If you haven’t been to Bali in the last 48 months, you will be shocked. Where there were once rice paddy fields now lay restaurants, bars and villas as far as the streets, jalans and gangs can take you.
There is an over abundance of choice which makes creating a top five list particularly hard. However to get me started I’d been given a stack of recommendations from a number of friends who were either locals, regulars or tourists. I did some cross-data analytics on the extensive lists and narrowed down to a workable list that enabled me to tick off as many as possible in the 10 days I had. Worth noting here is that with this recent explosion of entertainment has come an explosion of traffic and no new infrastructure which makes getting around tiresome. You need to pick your spots or else you will be sitting in a back of a taxi or motorbike for hours. So I chose the Canggu/Seminyak area to focus on and ONLY Asian cuisine. When in Rome, as they say;-)
Please don’t take this as gospel, but more of a guide from an Asian food lover who had nothing better to do other than map out a 10 day eating agenda.
So, if you have time for only five meals when next in Bali (Canggu/Seminyak), I would happily recommend the following –
Amazing vibe as soon as you walk in. Casual but cool. The menu answers all your Vietnamese taste requirements with a number of hybrid dishes making the most of flavors found traditionally elsewhere. You can order for yourself, taking advantage of the ‘LunchBox’ which is essentially the ‘best of’ Vietnam that includes a mini Pho, Banh Mi, Beer, Pickles and Candied pomelo for a sweetened finish. Or, you can order a bunch of other starters, salads, wraps, grill, pancakes, soups, deserts to create your own buffet. Adding to that the daily specials, it’s a place you can come back to time and time again to slice and dice this incredible food experience.
Well… we’ve been here before, and we’ll go here again… and again…and again. It’s the sister restaurant to Sarong which is slightly more up-market, but we’ve found this place a great foodie experience and at a really good price. Not surprisingly, over the New Year period it took us five days to get into this restaurant, so WARNING.. make a booking as early as possible to ensure you don’t miss out. The menu is a little overwhelming – because there is just so much to go for, and can be easy to over order, or at least we did. But, no regrets because we got to taste a few things AND we’re not sure when we’ll be back again! It’s all good and I don’t think you can go wrong, but two dishes that stood out for me was a flamed beef with eggplant puree on miso jus (not word for word, but something to that affect) and the beef rendang…arghh… SOO good!
This was not what I was expecting. It was more modern and sleek than I had imagined for an Indonesian restaurant, but extremely impressive. High ceilings and an open cavernous dining area interspersed with giant palms to break up the space with full ceiling to floor windows to give you the feeling you are sitting outside – it it’s an architectural winner for Bali. But more importantly the food was delicious and really did bring the local warung fair up a notch with beautifully cooked and presented food. They were super efficient, somewhat too efficient which meant our dining experience only lasted a little over an hour. With a 6:30pm sitting (it’s all we could get!), we were out bar hopping a lot earlier than we expected.
This was a lucky find and not on any of the lists that were referred to me. We stumbled on this humble chic joint on its opening night and talked our way in. Ulekan is Indonesian for mortar and pestle and is putting a new spin on Indonesian food using fresh organic produce and then beautifully presented. They pride themselves on their array of sambals, which can be mixed and matched with a number of their dishes. The joglo fit-out is perfect for this back street, in the know, swing past and catch up with your friend’s venue. The aromatics can be smelt when just passing by. Go.
Visit - Jl. Tegal Sari No.34, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Web - http://www.ulekanbali.com/
YOUR LOCAL WARUNG
So this recommendation is just a general call to action and a reminder to always try your local warung. You can be amazingly surprised at the quality meal available just next door and at a fraction of the price of the uptown restaurants. But if you are struggling to find one that you’re brave enough to order from, check out another favorite of mine – Bambuku on Sunset
Visit -Jalan Sunset Road, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Other honorable mentions include –
One Eyed Jack -http://www.oneeyedjackbali.com/
Betlenut on Batu Bolong - https://www.facebook.com/Betelnut-Cafe-289844997715255/