Monday, June 21, 2010

Warung Made 2, Seminyak

Warung Made was my first meal in Bali. The ambience of the restaurant was nice and rather festive with all the Christmas tree ornaments hung onto the non-Christmas trees.

Most of us ordered the nasi campur (directly translated into "mixed rice"), it is an Indonesian rice dish with various small side dishes (meats, vegetables etc.) cramped onto one plate. Some of the small dishes were really spicy. Truth be told, the restaurant was quite dark so I didn't really know what I was eating. For me, this is an inferior version of the Malaysia nasi lemak.

There were also children performing traditional Balinese dances, I guess that's a definite giveaway that this place is a tourist trap. Even though it was borderline cheesy, I still enjoyed the dance performances. The girls were especially great and I still couldn't fathom how bendy they fingers are. The dance moves were very subtle but seemed meaningful. The fingers, down to the pinkies were so expressive. Unfornately food wise, the one and only meal we had in Seminyak didn't leave much of an impression. >_<

Warung Made 2
Jalan Raya Seminyak, Bali.
Tel: 31 673 2130

Kecak Bali Restaurant, Nusa Dua

Initially, we wanted to go to Bumbu Bali but we couldn't get a reservation. Our driver recommended Kecak Bali as an alternative and said that the food is comparable. With no other options in sight, we gave it a shot.

We ordered the Balinese Rijsttafel (dinner sets), big skewers set and the steamboat set. In hindsight, we must have been a bit crazy to order the steamboat (hotpot) because it was sooo hot and humid in Bali, and the ceiling fan was hardly working inside the restaurant. Most of the dishes were delicious, especially the traditional Balinese dishes such as sate lilit (seafood satay), ayam betutu (chicken in banana leaf), ikan bakar (grilled fish), even the prawn crackers were highly addictive especially dipped in sambal. I started off with a voracious appetite, but as we progressed, we were all getting more and more uncomfortably warm. Towards the end, we even requested the desserts to go. We ended up back in the villa pool, we cracked open a bottle of wine and enjoyed the desserts in the pool (Yes, in the pool, not by the pool).

The fun thing about having a big group is that dinner time becomes a fun affair. By ordering the Rijsttafel, we got to sample all the various Balinese delicacies. I'd love to try out Bumbu Bali next time though and see how it compares.

Kecak Bali
Jln. Pratama Tanjung Benoa
Nusa Dua, Bali
Phone: 62 361 775533

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bebek Bengil Diner

Bebek Bengil, similar to Ibu Oka, is a much-mentioned name in the culinary scene in Ubud. Bebek Bengil means dirty duck, and it got its name when one day while the owners were trying to come up with a name for the new restaurant, saw a bunch of ducks walking across the property, leaving behind their muddy duck-prints, making them the first guests of the restaurant. Unfortunately for the ducks, they probably ended up on the dinner plates because the specialty of Bebek Bengil is the crispy duck. :)

We called a day ahead of our lunch reservation to pre-order the "duck special". The duck special was basically roasted duck drenched in a special sauce, it also came with a vegetable side, satay skewers & prawn crackers. I wasn't quite impressed with the duck special, as the duck was on the scrawny side and the meat wasn't particularly tender or juicy. So we decided to order a crispy duck (signature dish) as well to try it out. I liked the crispy duck a lot more, they basically tossed the poor sucker into the deep fryer, and the whole duck was crispy (even the bones) and surprisingly flavorful.

Bebek Bengil Diner is not all about the food, in fact, I think the ambience is more of a winning point than the food itself. If you get a good "hut", you will be enjoying the view of the green paddy field while dining.

After the heavy lunch, I walked by the paddy field to take some photos. It truly was relaxing, I wish I could stay there the entire afternoon provided they add a fan to each hut, and they hire someone to keep swatting away the flies. =)

Bebek Bengil Diner
Tel: 62-361-975489
Padang Tegal - Ubud

Naughty Nuri's Warung

I had the best meal in Bali at Naughty Nuri's Warung (warung means a small shop or stall). My friend G posed the question "if I can only eat one meal in Bali, where should I eat?" to his friend living in Bali, and he was recommended Naughty Nuri's Warung.

Naughty Nuri's Warung is popular with the expat crowd, and claimed to have the best cocktails in town. It is a small, unpretentious and bare-bone store which was opened by an American (guy) Indonesian (lady) couple. As I sat down, I spotted a couple of Americans (or could be Canadians) next to me, and they seemed to know what they were doing. I asked them for recommendations, and they said (in their exact words) - "definitely the ribs". As it turns out, the pork ribs are indeed the most sought-after item on the menu. We ordered three plates of pork ribs, some mie goreng (stir-fried noodle) and nasi goreng (fried rice).

Enjoying the pork ribs requires three easy steps:
1. Dig your finger into the meat and lightly tear/bite the meat off the bones. The pork ribs were really tender, there isn't much tearing to do (in case if you are looking for some hard-core animalistic act).
2. When you are done with the meat, lick all fingers now covered with the delicious sweet sauce.
3. Repeat step 1 and 2 for as many times as you can.

Incidently, I had the best mie goreng there as well. The menu is mixture of everything, from American bbq style to sushi to Balinese dishes. The vibe is relaxing and welcoming.

I now second the notion, if you only have time for one meal in Bali, then head to Naughty Nuri's Warung.

Naught Nuri's
(Across the road from Neka Museum)
Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali
Telephone: +62 361 977 547
Open daily from 8am - 10pm

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Babi Guling @ Ibu Oka

If you think pigs are really cute & eating pork is sacrilegious, then my following post will greatly offend you. But if you are a fan of pork and think char-siew (honey glazed roast pork) is the perfect pairing for anything and everything, then you'll need to go to Ubud to sample some suckling pig from Ibu Oka in Bali (that is if you haven't already). Almost everyone who has been to Ubud will eat at this place. It's so popular that they sell out by early afternoon.

On our first day in Ubud, we went to Ibu Oka and ordered the famous babi guling for lunch. The place was rather chaotic, there were people shuffling in and out, tourists and locals alike. We scored a table at the corner after waiting around for a bit. We had to be aggressive, it's first come first serve in the sense that if you put your ass down by the table you want, then it's yours. We ordered the babi guling spesial (special suckling pig) and babi guling pisah (different suckling pig, I'm serious, that's what it says on the menu). We also saw a brand new roasted pig being dropped off at the restaurant so we hurried over to take some pictures. The lady at the stall skillfully peeled off the roasted crispy skin and I felt my mouth watering. I searched my conscience as I stared at the glossy pig and felt completely guiltless.

The thing about suckling pig is that it's all about the skin. I liked the "special suckling pig" more because the skin was crispier, the skin of the "different suckling pig dish" was thicker, stickier & a little too hard to chew. The meat was moist and the sauce & vegetables were complimentary of the dish. We also had the yummy pork rinds that came in the packets as appetizers, and found the best way to finish off the meal was with some juicy mangosteens.

I think the best suckling pig I've had is still the roasted baby suckling pig I ate growing up in Malaysia. It's a rare treat because they are mostly roasted during special Chinese celebratory ocassions as offerings to our deities or ancestors. But Ibu Oka is still really good, considering how remarkable it is to find yummy pork dishes in a country that consists of over 80% Muslims. Bali is an exception as Hinduism is the predominant religion on the island.

Babi Guling @ Ibu Oka
Jalan Suweta/Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia