Eating choices in the city of Amlapura cater mostly to the local crowd, with a mix of the usual fast-food joints and small warungs. For those wanting supplies for self catering, a huge Hardy’s supermarket is on Jalan Diponegoro. Amlapura market is the place to pick up the freshest veggies and a range of local fruit — try salak (snakeskin fruit), dragonfruit or mangosteens and durian in season. Some small stalls sell a variety of ready to eat snacks including satay, nasi pecal (vegetables with a spicy sauce) and sticky rice desserts.
If you visit Taman Sukasada late afternoon, be sure to give yourself a treat and stop by the ikan pepes sellers at the top of the hill, near the old entrance, opposite the mosque. Delicious spicy grilled fish in banana leaves and fish satay are the speciality of these makeshift stalls. These ladies cook the fish to perfection, steamed with a slight smokey flavour, and just the right balance of lime, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass and garlic, with a nice bite of chilli. They set up shop around 15:00 every day, excluding Muslim holidays, until they sell out.
Between Amlapura and Tirta Gangga, Bali Asli serves authentic Balinese cuisine cooked in a traditional Balinese kitchen, which can be hard to find outside of a local home. Chef Penelope Williams has worked the kitchens of several top international restaurants, most recently Alila Manggis. Bali Asli offers a set nasi campur with four dishes plus rice, or if you’re really hungry, an eight-dish traditional megibung. Not only is the food great, the views of Gunung Agung are stunning. If you like what you have eaten, you can join their cooking class for a real local experience.
Many places to stay around Jasri and Tirta Gangga have their own restaurants or can provide simple meals for their guests. Some are open to the public, and worth visiting for the restaurant alone, even if you’re not a guest. Aasya Jasri’s popular beachside restaurant, Disini, gets rave reviews. Set in an open pavilion, it’s perfect for catching the sea breeze.
Jasri also has not one, but two chocolate factories. Uforia Chocolate is located right next door to Turtle Bay Hideaway and the quirky hobbit houses of Bali Chocolate are next door to Pondok Shanti Agung. Uforia Chocolate has free daily tastings, and occasional chocolate making workshops (400,000 rupiah). Bookings are essential. Check times on their website when you can view the chocolate making process, as this changes regularly. Bali Chocolate has an entry fee of 10,000 rupiah for which you receive a small cake of divine smelling handmade soap, also made at the factory. You can taste the chocolate and palm syrup and there’s a small cafe serving hot chocolate. The factory is set by the beach within a coconut grove. A giant scary swing hangs between palm trees and you can fly out over the beach while eating your chocolate.
Tirta Gangga has several restaurants catering to the hordes of day-trippers visiting the water palace, the fanciest being Taman Ayu, right inside the palace itself and part of the Taman Ayu hotel. Taman Ayu’s vast menu features European, Indonesian, Balinese and vegetarian cuisine. Pricey, but popular.
In the car park outside the palace, Good Karma is a deservedly popular stop. The open-air pavilion is located in a peaceful spot right next to a terraced ricefield and the food is of a good standard. Good Karma serves many tourist favourites including salads, soups, omelettes and jaffles (most around 20,000 to 46,000 rupiah), but you really shouldn’t miss the Balinese food on the menu — curries and barbecue dishes (40,000 to 55,000 rupiah). Our favourite, dendeng be siap, is a Balinese chicken curry served here with potatoes and beans. The thick creamy coconut curry sauce is rich in flavour, but not very spicy, unless you request a more local version. They also have a large vegetarian menu. Service can be a bit slow as they make each dish from scratch, and toilets could do with a scrub.
Fifty metres north from Tirta Gangga, Makoto Ryoshi Tea House has one of the best views in town. Perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking the seemingly endless rice terraces, they have a few solid Japanese and Indonesian favourites. They owner has several small dogs running around the restaurant, which may not be to Western hygiene standards, but the owner is very friendly.
For a more authentic snack at Tirta Gangga, eat what the drivers are eating — dotted around the car park are several stalls selling bakso (meatball soup) and nasi campur packets. Cheap and tasty, but maybe too spicy for some palates.
Aashaya Jasri: Jalan Pantai Jasri, Amlapura; T: (0363) 21045, (0812) 392 5205; email@example.com; www.aashayajasri.com; open daily 7:00-21:30.
Bali Asli: Jalan Raya Gelumpang, Gelumpang; T: (0828) 9703 0098; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.baliasli.com.au; open daily 10:00-18:00.
Bali Chocolate Factory: Jalan Raya Pantai Jasri Kauhan; T: (0822) 3665 5998; open daily 09:00-17:00.
Good Karma: Taman Tirta Gangga carpark; T: (0813) 3871 1399; email@example.com; open daily 07:00-21:00.
Hardy’s Supermarket: 14x Jalan Diponegoro, Amlapura; T: (0363) 22 363; open daily 8:00-22:00.
Ikan pepes stalls: Near Taman Sukasada; open daily from 15:00.
Makoto Ryoshi Tea House: Jalan Abadi; T: (0812) 368 2791.
Tirta Ayu Hotel & Restaurant: Inside Taman Tirta Gangga; T: (0363) 22 503; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.hoteltirtagangga.com; open daily 07:00-21:00.
Uforia Chocolate: Jalan Pura Mascima, Jasi Kelod; T: (0363) 21 687; email@example.com; www.uforiachocolate.com; open Mon-Sat: 08:00-17:30, Sun: 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00.