From Shrimp Cocktails To Suckling Pigs: The Best And Must-Eats When In Bali
Bali is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, thanks to its breathtaking beaches, rich culture, and beautiful private villas.
But like all travels, eating is a huge part of every trip. Balinese cuisine, much like other Asian cuisine, is rich with spices. There’s also a popular Balinese 8-spice made up of white pepper, black pepper, coriander, cumin, clove, nutmeg, sesame seed, and candlenut. As part of the Indonesian cuisine and Hindu culture, meat is very much appreciated but beef is rarely consumed.
So if you’re looking for something Authentic Balinese, from fine dining to casual eats, here are the top restaurants to eat in when in Bali.
For something authentic, upscale, and truly Indonesian cuisine, drop by Kaum Bali, a restaurant with deep Indonesian roots and a big Balinese heart. Kaum Bali, which means “tribe” in Indonesian, was founded after the founders spent time with the country’s 600-plus ethnic groups to learn about their ways of cooking and almost-forgotten dishes and customaries. The restaurant also makes sure to work with small-scale local producers, with the desire to highlight Indonesia's incredibly diverse cuisine and cultivate its indigenous culture.
You’ll find Balinese and Indonesian favorites like nasi goreng and gado-gado on the menu, but expect these dishes and flavors to be elevated and richer with flavors and history than your usual eats. They also take their drinks seriously with an array of innovative mixes, ranging from easy gin tonics to dangerous concoctions of rum and absinthe.
Must try: nasi goreng babi – pork fried rice; beef in Sumatran spices; and Indo-75 – lemongrass-infused gin, lemon juice, mint syrup, and sparkling wine
It’s not recognized by the Asia’s 50 best restaurants awards for no reason. Locavore certainly put Indonesia in the international culinary map by being the first and only Balinese restaurant to make it to the list. Locavore elevates the underrated local ingredients of Bali by infusing French and Nordic cooking techniques to create a modern take on Balinese cuisine.
Eating at Locavore may be more on the fancier and more modern side, but it is certainly an explosion of Balinese flavors that is an experience beyond any. For the best experience, try their seven-course degustation prepared by Chef-Owners Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah
Must try: Amuse Bouche–Tomato - bloody Mary sorbet, cherry tomato, and hot tomato consommé; and Into the Sawah - hi-grade rice from Jatih-Luwih, snails, garlic, duck egg, catfish abon, and flowers
Warung Babi Guling Pak Dobiel
On the other end of the spectrum is this super casual, no-frou-frou restaurant that offers what people claim the best nasi babi guling in town.
Nasi babi guling or roast suckling pig with white rice is a popular must-eat when in Bali, and many restaurants offer this. But for a truly authentic experience, eat where the locals eat. Warung Babi Guling Pak Dobiel may not be the fanciest place to eat in when in Bali, but their nasi babi guling which is served with fried pork skin, white pork meat, pork satay, blood sausage, crispy innards, and steamed mixed vegetables on top of special Balinese rice is to die for—and it’s incredibly cheap, too! It is so popular that lines form even before the restaurant opens and they usually close up shop by 2-3 p.m. because they run out of pork.
Must try: nasi babi guling – roast suckling pig with rice; and nasi ayam – chicken rice
Barbacoa may not be all Balinese cuisine, and is more Southern American with its steaks and barbecues, and latino with its flavors. But if you’re looking to share a great meal with your friends or family in a rustic set-up, Barbacoa is certainly one of the best restaurants in the whole of Bali.
Barbacoa translates the locals’ love for meat, evident in their open charcoal fire place where they can barbecue a whole animal. But while they specialize on meats and roasted pigs, they also have excellent vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Travel tip: make reservations if you’re planning to drop by since it can be a little packed especially during dinner.
Must try: grilled corn and grilled chapa bread, eight-hour wood-fired pig, and crème Catalana for dessert
Sambal Shrimp Restaurant & Bar
When it comes to seafood, there’s one thing that no lavish presentation or complex cooking can beat: the freshness of the seafood. And if you’re looking for the freshest shrimps in Bali, don’t look further than Sambal Shrimp Restaurant & Bar. They pride themselves in preparing the shrimps in the most hygienic and safe environment, to make sure the quality of their shrimps are kept excellent. They love their shrimps so much they even include boiled shrimps in their cocktails!
EIC on the Move Raul Manzano goes to Bali and visits Sambal Shrimp, and gushes at how fresh really their shrimps were.
Must try: Sambal shrimo - boiled fresh water prawns with original sambal powder; Garlic butter shrimp plate; and Sambal Shrimp Shooter - vodka, gin, or tequila mixed with gazpacho sauce and boiled shrimp
Follow Raul’s trip to Bali on EIC On the Move, with premiere episodes on Mondays, 9 p.m., on Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD. Catch the replay of the Bali episode on November 12, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.