Written by Adithya Pratama
What’s a travel without food? Food always becomes a city, province even signature of a country. As your resident Makan-Makan chef, I am responsible to not only let you know how to get to Indonesia’s internationally acclaimed paradise, but also where and what to eat while in Bali.
Trust me: Bali is a culinary heaven for foodies. It is the second city in Indonesia with the biggest number of restaurants serving food with various cuisine styles, worldwide! From delicate Japanese sushi to scrumptious Greek, from simple ala-carte to the elaborative degustation options are available island-wide.
First, let’s head to the location closest to the island mainstream location: Kuta Beach. When the sun sets, right around the corner of Pasar Kuta 1 are arrays of street food vendors. One that is always on my must-eat list is Nasi Pedas Ibu Ani, you will not miss the sign. Nasi Pedas is similar to what the Javanese called Nasi Rames (or Indonesians generally called Nasi Campur): it’s a rice dish with many different side dishes and condiments. The only main difference is that all of the food here are spicy (and by spicy, I mean REALLY spicy & hot).
While you are there, try the Kulit; a mixture of chicken skins with chili and other spices. It is one of the most flavorful dishes I have ever tasted. The oily chicken skin goes perfectly well with the spices that went into it. Not forgetting other dishes that are not only mouth-watering, but also sweat-discharging. A meal at Nasi Pedas Ibu Ani would cost at around IDR 15000 including a bottle of mineral water or Teh Botol (which changed recently to “the other brand”), however for me; the drink bill cost more than my food bill.
When you’re craving for Italian but refuse to pay a fortune, head to Jl. Kunti right off the main street of Seminyak for the infamous Warung Italia! It is a down to earth eatery with great range of authentic Italian cuisines. While you are there, heads off to the hot display where you can choose from the numerous Italian dishes –changed daily. One of my biggest catch there was the arancini. A ball of day-old risotto with octopus and mozzarella cheese and covered with breadcrumbs and deep-fried to golden crisp. Cuts right in the centre and discover the oozing cheese that would tickle your tongue. Also try the authentic taste of Warung Italia’s bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basilico.
A good breakfast is a must for a day filled with sun and fun in Bali. For a good value breakfast with superb flavor and a punch of good coffee too, head off to Gourmet Café in Jalan Laksmana Oberoi (Petitenget). Good range of coffee and tea selections with pretty extended list of breakfast menus too. Try the creamy and slightly tangy Lemon & Ricotta Hotcake served with Mixed Berries and Mascarpone Butter. It’s a brekkie full of energy and flavors to kick start your day in Bali.
Another culinary destination while in Bali is Ubud. Housing the legendary Bebek Bengil and Babi Guling, people from all over the world includes Ubud in their list of places to visit while in Bali. Personally, I love Ubud for its sincerity and humble surroundings. With all the serenity and peaceful rice fields and greeneries, Ubud is indeed perfect for a retreat getaway.
Babi Guling Ibu Oka is indeed famous worldwide. Many tourists and Bali aficionados alike have glorified the name of Ibu Oka as the goddess of roasted suckling pig. Right off Jalan Suweta, housed in a humble terrace-style eatery is the ever so crowded stall. Be prepared to wait for few minutes to get a seat and indulge in the oily and flavorful roasted suckling pig with spiced stuffing, lawar (a traditional Balinese salad with spiced grated coconuts) and the crispy pig crackles. And if you’re lucky, you might eventually witness the freshly roasted suckling pig carved by the ladies for yourself.
Other signature dish in Ubud would be the bebek bengil. One of the good places to have this meal in Ubud is at Bebek Tepi Sawah. Located a t Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Bebek Tepi Sawah provides the legendary bebek bengil which is a deep-fried crispy duck served alongside a steamed rice, lawar and a special sambal that is signature to the dish itself.
Having a coffee break in Ubud? Casa Luna would be the right place to relax and sip a cup of good Balinese coffee with great selections of pastry products. Paris Match would be my contender for Casa Luna. A creamy and fresh pastry cream sandwiched in between layers of rich puff pastry. A timeless rendition of English’s Vanilla Slice in the tropical Ubud climate.
There’s so much more to Bali than meets the eye. Get away from the overpopulated Kuta Beach and keep off the usual touristy places. The idea of exploring new places is to get out of the comfort zone and just go and try the places you find along the way. That’s what gastronomic traveling is all about.
How to get there:
- Jetstar flies daily to Denpasar from SGD 100 one-way
- Air Asia flies twice daily from Singapore to Denpasar from SGD100 one-way.
Where to stay:
- Tune Hotel. The eco-friendly budget hotel chains are located in Kuta and Double Six Legian from IDR 180.000 (SGD 26) per night. (http://www.tunehotels.com)
- Moving about a lot? Renting a car is an absolute solution with or without driver service. Though always take extra care while driving on your own, the motorcycles that are ‘flying’ all around (both locals and tourist rented) could be pretty dangerous.
- Have religious-friendly attire ready especially when you are planning to visit some of the temples.
- Bali can be pretty wet at this time of the year, gear up with a pair of light sweater or jumper just in case.