The Indonesian paradise island, Bali is one of the most visited destinations in South-East Asia. The Island a Hindu enclave in one of the most populous Islamic nations on earth (Indonesia) attracts tourists from all over the globe. As a result, Bali has a very well developed and constantly evolving hospitality scene, which includes a number of excellent restaurants catering to all tastes and preferences. Listed below are some popular recommendations.
Babi Guling Ibu Oka – Ubud
Suckling pig or Babi Guling is Bali’s signature dish. The animal is stuffed with a spice paste crafted with the many famed spices of South East Asia. Lemongrass, turmeric, coriander seeds, black pepper, kaffir lime leaves, birds-eye chilies, candlenuts and a generous amount of garlic, ginger, shallots and shrimp paste all feature as ingredients.
The pig is then split-roasted for a few hours. The crispy skin and stuffing is served with rice and other accompaniments like a spicy paste, satay sticks, pork cutlets and a lemongrass-flavored stock. The restaurant itself is quite rustic and consists of a few tables shaded by beach umbrellas. However, it is widely accepted to be one of the most authentic spots in Bali to sample Babi Guling, a dish recommended by food guru Anthony Bourdain himself.
Bumbu Bali – Nusa Dua
Bumbu Bali is in a dining institution in Bali. Founded in 1997 by a Swiss expat, the restaurant specializes in authentic Indonesian cuisine has two outposts both located in the pristine Nusa Dua area of the island. The restaurant also has a cooking school for those who wish to learn to cook on their Bali sojourn.
The restaurant offers both a la carte and set menus (Rijsttafel) featuring popular Balinese dishes.
Ayam Pelalah (a salad of shredded chicken seasoned with chili and lime), Sate Campur (a selection of beef, chicken, pork and seafood skewers), Ikkan Bakar (grilled fish), Tahu Kuning (vegetable and bean curd stew) and Kue Bali (Balinese sweet made with rice) are some popular items that feature on the menu. Red and white rice, rice cakes prawn crackers (kapok), and sambal (a chili paste) are the traditional accompaniments to the meal.
Merah Putih – Seminyak
This stunning restaurant offers fine dining Indonesian-style. Dishes however, are served family-style and sharing is encouraged. The menu offers traditional Indonesian eats as well as modern or fusion Indonesian in an effort to appeal to a wider audience.
Notable preparations include the Beef Shin Bak Pao(buns stuffed with beef rendang), the Chargrilled Baby Squid, the Duck Rendang Curry and the Javanese Spiced Sea Bream. The restaurant also offers an innovative cocktail list and delectable desserts.
Cuca – Jimbaran
Cuca in Jimbaran brings the farm to table concept to Bali and specializes in brilliantly executed tapas, cocktails, and desserts. This expansive bright and airy restaurant is contemporary and features multiple dining areas including the food bar and the chef’s table. The awe-inspiring Bali Breakfast desert is not to be missed.
Ku De Ta – Seminyak
Perhaps the best known beach club and restaurant in Bali, which now has outposts in other Asian cities Ku de Ta is open for business from 8 am to midnight. The kitchen at Ku de Ta offers a global menu with dishes bearing influences from all around the globe. The restaurant’s large open-air deck is a popular spot for sundowners and the bar accordingly offers an extensive cocktail menu. Renowned international DJs visit Ku de Ta periodically to showcase their craft to the delight of the restaurant's mainly hipster clientele.
Mamasan - Seminyak
Mamasan an Asian inspired restaurant occupies a large warehouse space on Jalan Raya one of the main thoroughfares in the Seminyak area of Bali.
Exuding a rustic look and featuring tall ceilings, this two-level restaurant, conceptualized and launched by Chef Will Meyrick, is named after the quintessential ‘Madam’ or Mama San, the head of a vice den in 1920’s Shanghai.
The air-conditioned restaurant, a rarity in Bali where the majority of eateries are open-feel serves a largely Asian inspired menu that is available all day and has enough choice for dinners with dietary restrictions.
Motel Mexicola – Seminyak
The global passion for Mexican eats has reached Bali’s shores as well. Motel Mexicola is a fun, lively and colorful eatery that serves chef Alejandro Urbina’s authentic Mexican fare in laidback surroundings. Craving Guacamole, Tacos, Quesadillas, and Churros et al, on your Bali vacation? Head to Motel Mexicola for your fix
Sarong – Kuta
Chef Will Meyrick launched Sarong in Bali in 2008, and it soon gained renown as the top dining choices in Bali. The restaurant complex features a formal dining section and a more casual bar and lounge area. The menu at Sarong is best described as Asian with a twist and features prominent influences from Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. If you wish to dine at Sarong, be sure to reserve in advance for this highly ranked eatery is booked solid almost every night.