INDONESIA | Bali Food Trip ~ What to Eat in Bali

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What To Eat In Bali

Food isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind when one speaks of Bali. What this island paradise south of Indonesia conjures up are images of white sandy beaches filled with skimpily-clad bodies and moss-laden temples perched on cliffs. Bali has become such a popular year-round destination for tourists that modern air-conditioned restaurants and popular fastfood places can be found just about anywhere. But dig deeper through the local eateries they call warung and you just might be surprised to find something unique to eat in Bali.

What To Eat In Bali

Yes, they do serve local dishes on the many fancy restaurants in Bali, but for a more local taste—which is a lot easier on the wallet, by the way—the way to go is to eat where the locals does. Be brave. Go down and dirty, and legitly eat your way through Bali.

What To Eat In Bali

From my observations, Balinese dishes are cut into three categories—rice meals, noodles, and soups. That’s not discounting snacks and desserts, of course. The difference between the food here to the rest in Indonesia is that they do serve pork, Bali being Hindu instead of Muslim. The taste usually gravitates to a mix of salty and mild spiciness with nary a note of sweetness. It’s a tad similar to the food in Malaysia, albeit with the flavor and spiciness toned down in half. Eating in Bali is generally cheap, with a serving at a warung costing at an average of IDR10,000.00 to IDR20,000.00 (USD0.75 to USD1.50)  



What To Eat In Bali Nasi Campur

My first taste of Bali. We spotted an old lady hawking food along the walls of Kuta Beach, each portion wrapped in brown paper. Curious, and since it was almost lunchtime, we bought a few from her, absolutely not knowing what was inside. It turned out to be nasi campur, or directly translated, rice mix. The package has a cup of white rice topped with a mix of shredded chicken, a bit of stir-fried noodles, sambal chili sauce, some veggies, and a piece of crisp they call kropuk—all mildly spicy. The best way to eat this is to mix everything up—remove the sambal if you’re not into spicy food—then dig in.



What To Eat In Bali Nasi Goreng

One of the staples in Bali, nasi goreng simply put is fried rice. They’re not your ordinary fried rice though. Depending on the warung where you’re getting this and your preference, it can either be mixed with vegetables, chicken bits, or seafood. It’s then cooked with local spices. Personally, the best way to enjoy it is to pair it with fried chicken or satay and a runny sunny side-up fried egg.



What To Eat In Bali Satay

Ubiquitously seen around South East Asia, satay’s presence can also be felt in Bali. It’s basically barbecued chicken, beef or pork on skewers, which is then dipped in or lathered on with slightly sweet peanut sauce before you stuff it in your mouth. Another version I’ve seen around Bali is instead of the usual skewered meat, they use minced meat wrapped around a lemongrass stalk. Personally, I prefer the original ones.



What To Eat In Bali Mie Goreng

Bali’s version of my favorite Malaysian stir-fried noodle dish, mie goreng, is toned down by half when it comes to spiciness and flavor. The noodles are slightly thinner and there’s less veggies mixed in. The dish is usually served with a sunny side up egg on top.



What To Eat In Bali Bakso

Bakso is the unofficial afternoon in-between meal in Bali. Served on warung eateries and roving carts, the hero of this noodle soup is the gigantic meatballs made from beef surimi swimming in beef broth in between a handful of yellow egg noodles or rice vermicelli. We tried this once for lunch one summer in Bali and totally regretted it. We were swimming in sweat right after.



What To Eat In Bali Bebek Goreng

For those averse to eating duck, you just have to try Bali’s bebek goreng or fried duck to change your mind. Usually paired with white rice, the duck is crisply fried removing any funky taste from the fowl. It’s so crispy you’ll nibble all the way to the bone. The best places I’ve tried this is at the Bebek Tepi Sawah restaurant, which has a branch both in Kuta and Ubud, and Warung Eropa in Kuta.



What To Eat In Bali Soto Ayam

The perfect comfort food for rainy days, soto ayam is the Indonesian equivalent for everyone’s favorite chicken noodle soup. The difference between this and the one you usually eat when you’re feverish is that the chicken stock is usually mildly spicy and mixed with turmeric. Besides the chicken strips that accompany the vermicelli or yellow noodles, the bowl is also mixed with small portions of lontong rice cakes and sliced hard boiled eggs. This is best eaten with a small plate of krupuk on the sides.



What To Eat In Bali Jamur Crispy

It was by pure curiosity that we tried jamur crispy from JFC, a sort of local KFC in Bali (complete with a localized Colonel Sanders logo). We had no idea what it was, only that it looked really good on their menu. On first bite, we discovered it to be mushroom dipped in batter, crisply fried, and topped by mayonnaise and sweet chili sauce. Really superb snack especially when hot off the fryer.



What To Eat In Bali Kripik Krenyes

We found this variation of the krupuk at one of the traditional villages in Bali. Kripik are chips made from dried fruits and veggies. It’s twice harder than the more porous krupuk and seems to have small mung beans mashed in the batter. It’s quite oily and has a very salty and slightly spicy flavor. I’ll definitely take this over krupuk any day!



What To Eat In Bali Ayam Goreng

Fried chicken stalls are set on every corner of Bali, Indonesia being a predominantly Muslim country. And locals are quite particular with their chicken. Prices vary depending on the parts you choose. During our tours around the island, we’ve tried a lot of these chicken joints, from the popular JFC (Jaya Fried Chiken) to the more ubiquitous ACK. The best one though, as recommended by Putu, our driver from Bali Golden Tour, is the fried chickens at C’Bezt Fried Chicken. Crispy, juicy, and very very cheap! C’bezt indeed.



What To Eat In Bali McDonald's

Don’t discount McDonald’s when visiting Bali. Besides the usual Big Macs, the popular American fastfood on the island offers unique food choices based on local Indonesian dishes on their menu. We tried their spicy chicken and it came with a cup of garlic fried rice, two different dips, and sunny side up eggs! The only thing we’re missing is the chicken gravy.



What To Eat In Bali Babi Guling

This dish is why you should go to Bali. Unique to the island, babi guling is chopped roasted pork served with small portions of blood sausages, crispy pork skin, fried pork rinds or chicharon, something like a salad, and a cup of rice. The pork and the veggies are usually very spicy even if you don’t add in the sambal sauce. The king of babi guling used to be the Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka in Ubud, but after being commercialized, it has since lost its prestige along with its original flavor. The best one I’ve tried in Ubud was at the Babi Guling Gung Cung, and in Kuta, an unnamed warung along an alley near Sky Garden Bali [GPS MAP: -8.7178217,115.1758876]. I can eat this everyday!



What To Eat In Bali Teh Botol Sosro

What To Eat In Bali Bintang Beer

And we’re not about done just yet. To push all those food down your gullet, you need these two iconic Indonesian drinks. Teh Botol Sosro is bottled tea, which has a very mild tea flavor with a hint of sweetness. It is surprisingly very refreshing and goes well with spicy dishes. Bintang Beer is literally the star beer in Indonesia. It’s a pale lager with a comparable taste to Heineken. Locals claim it’s even better than the Philippines’ San Miguel Pale Pilsen!



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