Granted that it may be tempting to eat in at your fancy digs (if you’ve opted for a resort), some decent (and wallet friendly) eating can be found in the greater Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa area.
Within Nusa Dua’s gated compound, Bali Collection is a huge open air shopping and eating hub. Here you’ll find a huge array of tourist-friendly restaurants and cafes. Due to their free shuttle service to hotels all over Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa, this once deserted spot gets reasonably busy, particularly in the evenings, but chances are you’ll still find a seat without booking ahead.
We tried De Verdant Kuma Organic Kitchen, a smart and breezy cafe style joint with a healthy selection of, well healthy stuff. As it is Bali take the “organic” name with a grain of salt, but at least they try, and there are vegan and gluten-free options. We tried a salad of fish and greens (69,000 rupiah) which came with grilled fish that was a tad disappointing as the fish was overcooked, but other diners at the neighbouring tables enjoyed their meals. If you don’t like banana, don’t order the “chocolate” mousse (58,000 rupiah), we should have realised when the first ingredient listed in banana—it’s chocolate coloured though. The coffee (cafe latte 38,000 rupiah) is decent and a kids menu will keep parents (and kids) happy.
Another spot aimed at keeping kids happy is the fun pirate ship shaped Pirates Bay overlooking the beach near Nusa Dharma. Dine in the ship or one the tree houses and see if you can spot land ahoy! Along with a long menu of Western pirate themed standards including pizza (75,000–85,000 rupiah) and seafood (95,000 –550,000 rupiah), they offer a kids treasure hunt with pirate costumes for four to 12-year-olds although it’s rather pricy at US$35 per kid (advance booking required). Entry without food or drink is 50,000 rupiah if you just want a selfie.
If you dare to venture outside Nusa Dua’s gates, Jalan Pantai Mengiat hosts a string of restaurants and warungs an easy walk away and many offer free transport too. Ulam is a long-running (since 1986) and popular grilled seafood joint that’s obviously doing something right but the decor and menu don’t look like they have changed since they opened the doors. Set seafood menus that start at 130,000 to 260,000 and include a free glass of arak are good value. We like that their business card offers a free Indonesian lesson—well a few phrases to try. It also states that “Our VIP guests include: Influential top businessmen and banker, artist, athletes and film star, Minister of State and Vice President, President and astronauts and you”!
Almost across the road, sports bar style Nyoman’s Beer Garden caters to all kinds of lovers: “pizza lover, Asian lover, Indo Bali lover, Chinese lover, Indian lover, German lover, Europe lover, vegetarian lover and dessert lovers”. Single folk are served too. Live music as well as the match on TV is provided some nights adding to the convivial atmosphere.
If you are after an authentic Balinese tasty meal, continue 300 metres up the road (after the intersection the street becomes Jalan Pintas Siligita) to Warung Nasi Ayam Ibu Oki and elbow in with the locals, but you won’t need a menu here, as there is only one dish on offer—nasi ayam, chicken with rice. Now that may not sound too interesting, but you’ll be served a plate of ambrosia with chicken in several guises, some that may be a tad spicy for some pallets—ask them to hold the sambal (or add extra if you’re like us) although they do ask if you would like spicy or non spicy. At 25,000 rupiah it’s the cheapest and one of the tastiest we tried in the area. Go and eat!
Another 200 meters along Jalan Pintas Siligita you’ll find the local joint, Be Sanur. Warung Mak Beng in Sanur is one of our favourite local eateries and though we don’t think this place has the same owner, it definitely dishes up a similar menu though we didn’t have time to try, word is the taste is identical. This large clean warung looks more like a smart cafe and offers upstairs dining. The menu “paket” includes a fried, meaty piece of ikan laut goreng—fried sea fish—with a wonderful smoked sambal and kaffir lime on the side, fish head (or vegetable) soup and a plate of rice.
If you have a hankering for piggy, locals rate Warung Babi Guling Pak Dobil as one of the best places in Bali to try Babi Guling—roast pork with local spices. With tender pork and crunchy crackling some veggies and rice with a side of bone soup. Be careful as this is heavily spiced, so be prepared. Look for the bright yellow banners on Jalan Srikandi around one kilometre from Nusa Dua’s central main gate.
In the mood for Japanese? Kazunoya has a fairly nondescript exterior and the interior is simple but pleasant and clean in typical Japanese style. The menu here is fairly wide-ranging, with sashimi, sushi and various sets to choose from. We tried the delicate, beautifully made gyoza (30,000 rupiah), a large syou ramen (56,000 rupiah) and two large pieces of onigiri, one filled with a tiny pickle, the other a tiny piece of salmon (30,000 rupiah) filling and delish.
Bali Collection Komplek ITDC, Nusa Dua; T: (0361) 771 662, (0361) 771 663; http://bali-collection.com Mo–Su: 10:00–11:00.
Be Sanur 99B Jalan Siligita, Nusa Dua; T: (0811) 388 5403, (0811) 388 5404; Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
De Verdant Kuma Organic Kitchen Bali Collection, Gate C, Nusa Dua; https://www.facebook.com/verdantbali/ Mo–Su: 10:00–10:00.
Kazunoya Jalan Siligita, Nusa Dua; T: (0811) 386 838; Mo–Fr: 12:00–15:00; Mo–Sa: 17:30–22:00.
Nyoman’s Beer Garden Jalan Pantai Mengiat; Nusa Dua; T: (0361) 775 746, (0361) 369 9209, (0361) 401 3621; http://sendok-bali.com/property-group/nyoman-beergarden-restaurant-bar/ Mo–Su: 10:00–01:00.
Pirates Bay The Bay Bali ITDC Area Lot C-0, Nusa Dua; T: (0361) 894 8138; http://www.thepiratesbaybali.com Mo–Su: 10:00–21:00.
Ulam 14 Jalan Pantai Mengiat; Nusa Dua; T: (0361) 771 590, (0361) 773 776; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Warung Babi Guling Pak Dobil 9 Jalan Srikandi, Nusa Dua; Mo–Su: 09:00–16:00.
Warung Nasi Ayam Ibu Oki Jalan Siligita,Nusa Dua; T: (0361) 849 8109, (0813) 3801 2245; Mo–Su: 08:00–21:00.
While our first suggestion may not be all that wallet friendly, it is excellent value and 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 tried both—lunch in one and dinner in two! The open-air restaurants both feature an open kitchen at the front so you can see all the workings if you are interested.
Both meals kicked off with complimentary crackers and sambal. For lunch we tried the bebek menyatnyat (creamy duck curry) 190,000 ++ rupiah washed down with es jeruk kelapa (iced coconut, tangerine and lime) 35,000 ++ rupiah. The duck was 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—which is why we had to return for dinner (on a different day!). This time we wanted to sample as many different dishes as possible, so we chose the vegetarian rijsttafel 340,000 ++ rupiah, a set “three” course meal, except that it wasn’t—after our gedang mekuah (green papaya and mushroom soup), there were nine dishes to try. Nine. We struggled with the four dessert selections too, but had to have at least a mouthful of each. This could have easily fed two or more people and the variety is a good introduction to Balinese flavours (meat versions are on offer as well). 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. Bookings recommended.
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 set seafood meals by the kilo or half kilo (as a minimum) fresh from the tanks served with veggies and chips or rice, plus a small selection of “the others”—noodles and rice standards. We had grilled prawns with garlic served with kangkung with garlic (no vampires!) for 150,000 rupiah. Beers are pricey at 50,000 rupiah for a large Bintang. The prawns were fresh, tasty, and the serving large, plus it’s a decent spot to watch the boats coming into and out of Benoa harbour, but you do get a lot more bang for your buck at Jimbaran.
For a decidedly less expensive seafood meal (although pricey for a warung) we popped into Warung Dedi, a typically modest warung (there are a few to choose from) and ordered the grilled fish, but the fish was “off” (habis), so we had prawns again (50,000 rupiah). Though this was a smaller portion (but adequate) and also served with veggies and rice, taste wise a winner, but as far as a view—well there was footy on the TV.
The length of Jalan Pratama’s non resort side (off-beach) is lined with pretty restaurants with alfresco eating and romantic flickering lights, many with seeming similar menus, and charming friendly staff trying to entice you in. We stopped in at Casa Bella (for the sole reason they were one of the few without a TV blasting in the background) offering a long but fairly standard menu with plenty of seafood and Western dishes with the odd Indonesian favourite. We weren’t expecting a gourmet feast, and suspect the same is much for many here, but the setting under the tree with the faint hint of sea breeze, and excellent attentive service made it a memorable evening. The beer was icy cold and very cheap (30,000 rupiah for a large Bintang), served with a bowl of garlicky peanuts (just like the old days) and a free appetiser of a vegetarian spring roll was delivered—nice and unexpected. Our whole steamed fish (90,000 rupiah) was tasty too, though it is a dish hard to get wrong but the fish was fresh. Tax is included in the prices, so no surprises added to the bill, another plus.
For romantic flickery lights and an actual sea breeze, The Tao nabs a delightful seafront location and the large but romantic spot specialises in Thai cuisine, as well as other Asian fare. This joint is part of the Tanjung Benoa Resort although the hotel is entirely off-beach on the other side of the road making the restaurant the most accessible of those belonging to resorts along this strip. Mains start at 85,000 rupiah to 225,000 rupiah and multi-course set menus are around 200,000 to 300,000 rupiah per person with a minimum of two. The Tao is not a bad choice for lunch too as they have a swimming pool and keep the patch of sand in front clean of debris, good for kids while you sit back and enjoy a glass of wine and while they do enjoy a beach club atmosphere, they don’t offer watersports themselves, but operators are just next door.
Although Warung Nyoman doesn’t look as pretty from the road as others along this strip, once inside they have a lovely open area at the back, and as you may suspect by the name, the restaurant serves predominately Balinese and other Indonesian favourites as well as that particular Balinese-Western dish “chicken gordon blue” (and unusually fish gordon blue). While this is a fairly standard tourist offering, the prices are a tad lower than most in this area with most mains under 100,000 rupiah (though pricier than a small warung).
For some truly authentic Indonesian fare, head into the “McDonald’s of Indonesia” aka a Padang food joint (nothing like McDonald’s except they are ubiquitous “fast” food). Pondok Duo Padang sports the usual stack of plates piled up in the window—just point and pick.
No you have not entered a parallel universe as you wander down Jalan Pratama, Atlichnaya Bar occupies three locations, and all identical looking. These tiny but lively red-painted sports bars proffer a long list of cheap cocktails (we’d still stick to the beer and wine though), Indonesian and Western stomach liners (the sate is very popular) and multiple screens to watch the match(s).
Atlichnaya Bar Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; T: (0813) 3818 9675; https://atlichnaya.com/ Mo–Su: 10:00–24:00.
Bumbu Bali Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; T: (0361) 774 502; http://www.balifoods.com Mo–Su: 11:00–16:00 & 18:00–22:00.
Cafe Surya 21 Jalan Segara Lor, Tanjung Benoa; T: (0361) 772 016, (0361) 772 562; https://suryacafebali.blogspot.com Mo–Su: 12:00–21:00.
Casa Bella 79 X Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; T: (0361) 770 128; .
The Toa 96 Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; T: (0361) 772 902; https://www.taobali.com Mo–Su: 10:00–23:00.
Warung Dedi Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; Mo–Su: 09:00–23:00.
Warung Nyoman Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; T: (0361) 778 677; .
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.