My wife and recently spent 3 days enjoying Ubud in Bali. One of the main joys was the food. Before our visit we had not been impressed with Indonesian food typically available in New York and London. However, the Balinese food available in Ubud is excellent. Even though it has a reputation for spiciness, I didnt find the food all that hot (less spicy than Vietnamese and much less spicy than Thai). Perhaps its been toned down for Western palates. Although the food in Bali is excellent, many amends have been made to make it more amenable to foreign tastes. For example, the Balinese typically eat with their hands, eschewing cutlery. But every restaurant we visited provided a full set. In fact, the Balinese tend not to share meals together as part of daily life. Eating is typically done individually and in quiet. For more on Balinese food customs see this interesting post (http://www.indonesia-bali.com/bali_fo...). The introduction of tourism to Bali has brought many changes, and luckily for us the excellent food has been made available for restaurant-going travellers.
INDUS, Jl Raya Sanggingan, Campuan.
Indus is owned by the folks who run the Casa Luna restaurant and cooking school in central Ubud. We found the food at Indus to be good pan-Asian fusion, but where fusion is often a disappointment compared to more purist, local options, the food at Indus was inventive, fresh and delicious. The beautiful setting and several good Australian wines to choose from were a bonus. It was so good (and close to our hotel) that we went for dinner twice. Sometimes the combinations didnt work exactly right, other times they did. Dishes we enjoyed immensely were the Squid Salad, Tenggiri with Thai Spices, Beef Rendang, and the Seafood Crepes with Coconut Sauce. Ones that fell short were the Udon & Fried Tofu salad and the Seafood Paella. Even though Indus is out in Campuan, its a 5 minute drive that shouldnt cost more than 20,000 Rp from central Ubud.
CAFÉ BATAN WARU, Jl Dewi Sita, Ubud. (http://www.baligoodfood.com/Batanwaru...)
The café serves up real, pure Balinese cuisine and it is excellent. We enjoyed 2 lunches here. Batan Waru makes fresh noodles daily, which make their Mie Goreng the best weve had. Another staple of Bali cuisine, the satay, was also done expertly. We had both Chicken Satay and Tuna Satay and both were wonderful. The satay sauce was thick and rich, full of intense peanut flavor. Batan Waru also has a broad selection of veggie sides. The Roasted Eggplant with Coconut Sauce (Terung Kalasan) was really good, with complemtary flavors and textures of the eggplant and sauce. I also liked the Long Beans with Red Chili Paste (Sayur Balado) but they were not otherworldly. On the other hand, the Lempur Ayam, which are banana leaf bundles of sticky rice with grilled shredded chicken, are cosmicly good. Opening up the neat & precise banana leaf wrapper to find the treat inside was a real pleasure. We enjoyed them so much that we ordered a second serving to take away!
BUMBU BALI 2, Monkey Forest Road, Ubud
We had an excellent lunch at BB2. The Ayam Pelalah, which is shredded chicken with chilis and veggies, and the Bebek Betutu, slow-smoked duck, were both enjoyed and devoured. If we had more time in Ubud we would have returned here.
If youve had a tiring day trolling the shops in Ubud and need a pck-me-up, CAFÉ LUNA has Italian-style coffees (although we stuck with the excellent Bali coffee) and banana bread that seems to have been made with palm sugar. Yum!