Better known for cheap beers, cheaper accommodation and Bintang singlets, Bali is fast developing a reputation as a culinary hotspot. Tourists are moving away from cheap street-side snacks and into modern restaurant spaces serving great food – and it’s a change for the better.
Like most tourist hotspots, there’s still a lot of average food-traps set up to catch the unknowing masses, and some are dressed up to look pretty respectable. And, like so many places throughout south-east Asia, there’s a bunch of average-looking places that serve amazing food.
So, as you’ve come to expect from us, we’ve put together a guide to some of Bali’s best – and somewhat unknown – restaurants for you to sample next time you join the hordes of Australians heading north. You’re welcome.
Bambu is quite a secret oasis hidden off the streets of Kuta, and a welcome break from the bad tats and rowdy bars. The open temple-style design sits atop a shallow pool, and the menu is wonderfully Indonesian. Favourites like satay chicken and spicy chilli and nasi goreng are made with locally sourced produce and are delicious. Make sure you try the pandan crepes served with coconut and palm sugar for desert.
Another gem is hidden in plain sight—Ginger Moon is buried in the heart of Seminyak and serves up a modern twist on some Asian classics. The suckling pig is spectacular and almost too much for a tropical meal, but luckily the smaller dishes – like crunchy spring rolls and spicy chicken wings – are a perfect balance. Plus you’ll get Indonesian favourites like gado-gado and beef rendang, so you can’t miss.
One of the more spectacular spaces in Bali, Kilo is an Instagrammer’s dream. Super clean lines, austere concrete and just enough greenery to make it welcoming, Kilo is another modern Asian restaurant tucked away in Seminyak. The menu takes you all over Asia, with bulgogi beef sitting next to soda battered eggplant and wasabi tuna. A great stop for those on a more sophisticated night out.
The décor screams Shangai 1920’s, but the food is much more current. You’ll feast on some great fresh flavoured dishes like wasabi soft shell crab, ginger flower and tuna handrolls and some of the best dumplings going around. Mamasan is a great spot for lunch to escape the heat of the day.
Another spectacular space away from the singlet wearing yobs wandering through Kuta, Merah Putih hammers all your senses. The huge translucent roof columns draw your eye immediately – they double as a water-recycling system – while the balcony dining offers a quieter, more private dining experience. Serving modern Indonesian cuisine, the smoked goat’s belly is something deliciously different, while sate lidah padang – a curry of beef tongue, oxtail, lontong and pickles – is a wonderful dish for the more adventurous.
Influenced by the casual culinary hangouts of Hong Kong’s cha chaan tengs, Japan’s izakaya and South Korea’s hanoks, Billy Ho’s communal approach to dining has a natural home in Bali’s ever-evolving Canggu. You’ll find an array of well-crafted dishes inspired the neighbourhoods of these cities by chefs Tim Bartholomew and Will Meyrick. From tuna sashimi to Korean-style pork belly and BBQ Peking duck, guests are treated to a taste of some of Asia’s best-loved creations. Complete with a seven-metre long bar, communal dining table and interiors by Rob Sample, Billy Ho is a sanctuary of nourishing food in great company.