Ubud is the spiritual heart of Bali and also its foodie capital. Amongst the lush greenery and rice paddies there are some really extraordinary restaurants, many of them small operations run by owner chefs. While I was in Ubud the first ever Ubud Food Festival was in full swing and the chefs on stage pondered just what it was about Ubud which makes the food there so good. Proximity to many of Bali’s producers and a supportive community of restaurant owners were just some of suggestions but nobody could entirely put their finger on what it is about Ubud. These are my favourites:
Fine dining with Balinese hospitality is on offer at Mozaic. Chris Salan’s restaurant has a legendary reputation in Bali and with good reason. A meal here (degustation only) showcases Balinese native ingredients while drawing on the techniques of French cuisine. I loved how the meal centres around a bowl containing the ingredients you are eating in a raw form and as each dish is presented the waiter shows you the particular nut or fruit featured and explains exactly how it has been used. Service is very polished although the formality of Mozaic means the open air dining room can feel a little hushed at time and lacking in atmosphere.
Details: Mozaic, Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia (Ph +62 361 975768)
Damage: Budget breaking
2. Hujan Locale
The latest opening from successful Balinese restauranteur Will Meyrick (he also owns Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak) Hujan Locale features food from local farms. The white washed restaurant has a colonial feel to it with wicker chairs and shuttered windows which open out onto the street. The food on offer draws influences from a range of cuisines but every dish we tried really worked. Betel leaves (35) topped with coconut were light and refreshing while a beef rendang (160) was aromatic and rich. Like all Meyrick’s restaurants there are great cocktails on offer and Hujan Locale has a great buzz to it.
Details: Hujan Locale, Jalan Sri Wedari No. 5, Ubud, Bali (Ph +62 361 8493092)
3. Warung Makan
Warungs are everywhere in Bali. It’s essentially the term used for a small shop front which sells essentials and often serves as a humble restaurant as well. They don’t get much smaller or humbler than Warung Makan in Ubud which operates out of a wooden street cart. Warung Makan serves up simple Balinese dishes served on banana leaves and wicker baskets. Nothing is refrigerated so there’s a slight element of risk involved (but doesn’t that make everything tastier?). The Nasi Campur offers a mix of rice with a mix of the meat and vegetables on offer. There was shredded chicken laced with chillis, deep fried tempeh and snake beans.
Details: Look for the cart parked just outside Indus, Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
4. Bambu Indah
I stayed at Bambu Indah (read my review here) but it’s worth visiting for the excellent restaurant alone. Housed in a fabulous soaring structure made from bamboo the food here features produce from Bambu Indah’s own organic gardens. Dishes like raw lasagna made from layers of zucchini and tomato really showcase the freshness and quality of the produce while Bambu Indah’s chicken curry is gutsy and fiery featuring a thick sauce and plenty of chunks of eggplant and snake beans.
Details: Bambu Indah, Banjar Baung, Desa Sayan, Ubud, Bali (Ph +62 (0) 361 977 922)
5. Casa Luna
All the guides to Ubud recommend Casa Luna which is owned by the fantastic Janet DeNeefe, creator of the Ubud Writers Festival and Food Festival. Unfortunately the restaurant feels like a bit of a tourist trap. It’s huge, set over multiple levels and has one of those menus which features everything from donuts to pasta to spring rolls. The cooking school at Casa Luna is reportedly excellent and focuses more on Balinese food so perhaps it’s best to head there instead of just to the restaurant.
Details: Casa Luna, Jalan Raya Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia (Ph +62 361 977409)
And one more…
Unfortunately Locavore was booked out when I was in Ubud (you need to book ahead as it’s a small restaurant) but I’ve heard great things about it and it’s certainly worth checking out.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- I flew to Bali with Jetstar for $800 return and stayed at Bambu Indah.
- Ubud is just over 1 hours drive from the airport. Getting a driver to take you there costs about $40.
- Besides eating I spent my time gazing at the beautiful view, relaxing and swimming. The Monkey Forest in Ubud is also fun to visit (especially with kids).
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