Ubud Market, Bali 12-2014

I'm not quite sure what time the Ubud market is open. Websites list different things, from opening at 5am or sunrise to closing at 9am or 6pm. Most seem to say that the locals shop in the morning and this is the best time to attend.

Breakfast was the agenda as well as curiosity that led us to walk through at the unholy time of 7:30am. There was a nice amount of activity without being crowded, with all types of fruits, vegetables, some meat and fish and even trinkets and flowers being sold. Luckily toward the end I found a couple of nice stalls with a lady combining a wet rice, vegetables, peanuts, beans and sauce. The persistent surrounding 4 or 5 people making orders was reassuring that this was a good place to order from.

The level below street also brought us to someone cutting up fresh jackfruit and a couple of chicken sate grillers (both of which were a little dry but tasted nice).

I also tried the local specialty of snakefruit. It looks like an acorn surrounded by snake skin and really tastes quite unappealing. I think bitter sweet is the closest I can describe.

Enjoy the sights, smells and foods.

Rumah Adi, Amed 12-2014

The two food places in this post aren't actually at Rumah Adi (which is a guesthouse and convenience store in Amed) but are stalls located a short two minute walk down the road. There's also a restaurant front that is known for babi guling, but on this occasion they had sold out already and the meats in their stall were happily attracting flies.

Luckily these two other places were around as options. One shop makes gadogado to order with rice pyramids cut up from freshly de-twined packages and the ingredients are assembled on top. It was the most authentic gadogado tried throughout Bali (of around 12 altogether) and was tremendously satisfying. Additionally their deepfried jackfruit or ladyfinger banana fritters were sensational taking advantage of the natural sweetness of these tropical fruits. Throughout all times of day people would walk or motorbike (to/from work) and load up.

Around the corner, a man served chicken noodle soup with a very strong soy-flavoured (possibly MSG) broth.

As cheap and as local as it gets.

Anantara, Seminyak 12-2014

Anantara is simply one of the most luxurious hotels I've ever seen. The prices reflect this, but luckily the Mr. & Mrs. Smith website allowed a cheaper booking (approx. $250-350 per night) to enjoy the luxury. Considering the reputation of Seminyak for being nothing but beaches and Australians, choosing a nice place where the option of staying there and not moving seemed reasonable.

There are very good restaurants and massages nearby, the beach is directly in front and the view isn't bad either. On the contrary the infinity pool (or more private pool) is lovely, those decks include table service for drinks and cocktails, there is an ice-cream cart (!!), the gym and spa have lovely views from the top floor and luckily the Anantara restaurant also serves excellent food.

The buffet breakfast is one that my buffet-obsessed brother had told me about for months as he recalled the different stations as well as the all-you-can-order menu. All guests staying at the hotel have breakfast included or for outsiders the cost is Rp. 25000 ($25). It's a high price for Bali so ensure you intend to spend enough time there moving from breakfast onto brunch.

Firstly there are several stations with which to pick up things and decorate your plate. The variety changes each day but starts from small dishes of fresh salads (such as rojak), martabak, chicken soup and moves onto the bakery section (including cronuts which I'm happy to have tried but never again), multiple cereals and yoghurts, fresh juices and a large bread section. You can also finish off with a colourful decorative selection of kue (desserts).

However there's more. The breakfast menu has a multitude of Western and local dishes cooked to order. The hash browns were the only Western ingredient I craved and they were delicious - crispy, hot, well seasoned with soft pieces of potato within - just perfect. Kway teow, chicken congee, mie goreng, nasi goreng were all upmarket local renditions. One of the most exciting was the 'Bacon & Eggs' which was braised pork belly & potato curry, crispy paratha, fried egg and chaat masala salad. It reminded me of the well-known breakfast roti at Tom Phat in Melbourne.

Overall one of the most relaxing and varied breakfasts I've had, filled with Western and Indonesian options. If I ever stay in Seminyak again, it will be at Anantara.

Warung Murah, Seminyak 12-2014

Deep amongst the stalls and bustle of Seminyak likes Warung Murah. It wouldn't ordinarily have appealed to me except that my brother insists it is his favourite warung from previous trips to Bali, and once he finds a place he likes to eat at on holiday, he goes there 2-3 times per day. He had been waiting the entire trip to take me there. Apparently the place is well reputed amongst expats and surfers.

The concept is slightly different to your typical warung. Essentially it's a display buffet and you ask the staff to pile up your plate with as much as whatever you want. They determine (assumably by sight and experience) what you to charge you.

The food is cheap, good and there's a great variety of vegetables, fish and chicken. The biggest benefit is you get a bit of everything rather than having to stick to one meal. Can't argue with that!

Warung Murah Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Lilin @ Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak 12-2014

There was a short 2 hour slot before having to go to the airport. This was just enough time for one more meal. Luckily taxis around Seminyak don't take too long and don't cost too much to get to most places of interest. Anantara to Potato Head only took 10mins which left plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings in an otherwise unexpected visit.

It initially feels like an odd place - taxis drive through a security area and dropoff outside some fancy looking shops. You go past more security into what looks like an enormous speckled Colosseum and wind around the impressive corridors. A series of young females greet you and ask where you'd like to go - eat side 1(Lilin - Balinese), eat side 2 (Potato Head Bistro) or fancy eating (Tappingshoes - French). I think there are additional options of the lounge areas but I'm sure you pay more for those.

Being in Bali, the choice was always going to be Lilin, and I'd read briefly about it online somewhere so the name was familiar. As you are led towards the eating area, you can't help but notice the grassy central grazing area, the umbrellas, infinity pool, ocean and horizon. It's a beautiful setting and explains the popularity, nearly all tourist crowd (Western and Asian), beach bodies and high prices. What's also surprising is the number of older patrons and families including young children.

The drinks menu has dreamy cocktails. The Mango Jerry (vanilla tequila, spice sugar, honey, lime juice, mango, orange liquer) was selected for both the picture of it in the Potato Head mug (of which I was tempted to take one away like those delinquents at Oktoberfest) and the fruity sweet elements that I like. Others enjoyed on the day were Mai Tai (light & dark rum, lime, orange curacao, almond syrup, pineapple), and a non-alcoholic Mango Lassy.

- complimentary Shrimp, grapefruit, fish sauce and coriander was a nice tangy spoonful to commence.

Entree Set of Four:
- Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (with honey chilli reduction) - tasty pieces reminiscent of Chinese style;
- Golden Prawn Ball (crispy minced prawns marinated with a selection of fresh herbs, served with sweet chilli & plum sauce)
- Catfish with Red Chilli Sambal (fried fillet of catfish served with homemade red chilli paste) - a little crumbly and not as crispy as I would have liked;
- Baby Squid in Yellow Curry (stuffed with minced pork & fresh herbs) - only a few small squid morsels, but an absolutely delicious curry sauce that I could drink or eat alone with rice.

- Grilled Prawn (live sea prawns grilled with garlic, lemon & chilli sambal) - expected larger prawns rather than the bite-sized snack versions. In any case quite nice but could've used more seasoning and chilli;
- Asian Chilli Crab (served with fried buns) - small crab in chilli sauce. As usual I feel the effort for crab meat isn't always worth the reward. What I did like was my second experience with fried mantou buns (which I've had trouble finding since Melbourne's Mao Restaurant);
- Wok-Fried Clams (with chilli paste, kaffir lime leaf, spring onions) - potent heavy flavoured sauce with only very small (other than a few) clam meat. I like my clams big and meaty (a la Borough Market Richard Hawards);
- Kangkung Belacan
- Coconut Rice and Red Rice

The food is fine, the drinks are great, the prices are high considering the quality you can get in Bali for low costs. The setting makes it a worthwhile visit though - you're enjoying more here than just tastes. Give yourself more time than 1.5 hours and enjoy the sunset and basking warmth.

Fat Gajah, Seminyak 12-2014

The final dinner of the trip was initially booked at Sarong - a modern pan-Asian upmarket experience rated currently at #47 in San Pellegrino Asian restaurants. Unfortunately someone had a few belly problems meaning the consensus was to cancel the booking on the day and wait until the evening to see how far from the hotel this belly would let us venture.

As mentioned in the Bo & Buns post, Fat Gajah was another place I had only read up the afternoon before, and the menu of dumpling variety interested me. I can say that in all my travels and food places thusfar, I haven't experienced anywhere that has gourmet modern dumplings. As much as I appreciate the standard yum cha, Din Tai Fung and other Asian dumpling varieties, this was on another level of cool and creative. Funnily enough I didn't even realise how impressive the noodle menu was also until looking at the menu once we sat down.

The cocktail menu is equally enchanting. Red Dragon Sangria (red wine, brandy, dragon fruit, mango, strawberries, raspberries, lime, vanilla bean) is a tropical version that tastes as good as it sounds. The excellent local fruit made it particularly special. The other Fat Cocktails were nearly all designed with me in mind, and if only I had enough time and alcoholic penchant I would've gone through several.

It was a quiet time in Bali (which is great) meaning there was noone else there when we arrived. The army of chefs standing across from us waited to see what orders would get them kicking into gear.

- Braised Beef Short Ribs in Steamed Chinese Bun (Pickled Cucumber, Cilantro, Lettuce, Roasted Red Pepper) - not quite what I was expecting. I thought either an open gua bao or even a closed classic bao (less likely). Actually turned out to be a bao base topped with shredded beef. This made it surprisingly difficult to eat/share. I didn't feel the flavours or textures here were that good. The only dish tonight I probably wouldn't order again;
- Amazing Fat Gajah Tofu Chips (Peanut Pecel Dressing and Pickled Cucumber) - mildly seasoned tofu skins deepfried into a light thin chip, most reminiscent of a flaky corn chip. In the grand scheme of things I probably prefer potato/sweet potato chips but this is certainly different.

- Spicy Beef Rendang Pot Stickers (Bird’s Eye Chili, Lemon Yogurt, Cilantro, Yellow Bell Pepper, Egg, Scallion) - a very different kind of fried dumpling, with mild chilli and yogurt sauce making it feel almost Mediterranean. The rendang flavour wasn't very strong;
- Seared Lamb Shank Lemongrass Dumplings (Grilled White Onion, Jicama and a light Lemongrass Curry) - my favourite dumplings of those tried. The meat texture was silky smooth like a blended mince and the lamb flavour stood out strong. The delicious curry sauce was a drinkable bonus;
- Steamed Black Pepper Crab Dumplings (Soy Cardamon, Green Peas)
- Steamed Beef Short Ribs Dumpling (Orange Peel, Chinese Broccoli in Soy Ginger Honey)
- Sesame Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna Squares (Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime, Chilli, Fish Sauce)

- Crisp Salty Egg Oyster Mushroom in Ramen Noodles (Scallion, Green Pepper, Chili Pepper, Pikled Cucumber, Chives) - surprising winner dish of the evening. I wouldn't ordinary order this, but my dad wanted it. The salted egg flavour was only very mildly coating the mushrooms, but extremely heavy stuck to the noodles. This was sensational and delicious;
- Red Snapper Bakso Balls in Squid Ink Noodles (Bok Choy, Celery, Dill, in a light Soy Fish Broth, Crisp Egg noodles) - the only soupy noodle dish with sweet savoury broth and black noodles (very very mild squid ink flavour);
- Beef Tenderloin Curried Noodles (Crisp Beef Jerky, Beef Floss, Red Chilies, Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage, Sauteed Flat Rice) - combination of different textured and degree of flavoured beefs (the jerky being as expected the most potent);
- Spicy Soft Shell Crab Noodle (Egg Noodle, Onion, Caisin, Fennel, Scallion, Sesame Seeds)

This was a fantastic meal. With the exception of the Chinese Bun, I would order any of these again and given the success of the dishes try anything on their menu. For me the Lamb Shank dumplings and particularly Salty Egg Noodles would be what I'd have again every time. Coupled with a wonderful drink menu, this is one place I am delighted to have tried.

Bo & Bun, Seminyak 12-2014

After nearly a week of family dining, I finally had a night to myself. Two were having a traditional Balinese dinner and dance performance at our hotel Anantara and two were trying out the Tripadvisor #1 glamorous waterside setting and food of Bambu. This unprecedented freedom for dinner had me enjoying the ridiculous luxury of the Anantara suite and looking up places to go. We were due to try the top restaurant Sarong (San Pellegrino #47 in Asia) the next evening, so something closeby and not over the top appealed to me.

In the end, I settled on the choice of 3 - the famous Warung Made, a new place Bo & Bun, and a dumpling place Fat Gajah. Lucky for me all of these were on the same street within a few minutes walk of each other.

I decided Bo & Bun would be dinner, and I'd try one of the other two possibly for the lunch the next day. The menu of bao, kimchi fries and pork ribs was something I couldn't resist. As much as I want to eat local food everywhere I go, the reality is anywhere in the world when I want something different or a well rated fusion South-East Asian place is available, my interest is piqued. I actually liked the idea of pho, but as I thought about it there, I figured I can get good pho in Australia (even Canberra!). And they told me they were out of rice noodles. That made the decision easier.

I was trying to figure out the name Bo & Bun. Bo perhaps being reference to Vietnamese word for beef? However they use the western word of Bun for bread or maybe as a play on the Vietnamese word banh? Or it could be Bun as for rice noodles... who knows.

- Bao Gao Pork Belly (twice cooked pork belly on steamed buns with crushed peanuts, pickled cucumbers, hoisin sauce, fresh coriander & Vietnamese chilli) - excellent flavour combinations with additions of pickled cucumbers and textural crushed peanuts. The pork was nice but quite fatty;
- Bo & Bun Bulgogi Fries (stacked fries, chopped kimchi, beef bulgogi, Sriracha garlic aioili, scallions, coriander & black sesame) - a wonderful dish I haven't tried that reminds me of MEATliquor's chilli cheese fries. A Korean equivalent with delicious meat morsels, sweet aioili, chilli, multiple textural elements and good old fashioned fries;
- Pattaya Pork Ribs - they recommended these best seller ribs over the Sticky Hoisin Ribs (which is a flavour I almost always like). The ribs were ok, very meaty and chewy rather than soft and a simple soy marinade. I think I would've preferred the other ones.

If going alone, the pork belly and bulgogi fries were enough food for just me. It was my natural travel greed that made me order the ribs at the end. The Try Everything sampler lacks the essential Fries (which is a shame), but otherwise the only other one to try is their take on KFC wings. Other diners ordered the banh mi thit and East Burger both of which had promise. Only if you have enough time and stomach space.

Next time I would order with a 2nd person to try more things. If alone, I'd ensure enough stomach space then order Bulgogi Fries, and two out of three of either Bao Gao or KFC wings or Banh Mi Thit (or East Burger)

Naughty Nuri's Warung & Grill, Seminyak 12-2014

I can't remember who had heard of Naughty Nuri's. I had obviously read about it in several places and how enticing the ribs were. Given that ribs are possibly my favourite pork cut (as well as roast belly and fried hock), there was no way I would miss this place. It may have been my brother who was keen to try this in Ubud, but since it was out of the way and that I had a plan to come here in Seminyak, we were happy to wait a few extra days. And I can happily report that out of every place eaten in Bali, this one probably lived up to my expectations more than any other.

The street in Seminyak seems full of great eating places. It looks like a non-descript seedy place at night, but people car and taxi here all over the place. The smells leak onto the streets from the guy manning the grill booth at the front - picking up a rack of ribs, dipping it into a container of sweet sauce and straight onto a hot BBQ grill. They don't give away much about the recipe on the menu and I can guess it's a guarded secret.

- Sweet potato fries - deliciously sweeter and better than any normal potato fry;
- Rojak with seasonal fruits (bengkuang, pineapple, green mango, jambu air with spicy sauce, peanut, chilli, tamarind, shrimp paste) - first place in Bali that we saw this. A change from the usual gadogado order for different vegetables mixed with sweeter fruits and a mild tangy sauce;
- Nasi Goreng Pak Wayan special (fried rice, pork sate, veggies, egg, krupuk) - excellently presented inside a folded fried egg with rich heavy seasoned rice;
- Pork Chop - cooked nicely and very tender. Cut extremely easily;
- Pork Ribs Full Rack - the magic begins with rib meat sliding off the bone, but still retaining enough texture for a pleasant chew, sweet soy marinade and sauce and endless amounts of pleasure. One of my favourites ever;
- Bebek Goreng (crispy duck confit with urap veggies & steamed rice) - honestly the ribs were so good I don't remember the duck.

Pork ribs I dream of - The Slanted Door BBQ Willis Ranch pork spareribs in honey hoisin sauce in San Francisco, Bone Daddies Korean pork bones in London, Pitt Cue Co hot chilli rib tips in London (if they ever bring them back) and now Naughty Nuri's full rack pork ribs. There can be no higher compliment.

Lesehan, Bali 12-2014

I can't remember the name of the place. All I know is that I requested our driver stop us somewhere for lunch - somewhere he would eat on a usual trip between Amed and Seminyak. After leaving Karangasem Water Palace, he told us it would be a couple of hours. Suddenly about 10mins later he pulls up on the side of the road right next to a guy cooking satay.

What was different? This was fish satay.

There were only two things to select from - fish chunks on skewers or not on skewers. Both were delicious. The chilli was hot - an intensity I hadn't felt in the other more tourist friendly places we had eaten. The chilli dipping sauces were similarly powerful and excellent. This was easily the best satay in Bali, not because the rest were all chicken and beef and very cooked, but this had great flavour, texture and was fish!

As I ate one that looked a little raw/rare on the inside, I wondered if it would make it sick. It possibly did, with a small amount of stomach upset for a couple of days. I think the experience was worth it, but I'd probably have to think twice about doing it again voluntarily. Not everyone felt funny though, so maybe it was something else.

Sails, Amed 12-2014

If Amed has one fine dining restaurant, it is Sails. The reputation means that I've read about it online in recommendations and had it suggested by my accommodation owner and also someone else I was talking to locally. After eating (happily) at local venues, a slightly higher splash seemed appropriate for the final night in Amed. It was after a long day of morning scuba diving, afternoon walking and snorkelling and so appetite was at a high.

Sails has its own van with which they offer complimentary pickup and dropoff. It's a great luxury but necessary considering that the restaurant is quite a way down the Amed coast.

The setting is great (although only outdoors from what I could see) and the sunset was nice, although sadly facing the wrong way (east) so the full colours were behind us. Given the warm, lit outdoor evening, there were a few kamizake insects, but not enough to detract from the evening. The restaurant specialises in seafood, caters for Western dishes, actively avoids MSG and promotes cleanliness.

- Sail's own Fish Cakes (with chilli dipping sauce) - unusual in that the fish is not blended, but rather small chunks. Great win in texture and flavour;
- Fish soup signature dish (flavoured with lemongrass, citrus leaves) - better than Harmony's version with a more flavoursome broth although I probably prefer the stronger flavoured Thai and French seafood soups;
- Gado gado (lightly steamed vegetables with tempe, tofu, farm eggs and peanut sauce) - one of the more fancy versions with chunky ingredients to mix together, chopped hard boiled eggs and nice thick peanut sauce;
- Balinese Chicken Curry (slowly simmered in traditional Indonesian sauce) - mild creamy sauce served with a touch of yoghurt. Would have liked more heat in the curry;
- Pork Spare Ribs (trimmed of fat & gristle & slow cooked in Anik's special sauce) - reasonable ribs with some chew and not as tender as the wording said. The description is proud of these being unlike any others in Bali, but I didn't feel there was anything incredibly unique;
- Seafood Pasta (ribbon pasta with fish, prawns and calamari in a light cream sauce with wine and parmesan) - I think I've been spoilt by the seafood pastas of Italy. The seafood was a bit sparse and the overall sauce didn't have the impact of seafood flavour for me;
- Mie Goreng - nice addition of fried egg on top. Simple and effective dish.

This is a special occasion place with the ambience that could only be described as luxury for Amed. The food itself didn't excite me as much as I had hoped. I think part of the issue is that for a place that specialises in seafood, there aren't that many Indonesian/Balinese seafood dishes. Most are western which is fine, but not what I was looking for. However if I was to come again, I'd stick with Indonesian seafood entrees and the fresh seafood mains (eg. prawns or mahi mahi fillet).

Sails Restaurants Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato