Off to Bali for a great tropical holiday? Well then food has to be a big part of the trip. Bali is a top foodie destination and we’ve tried and tested some of the most talked about restaurants in Bali and here’s our take on the best eats when visiting the island.
Feel like Italian in Bali? Making raves for it’s Osteria style setting and lava stone cooking, Da Maria is one of the top European joints in Bali. Conceived by successful Australian restaurateur Maurice Terzini, Da Maria combines simplicity of vibrant, bright colours with the freshness of Balinese flora and fauna.
Geometric blue and white tiles adorn three fountains that bring an appeal of Mediterranean courtyard dining with a 60s feel and are all crafted by the excellent artists of Bali. The soft noise of water from the fountains helps create a soothing, relaxed ambience in the restaurant. French ‘fer forgé’ style furniture compliments the overall setting and so does the ceiling which is the most striking element in the restaurant, made up of enlarged Gio Ponti inspired motifs that ties in with the skylights.
Da Maria is a perfect combination of good food, friends, music and fashion. Gastronomy at Da Maria is delectable. The menu represents a modern approach to Italian cuisine with simplicity at its core. Da Maria’s famous pizzas are made out of dough fermented for 24 hours in special Neapolitan artisan techniques. Pizzas are cooked in Naples inspired but locally built lava stone ovens. One can also order the Italian Porchetta (whole local pig) marinated with local herbs and cooked over coals.
To start with home-made focaccia is a great pleaser followed by Gioia stracciatella, torched tomato with basil. The torched tomato oozes great flavour with the subtle sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes.
Chicken Cotoletta with capers and lemon is a great dish to share. Crispy chicken cooked to perfection and complemented with tangy capers. A perfect salad to pair these top dishes is the shaved pickled cabbage with parmesan and to finish off it’s the famous tiramisu.
The bar at Da Maria mixes some seriously cool cocktails from classics to modern stirs. The wine list also demonstrates balance with some recommended Italian reds and whites. If you’re in the mood for cocktails, try the Rum Old Fashioned which is a refreshing mix of spiced rum, st germain and bitters.
All above, Da Maria is a great diversion form Balinese cuisine when in Bali. It stacks up perfectly and is open till late. The service is sharp and attentive and the food is set to export you straight to Naples.
Som Chai is a genius creation of nomad chef, Will Meyrick. Smack in the busy street of Kerobokan, Som Chai is a tribute to the people of Thailand enhanced with the magic and skillful creations of Will’s kitchen brigade. The entrance to the restaurant hardly gives away what lies on the other side of the door. And as we step in, we’re welcomed with a misty, dark dining room set with expressional portraits of hard working people of the Thai nation.
There’s hardly any natural lighting that enters the restaurant which is compensated by a scattered array of yellow strobes on the ceiling that create the perfect ambience without being too overbearing. The rich, dark tone is complemented by simple but comfortable dining room furniture with couches adorning dark-toned dining tables.
Tones of gold steel and marble bring in an old-school feel and the high ceilings add an extended sense of space and opulence.
The Chinatown bar at Som Chai is a spacious drinking spot with comfortable leather sofas and a generous bar space where one can enjoy delightful cocktails that bar staff mix-up. Manhattan, Negroni are some old-school cocktails that stand-out or perhaps the Thai Mule.
The open and spacious restaurant creates a very relaxing atmosphere. At the table, Will’s love for Asian street food takes another swipe at your imagination and the lengths he goes to seek inspiration of bringing back some of the most ancients recipes of food and enhancing them.
The food at Som Chai is based on the back of a three moth excursion that Will took where he soaked in everything from the making own fish sauces to drying your own fish, making your own shrimp pastes and from cooking on wood-fired stoves to clay pot cooking. The intensity of homemade ferments bring about another dimension to the cuisine perfectly bonding sweet, sour and pungent flavours of the Thai.
Shared plates of Grilled prawns with Pomello salad, Fish Cakes, Crispy Tacos, Soft Shell Crab Som Tum salad are divine starters setting you up for the stir fries and Thai curries to follow. To finish off a delicious desert platter of assorted Thai dishes please the palette. Som Chai is a must try when in Bali because there isn’t another restaurant that serves such an inspired Thai menu. It lives to all expectations.
The only other time I was exported to Mexico without actually going there was watching the movie Coco. A celebration of music, fun, family and happiness. This time it happened again – at Motel Mexicola in Seminyak, Bali. A colourful celebration of good times, laughter and great food. Motel Mexicola serves the best Mexican food in Bali.
But what’s equally enticing about the venue is the venue itself. Talk about designing a restaurant with the look and feel of Mexicola would mean you’d be visiting a lot of antique shops in Mexico City before bringing in 40 feet containers of the stuff to put on the walls. Crucifixes, rosaries, Maria de Guadeloupes, cacti – the list goes.
Every inch and corner of the venue gives it the look and feel of a great Portuguese spot. You’re welcomed by the famous shire at Motel Mexicola which is a pastel-coloured sculpture is formed by the melted wax of bottle-candles with a picture of a few happy faces garlanded with flowers and neon-lights. Forced to believe at first sight that they were the founders we were told they were just random photos put in the shrine. Walk in and you’re welcomed with a main courtyard of shared tables and friendly staff. As its mostly open air smoking is permitted.
We visited for dinner time and it was incredibly fulfilling to spend your nighttime escapade at Motel Mexicola. The ambiance is electrifying with foreign tourist guests mingling with locals to dance to famous dance steps. The extensive menu can get confusing but the friendly wait staff are always there to help and suggest to dietary requirements and also to your taste.
Guacamole freshly cut avocado mixed with mexican salsa served with freshly made corn chips, Tostadas de Atun fried yellow corn tortilla with raw tuna, chipotle mayonnaise, sesame seeds and coriander, Tacos de Pescado, tacos filled with tempura fish, pico de gallo, and coriander are a must try.
Motel Mexicola is incomplete without their signature cocktails. Try Michelada that combines Corona beer, tomato spices and lime or Despacito with Gin, charred pineapple and absinthe. Motel Mexicola is a great spot to make new friends, enjoy a great meal and be happy. A spot never to be missed in Bali.
If you’re visiting Ubud that you’ve got to try – Hujan Locale. Another one of Will Meyrick’s master creations it’s not to be missed. Will’s commitment and passion for Asian food makes him a household name in Asia but he’s become a household name in Bali.
Will’s explorations have also driven strong connections with local farmers and growers and he now sources his ingredients from around his restaurants and this is what is the heart and soul of Hujan Locale in Ubud. Hujan Locale is smack in the middle of Ubud Central Market. In Ubud, Hujan Locale is famous for serving traditional Indonesian food, but with Will’s twist.
The restaurant is mainly divided into two areas and on the first floor is a lounge with colourful recliners and casual feel to kick back and enjoy Hujan Locale’s signature cocktails. The main dining area is upstairs and where you can enjoy spectacular dishes that the talented chefs create.
Creations from the corners of Sulawesi with its upscale version of ‘Tipat Blayag’ which is smoked chicken simmered in coconut and spices, to the famous ‘Bebek Goreng’ cooked with ducks from the famous island of Madura will elevate your taste buds to another dimension of Indonesian cuisine.
Another stand out dish is the famous ’48 Hour rawson short rib with wood roasted bone marrow from the homes of Warungs in East Java is historic. The menu continues to celebrate the cuisine of Indonesia and its people with sustainable farming and also ancient spices.
The use of sustainably grown produce, the home smoked and cured meats, the locally sourced organic vegetables and the creation of contemporary twists on traditional Indonesian cuisine makes Hujan Locale a must visit restaurant and one that has acclaimed international accolades for bringing traditional Indonesian cuisines from regions into the international spotlight.
Sarong Restaurant is one of Seminyak’s finest, offering a romantic dining ambiance. Another one of Will Meyrick’s award-winning restaurants, it reflects his true passion for cuisine. Sarong is one of the longest standing fine dining spaces in Bali, launched in 2008. Since then Sarong has made international vibes and won numerous award standing out as one of the best restaurants in South East Asia. Sarong brought fine dining to Bali. Arrival to the restaurant through a wooden door entrance or a ‘Jharokha’, reminiscent to royal entrance to a palace or a ‘Haveli’.
You walk your way through well-manicured gardens into the two pavilions that set the restaurant. There is an option to dine in the al-fresco lounge or the main dining area. Sarong is open for dinner only which makes it the ideal venue for a great evening. Ambience is created by subtly lit lamps under thatch-roof style open beam, large ceilings.
It’s a perfect marriage of the ambience created in the restaurant with the dimming natural lighting outside. Interiors are adorned with luxurious chandeliers, original Asian handicrafts and elegantly framed mirrors. The bar at Sarong is expansive and offers some of spectacularly crafted signature cocktails. Using local ingredients in drinks, spices and tropical fruits, and combined with fine liqueurs and spirits they surely set the mood. Sarong Smash, a blend of lemon vodka, Cointreau, orange and grapefruit and kaffir lime, and Coconut Passionfruit & Pineapple Daiquiri, with candied roast coconut flakes are truly ones to die for. Menu at Sarong is modern-Indian.
Will has taken traditional Indian dishes and elevates it to another level that while maintaining its originality. To start-off try the Kashmiri crispy chicken. A must try. Tender morsels of chicken are lightly dusted with freshly ground Kashmiri spices and shallow fried served with a pungent yoghurt dip.
If you’re in the mood for some Satay, try the ‘sate kelopo’, which is chicken marinated in Javanese spices with shredded coconut and cucumber chilli pickles. For the mains, Prawns kirri hodi with curry leaves, pandan leaf, turmeric & black pepper is spectacular. Fresh prawns with lightly tempered curry leaves in a coconut curry served with steamed slice coconut cake. Sarong is a perfect blend of elegant hospitality, top food and a spectacular ambience.
Children under twelve years aren’t advised so make sure you arrange childcare at your villa and reservations are recommended.