Follow Me Foodie to Bali! (Restaurants/Food/Dining in Ubud, Bali)

Follow Me Foodie to Bali!

Follow Me Foodie to Ubud, Bali! (Part 1)

See Follow Me Foodie to Bali & Resort Dining! (Part 2)

Asia 2012 Sony 031 (Small)Please remove your shoes as I welcome you to Bali!

Follow Me Foodie to Asia Part 2 finally arrives in Bali, Indonesia! I don’t even know where to start with this one because there was so much more involved with this trip than just the food alone. The food was really not the main feature, which may come as a surprise especially from me, but it was everything about the city that made Bali a place I would like to return to.

Bali people
Top left: Fire dance while watching the sunset (popular entertainment in Ubud)
Top right: Hindu/Balinese funeral ceremony
Bottom left: Chef at Four Seasons Bali Resort
Bottom right: Cook at Fly Cafe in Ubud

Usually I would start with the food first, but in this case it was really about the people. The Balinese people are truly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Most identify with being Balinese rather than Indonesian and they practice Hinduism unlike the rest of Indonesia which is mostly Muslim. I don’t know enough about the religion to talk about it, but let’s just say the majority of Balinese are open minded, free-spirited and appreciative regardless of where they are and what they are doing in life.

Khayangan Estate 2Where I stayed: Khayangan Estate – Luxury villa and private estate in Uluwatu, Bali for 10 people.

Now after addressing the people, I have to address the place. Bali is paradise. If you like beaches, resorts, sun, and relaxation then it’s ideal. As much of a city girl as I am, I’m not going to say no to paradise. And as much of a foodie as I am, the food was not the main attraction in Bali (at least not on this occasion, and I barely scratched the surface). It was really about the people, setting and environment that made this visit so memorable.

Bali - Villa Kanti 2Where I stayed: Villa Kanti  luxury estate and private villa in Ubud, Bali (5 luxurious bedrooms, open air living with dining area, gourmet kitchen, staff of 4 including private chef, TV room with wide screen 67 inch and infinity lap swimming pool, hot Jacuzzi, steam room, massage bale.)

I can’t say I’ve had much experience with Indonesian food let alone Balinese food. Just like any country the food will vary slightly from region to region so each Indonesian province will have their own version of the same dish. Since I was only in Bali, I’m going to address all my experiences to Balinese food rather than Indonesian food.

You would think that going to Bali would be a perfect opportunity to explore and learn about Balinese food, but it wasn’t really the case with my experience. Of course I wanted to try authentic and traditional Balinese and/or Indonesian food, but it was actually really hard to do.

A lot of the restaurants are touristy and appeal to Western tastes and although some of them are really good, it was hard to find traditional Balinese cuisine. There were hundreds of little restaurant shacks that looked authentic, but after talking to locals the general consensus was that the authentic stuff is made at home by mom. Well then… that’s never the ideal answer, but I understood what they meant. It’s generally how most people feel about ethnic cuisine from their own culture.

Although it was a challenge I did manage to try some local food, and for the most part the Balinese dishes I tried seemed like adaptations of Chinese dishes. It’s no surprise though because the cuisine is largely influenced by Chinese techniques and ingredients. There was also a lot of Thai, Malaysian and Spanish influences, but the first two are also more or less based on Chinese food too. Outside of Bali there should be more Indian and Middle Eastern influence and less pork (being mostly Muslim) in the cuisine, but I didn’t get to experience that.

Since it was so hard to find authentic Balinese food I actually ended up trying a mix of restaurants which included a fair amount of Western restaurants. I know it sounds like a waste, but Bali actually has quite a vibrant international food scene and expat community. Some say they are more well known for that than than their own food which is interesting yet kind of sad at the same time. Finding a good restaurant in Bali did not seem to be about putting food first, but putting ambiance first. Beach side dining, fun crowds, cleanliness and fresh seafood is about the most “foodie” you can get, so I had to change my mind set and appetite.

I’m rounding up 2012 so I have to squeeze all my Follow Me Foodie to Bali adventures in a couple posts. This is really just a small taste of what Bali has to offer and it’s much much more than just the food. As I mentioned, it was my first experience in Bali and the food didn’t showcase itself as the highlight in the limited time I had. My experience was about the whole picture, but next time could be different. This is Bali in a blink of an eye!

Follow Me Foodie Legend

No diamond – Not recommend (Under 29%)
♦ – Okay, not necessary to try. (30-49%)
♦♦ – Good, with some hits and misses. (50-69%)
♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)
♦♦♦♦ – Excellent, make a trip out for it. (90-100%)
♦♦♦♦♦ – Follow Me Foodie Must Try! (Bonus marks! 100%+)

Follow Me Foodie to Bali!

Follow Me Foodie to Ubud, Bali! (Part 1)

See Follow Me Foodie to Bali & Resort Dining! (Part 2)

Monkey Jungle Monkey Forest Road | Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (Watch your jewellery and wallets because some steal)

The following restaurants are located in Ubud which is a small town in Bali. Ubud is the arts and culture part of Bali and it is a tourist favourite without all the noise of a big city. It is very quaint and quietly located in a field of rice patties and many wealthy expats have moved here. The scenery is beautiful and there are no buildings higher than a coconut tree. Ubud.com says “one visitor summed it up this way: Kuta is madness, Sanur is sterile, and Nusa Dua is culturally isolated; Ubud is the place to go.”

Bali - Suckling PigRestaurant: Ibu Oka
Address: Jalan Suweta/Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Phone: (0361) 207 7490
Cuisine: Balinese/Indonesian/Street Food
Price Range: $10 or less (About $3-8/person)

This was probably the most authentic Balinese/Indonesian dish I had. Ibu Oka is an institution and one of the most highly recommended for Babi Guling. Traffic is a huge pain in Bali so if you are not already in Ubud I would not really recommend making a drive out for this, but if you are in Ubud then I would recommend it. Babi Guling is considered a must try dish and there are many restaurants that claim to have “the best”. I liked it enough to include it in my Follow Me Foodie Favourites & “Best of” 2012 Recap.

Babi Guling is a famous Balinese specialty. It’s actually roast suckling pig. I know… isn’t that Chinese? Yes, but as I said, many traditional Balinese dishes are adapted from Chinese ones, and this is one of them. I’m not sure if this is “the best” place for it, but I enjoyed it. It was different than the Chinese style roasted suckling pig and this one is supposed to be stuffed with spices like coriander, garlic, lemongrass etc., and spit roasted on a fire of coconut husks and wood.

Menu features/highlights: “The Special” – Rice, vegetables, pork roll, fried meat, sausage with pork skin ($3). The suckling pig was given in a few parts: the crackling skin (pork skin chips or chichurron), fried pork (a piece of battered and fried pork), roasted and shredded pork meat (similar to pulled pork), and pork sausage (which seemed like blood sausage). Traditionally it comes with soup, but this one did not have soup and apparently the pork is supposed to be spicier. If this is your first time having it then you’ll likely enjoy it, but if you come with experience I’m not sure if you will be as impressed.

Pros: Good Babi Guling, budget friendly, family friendly, quick and casual
Cons: A bit touristy and maybe not excellent Babi Guling, could be more authentic, line ups at peak hours, limited seating, not as hygienic
Tips: As recommended by this blog, Warung Babi Guling Sanur (Jl.Bypass Ngurah Rai, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia) is supposed to have even better Babi Guling.

♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)

Clear Cafe - Jalan Hanoman No. 8, Padang Tegal Kaje, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia - Tel (0361) 889 4437Restaurant: Clear Cafe
Cuisine: Healthy/Indonesian/Fusion/Eclectic/Sandwiches/Seafood/Vegetarian/Vegan/Raw
Address: Jalan Hanoman No. 8, Padang Tegal Kaje, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Phone: (0361) 889 4437
Price Range: $10 or less (About $4-8/person)

It is a local favourite for Westerners living in Bali and I loved it. Coming from a North American perspective and palate, it could hold its own even in North America. It would actually rival many cafes of its nature in North America. It feels a bit hippie and the place has an organic feel, but it’s still very modern, nice and comfortable. It is also very affordable for the quality of food and almost everything is house made. It was a pleasant surprise because I thought it was going to be touristy.

It’s an extensive menu with American style sandwiches, fresh salads and some Indonesian mains. There are many vegetarian options and some raw and vegan choices, but it’s not a vegetarian/raw/vegan restaurant. It has an excellent list of house made blended drinks and desserts and I would come back for those alone.

Menu features/highlights: Green Hornet Cooler – Spirulina, cashew mylk, raw cacao, coconut & mint ($3.50). Bali Flower Curry Soup – Cauliflower and avocado in a cashew lime curry soup served warm. Served with pumpkin, sundried tomato or hummus crackers ($2.50). Bamboo Rolls – coconut wrap stuffed with coconut jerky, green papaya, julienne red peppers, avocado, zucchini, with a tangy almond sauce ($3.50).

Pros: Fresh and good quality food, clean, comfortable, casual, affordable, great food, excellent value, family friendly, lots of variety
Cons: The Indonesian menu isn’t quite authentic. Can be seen as “touristy”.
Tips: Take your shoes off at the door. Easy on the liquids, there is only one co-ed washroom.

♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)

Fly Cafe - Jalan Raya, Lungsiakan 80571, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Tel: +62 361 975440Restaurant: Fly Cafe
Cuisine: Barbeque/American/Indonesian/Pub Food/Brunch/Desserts
Address: Jalan Raya, Lungsiakan 80571, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 975440
Price Range: $10 or less (About $4-8/person)

This is another local favourite for expats. It offers some Indonesian specialities and then American classics as well. It’s a brunch, lunch and dinner spot and gets very popular on Fridays and Saturdays. The food is house made and the barbeque ribs and key lime pie are their claim to fame. Although both were good I preferred the ribs at Naughty Nuri’s Warung. Celebrities like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem also ate here during the filming of Eat, Pray, Love. Although it is full of Westerners, I would not say it is necessarily “touristy” and it is off the beaten path for an international restaurant.

Menu features/highlights: Iga Babi Bakar – Bali’s Best BBQ ribs, famous secret spicy sauce Ala Fly and chips ($7.50), Udang Bakar – Five succulent grilled King Prawns, vegetables, sambal, rice ($7.50), Cumi-Cumi Bakar – Tasty Grilled Squid, vegetables, sambal rice ($6.50), Thai Chicken Curry & Rice – tasty chicken and vegetables, Thai spices, coconut milk ($4.50) and Key Lime Pie Ala Fly – Best Key Lime Pie On The Island ($2.50).

Pros: Local produce, fresh seafood, clean, comfortable, casual, affordable, excellent value, family friendly, lots of variety
Cons: Good, but not amazing food. Very random menu, some hits and misses, can be seen as “touristy”.
Tips: Enjoy free live music every Saturday night from 7.30 to 10pm. Academics and Barflies are welcome to join the free Flyday Night Quiz every Friday night from 7.30 to 10pm. And WiFi is free from 8am to 10pm every day of the week. If you’re looking for Indonesian food specifically then they have sister restaurant Warung Fly next door which offers cheap and supposedly authentic Indonesian food, but I didn’t get to try it.

♦♦ – Good, with some hits and misses. (50-69%)

Naughty Nuri's Warung (Ubud location): Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali, IndonesiaTel: 361/977547Naughty Nuri's Warung (Kuta/Seminyak location): Jalan Batubelig, 41, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta, Bali) Tel: (62) 0361 847 6722Restaurant: Naughty Nuri’s Warung
Cuisine: Barbeque/American/Indonesian/Pub Food/Desserts
Address: Jalan Batubelig, 41, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta, Bali
Phone: (62) 0361 847 6722
Price Range: $10 or less (About $4-8/person)

And you guessed it! Another local favourite for expats. It caters to an international crowd, but the food is good although the Indonesian items are not quite authentic. You don’t come here for Indonesian food though. Naughty Nuri’s is notorious for their ribs and martinis and locals flock to it for both. They also offer catering so I tried it at a pool party hosted at Khayangan Estate… and yes, that photo above was the order. There were only about 20-30 people and we had enough for 60. The sticky, saucy, sweet, savoury and spicy pork ribs were killer. They were tender, moist, and on the sweet side, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. Anthony Bourdain also raves about their martinis. It was a very unexpected find in Bali, but ask any expat and it is likely they will know of the infamous Naughty Nuri.

Menu features/highlights: The ribs ($8.50), martinis and the walnut brownies.

Pros: Food is good. Good value.
Cons: Heard location in Ubud has very average to below par service. Can be inconsistent. Long lines at peak hours. Can be seen as “touristy”.
Tips: Daily drink specials. Reservations for 12+ are only available between 11am – 6pm during high season (June 1 – September 15). Otherwise, walk-in only.

2 locations:

Naughty Nuri’s Warung (Ubud location): Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Tel: 361/977547
Naughty Nuri’s Warung (Kuta/Seminyak location): Jalan Batubelig, 41, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta, Bali) Tel: (62) 0361 847 6722

♦♦♦♦ – Excellent, make a trip out for it. (90-100%)

Dirty Duck Diner - Padang Tegal, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Top right: Outdoor patio Top left: Gado Gado - Indonesian “mix mix” salad. Steamed mixed vegetables with tofu, egg, and peanut sauce. $3.60 Bottom left: Indonesian chicken sate ($6.40) and beef tenderloin sate sticks ($7.80) with peanut sauce Bottom right: The Original Crispy Duck. Half a Duck steamed in Indonesian spices and deep fried for a crispy finish. Use your fingers! Served with sauced potatoes and side salad or rice & Balinese vegetables. $8.70Top left: Outdoor patio
Top right: Gado Gado – Indonesian “mix mix” salad. Steamed mixed vegetables with tofu, egg, and peanut sauce. $3.60
Bottom left: Indonesian chicken sate ($6.40) and beef tenderloin sate sticks ($7.80) with peanut sauce
Bottom right: The Original Crispy Duck. Half a Duck steamed in Indonesian spices and deep fried for a crispy finish. Use your fingers! Served with sauced potatoes and side salad or rice & Balinese vegetables. $8.70

Restaurant: Dirty Duck Diner
Cuisine: Indonesian/Drinks/Desserts
Address: Padang Tegal, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Phone: (62-361) 975.489
Price Range: $10 or less (About $4-8/person)

This is another institution in Bali and probably one of the most famous restaurants there. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and foreign ministers apparently really like it here. It’s famous for the Bebek Bengil “The Original Crispy Duck” since 1990, but I found the duck very small and very dry. I thought it was squab and it was bordering on burnt. It was almost like Peking Duck, but not nearly as good and I didn’t see the hype. Everything just seemed quite mass produced which is no surprise since the restaurant is huge and constantly busy. I didn’t have the greatest experience here and I tried about 15 dishes in total including desserts and nothing seemed to work for me, except the beef tenderloin sate sticks which were great!

Menu features/highlights: Beef tenderloin sate sticks.

Pros: Good for large groups and families with children. Nice atmosphere.
Cons: Quite touristy and food wasn’t very good. Quite mass produced.
Tips: n/a

No diamond – Not recommend (Under 29%)

Jl.Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali 80571, IndonesiaTop right: Restaurant entranceTop left: Indoor restaurant diningBottom right: Sea urchin mousse with trout roe and caramelized almond emulsion.Bottom right: White Chocolate Pandan Cake with pomegranate, passion fruit, apple sorbet and apple sauceTop left: Restaurant entrance
Top right: Indoor restaurant dining
Bottom left: Sea urchin mousse with trout roe and caramelized almond emulsion.
Bottom right: White Chocolate Pandan Cake with pomegranate, passion fruit, apple sorbet and apple sauce

Restaurant: Mozaic Restaurant
Cuisine: Indonesian/Modern American/Fine Dining/Vegetarian/Seafood
Address: Jl.Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali
Phone: +62 361 975768
Price Range: $50+ (About $80-200/person)

It was listed in “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2009”. If you’re looking for that one “best fine dining experience” in Bali than this is arguably it. It’s white tablecloth fine dining with a beautiful outdoor patio and a swanky lounge featuring innovative cocktails. The dinner menu offers four 6-course tasting menus: A Discovery Menu ($70): focuses on fresh seasonal Indonesian ingredients and flavours prepared with Western techniques and presentation. A Chef’s Tasting Menu ($90): features Mozaic’s cuisine which changes regularly depending on the ingredients available at the market. A Surprise Menu ($120): is based on the customers likes and dislikes, Mozaic’s chef will prepare six surprise dishes composed of only the finest, rarest and most precious ingredients found in the world such as caviar, foie gras, truffles, baby lamb, etc. This is the benchmark menu. A Vegetarian Menu ($60): composed of fresh seasonal ingredients, fresh homemade pasta or gnocchi, baked phyllo pastry which also incorporates the finest, rarest and most precious ingredients found in the world such as Truffles, wild mushroom, fresh French cheeses, etc.

I had the “Surprise Menu” (no surprise right?) with no allergies, a foie gras request, and premium wine pairings (+$85) and the sommelier did a great job. The food was creative and modernist and I enjoyed my “Surprise Menu”, but I can’t speak for anything else. I did sample from the other menus, but I preferred mine. On the scale of global fine dining I would say it was very good and I included it in my Follow Me Foodie Favourites & “Best of” 2012 Recap.

Menu features/highlights: Go for the Surprise Menu.

Pros: Lots of variety, beautiful atmosphere, romantic, sophisticated, classy, local and global ingredients, very creative, award wining restaurant, great wine list
Cons: Experimental flavours/cooking is not for everyone. It was very good, but not everything was excellent and certain menus are better than others. Can be seen as not worth the price because it is the most expensive restaurant in Bali, but on a global scale of fine dining it is reasonable.
Tips: Make a reservation. Try to get seated right away instead of being led to the lounge where you have to order drinks. Our table was ready upon arrival, but I still got led to the lounge for pre-drinks.

♦♦♦ – Very good, dining itinerary worthy. (70-89%)

Other restaurants in Bali:

**The following restaurants/eateries I did not try, but they were recommended from my friend Priscilla who lived in Bali for a bit. 

  • Ku De Ta
    • Address: Jalan Hotel The Oberoi  Indonesia
    • Phone: +62 361 736969
    • Great ambiance and atmosphere.
    • Prices: around $50/person for food/drinks.
  • Huu Bar
    • Address: Jalan Hotel The Oberoi, Kerobokan 80361, Indonesia
    • Phone: +62 361 736443
    • Intimate, beautiful, has a private pool.
    • Prices: around $50/person for food/drinks.
  • Cafe Menega in Jimbaran
    • Address: Jln Four Seasons Hotel, Muaya Beach, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
    • Fresh seafood barbqued over banana leaves and you eat right on the beach.
    • Prices: around $30-50/person for food/drinks.
  • Warung Nikmat
    • Address: Jalan Bakungsai | GG Biduri, No. 6, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
    • Really popular local restaurant – a full plate is about $0.70.
    • The whole restaurant is nasi campur which basically means you pick what dishes you want out of everything that is displayed (buffet like).
    • Price: Less than $3
  • Warung Kolega
    • Address: JI. Petitenget No 98 A, Kerobokan, Bali, Indonesia
    • Delicious nasi campur place (buffet like).
    • Price: Less than $3
  • Warung Enak
    • Address: Jl. Pengosekan Kedewatan Ubud Gianyar Bali, Indonesia
    • Phone: +62 361 972911
    • Delicious nasi campur place (buffet like).
    • Indoors and really clean compared to other nasi campur places. Not a lot of selection but food is tasty.
    • Price: Less than $5 (slightly more expensive than other nasi campur places.)
  • Ayam Kalasa
    • Address: located across from Istana Galleria.
    • Known for their flaky deep fried chicken. Delicious!!!!
    • Get their deep fried tofu too with kecap mani sambal (spicy sweet soy sauce).
    • Price: $7-8 for dinner for 2.
  • Sate Pinyut
    • Address: Located near Istana Galleria in a parking lot.
    • It is very local and delicious. They say it is turtle sate but it is just pork.
    • Make sure to dip your sate in the salt provided.
    • Price: About $1-2 for 12 sticks and rice

 To be continued… 

See Follow Me Foodie to Bali & Resort Dining! (Part 2)

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