Composed of 18,000 islands and over 300 ethnic groups, with a colonial history that saw Dutch and other cooking styles added to the mix, Indonesia is a country with a diverse gastronomic mix. Each corner of this vast archipelago has its signature dishes, but one of the country’s stand-out gastro-hubs is the island of Bali. Indonesian-born food writer, teacher and broadcaster Sri Owen has been revisiting the region’s culinary scene while researching her latest book, Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food (Pavilion, £20). Here she shares her five favourite places to eat on the island.
Casa Luna, Ubud
The menu at this restaurant (the owners also run a bakery and cookery school) is a fusion of Western and Balinese dishes. I particularly enjoyed their Indonesian-style vegetarian dishes, and the fish wrapped in banana leaves with rice and sambal, but they also do good pizzas and Mediterranean salads.
Warung Mina, Denpasar
Specialising in fresh fish, this small chain (there are eight branches on the island, including four in and around the capital) does it very well whether fried or grilled. My favourite is a crisp-fried gurami, with crisp-fried squid. Gurami is a fresh water flat fish.
Hujan Locale, Ubud
The chef-proprietor of this restaurant, Will Meyrick, is British although he has lived in Bali for more than 10 years. The food is excellent – the rendang (beef or chicken cooked in rich coconut milk) is very good, and their desserts are worth a try, especially the durian panecotta. Beer, locally made, is the best alcoholic buy and matches spicy Indonesian food very well.
Tandjung Sari Hotel, Sanur
The accommodation at this hotel is five-star and very beautiful, but the food impressed me more. Most of the tables are outside and, while the menu is not very large, what they serve is very good. Don’t miss the beef martabak, a delicious crisp pancake stuffed with spicy minced beef. And, when it’s in season, try their fried soft-shell crab. The crab is served with asinan (shredded fruit salad) but this comes with too sweet a dressing for my taste; ask for it without
Murni’s Warung, Ubud
Warung is an Indonesian word for restaurant. This one opened in 1976 and is still owned by the same person – Ni Wayan Murni. I always eat there when I visit Bali. The food is consistently good, and very Balinese. Try the nasi goreng or the tofu and tempeh satay.
First published August 2015
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