Whenever I am heading to a new town the first thing I scope out is the food scene.
It doesn’t matter where it is, however remote, I will always find a spot or two to check out. Even if only as a fall back if something doesn’t spontaneously take my fancy.
As you can imagine, what with the western influence on Bali’s most famous city, Ubud, it wasn’t hard to find places to eat in. Tripadvisor just screams out with a multitude of possibilities. Almost all of which I was naturally dubious about. When visiting a foreign town/new land, I always try to seek out something different. Either authentic local fare, or an experience unique to a certain place. After all a good eating spot isn’t always purely about the food, it also comes down to the vibe and location, clientele and staff too.
Whilst I was in Ubud, the first leg of my Bali Christmas adventure, we tried out a number of different cafes and restaurants. I was only there for 3 days at the beginning, much of which was spent catching up with family friends so I didn’t try as many places as i would have liked. If you have any recommendations of places you really think I should include, please do pop a comment below. There are a selection of some of the favourite places I visited and the food we ate. Each place is quite unique to the next and had its only charm and experience to offer. I really liked all of them for different reasons.
Down To Earth, on Jalan Goutama Selatan
Here they serve up strictly veggie, vegan and raw food and an impressive selection of juices, smoothies and protein packed nut ‘milk’ shakes. I was deliberating over the two full pages of juices for some time. Attached to the restaurant is an amazing health food shop where you can stock up on any sort of superfood or unusual cooking ingredient you could hope to find in any western health shop, also healthy cakes, oaty slices and raw food treats.
We went for a selection of dshes to share, including the veggie sushi which was served with tahini rice, the spout, carrot and sesame salad and the nachos. To drink we all got wheatgrass shots to help us recover from the long flight. We also got a few juices including a carrot, beetroot and ginger juice, a green (veggie packed)juice with cucumber, celery, apple and mint and a protein banana, tahini, maca smoothie.
Atman Cafe, on Jalan Hanaman
Without a doubt a place filled with ex pats and travellers, serving up the most amazing breakfasts you could hope to find outside of the west. Items on the menu including avocado and feta toasties, tofu and tomato scrambled eggs, a number of other egg dishes in all styles, including benedict. They also have a number of traditional balinese dishes on offer too. If you go for lunch some of the recommended dishes we tried are the Nasi Goreng, the tuna sushi rolls with balinese red rice (yep, I can guess what you are thinking and yes the fish here is super clean and totally fine to eat raw) also their totally western shredded chicken burritos (my brother’s order) and the nut crusted beetroot falafel. Seating is comfy and relaxed, you can watch the world go past sitting in the window, or sit up to the table in little cross legged booths. It is also a good place to take a laptop and work (if you are in the mood for it) as they have wifi and very relaxed staff. Their ice coffees are also to die for. They are served as a shot of coffee over ice with coconut milk and coconut syrup on the side for you to pour in yourself. The creamy coconut and coffee is incredible together and because a bit of an obsession of all of ours throughout the trip.
Warung Bintang, on Jalan Tirta Tawar
A charming family run restaurant, just out of town with a beautiful view of rice paddies and scenic countryside. We went early in the evening, strolling up the road from the place where our friends live and got to see the sun go down over the trees from our table, which was magical. The dishes are all great value for money but portions are small so its worth ordering a main and side dish. The food is mostly heavy meaty dishes and curries. The best dishes we ordered were the chicken curry (pictured below) and the balinese satay campur, which was a mixed selection of meat cooked on a skewer over charcoal and served with a spicy, rich peanut sauce. They also serve fried tempeh (a traditional soy bean cake) which is sliced and serves with spicy sambal and rather bizarrely tomato sauce too. This is a popular dish in bali and it is pretty damn delish dunked into the satay sauce.
Ibu Oka, on Jalan Suweta Road
This is the place to go for authentic Babi Guling. Authentic Indonesian Suckling Pig and is a bit of a secret among locals. We were recommended it by one of our taxi drivers, who counted it as his favourite restaurant in Ubud. It is a very basic restaurant, but what it lacks in comfort, ambiance and atmosphere it more than makes up for with its amazing quality food and incredible value for money. It is served a number of ways including Pork Nasi Campur with delicious shredded pork, pork sausage, crispy pork ears, rice and chili sambal. We went for a mix of dishes including the ‘seperated’ pig dish which was a mix of tender meat, crackling, greens and rice and also the pork soup. Both were delicious and wonderfully flavoured. They even convered me to crackling. I would undoubtedly go back again, if only Ubud was a little closer to London..
Tukies Cafe, on Jalan Raya Road
This is the best place to find refreshing cold coconuts to drink from the shell. They also have a great selection of healthy snacks and nibbles. It is much more cafe than anything, so it is a good spot to stop when you are in shopping mode. Especially as it is right opposite the market.