For a small but beautiful island, Bali punches above its weight when it comes to restaurants with some of Asia's most exciting, innovative and beautiful dining rooms.
As a predominantly Hindu island in a Muslim country, roast suckling pig or babi guling is one of the unexpected highlights, but there are flavours from all over the world to tempt diners.
From the beaches of Jimbaran to the forests of Ubud and further inland, every turn seems to offer up new flavours and experiences.
Here are some standout tables, five Bali restaurants to try:
The Restaurant at Alila Seminyak
The restaurant at the sleek and sexy Alila Seminyak may be simply-named but it has quickly gained a reputation as one of Bali’s coolest dining rooms. The setting couldn’t be more stunning, with huge surf crashing onto the beach just metres from diners, contrasting with the infinity pools behind and the century-old Hindu temple around which the resort was built.
Dutch Executive Chef Stefan Zijta oversees an eclectic, international menu where local sourcing is as critical as genuine flavours and spicing. Given the location it’s no surprise that seafood figures highly, with an umami wave coming from their delicious fish satay and a brilliant sambal-crusted mahi mahi.
Alila Seminyak Restaurant
Jl. Taman Ganesha No.9
Kerobokan, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung
Tel. +62 361 3021 888, Website
Charismatic Canadian Kevin Cherkas oversees one of Bali’s most popular restaurants, Cuca. Through the elegant gardens and under huge palm trees sits a decidedly contemporary space where small plates all show Indonesian influences.
The young kitchen team deliver consistently successful dishes, with sweet pickled local mushrooms on creamy ricotta fritters, claypot mushrooms with Balinese organic rice and bbq octopus with Asian gazpacho of apple, caramelized cauliflower and coriander. Surprise yourself with a very passable Balinese Pinot Noir to accompany.
Inside an elegant pavilion, just steps from the beach and the sunsets which make Bali famous, sits Bella Cucina. They serve classic Italian cuisine and regional specialities, brought to life with innovative twists and modern presentation. Jatiluwih red risotto is crowned white wine-braised Lombok lobster served with peperonata, while veal scaloppini is crusted in local Kenari nuts and crushed peanuts, before being served with local apple and nutmeg jam.
Milanese Chef Riccardo Ioana also oversees picture-perfect desserts and an enviable selection of carpaccio.
At #49 in 2016 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, Locavore is led by chefs Ray and Eelke who serve unique, contemporary European cuisine using seasonal ingredients, more than 95% of which are locally-sourced, as their name suggests.
Their own garden also provides vegetables and herbs, while their staff are hired not on experience but willingness to learn. This all makes for a special venue where the food continues to win plaudits. Crab from South Papua comes with a slightly spicy crème, while their dish Into the Sawah melds high grade rice from Central Bali with snails, garlic and a 64-degree egg.
10 Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud
Tel. +62 361 977 733, Website
The tropical setting of Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique, to give it its full title, shows the ambition on display from French-American Chef Chris Salans. His 6 and 8 course degustation menus take western ingredients like foie gras and salmon and juxtaposes them against seasonal local ingredients such as young Balinese jackfruit or Javanese pomelo.
Tapas and Lounge menus are less structured but still show the quality, innovation and consistency to reach #50 in the 2013 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
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