Bali is a foodie heaven with delicious, fresh local ingredients that include commonly known fruits and vegetables and others unique to the region like the kluwek. Although many signature Balinese dishes are meaty, like succulent Babi Guling (roasting suckling pig) and chicken satay, the abundance of fruits and vegetables and strong tourism industry has led to a wide variety of restaurants to satisfy vegetarians and vegans as well.Coffee shops and local coffee tours abound to treat the most discerning coffee fanatic’s tastes. Options range from local street eats to high-end Michelin-star worthy fine-dining. The best part? Everything is quite affordable as well as delicious.
- Type: Fine dining, set menus
- Reservations needed: Yes, contact several days in advance
- Recommended dishes: tomato sorbet starter, fish carpaccio, quail
- Price range: $100+ per person
We celebrated our last night in Bali and our wonderfully successful honeymoon with a special meal at Mozaic, headed by Michelin-starred chef Chris Salans. One of the huge benefits of fine dining in South East Asia, in general, is that it is extremely affordable. Such a meal would easily be 4x the price in the U.S., so we were determined to experience Michelin-level food at reasonable prices.
Reserving at the restaurant was an experience in itself. A booked several days in advance and received several emails verifying that we were really coming. They also took our credit card information, as there would be quite a hefty fee if we failed to show for our meal. Noting that we were on our honeymoon, Mozaic offered us their secluded gazebo seating option and a special menu for 9 million rupiah plus service charge or $750. Figuring that it couldn’t hurt to ask, A politely responded that we wouldn’t be ordering from the special menu, but could we please have the gazebo anyway. Success, they said yes! Only one of the many reasons why I married this man.
We arrived at the restaurant a bit bedraggled, having had trouble finding a car to drive us there in pouring rain. A polite Maitre-D welcomed us into a warmly-lit lounge area where we sipped cocktails, had canapes, and perused the set menu.
Next, we were walked to our gazebo with the waiters carrying umbrellas over us, because suddenly we were simply too fancy to keep the rain off our own heads. We then ordered wine, because cocktails are for the lounge, and wine is for the meal, when you’re fancy. We had at least six different waiters bringing us things including a long platter with all the raw ingredients that would make up our locally-sourced dishes. Throughout the meal, each waiter would pick up the relevant ingredient and explain how it was used in the dish.
Waiters were frequently coming through to change out plates and silverware, bring us different dishes, and explain ingredients to us. Between all these arrivals and departures, we would devolve into our normal non-fancy selves and wonder at all the loveliness and deliciousness. When the waitstaff came by, we’d sit up straight and nod politely.
Highlights of the meal were a delicately layered tartare with egg yolk in an eggshell, a tomato sorbet that somehow captured all the flavor of a tomato in an iced format that tasted fresh and delicious, fish carpaccio that arrived under a globe with steaming dry ice, and a quail dish using a local spice called kluwek in a rich and velvety sauce that tasted like chocolate. The best part? Sharing the experience with my foody husband who was as excited as me.
- Type: Cafe, relaxed atmosphere
- Reservations needed: No
- Recommended dishes: fish tacos, fruit smoothies, seafood dishes
- Price range: $10-20 per person with food and drinks
During an adventure on Nusa Lembongan off the south coast of Bali, we ended up finding The Deck just as we were getting really hungry. After escaping the dusty road, we whizzed along beautiful jungle-lined streets on motorbikes for a while until finally arriving at a laidback beach area with accommodations ranging from backpacker huts to large resorts cut into sweeping cliffs. These high-up resorts looked out over a gleaming, deep-blue ocean dotted with small boats and rocky outcrops.
Parking the bikes, we walked up winding steps towards a café called The Deck that had caught our eye. There we feasted on huge fish tacos, smoothies, and iced lattes while lounging on a deck area with magnificent views of the coast. Finally, we had made it to the Lembongan we had hoped for. The food and service were great, but the view was incredible.