A week in Bali for Chinese New Year did not, of course, mean letting the blog have a rest. Bali has a range of wonderful restaurants on offer, so I thought it only right to do a special little feature and give future Bali-goers an idea of where to go in Seminyak, Gili Trawangan and Ubud.
Hidden away from Seminyak’s crowds of tourists, Métis is set amongst beautiful rice paddy fields, offering something a little different to all the beachfront restaurants that draw in the masses. Métis is not cheap, but it does serve some incredible French and fusion dishes with flawless service.
Start the night with the cocktail of the day whilst nibbling on the complimentary spring rolls with chilli sauce. The yellowfin tuna sashimi is definitely worth ordering for starters, as is the duo of zucchini flower tempura. For mains, lamb seems to be their strong point, but whilst the lamb tenderloin is delicious, even better is the rack of lamb with ratatouille, which simply melts in the mouth.
Finish with the assortment of desserts, offering much more than even two people can handle. Favourites were the caramel mille-feuille and the vanilla crème brûlée. Watch out, however, for the white truffle and mascarpone cake, as that all-important word ‘chocolate’ is missing, and it is infact infused with actual truffle; great for savoury dishes but completely ruins a dessert.
Jl. Petitenget, 6 Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta, Bali
+62 361 4737 888
To break up a day of excellent shopping along Jalan Oberoi, quaint Café Bali is the perfect hangout. With mismatched wooden tables and chairs and interesting chandeliers, Café Bali certainly has character and reminded me ever so slightly of my new Hong Kong favourite, Heirloom.
The menu offers a range of western and local dishes. I wouldn’t say the food is particularly anything to write home about, but it hits the spot and clearly keeps customers coming back.
We started with chicken quesadillas. Although this a very simple dish, when done correctly, it is one of my all-time favourites. Fortunately, Café Bali did not disappoint.
For mains, we shared some chicken satay served with steamed rice, and a mie goreng, neither of which were the best of their kind but still went down very well.
Jl. Laksamana (Oberoi), Seminyak, Bali
+62 361 736 484
The Beach House
Along the main strip of Gili Trawangan and overlooking the crystal clear water, is The Beach House Resort and Restaurant. The Beach House’s menu comprises of a wide range of Indonesian and western cuisine, and also includes a fantastic barbecue menu.
In the evening, definitely try the barbecue menu. You simply point at what you like the look of – from corn on the cob to lobster to seafood kebabs to steak – and the friendly chefs will throw it on the barbecue for you. Whilst you wait for it to cook, tuck in to the all-you-can-eat salad buffet (only available after 6pm) where the quail’s eggs are a must.
By day, we preferred to go a little more local and tried the Chicken Taliwang and the Ayam Bumbu Bali, both of which were delicious.
Although none of the restaurants in this strip are incredible, this is the one place we went to twice in four days. What makes The Beach House stand out from the crowd are the hilarious waiters, who will go to any lengths to entertain their customers, including making pretty roses out of paper napkins!
Gili Trawangan, Lombok
+62 370 614 2352
This absolute gem of a restaurant is not to be missed. Although it looks like a bit of a shack and as you approach it there is a slight fear that your stomach might not be able to cope, trust me: try it and you will be in heaven.
Leha (excuse spelling) is a bit of a celebrity on the island as her cooking is out of this world. For IDR30,000 (less than HKD30!) you will get a feast fit for a king and flavours so exquisite that you can only dream of ever tasting again (until you get to Lobong, see below).
Leha will place a mound of rice in the centre of a plate and add all sorts of typically Indonesian delights on top: beef rendang, chicken curry, pumpkin curry, vegetables, fried coconut, braised aubergine, fried soybean cakes, fried fish, grilled chicken, you name it. What’s the best thing about it? You can literally have EVERYTHING and you’re still paying tuppence for it!
Gili Trawangan, Lombok.
After a nightmare journey leaving Gili due to stormy waters and inconvenient flights, our time in Ubud was sadly limited. Wanting to make the most of every second (and of course every meal) we had in this charming hillside town, we searched high and low for recommendations, most of which included a trip to Bebek Bengil.
The name of the restaurant translates to ‘dirty duck diner’, so the restaurant’s speciality is, of course, duck. Crispy, delicious duck which is first steamed in Balinese spices and then deep fried and served with vegetables and steamed rice.
The Ikan pepes (Balinese fish steamed in a banana leaf) is rather dry and disappointing, but the minced chicken satay are deliciously fragrant.
Bebek Bengil’s kitchen closes at 10pm, so bear that in mind if you intend to have dessert.
Hanoman Street, Padang Tegal, Ubud, Bali.
+62 361 975 489
Lobong Cooking School
Lobong cooking school was recommended to us by the wonderful Alila Ubud hotel (seriously, don’t even think about staying anywhere else!) For only IDR375,000 (around HKD350), it involves a full morning and a slightly earlier than preferred wake-up call – if you’re lucky you might get to see families of monkeys running around the hotel complex! – but it is certainly worth it.
Your friendly and knowledgeable guide, Sang De, will first take you to a hawker market where locals breakfast on suckling pig, before guiding you through a very local fresh produce market and finishing at his house where you will cook and eat your nine-dish Balinese feast!
At Sang De’s compound (in which 18 members of his family reside) you will learn about the fascinating rituals and traditions which Balinese people follow every single day of their lives. You will meet his adorable mother who is responsible for making the coconut oil which gives Balinese cooking its distinct flavour; and his brother-in-law, Dewa, who will be your chef and teacher – yes everything is kept within the family!
After cooking beautiful Balinese delicacies including pork tenderloin satay with peanut sauce, ayam bumbu Bali, tempe (soybean cakes) and sambal (tomato chilli jam), you will be dressed in a sarong and taken to the compound’s temple where Sang De’s mother presents offerings to the spirits. Only after this lengthy process are you allowed to gorge on a truly delicious feast!
Jalan Raya Kedewatan, Ubud 80571, Bali.
+62 81 236 51 778