Paradise Island: Bali’s 10 Best Cultural Restaurants

From the
culinary treats of Ubud to the high class resorts of Jimbaran Bay, Bali is a
foodie haven which can surprise even veteran travellers. The islands thriving restaurant scene embodies the best elements of Balinese
culture; Indonesian traditions, Western and Australian influences and an
endless party atmosphere, whilst using the fruits of this tropical paradise to
create unique culinary creations.

Bebek Bengil

Since opening
its doors in 1990, Bebek Bengil has developed into a Bali institution, and is
one of the many distinctive restaurants in the foodie paradise of Ubud. Bebek
Bengil translates as the Dirty Duck Diner, a reference to the restaurants speciality bebek tutu (smoked duck), as well as to the many ducks
which apparently frequent the site before it turned into a restaurant (and who
presumably ended up on the table). The smoked duck has to be ordered 24 hours
in advance, since it is slowly smoked over the course of a whole day, and the
succulent meat and crispy skin is incomparable.

Bebek Bengil, Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal, Ubud, Bali 80571, +62
361 975489


itself as a ‘fresh
oasis of ingenuity in the world of gastronomy’ Mozaic Restaurant is a culinary laboratory which explores the potential
of Bali’s many lavish ingredients. Run by
Chef Chris Salans, the ever changing menu is a testament to his continual
search for culinary innovation and perfection, as well as to the restaurant
s dedication to freshness of ingredients. Mozaic was named the 50th best
restaurant in Asia by San Pellegrino, who called it ‘Bali’s finest restaurant… (And) a genuine global gastronomic destination, and recommended the ‘Javanese quail and foie gras pastille with Balinese rujak sauce, or
grilled tiger prawns with pink grapefruit and ginger flower.

Mozaic Restaurant, Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Gianyar – Bali
+62 361 975768

Lamak Bali

Lamak is a
Balinese term meaning ‘a
carefully crafted element of sacred offerings’, which is what Lamak Bali seeks to achieve with its gastronomic
offering. The restaurant aims to combine Balinese tradition with culinary
innovation, and prides itself on the local touches it adds to both the menu and
the interior design of the restaurant such as local wood, stones, and carvings.
The food is a mixture of modern Asian and European cuisine, and has merited the
award of Indonesia’s Best Restaurant from Tatler twice,
in 2005 and 2009. Dishes such as smoked snapper medallions coated with curried
yogurt, alongside almond-raisin rice, lentil patties and tomato chutney,
epitomise the best of Bali
s thriving food culture.

Lamak Bali, Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud – Bali 80571, +62 361 974


Chef Will
is a heavyweight on the Bali culinary scene, with the hugely successful
Sarong restaurant to his name. With Mamasan he has ventured into new territory,
an attempt to ‘open a
place that is more than just a restaurant…an environment where people can feel
comfortable to eat, try their hands at cooking or just lounge in a bar. The result is a trendy, restaurant cum bar in which patrons are
encouraged to make themselves at home. The décor purposefully evokes ‘colonial Britain in Shanghai during
the 1920s, with marble top mah-jong tables and oversized tan leather chester
elds’, whilst the food
is a combination of Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Malay, Singaporean, Thai,
Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes; the crispy ‘confit’ pork hock on the bone with nahm jihm jauw & nam pla prik comes
highly recommended.

Mamasan, Jl. Raya Kerobokan No. 135, Br. Taman, Bali, +62 361

Naughty Nuris

Evoking the best
in street food, Naughty Nuri’s is a self-proclaimed funky street side food haven, which prides itself on being ‘naughty but nice’. Naughty Nuri’s specialises in appealing to the
more carnivorous diners, and their many takes on the humble pork rib have
become legendary. Their specialities include
‘wicked ribs and brutal martinis, whilst the pork chops, chorizo sausage and satays all come highly
recommended. As much a party venue as any restaurant in Bali, Naughty Nuris promises an unforgettable dining experience.

Naughty Nuris, Jalan Batubelig, #41, Kerobokan, Denpasar,
Bali 80361
, +62 361 8476722

Clear Café

A focus on
local, ethical produce defines Clear Café, and this ethos is evident in everything they
do. Their work to promote and foster the produce of local Balinese farmers is
laudable, as is their dedication to healthy eating and positive energy – indeed
they profess a belief that energy can be transferred through food, and
therefore maintain a positive and upbeat atmosphere in the kitchen at all
times. However it is the quality of the food that comes out of that kitchen
that really counts and theirs is second to none. Dishes such as Bali Tataki, a
cocoa, cayenne seared tuna with fresh daikon in delicious mangosteen sauce and
Ikan Asli fresh coconut crusted snapper burst with freshness and flavour.

Clear Café,
Jalan Hanoman No. 8, Padang Tegal Kaje,
+62 361 8894437

Sea Circus

A ‘restaurant,
cocktail bar and coffee den’, which encapsulates the laid back
lifestyle of Bali, Sea Circus is fast becoming one of the best places to eat,
drink or just hang out on the island. The effervescent interiors are matched by
a colourful fa
which makes Sea Circus impossible to miss, and the meticulous attention to
detail is evident in the food as much as in the cutting edge design. Dishes
such as pan roasted barramundi with tomato & chili jam, cous cous, fennel
& coriander or red quinoa and raisin salad with avocado, grated carrot,
cherry tomato, celery & lettuce use the abundant natural produce of Bali to
maximum culinary effect.

Sea Circus, 22 Jalan Kayu Aya [Oberoi Rd], Seminyak, Bali, +62
361 738 667

Bali Asli

Claiming to ‘promote Balinese cuisine and culture
without exploiting it or its people
’, Bali Asli puts
ethical considerations into everything they do. Their menu is designed around
considerations of provenance, and ‘supporting those who fish, farm and forage in the nearby fields, ocean
and jungle’ is central to their gastronomic
ideology. This focus on local produce is matched by a commitment to tradition
and authenticity, with food that purposefully evokes the traditions of Balinese
culture. Alongside the conventional restaurant aspects of Bali Asli, they also
‘Experienceswhich allow guests to experience culinary Bali
in a range of ways, from cooking schools, to guided food tours.

Bali Asli, Jalan Raya Gelumpang, Gelumpang village, Amlapura,
Karangasem, Bali,
+62 8289 7030098


Lilin aims to
provide a comfortable and intimate dining experience, in which traditional
Asian flavours are pared down to their purest and most potent aspects. The
tapas style menu brings out the best of Asian culinary traditions and allows guests
to sample delights from all over the Asian gastronomic map. The restaurants interiors purposefully evoke traditional Indonesian design, whilst
giving it a slick, contemporary update. Some of the most intriguing tapas
dishes are baby shrimp and glass noodle salad with fresh greens in garlic,
chilli and lemon dressing and roast duck red curry cooked with grapes,
pineapple, tomato and fresh Thai basil whilst their cocktails are as innovative
and delectable as their food.

Lilin, Midnigh, Jl. Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali 80361,
+62 361 4737979

Merah Putih Restoran

traditional Indonesian cuisine using only the highest quality ingredients,
Merah Putih offers flavours and ingredients from across the archipelago. The
restaurant aims to reflect the diversity of Indonesian culinary culture, which
takes in aspects of Indian, Chinese and South East Asian cuisines and recreates
them in their own distinctive way. The focus on the traditional roots of
Indonesian cuisine extends to the convivial dining experience, which evokes the
family eating which is at the core of Indonesian cooking. However Merah Putih
doesn’t simply reproduce Indonesian
classics but also seeks to update traditional flavours; the menu is split
‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ which allows guests to experience both sides of the Indonesian culinary

Merah Putih Restoran, Jl. Petitenget No.100x, Kerobokan,
Denpasar, Bali 80361,
+62 361 8465950

By Thomas Storey