onto your place is explosive, but you just can’t stop eating it. Use your hands! The Es Jeruk (iced fresh orange juice) is particularly nice here.
Address: Jalan Hang Tuah No.45, Sanur Tel: (+62) 361 282633
THE ULUWATU AREA:
♥ FINN’S BEACH BAR ♥
Finn’s is located within the Semara Uluwatu, a luxury cliff-side villa complex. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, you can take the hotel cable car down to the beach below, and feast on pizzas, grilled seafood or sandwiches (steak sandwich, burgers etc.), or chill on one of the sun loungers. The sand there is some of the whitest and finest that you will see in Bali. Prices are in the vicinity of IDR 170,000 per dish (HK$140). The fish and chips isn’t on the menu, but I asked as a special order.
Address: Jalan Pantai Selatan Gau, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan Tel: (+62) 361 848 2111 Website: http://www.semarauluwatu.com/finns-beach-club/
♥ CHIRINGUITO EL KABRON Spanish Restaurant ♥
I haven’t been here yet, but it is top of my list of places to try the next time I’m in Bali. Cliff-side dining, sunset drinks on blue and white “bean bags next to a white rock pool”, super-authentic paella – what I’ve heard sounds right up my alley. Even if you’re not staying in Uluwatu, it still sounds like it’s worth a trip there.
Address: Jl. Pantai Cemongkak, Pecatu, Bali Tel: (62) 0361 780 3416
THE UBUD AREA
♥ BABI GULING IBU OKA ♥
This place serves one thing and one thing only: simply the best babi guling (roast suckling pig) in town. It’s an institution. Order their special plate complete with a wonderful green bean salad, fried pork, blood sausage and rice. Make sure you go early, they only roast a certain number of piggies for lunch and dinner, and once it’s finished, they’re finished. Es Jeruk (iced orange juice) is really great here, but ask for less sugar if you’re adverse to super-sweet. A lot of people order whole suckling pigs from here for special occasions, weddings etc. No reservations.
There are two locations, one right off the main Ubud street, open for lunch until 2 or 3pm, or until the pig runs out! Another location is closer to the Bali Zoo. If you plan on making a day trip to the zoo, then the other location is more well-situated.
Ubud Central address: Jalan Suweta, Tegal Sari No 2 Tel: (+62) 361 976345
♥ BEBEK BENGIL ♥
Literally translated as “The Dirty Duck”, BB serves Balinese smoked and fried duck and all sorts of duck. The whole menu is dedicated to this quacking fowl, and I can’t imagine a more serene place to eat lunch in Ubud, on a raised hut with a view over the rice paddies. This, is Bali.
Address: Jalan Hanoman, Ubud +62 361 975489 Website: http://www.bebekbengil.com/
♥ BALI DELI ♥
Bali Deli is exactly that – a deli in Bali that stocks most of what you would need to cook your own Western or Indonesian meal in Bali. They stock imported meat and seafood, international spirits and beers, as well as a pretty good bakery. You can also order lunch and coffee on their terrace before shopping, if you need to prepare yourself for the task.
Address: Jalan Kunti 117X, Seminyak Tel:(62) 0361 738686 Website: www.balideli.net/
♥ BINTANG SUPERMARKET ♥
This is a huge supermarket conveniently located on Jalan Raya Seminyak – they’ll sell everything you need. Open daily 10am-10pm.
Address: Jalan Raya Seminyak
ENJOY! I would love your feedback below if you like my recommendations!
Exchange rate at time of writing: HK$ 1 = IDR 1240
LoveBites Basic Bahasa Indonesia Food Dictionary:
Nasi Padang: Originated from Padang where most of the food involved coconut milk and heavy taste of chili. very wide selection of small side dishes, kind of like Indonesian tapas.
Nasi Goreng: Fried rice with eggs, chicken/beef/shrimp, assorted vegetables, flavoured with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
Nasi Bunkus: Takeaway rice in wax paper, served with a selection of dishes.
Nasi Campur: Rice with assorted vegetables, satay, and meat of choice.
Nasi putih/kuning: White/yellow rice
Mie Goreng: Fried noodles
Mie Bakso: Beef meatball and noodles soup
Bubur Ayam: Chicken Congee
Soto Ayam: Indonesian Chicken Soup
Babi Guling: Balinese-style Roast pork
Rendang: A beef dish, usual beef tendon, stewed with coconut milk and spices
Satay/Sate: BBQ meat skewers, served with a peanut sauce
Sop Buntut: Oxtail soup
Tempeh: Fermented beancurd
Ikan Pepes: Fish cooked in banana leaf. Anything ‘pepes’ is cooked in banana leaf
Gado Gado: An Indonesian salad – A mixture of vegetables, crackers and rice with peanut flavoured sauce
Perkedel Jagung: Corn fritters
Laksa: A coconut milk-based vegetable soup, served with vermicelli noodles, beansprouts, and sometimes prawn.
Es Jeruk: Fresh orange juice on ice, usually with water and sugar added. Jeruk is a local type of orange, smaller and with a green skin. It has a specific taste that is very different from a regular orange.