We were really looking forward to Indonesian cuisine, especially because we were never in Indonesia before and have never eaten in a proper Indonesian restaurant where we live. We ate something similar in Malaysia, Thailand and the rest of SE Asia, but you know, it´s never the same. Balinese cuisine does have some of its own specialities, which demonstrate indigenous traditions.
Already the Air Asia food menu was interesting and this is what we got – of course rice, hard boiled egg and spicy meat pieces. Everything was covered in funny little shrimps and we (I confess) could not finish all of them.
See that first photo of this post? This was our first dinner on Bali – a gorgeous big seafood plate for two persons. With a pile of rice under a banana leaf in the centre, tuna steak, mahi-mahi, crab chips, fish balls, shrimps and delicious vegetables. All that with a cold Bintang beer. It´s almost a sin to drink beer with that nice food but hey, wine on Bali is really expensive. In the upcoming days we had more fish than meat and the food was always really good no matter where or what we ate.
They were usually included in the price of the room, which was convenient when travelling with a child who woke up every morning hungry. There was always much food on the table, sometimes you could choose two things between (banana or chocolate) pancakes, toasts, omelettes and fruit salads (usually with watermelon, papaya, mango, pineapple, banana and dragon fruit). One or two Balinese coffees on top of that and we were good to go.
LUNCH & DINNER
Probably the most known are the SATAY (or sate) – spiced meat pressed onto skewers which are often lemon grass sticks or made out of bamboo. Usually made of pork, since Bali is not muslim. In general, there are many variations, from beef, pork, chicken and fish satays. You can get them everywhere and they make a good quick eat on the street at a local warung. They are served with a sauce, in Bali we usually got the peanut one.
BABI GULING has to be the most traditional meat meal you can get. It´s a roasted suckling pig. The whole pig is cooked over an open fire and it is often eaten at ceremonies. We did not try it for some reason, I guess we waited until it was too late. Or we just decided to stick with fish because they were just so delicious.
IKAN BAKAR is an Indonesian or Malaysian dish of charcoal-grilled fish or other seafood. It literally means “burned fish” in both countries languages. Usually the fish is first marinated in spices (sweet soy sauce and coconut oil) and then grilled, sometimes wrapped in a sheet of banana leaf, which prevents the fish being stuck onto the grill and fall apart at taking it off the grill. When the fish is done it´s usually served with shrimp paste or a spicy chilli & shallot sweet soy sauce.
There are many seafood dishes and varieties, usually accompanied with plain rice and shredded vegetables mixed with eggs. Food was always very nicely presented and maybe this made it taste even better.
In many restaurants (especially those at the beach) you could pick your own fish. They were always delicious and you could see they were fresh.
Surprisingly seafood and meat main courses often came with French fries on the side (Lu was happy to see that) 😉 We often saw the restaurants were offering an oven-baked pizzas, spaghetti and different salads. There were also some world known fast food chain restaurants throughout the island, so if you really don´t like the local food, you won´t stay hungry either.
NOODLES are always available – with fish, with meat or with vegetables. Often with an egg, so if you are not into that, do tell them when you order. The cheapest option is in a street warung (small food stands)+ you don´t have to wait long for the food to be ready.
VEGETABLES come almost always on the side. Carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, sprouts, shallots, spinach and green salad – it´s all there. Often made with eggs. Almost everywhere you can also order a green papaya salad.
BUFFETS: at the major tourist attractions you might stumble upon a buffet restaurant. The prices were quite high, but it does give you a chance to try out different dishes and you could eat as much as you wanted. I must say the food tasted good and everything was fresh´and not standing there for hours. This is what Lu´s plate looked like: a bit of fish, one chicken sate, rice, vegetables, noodles, spring roles with peanut sauce and a funny looking fried thing. He ate it all.
If you feel like a break from Indonesian food you can head to one of the many Indian or Thai restaurants. We found Indian food on Bali to be really good, probably also because there are many Indians living there.
Its pretty easy to get an ice cream or a nice fruit shake if you can´t resist a dessert. If you want to try somehting local, order the “black rice pudding“!
In most of the little shops you can find also western products – but why eat those, you can try something new. We just grabbed some of the little packages and sometimes they tasted good, sometimes horrible. But if nothing else, we tried lots of them out :). And they were ridiculously cheap!
No need to mention that wine is extremely expensive. To our surprise we found out there is wine produced on Bali, white and rose. The Hatten wines are located in Sanur and are producing wines with an unique tropical character. The vineyards are mostly in the North of Bali. Most of the restaurants will have them on the menus, so maybe try it out over a nice dinner one time. They tasted good, but as I said, were quite expensive. For a glass of Bali wine you could have 3 simple meals at a warung. So, you guessed right, we mostly stuck to water and beer. Here and there a freshly squeezed juice or an lassi, mostly at breakfast. I did also “cheated” and I´ve hidden a small bottle of red wine from Europe into my backpack, which we then with great enjoyment drank on a nice evening in Amed 😉
To conclude, the food was fabulous and I have the feeling we ate something all the time. It was not inexpensive, but you could find quick cheap meals on the food stalls. Fish was just amazing and so were the fruits. We did not have any problems and we ate everything that looked yummy. We drank bottled water and that was pretty much the only precaution we took.