Bali has, in recent years, become sophisticated in its selection of dining options. Whether you choose to eat in local ‘warungs’ or in fine dining establishments, the question of what to eat in Bali is not a difficult one.
Food prices vary from ludicrously cheap, with a whole meal and drinks for just a couple of dollars, to luxurious fine dining experiences costing hundreds of dollars. Wherever you choose, you’re bound to find something delicious.
Balinese people will not normally eat a meal without rice, so you should expect that to accompany most dishes. Add to that plenty of vegetables, spices, meats and fruit and you have a full meal. Overall the food is pretty healthy too, so you can feel free to indulge in a guilt free dessert or cocktail!
For those interested in delving into Balinese culture through food, our Indonesia team have come up with this selection of must try dishes:
Translated as ‘mixed rice’, this simple rice dish is a staple in Indonesia. The rice is accompanied by an assortment of vegetables, meat, tempe and tahu, with the ever present Sambal chili sauce on the side.
A whole pig which is roasted on a spit, results in succulent, moist meat and crackling that looks like glass and crunches in your mouth. This is typically served during ceremonies, but can be enjoyed any day in a number of local eateries.
Ground meat patties barbequed and served on either a thick bamboo skewer or a lemongrass stick. The fish and chicken versions are firm favourites.
This may be one of the most popular dishes internationally and for good reason. Pieces of meat are threaded on to a wooden skewer, cooked over a fire and served with a distinctive peanut dipping sauce.
A specialty of the Ubud area, duck is wrapped and marinated with local seasonings and then smoked for 24 hours. Expect lean meat, which should be flaking off the bone and incredibly tasty. This is usually served with rice, Sambal and local vegetables.
These glutinous rice sweet snacks get their distinctive green colouring from natural Pandan leaves. The small green balls, covered in coconut shavings, are filled with deliciously sweet and oozy brown sugar that melts in your mouth.
This age old favourite is another simple rice dish that is very satisfying. There is not one standard recipe, rather every cook has their own unique recipe. Some are loaded with vegetables, some with meat and it may arrive in a variety of colours, from brown to pink. There are no rules, so simply order and find your favourite version of this Indonesian staple.
Nasi Padang shops are instantly recognisable. There will be plates and bowls full of delicious food stacked on top of each other in the window. Traditionally, you walk in and make it clear you wish to eat. Waiters will then bring out up to 20 small bowls of food for you to select from. You pay for what you eat only. Now you can go to the serving area, point to what you want, buffet style, and enjoy! Our favourites in Nasi Padang restaurants would be Beef Rendang (beef curry), Perkedel (potato croquette), and chicken curries.
Vegetarians are easily catered for in Indonesia, with a huge amount of vegetarian dishes on local menus. Tempe (fermented soy bean curd) and tofu are two favourites.
When it comes to western food, there are also plenty of quirky cafes and themed restaurants to visit too. Try La Laguna on the beach to the north of Seminyak to find a gypsy village filled with delightfully coloured wooden caravans and plenty of food.
Why not start your trip to Bali with a culinary exploration on the streets of Kuta to try some of these dishes and discover plenty more.