Bali food really is delicious, and food is a big part of life and culture in Bali. But it can be a bit hit and miss finding the gems! So here we will share our favourite dishes and restaurants so you can go straight to the best!
First, a little background
Bali food permeates everyday life in Bali. Traditionally, it is the women who prepare the everyday meals. However, when there is a celebration (and there seem to be a lot of these), all the men in the village will get together and prepare the food. So Bali women are responsible for the ‘simple’ meals, and Bali men the ‘complex’ meals.
Particularly in the regional areas, you will often see local Balinese people eating predominantly rice, with just a little bit of meat (often pork) as there main meals. Unless there is a celebration, Balinese eat simple meals as needed.
I should also mention that Indonesian food is predominant in Bali, being even more commonly served then traditional Balinese food. So here, we will talk about both!
Traditional and Popular Dishes
Basic spice paste: Not a dish in itself, but this is the foundation of lots of traditional dishes, to give it that base of flavour. It is used, for example, in the Sate dish mentioned later on.
Gado Gado: Essentially this is a mix of vegetable with peanut sauce – simple but tasty! This dish is served at many restaurants.
Sate: Thinly sliced bits of meat on a skewer, usually coated in basic spice paste and comes with peanut sauce. This is yummy and can make an easy snack or meal.
Nasi Goreng: This is Indonesian Fried Rice, a little more spicy then normal fried rice and usually served with a fried egg on top.
Babi Guling: Mmmm…otherwise known as suckling pig. This is juicy and soft with crunchy crackling. If you are going to try this, you must go to Ibu Oka in Ubud (they definitely set the standard!)
Beef Rendang: Rich in spices and cooked with coconut, these beef pieces are a must try.
Nasi Campur: This is a mix plate dish, usually with rice, meat and vegetables served together.
Tempe Manis: Essentially this is fried tofu mixed with lemon grass, chilli and palm sugar. For someone who didn’t think they liked tofu…this was surprisingly addictive!
Black Rice Pudding: I love desert and this one is definitely up there! The combination of black rice, coconut milk and palm sugar is divine.
Dadar Gulung: Pandan pancakes with coconut and palm sugar filling.
Fried Banana: So this one is pretty self-explanitory. This is often served as a stand alone desert or an accompaniment.
And Now For The Drinks…
When I think of Bali drinks I probably think of tea. Everywhere you go you are offered tea, and they have the most beautful tea’s with flavours and aroma’s I have never experienced before. Some are served cold and some are served hot. Both just as refreshing. A stand out for me was a tamarind tea I had after our massage at Murni’s in Ubud (as if the massage wasn’t already good enough!)
When Chris thinks of Bali he probably thinks of Bintang (the local beer). And I must admit, I’m fond of it too, but you’re more likely to catch me with a Mojito or Sangria (hardly traditionally Balinese!)
Another drink Bali is famous for is Luwak Coffee. This is where an animal called an Asian Palm Civet eats the coffee beans (as it has a knack for only selecting the best beans), and the flavour improves during the digestive process, and then it is “poo-ed” out, cleaned up and roasted. Known to be one of the most expensive and best quality coffee’s in the world…you be the judge!
Bali Food Guide by Area
Seminyak has the widest variety and number of restaurants, including local food and western fine dining restaurants.
Jimbaran Bay is known for it’s seafood dinners on the beach. There are three different areas along the beach that are lined with seafood restaurants. We prefer the south area, for the food and the atmosphere.
Ubud has lots of restaurants to choose from. It’s famous for Ibu Oka, a restaurant that makes Babi Guling, aka sucking pig. There are restaurants that overlook the rice fields and also a few organic restaurants. A great area to try Bali food.