One of the most pleasing aspects of dining in Bali, despite these troubled times, is the explosion on the local restaurant scene. Most of the new places are great! Good quality value-for-money restaurants with professional kitchens, at almost every price level.
The Le Meridien, nestled in the folds of the Greg Norman designed golf course, offers the Cendana restaurant with icy cold, yet fiery hot, Chilli Crab Gazpacho and the elegant Nirwana for fine dining at night.
At Canggu, the Hotel Tugu is a step back in time serving regional food from Java and Bali. No other Nasi Campur will quite compare.
KUTA - LEGIAN -KEROBOKAN
Kerobokan, is where it all started with La Luciolla. The beach set still enjoy its Mediterranean snacks and meals whilst the incomparable Kafe Warisan remains the place for romantic French dinners. Now everyone wants to get into the act! First, it was the Living Room (herb and pepper crusted chilled tuna or fragrant Vietnamese rice paper rolls), then the up market Ku de Ta. How do you select between their Asian Spiced Duck and the de-boned, stuffed Quails?
The reasonably-priced Chitralada came on the scene with magic delights of S.E. Asia (prawn cakes and a luscious Roast Duck in Thai Red Curry). We were confronted with the cheeky little upstart, the Mykonos Taverna, selling wholesome home-cooked style Greek food at ridiculously cheap prices. Simple things, like an incredibly tender Calamari Skaras and the big tasty Keftes Tiganitos (oven-baked meat balls).
Now another, flash newcomer with a strange name has arrived. Hu'u's food is just about as different as their name. How about Roasted Water Chestnuts, with bacon and brown sugar?
In Seminyak, The Villa's La Maison, French wine bar and restaurant offers a variety of plates of Saucissons et Fromages (dry sausages and cheeses) that go perfectly with a good glass of red wine, or you can enjoy a hearty casserole (La Daube de Boeuf de ma Tante Rose).
On the road to Gado-Gado - a classy seaside Mediterranean restaurant, the fascinating Antique arrived with its innovative Asian cuisine (great Thai prawn cakes and a luscious Javanese Ayam Bumbu Rujak). The Q Bar,almost next door, gave up its own catering to Zorro, a new snack bar up on Jln. Seminyak. Across the road the Gateway of India is churning out those sensational Kathirolls and delicately spiced curries like Keema Mattar or Kadai Chicken. The original Kin Khao has closed but now a new, swankier, version has opened down near the late night Café Luna.
Legian and Kuta have seen minor changes. Delight Café never seemed to work, but in it's new livery as R.H.U.M., is doing better. Across the road, the little Lo's Warung caters for those longing for German/Austrian/Swiss food. Their pork meatloaf and smoked chicken breasts are two of the best value dishes in Bali. The old F.J.'s disappeared and we now have 'Take' for great Japanese robatyaki, and another branch of Kin Khao almost next door. At the edge of Kuta, a good value Mediterranean restaurant, The Balcony a vast improvement on what else was previously available. Try their giant-sized brochettes or rosemary roasted chicken. Around on the beach is the stylish Italian Papa's Café (tempting Fetta di Salmone Affumicato, slices of smoked salmon draped over disks of crisp potato rosti.)
Tuban has many new places due to the final acceptance of the enormous Kuta Square. The Tuban area has the Greek Daddy's, another Kin Khao, Copa Café, the Mexican Chi-Chi's, an up market Japanese Fukutaro at the Sol Legian Hotel and a budget version at 'Yakiniku' and 'Shabu-Shabu'. A real Balinese restaurant, Fuku Mimpi, presents a great opportunity for tourists to try this delicate food. A great example of mid-eastern food at The Lebanon Restaurant - (wonderful Chickpeas Falafel and Kebbeh Akras, minced beef with cracked wheat and onions).
JIMBARAN & NUSA DUA
The air-conditioned upstairs lounge at Ayu Wandira, features freshly grilled seafood. Further up the hill, at Uluwatu, Stiff Chilli is churning out innovative pastas, light fragrant salads, and sensational thin crispy wood-fired pizzas laden with all that topping!
At Nusa Dua The Bale opened with 'Faces Restaurant' in Zen-like surroundings. Next door is the Sekar Nusa and its famed Thai restaurant, 'La Terrace'. Meanwhile, 'The Terrace' at Amanusa still sits atop the hill looking down on all around it!
SANUR & UBUD
Sanur is getting into the act. 'Essence' presents great food at reasonable prices. Their Duck Ravioli, covered with slithers of shitake mushrooms, and the Duck and Chicken Confits, are all as good as they sound. Kafe Wayang presents modern Indonesian fare to a welcoming clientele.
Ubud has had a revolution. Always the leader for International coffee shops with Tutmak, Batan Waru and others. It now has Terrazo presenting great food in a casual surrounding. The Shrimps & Vermicelli spring rolls with accompanying ginger mint dip, and magic vegetarian 8 Layer Pie are just two examples. Or Brettone Crepes, for breakfast, up at Panili Vanilla. New Ubud restaurants seem to open weekly, none offering better value than the very successful Bali Pesto.
Ryoshi has moved across the road into new premises. The Turkish Sababa presents an array of Salads, Kebabs and Pide. Maya Sari presents exotic and appetising entrees at a magic riverside setting (Honey & Sesame Chicken with plum sauce, Crab & Lemongrass Cakes, Duck & Shitake Spring Rolls or tasty Chicken Drumlets).
Above Ubud, at Sanggingan, the impressive Mozaic. Wonderful French food in a garden setting. The Moulard Duck Fois Gras and the Roasted NZ Rack of Lamb are outstanding. At Sayan that classy little Warung Red Rice, presents innovative Balinese and Javanese offerings. Whilst further up the mountain, 'biji' at the Begawan Giri caters for those who demand the best of everything.
CANDI DASA & THE NORTH
Candi Dasa has the ex-Mexican Kafe TJ, serving great Asian dishes (Thai Fish Cakes with a sweet and sour cucumber relish, or a Thai Red Prawn Curry, rolled in a soft flour tortilla, a sweet chilli sauce on the side). Close by is 'Kedai' with sensational sates; Chicken mashed with honey, mustard and sage, Tuna with bacon and herbs or King Prawns on lemongrass. Up the road at the Dutch 'Di Mahkota' Smoked Eel or Crispy Fried Shark.
On Bali's northern coast, just to the west of Singaraja, is Lovina. Great value Indonesian food at Warung Bambu Pemaron and the ultimate in gourmet dining at the majestic Damai, perched on the side of the mountain above Lovina. Exotic lunches and snacks (watermelon in balsamic and orange, a cold bloody Mary soup with tomato sorbet, a hot long bean salad in oyster sauce) or the finest of fine dining at night (steamed river prawns, chicken soup with ginten, lemongrass infused fillet of beef with fern tips).
Eating great food, in style, and at a price that makes the rest of the world jealous!
In Bali, you will never go hungry!
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