Bali’s dining scene moves fast. It’s ever expanding, constantly diversifying and getting tastier every day. This is both a blessing and a predicament for hungry travellers with a finite number of lunch and dinner slots. In the spirit of helping with your holiday decision-making, here are six restaurant across the island that come with the Broadsheet stamp of approval. Selamat makan.
Soaking up the breezy vibes from Ijen’s open dining room, it’s easy to forget you’re surrounded by waste. Smartly repurposed waste, that is. Rubber sandals squashed into colourful upholstery, for example, or fragments of broken plates and glassware sparkling in the poured-concrete floor. A part of the ambitious Potato Head group, Ijen is Indonesia’s first zero-waste philosophy restaurant and its sustainability game is strong. Almost every element of the seafood and plant-based menu is responsibly sourced: the fish are line caught, the vegetables locally grown. Chef Wayan Kresna Yasa is a whiz at taking ingredients further (note the crackers made from powdered fish scales) and ensuring all inedible waste is suitably recycled. His emphasis on provenance and freshness – and not to mention his deft hand with a wood fire – makes for a holistic dining experience unlike anything on the island.
Ijen, Potato Head Beach Club, Jl. Petitenget no. 51, Seminyak
Nusantara by Locavore
In an upscale dining scene inundated by foreign cuisines, Nusantara, the youngest member of the Locavore family, holds the torch for the flavours of Indonesia. Chef Putu Sumarjana paints a vibrant picture of the archipelago through his menu that might feature Acehnese duck braised in spice-tricked coconut milk one day, or Bali’s own moringa-leaf soup another. The Locavore crew are strong advocates for thoughtful dining: ingredients are sourced locally and ethically, the room is smartly fitted out and the team operates like a well-oiled machine. The second level of Nusantara serves as a food lab of sorts where specially hired research chefs Felix Schoener and Fido Nuswatama Rahadian work on a database of Indonesian flavours, recipes and ingredients. Bravo.
Nusantara by Locavore, Jl. Dewi Sita no. 09c, Ubud
Ubud, the epicentre of Bali’s raw-juicing, yoga-teacher-training, soul-seeking movement was screaming for a bit of fun. Cue Dumbo: a sharply designed Italian joint with an emphasis on big flavours, fun cocktails and good times. The menu is 100 per cent vegetarian and some dishes are even vegan. Polpette get a plant-based makeover with fennel in place of mince. Braised beet cheeks pop against gorgonzola-spiked polenta. Colourful salads and trays of roast vegetables come courtesy of the kitchen’s own organic garden. The pizza dough is fermented for 48 hours then given the traditional woodfired treatment. The music policy is rocking tunes, and a smart downstairs bar has coffee and Negroni needs covered.
Dumbo, Taman Indrakila, Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud
Is this Bali’s sharpest Japanese restaurant? All signs point to yes. The sushi chefs work with admirable precision at the open bar, turning out sashimi and maki plated like jewels. There’s a substantial yakimono offering spanning Kagoshima wagyu to yuzu-marinated lobster, and two standout bento options at lunchtime. Sophisticated eats aside, there’s sparkle in the interior’s handsome use of brick, dark timber, and yes – indigo textile. Factor in the stellar drinks list and a tranquil atmosphere and you’re talking a special-occasion star.
Indigo, Jl. Pantai Berawa no. 7A, Canggu
There’s a distinctly Australian accent at Mason. Sydneysiders might recognise some of the rustic flavours chef Nathan Sasi brought to Nomad and Mercado, before swapping the harbour city for Canggu’s cruisier coastline. He works the snack game hard – hola, jamon and cheese toastie – and operates the woodfired oven and grill with enviable bravado (say yes to the organic charcoal chicken with fennel salad and lemon). The result? Wholesome, unpretentious eats in a pared-back setting that lets the ingredients shine.
Mason, Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu
Polish isn’t the first word you’d normally associate with a surfer hangout. But Mana shakes things up with its vibrant eats and sophisticatedly cruisy vibe. The all-day menu draws from South America and Asia: charred corn is jazzed up with queso fresco, tacos are filled with Balinese-style pork sausage, the crab omelette is spiked with miso. There’s a smoothie bowl named after each of the region’s top surf breaks, and killer coffee to brace you for a day of salt-water adventures. The space is bright and lofty with glittering views over Uluwatu’s famed surf break. A winner for wave addicts and food lovers alike.
Mana, Uluwatu Surf Villas, Pecatu, Badung Regency