Bali’s booming foodie culture
Jann Burmester travels to the Island of the Gods for a first-class foodie getaway
THE Bali food scene has come a long way since nasi goreng and gado gado. The popular island is fast becoming a foodies’ paradise, buzzing with bustling venues, reservation wait lists and award-winning chefs.
From five-star establishments to family-friendly venues, sunset bars, beach clubs and hip Instagrammable cafes serving the latest and greatest vegan fare, Bali is high on the bucket list for food lovers looking for unique locations, jaw-dropping views and five-star food at three-star prices.
With fresh ingredients sourced daily from local markets, succulent seafood, an abundance of fragrant and exotic spices and a variety of unusual and tasty fruits and vegetables, the Island of the Gods serves up a tantalising menu that is sure to set your taste buds on fire.
And yes, the nasi goreng is still there and it’s still good but travellers wanting to experience more of this exotic cuisine will be spoilt for choice, with a huge array of spicy dishes exploding with flavours, from simple warungs (roadside stalls) to classy fine-dining venues catering not only to Westerners but discerning Indonesians as well.
Think nasi campur, braised tempeh, amber-tinged kare ayam (chicken curry), beef rendang, ikan mekuah (fish in tomato and lemongrass sauce), bubur ayam (chicken porridge), tamarind-chilli fruit salad, Kintamani fish soup, sates, pepes ikan (steamed fish in banana leaves) and the list goes on.
Eating with the locals at the local warung will, of course, give you an authentic foodie experience but for those worried about
the infamous “Bali belly”, there are literally thousands of cafes and restaurants across the island where a plate of Indonesian food will satisfy the most discerning diner.
Some of my favourite venues for really good Indonesian food include Merah Putih in Seminyak; Ulekan, Betelnut and Milk and Madu in Canggu; Hujan Locale, Honeymoon Kitchen, Indus, Nusantara and Spice by Chris Salams in Ubud; and The Cashew Tree in Bingin.
When it comes to healthy food and conscious cuisines, Bali is streets ahead of the rest of the world.
Canggu on Bali’s south coast is a mecca for travellers and ex-pats wanting to jump on the vegan and even raw vegan bandwagon.
Here you can treat yourself to an amazing variety of rainbow-coloured food, served up in amazing venues by talented chefs keen to show off their skills.
Make sure you check out The Shady Shack for its famous vegan cheeseburger, Peloton Supershop for its breakaway breakfast burrito (a coriander-infused tortilla filled with scrambled tofu, Mexican beans, lettuce, cabbage, corn, coriander, tomato salsa and cashew sour cream all for just $6) or the Asian persuasion salad bowl at Kynd Community in Petitenget (green tea soba noodles, Asian greens, sprouts, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, garden herbs, spring onions, seeds, toasted cashews and topped with marinated tofu and tempeh).
At Sprout Bali in Canggu, it’s not only the food that is mind-blowing.
The garden setting is divine and with menu ingredients like activated almonds, charcoal, buckwheat, kimchi and jamu (a traditional Indonesian herbal tonic), you’ll feel ready to take on the world.
Venture further afield to Ubud, home of the yogi, and this booming artistic and cultural centre is also brimming with a huge range of health food cafes and restaurants.
My favourites here are Alchemy, Clear Cafe, The Seeds of Life, Locavore and Five Elements Sakti Dining Room – an award-winning vegan dining and eco-luxury resort nestled alongside the sacred Ayung River.
If five-star dining is more your style, then Bali delivers a smorgasbord of high-end venues where the breathtaking views and locations are matched by impeccable service and food fit for a king (or queen).
In Seminyak, check out Aya Street, La Lucciola, Mama San, Sardine, Sarong, Urchin, Da Maria, Kilo and Merah Putih.
The Slow in Canggu is the one of the island’s hottest new boutique hotels and its restaurant boasts an ever-changing menu based on seasonal ingredients, sustainability and “sane” eating.
For top-of-the-range dining in Ubud you can’t go past Dining Corner at Kayumanis, Locavore, the award-winning Mozaic, Nusantara and Spice by Chris Salams.
With a burgeoning food scene that other countries can only dream of, Bali is your ultimate culinary destination and it’s all just a six-hour flight from Australia’s east coast.
Bali is high on the bucket list for food lovers looking for unique locations, jaw-dropping views and five-star food at three-star prices.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Lunch at Canggu Beach; authentic cuisine at the Honeymoon Kitchen in Ubud,; vegetarian delights at The Shady Shack..PHOTOS: ISTOCK/JANN BURMESTER/THE SHADY SHACK .