6km west of Seririt, North Bali
Kali Manik is a garden-set, beachside eco-resort in the true sense of the word, on the black sands of Bali’s northern reaches, about an hour’s drive east of Pemuteran and six kilometres west of Seririt. While we love the three rooms here, what really stands out is the food — if you’re anywhere in the area, you must stop by for a meal. We’d come back again for a weekend simply for the wonderful cuisine being served up out of the humblest of white-tiled kitchens.
Part of what blew us away here was we were expecting perhaps a standard nasi goreng for dinner and some fried eggs on toast for breakfast; instead we were greeted with a lengthy menu boasting many ingredients sourced from their own veggie and fruit patch out the back in dishes that sounded so delicious I had to read half of it out loud to Mr Travelfish.
Dishes run the gamut of Western and Asian options, but whereas in most restaurants this means nothing is done well, here it really is all scrumptious. The common starting point for the meals simply seems to be fresh, usually local produce. Pop out the back and have a look at what you’re eating! It’s the start of the dry season now, so the garden had just been replanted, but we saw eggplants, zucchini, beautiful rosella bushes, various herbs, leeks, papayas, bananas, rucola, lettuce and more. There’s a reason your salad is so crisp.
I kicked off on arrival with a cashew nut curry, served with steamed rice, roti, chickpea and cashew nut patties and cucumber salad with yoghurt, mint, cinnamon and raisins. It was a full-on mini-banquet of a meal, richly spiced and balanced, and at 68,000 rupiah, a steal.
Mr Travelfish had the crispy fried sardines with garlic butter — a pool of it — plus pommes au beurre and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette (also 68,000 rupiah).
Coq au vin is one of those if-it’s-on-the-menu-he’ll-order-it dishes, and order it here Mr Travelfish did. It was perhaps a touch dry, but came in an exquisite red wine sauce, with mushrooms and bacon, plus creamy mashed potato, garlic ice cream — correct! — and green beans sprinkled with toasted almonds (88,000 rupiah). I had a seafood stew that I was hoping would be richer and yummier than its simple description — and it was.
There’s a kids’ menu, but parents will be delighted to find it’s a real food menu — yes, there’s spag bol on there, but it’s a proper bolaignese sauce. The burger (42,000 rupiah) is worthy of an adult’s attention, too.
Included breakfasts are imaginative. We had the Indian, which was a chickpea curry with a generous dollop of yoghurt, plus pineapple chutney and a roti, as well as an open chicken sandwich and a black rice pudding.
We had to stay for lunch before we left. The tuna salad was perhaps the only dish we thought came close to missing its mark, being just a touch too dry, though the salad leaves were crisp only the way leaves just picked can be. My bacon sandwich was incredible — house-made break, bacon, warmed Brie, toasted almonds, and a pepper rosella sauce drizzled on top (44,000 rupiah). I’ll never look at a bacon sandwich the same way again.
Mr Travelfish had baked eggplants on tomato sauce, filled with minced goat meat, topped with cheese, served with preserved lime and raison couscous, plus a spinach, bean and cashew nut salad drenched in a thick yoghurt dressing (78,000 rupiah). Oh my.
Ice creams are house-made as well — we tried the tamarillo and chocolate, both thick and luscious. Alcohol is very affordable for Bali — 38,000 for a gin and tonic. Alas, they were out of tonic — and a few other things, but not so many as to be unreasonable — so we went for a mojito, sipped from one of the bales off the beach during sunset. A bottle of Two Islands chardonnary was around 250,000 rupiah.
In summary, Kali Manik would do brilliantly down south — to stumble on food like this up north is incredible luck, and worthy of chasing for a gourmet stop on your trip to Bali.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 21st April, 2015.