Bali, often pigeon-holed as a cheap and cheerful family destination, has a sophisticated food scene ripe for discovery.
CUCA RESTAURANT AT JIMBARAN
One of Jimbaran’s most popular restaurants, Cuca is renowned for its adventurous, sophisticated cuisine. Offering a variety of food experiences (an interactive food bar, an intimate dining room and a laid back garden lounge) the restaurant describes itself as “a casual sharing experience all about taste”.The tapas dishes include a range of ‘puddles’, flavour-filled broth creations; ‘chichas’, fire roasted premium meats combined with rich seasoning; and ‘ceviches’, a range of delicate raw fish topped with zesty flavours.The exciting range of cocktails is a favourite among guests (we’re particularly besotted with the ‘iced rosé’; a mix of hibiscus ice, brandy, wild honey and lemongrass) and you must absolutely leave room for dessert – a culinary adventure for the taste buds!
DEAN’S BALI COOKING SCHOOL
The hugely popular Seminyak cooking classes and tours run by London-born chef Dean Fisher give tourists a fascinating insight into Bali’s colourful produce markets and vibrant cuisine with a touch of luxury (classes are run beside an infinity pool overlooking rice paddies and stretches of ocean and feature a number of delicious cocktails). Explore the depth of local spices with the Balinese Badung Spices Class, which includes authentic recipes like chicken and green papaya salad, crispy red snapper and coconut pancakes, or learn about the art of cooking seafood with the Balinese Jimbaran Seafood Class, featuring delectable dishes such as coconut spiced mangrove crab, flame grilled tuna salad and black rice pudding.The cooking school also offers four different tours catering to all food-related interests – a fantastic day out for the experienced cook or novice foodie alike. Prices from approximately AU$46. Visit Dean Fisher Bali for more information.
CASA LUNA COOKING SCHOOL
Started by Australian Janet DeNeefe, who runs the famed Casa Luna and Indus restaurants in Bali’s lush Ubud region, the Casa Luna Cooking School is perfect for those looking for a deeper understanding of food’s role in Balinese culture. Often teamed with market tours, participants will learn to prepare dishes like spiced fish in banana leaves, roasted white eggplant, gado-gado and sago pudding, while sipping on a glass or two of local rice wine or homemade hibiscus tea. Prices start from AUD$32.60 – a seriously affordable and insightful gourmet experience. Visit Casa Luna Bali for package information.
BALE UDANG MANG ENGKING
Opened in January this year, following the success of its Kuta branch, the second Bale Udang restaurant now offers guests an authentic Indonesian dining experience amongst the scenic hills of Ubud. Diners can relax in one of the bales (thatched bamboo bungalows) which border a large fish pond, enjoying views of the nearby rice fields and peeking mountains. For a truly romantic dining experience, book one of the bungalows for late afternoon so you can enjoy the sunset as well as the restaurant’s night time ambience – twinkling lights, the sound of splashing water and traditional Indonesian music create a divinely serene atmosphere offset best by the restaurant’s seafood specialties.
The chefs at Kayumanis Ubud’s Dining Corner restaurant have crafted the distinctly exotic flavours and spices of Indonesia into a menu of culinary delights that will tantalise the taste buds.Take in the views of the pristine, cocooning rainforest dotted with cinnamon trees while relaxing to the sound of the gently flowing Ayung River below.The open deck places you in the midst of Ubud’s lush rainforest for a truly serene dining experience. +62 361 972777
If you’re looking for one of those dream-like holiday moments where location reigns supreme, then you can’t go past Rock Bar. Perched on the edge of a 14-metre cliff overlooking the calm waters of Jimbaran Bay, the roofless, tiered platforms are a true architectural triumph.The bar is run by Bali’s luxurious AYANA Resort and Spa, and as expected, guests will receive priority service. A fantastic spot to wind down with an unforgettable view, some tasty tapas and a seriously good drink.
MOZAIC BEACH CLUB
Set upon one of Seminyak’s private black sand beaches, Mozaic Beach Club combines a laid-back poolside bar scene with a sophisticated private dining alternative. If you’re after a relaxed day of fun in the sun, stretch out beside the blue-tiled pool, enjoy a scrumptious cocktail and feast on a selection of the club’s more-ish tapas. Once night falls kick back to the tunes of one of the resident DJs. A wander just past the north of the pool will reveal the club’s elegant dining rooms where Chef James Ephraim celebrates the latest in Asian cuisine. Past dishes include deep ocean slipper lobster with kaffir lime and shaved fennel; wagyu beef sticky cheeks with fresh balinese green peppercorn and vintage balsamic; and poached lembang pineapple milk puree with coconut gelato and burnt bread crumble. Wow. Opulent private degustation dinners are also on offer – just perfect for that special occasion.
Located in Petitenget, just a stone’s throw from Seminyak, is Sardine – an open and airy bamboo restaurant which looks onto stretches of vivid green rice paddies dotted with local farmers. If you’re looking for the magic of traditional Bali, this is the place. The ever-evolving menu often lies in the hands of the Jimbaran fishermen and their catch; a daily trip to the fishing village and Sardine’s very own organic vegetable garden in mountainous Bedugul ensures the produce is of the highest quality.The Asian- European fusion menu will be sure to please even the fussiest of eaters, and the establishment’s funky bar won’t disappoint those searching for a taste of the exotic; arak cocktails concocted from the local brew are a house specialty.
French restaurateur and sommelier Christian Vanneque’s venture Sip brings the best of French food and international wine to Bali. Reminiscent of a quintessential Parisian brasserie, the establishment’s wine list and food menus are truly extensive.With firm French favourites like escargot, chicken cordon bleu and duck a l’orange making an appearance, (not to mention the decadent range of soufflés and tarts) plus fun, interactive wine evenings on Tuesdays, this is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts.