Bali. known as "the island of the Gods", is a beautiful island of Indonesia. Indonesia is a country with a majority of Muslims, but Bali is a Hindu island. That means you can find many halal restaurants, but you can also find many places where to eat pork if you wish to. The most common meats here are chicken (ayam), duck (bebek), fish (ikan) and pork (babi); cows are believed to be holy, so beef is not very common but still easy to find.
What is Balinese local food?
Local food in Bali is mainly Indonesian food. In general, their food is mostly fried or sauteed and spicy but not hot; spicy as in spices, not necessarily as in chillies. Balinese have a mix of spices called Bumbu Bali (I love calling it boom boom Bali) and it is delicious! They also add very thin deep-fried onion to their dishes as a garnish.
A local restaurant is called a "Warung" and it is something you must experience at least once a day! (Oh man, I just love eating at local Warungs). Warungs are the side-to-the-street food options. Some of their most common food options are fried chicken, fried fish, fish skewers, chicken skewers, fried duck, and the following:
Nasi Goreng Fried rice. You can find variations of this made with chicken, beef, pork, egg or vegetarian. It contains bumbu Bali, black sauce, chilli sauce, bokchoi, soybeans and vegetables which may vary i.e. carrots or cabbage. It is usually served with rice crackers.
Mie Goreng Fried Noodles. It is basically the same as nasi goreng but instead of rice, it is noodles. It made with chicken, beef, pork, egg or vegetarian. It contains bumbu Bali, black sauce, chilli sauce, bokchoi, soybeans and vegetables which may vary i.e. carrots or cabbage. And you can find these two options everywhere.
Tahu & Tempeh Since I am a vegetarian, this is my absolute favourite from Indonesian cuisine! Tahu is deep-fried tofu. Tempeh is a rectangle of soybeans pressed together and deep-fried. They are usually served with white rice and a delicious sauce on the side. Make sure you ask for the spicy "sambal", otherwise the tahu and tempeh might not have a lot of flavour.
Nasi Campur This dish is a combination of many dishes, great for a hungry day. White rice in the centre, accompanied by egg and chives omelette, tahu, tempeh, plecing kangkung salad, the meat of choice and skewers. The food on his dish may vary in every single Warung.
Plecing Kangkung This one is more of a side, although I love having it as a main. It is a salad made from water spinach (Kangkung), soybeans and peanuts with a delicious and spicy sauce made of coconut milk. It is great to add flavour to a bowl of white rice or to accompany your tahu and tempeh.
These are nothing more than chicken skewers. Chicken (ayam) is the most common, but we have had Sate Ikan (fish skewers) too. Great for a quick snack on the street. They're usually served with white rice and Sambal.
Similar name to the one before, but totally different. This is a chicken noodle soup. Rice noodles clocked in a broth made with lemongrass, ginger, kefir lemon leaves and shallot. The taste is amazing! It is served with vegetables and shredded chicken breast.
Bebek / Ayam / Babi / Ikan Goreng Fried main accompanied by white rice and sides such as salad or Plecing Kangkung and sambal. Whether it is duck, chicken, pork or fish, this dish is usually a big fried portion.
Bakso A tasty soup made from bakso broth and vegetables. Bakso is meatballs, the most common ones are from chicken. Don't expect the usual meatballs that you are used to, these are more like white rounded sausages. The soup contains the delicious broth, bokchoi, soybeans, the meatballs and meat, most commonly, chicken meat.
Lalapan is very similar to Nasi Campur. This one is mainly a streetfood dish. You will be served a bowl with white rice and a separate plate with vegetables, sambal and protein of your choice, the most common one are chicken, fish and tahu-tempeh. You will also be served a small bowl with water, what for? To clean your fingers, yes, this dish is eaten with the hands, no cutlery provided.
Pisang means banana and you must know by now that Goreng means fried. So we are talking about deep-fried bananas. This is a dessert. It might not sound very appealing, but it is delicious! Pisang Goreng is served with cheese and condensed milk. You can also add other toppings such as green tea or chocolate.
And how about western food?
The island has become so very touristy that I am 99% certain that you can find all national cuisines here! The south of the island, comprehending Ubud, Denpasar, Seminyak, Sanur, Jimbaran, Kuta, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu is the zone where all the hotels, villas, resorts and restaurants are.
Just in Ubud, the main street is 2km of restaurants! And just in Ubud, there are at least 21 options to eat Mexican food, for example.
Imagine if you tried to eat in every single restaurant of the touristy zone of Bali, you would need so many days!
Bali is nothing far from being a paradise for food lovers and food bloggers. Coming to one single destination and finding food from all over the world is insane! Of course, you must understand that the food you will find here might be tropicalised, and might not be as good as it would be if you tried it in the actual country of origin; at least that's what we have found with Mexican food, so far.
Now, being that the prices are so affordable, there are infinite options of restaurants, and there are culinary options from each and every country, as a food blogger, wouldn't you choose Bali as your food destination?
As a professional gastronomer, I feel that I MUST try absolutely everything there is to try, so we have Indian night, Greek night, Korean night, Thai night and so on. I have to admit, with food being so cheap and so delicious here, I have been gaining a few kilos lately, but fortunately for me, healthy food is a very nice trend that has come to Bali.
Here you can find heaps of vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Eco-friendly cafes are popping out everywhere in Bali now and it is a great option, not only for the environment but for ourselves too.
And all of these places serve something that I believe is the best invention ever: smoothie bowls!
So what is a smoothie bowl?
Like most food, it is hard to find where the very first smoothie bowl was ever made, especially since it is something so simple and made with everyday ingredients. It may or may not have been invented in Bali, but Bali made them famous, that's for sure. The first time I saw a smoothie bowl was probably on some travel account on Instagram, and it looked beautiful!
The base is, of course, a smoothie. It is a -thicker than normal- smoothie served on a bowl, made up of whatever fruit is on the menu (most common ones are from dragon fruit) and coconut milk. Most smoothie bowls have granola or cereal, honey and fruit. So far, my favourite smoothie bowl was made up like this: dragon fruit smoothie with honey and a squirt of lime, lots of granola, grated coconut, mango, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. It was magnificent! I have also seen and tried variations with mango smoothie, spirulina smoothie, cacao smoothie, vanilla smoothie, coffee smoothie and blueberries smoothie.
But I have also had some disappointing ones. One of them was actually a drink. It was on the beverages section of the menu, I thought it was a mistake and I ordered it anyway. I got a super liquid smoothie with no granola or coconut, just smoothie with fruit pieces. I ate the fruit with a spoon and then drank the smoothie. It was definitely my fault, it was on the drinks menu! I was starving for the rest of the morning.
Best way to get the perfect smoothie bowl with your favourite fruits would be to do it yourself. If you have a kitchen available, have a smoothie bowl day. Choose your own fruits, your own ingredients and make your perfect bowl!
So you know it now, if you're coming to Bali, food is nothing to worry about. Number one, their local food is amazing and you will love it! And number two, if you didn't quite love Indonesian food, there are many other options. You will find yourself in a food paradise soon.