Indonesia travel: Where to find a range of world cuisines in Bali

Aussies are flocking to Bali as direct flights resume. Video / NZ Herald

Bali offers top cuisines from around the world and these are the best places to find them, writes Anna King Shahab.

Seminyak

Motel Mexicola

A colorful Pueblo-style building adorned with portraits from Mexico, candle wax sculptures and rainbow-hued wall hangings, Motel Mexicola is the tequileria you never knew you needed during your stay on the Indonesian island.

In addition to very drinkable margaritas, the drinks menu offers a variety of other cocktails, as well as a decent list of tequilas and mezcals to boot. The salmon tiradito, snapper ceviche, tuna tostadas and watermelon salad hit the spot for us on a really hot day. Larger dishes include grilled barramundi, grilled chicken and braised lamb shank in broth.

Hardly

Overlooking Potatohead Beach Club’s lively beachside pool, Hard showcases the Indonesian archipelago’s rich culinary history, using produce from small local operators. Staff tell stories about which region, island, or even village a dish hails from as they serve it, and explain how specific ingredients like spices, herbs, and proteins make the dish special.

Don’t miss the nasi goreng babi, a sinfully good pork sausage fried rice from northern Bali’s Singaraja province paired with field mushrooms, and the lovely Sumatran version of beef rendang simmered in fresh coconut milk.

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Canggu

Ji terrace

It was once the rustic indie cousin of neighboring Seminyak, with just a few warungs and smoothie bars, but Canggu has seen exponential growth over the past five years. Among its very first developments, Hotel Tugu remains a charming place to stay and visit with an appetite.

Owned by one of Indonesia’s most prolific antique collectors, Tugu is a living gallery, including Restaurant Ji, housed in a reconstructed 18th-century temple. The golden hour before nightfall is a great time to curl up in a possie on the terrace and take in the view: the fiery sun lapping into the Indian Ocean and the comings and goings at the legendary Beach Club Old Man’s across the street.

The menu is Japanese with a side of local tropical produce and a touch of Nikkei. Handsome platters of sashimi, nigiri, sushi rolls and crispy tempura are fortified by charcoal-cooked proteins, including Kobe-style Angus and Wagyu beef, lobster, pork belly and shrimp.

Cocktails are served theatrically with smoke, fire and dry ice. We loved the savory kaiso with seaweed, infused shochu, ginger, grapefruit and lime, and the tropical passion rosella, which brings Blue Curacao into the 21st century and pairs it with infused tequila and lemon marmalade.

Starter Lab

In my opinion, a tropical fruit breakfast never gets boring, but if you can’t go a week or so without your sourdough, Starter Lab has got your back. New York-born baker Emerson Manibo has a pedigree that includes time at San Fran’s Tartine Sourdough Temple. He and his team make a range of breads, as well as pastries, fritters and “custard bits,” which translates to kiwi as incredibly good pudding square.

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Ubud

mocha

Nestled in the Sayan rice fields, Moksa is a plant paradise. As you sit in the open-air dining room (we love to snuggle cross-legged at the traditional low tables with cushions), you are surrounded by the permaculture farm that provides the produce on the plate.

Our meal started with a splash of papaya and calamansi lime juice and continued with sushi with jicama rice, mixed mushrooms in lemongrass and coconut broth, a plant-based lasagna with cashew cream and pumpkin noodles, and a fragrant green curry with vegetables from the garden. Plan your lunch to coincide with the farmers’ market (held on Saturdays, check website for upcoming dates) – the courtyard comes alive with dozens of stalls filled with colorful produce, spices, honey, chocolate and more.

Fresh fruit and vegetables galore at Moksa Market.  Photo / Anna King Shahab
Fresh fruit and vegetables galore at Moksa Market. Photo / Anna King Shahab

pica

Chef Cristian Encina grew up helping out at his father’s busy restaurant in Chile, and at Pica South American Kitchen he brings the flavors of his childhood to Ubud courtesy of excellent local produce. Seafood is big here — ceviche, oysters, grilled shrimp with salsa escabeche, and arroz con mariscos — paella-like rice with the catch of the day: shrimp, mussels, squid, and more.

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Don’t miss the daily empanadas. Recently, Encina opened Cantina Rooftop – perched high on Campuhan Hill, it offers beautiful temple views alongside elegant yet casual bites.

The well stocked bar at The Howff.  Photo / Anna King Shahab.
The well stocked bar at The Howff. Photo / Anna King Shahab.

Nusa Lembongan

The Howf

Forgive me for repeating the term inappropriate, but it must be said that at the entrance to a dungeon-like whiskey and gin bar built into an ocean-washed cliff on the small, paradisiacal island of Nusa Lembongan, greeted by suits of armor – a 40-minute ferry ride from Sanur on mainland Bali.

The best way to experience it is to stay at the Hotel Batu Karang on the cliff above – this way you can meander through some of the many fantastic drinks on offer and only need to climb the steps to sip your glass on the head.

The whiskeys are varied, a treat for connoisseurs: Highland, Lowland, Isles, Speyside, Japanese and Australasian. Gins from all over the world are made into cocktails or served “Spanish” style with homemade dried accompaniments to complement the botanicals within.

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