Cheap places to eat in Nusa Dua

What we say: 3.5 stars

That headline is a touch misleading. When I say cheap, I mean not a meal at a five-star hotel; and when I say Nusa Dua, I mean up the road in Tanjung Benoa, the finger of land stretching toward Benoa harbour away from that government-created ghetto — because Tanjung Benoa is where you’ll want to base yourself while that rich relative gets married in Nusa Dua, as we’ve already covered.

Yes, there's a dessert menu.

Yes, there's a dessert menu.

If you’re even remotely interested in Balinese food, you must head to one of the two Bumbu Bali restaurants on Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa’s main street. The first restaurant was started in 1997 by Swiss Heinz von Holzen, who can claim considerable credit for reviving interest in traditional Balinese cuisine. We went to Bumbu 2 (Bumbu 1 is 500 metres away; they were full).

Open-air Bumbu Bali is a collection of bales, the lighting is subdued and warm, and the walls are adorned with blown up photographs of typical Balinese ingredients. We kicked off with complimentary crackers and sambal, with a tray of various dried spices keeping the kids occupied: cloves, white and black pepper, nutmeg, star anise and so on. The menu is not too long but it all looks intriguing — you can download it here.

We went with chicken satay sans spice for the kids, which comes on its own little grill and was puh-lenty for them along with steamed rice. We had assorted seafood in yellow turmeric sauce (110,000++ rupiah) and creamy duck curry (120,000++), presented beautifully on a huge round tray and accompanied by a few vegetable salads and white and red rice. It was spicy in a complex way — lots of flavour with the chillies fiery but not overpowering the other spices. It didn’t leave us any room for dessert. Come here early during your visit, and it’s likely you’ll come a few times; and likely you’ll want to learn how to cook it as well.

One man, one fish.

One man, one fish.

For fresh seafood, head right down to the end of Jalan Pratama, where Cafe Surya sits on the harbour. This Muslim-run spot is spotlessly clean and offers an array of typical dishes, though it’s definitely tourist geared — we have a feeling the locals get a completely different menu. We had a small grilled garupa with garlic and breaded squid, which was very breaded, and not all that tender. It was some kind of set deal where we had a plate of hand cut fries as a starter, which was a bit odd, and green veggies with garlic on the side plus rice served with the main. The lot with soft drinks and water set us back 250,000 rupiah. And we had to ask for sambal, the horror!

You get a lot more bang for your buck at Jimbaran, but at a pinch it was just alright –at the least, it’s a decent spot to watch the boats coming into and out of Benoa harbour, which can keep certain kinds entertained. The tiny bit of beach here is pretty dirty.

The next restaurant I tried alone at the suggestion of Susan Stein from Jari Menari – I chatted with her after taking the kids for a massage at their Nusa Dua branch.

The moment you realise you have eaten two gyoza before taking a photo. That.

The moment you realise you have eaten two gyoza before taking a photo. That.

The fairly nondescript exterior of Kazunoya probably wouldn’t have lured me inside, but the interior is pleasant, done in typical Japanese style — sit at sunken or ordinary tables, with some partitioning to create an illusion of a bit more privacy. There’s a teppanyaki iron griddle at the front, but I was here late afternoon and the place was understandably deserted. The lack of music made me feel like I was interrupting the staff’s evening prep, but they were friendly and obliging.

The menu here is fairly wide-ranging, with sashimi, sushi and various sets to choose from. I went with the ramen set: three delicate, beautifully-made gyoza, a large syou ramen and two large pieces of onigiri, one filled with a tiny pickle, the other a tiny piece of salmon — very filling, but a scoop of chocolate ice cream still followed for dessert as part of the set (89,000++). Recommended if you’re in the mood for Japanese.

Bumbu Bali
Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa
T: (361) 774 502, 772 299

Cafe Surya
Jalan Segara No.21, Tanjung Benoa
T: (0361) 772 016

Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa
T: (0361) 775 542/3

About the author
Samantha Brown is a reformed news reporter. She now edits most of the stuff you read on, except for when you find a typo, and then that's something she wasn't allowed to look at.
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