You could say the battle's ongoing for the title of Bali's best or most innovative dining experience. Famed international, award winning chefs are increasingly setting their tables on the island and the knives have been sharpened. Whether wrapped in local banana leaves or served or the finest china, Bali has cast some special magic over its dining experiences. Selamat makan!
1. Street eats
If the locals eat there, it must be good. The same applies in Bali. Local restaurants are called ‘warungs’, and the island’s unique flavours are a must try. The Balinese love chili but if you’re not a huge fan, request they go light on the ‘panas’ (heat). Warungs are almost every few metres. The best in and around Ubud, Sanur (Warung Mak Beng), and in Denpasar.
2. Local fare
Must try’s include nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (noodles), babi guling (spit roasted pig), lawar (combination of vegetables, coconut and minced meat mixed with rich herbs and spices). Sate lilit is a mixed seafood satay combining fish fillets, prawns and minced pork, wrapped around sugar cane sticks and barbecued over a fire made from coconut husks.
The island’s hotspot for freshly caught seafood is on the beach in Jimbaran. A number of warungs line the shore with their fresh catches of the day on display. Just choose your piece of fish, let them know how you’d like it cooked and enjoy it in the moonlight with the sand between your toes.
4. Night markets
Night markets (pasar) are hugely popular with locals who drop in for a quick meal, or ‘bunkus’ (takeaways). Choose from a variety of rice, fish, meat and vegetables, wrapped in a neat, small paper bag, which unfolds to become your dinner plate. There are night markets in almost every area; Sanur, Kuta, Nusa Dua, Denpasar.
Popular ‘Street Food Chef’ Will Meyrick, has worked from London to Sydney and throughout Southeast Asia. Falling in love with Bali, he launched the multiple award winning Sarong, producing Asian street food while combining the region’s unique spices and flavours, in a fine dining and lavish setting.
Number two in the Will Meyrick hat-trick comes in the form of a large warehouse conversion, tastefully transformed into a retro restaurant over two levels. Mamasan is where Meyrick delivers more Asian inspired creations in a relaxed, vintage style.
7. Tiger Palm
Tiger Palm is Meyrick's nod to the intense flavours and varieties of rich Malaysian cuisine, in a modern recreation of the famed Palm Court at Penang's Eastern and Oriental Hotel. The restaurant exudes the tropical colonial charm of the region, along with some of its best food.
8. Saigon Street
Australia’s entrepreneurial chef, Aki Kotzamichalis, opened Saigon Street in 2015, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant at fine dining central, Jl Petitenget. The fresh flavours of Vietnam along with his unique and creative touch, has made this one of the island’s most popular hotspots.
9. La Laguna
Just north of Seminyak, La Laguna is a must, and not just for the glorious tapas. Wander the stone path lined with authentic old gypsy caravans, into a lush beachside garden where lanterns hang from the trees. La Laguna has a romance and character that will knock your socks off.
10. Motel Mexicola
Bursting with colour, in true Mexican style, Motel Mexicola in Seminyak is another of Bali’s unique, shock to all the senses, hangouts. Well known Mexican chef, Alejandro Urbina infuses traditional Mexican flavours with a contemporary touch, and have made the humble margarita an art form.