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Your alternative Bali eating agenda

Scouting for good food in Bali is no hard task; tales of Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig, Bebek Bengil, Warung Made, Ayana's Rock Bar, and Naughty Nuri's Ribs has been around for long, and frequently mentioned in communities about travel and Bali; you can fill up your culinary travel agenda pretty quick by just browsing around the internet.

However, once you frequent Bali you will be wondering if that's all that Bali has to offer. Is it?

Well it's not. There are a lot of worthy selections usually shadowed over by the hype of what’s happening or what the common votes are.

Even though innovations doesn't happen in Bali as often as in Bandung, and new eateries doesn't open up as much as in Jakarta, Bali has a whole lots of eateries worth merit. While most does not provide breath taking scenery of the sunset, or a chance to eat at the shores right by the sea, but the food experience itself is really worth it. Besides, they have also been around for quite a while.

So, are you ready to have something different, and more traditional for a change?

Nasi Ayam (Chicken Rice)

Are there Bali traditional dishes other than Suckling Pig worth mentioning? Try Balinese Nasi Ayam.

As the name indicates, Nasi Ayam is a dish consisting of rice, and variety of chicken based side dishes; slow cooked Ayam Betutu is usually the main companion, and Sambal Matah is usually the next compulsory partner. Beside those two, expect dishes like deep fried chicken skin, chicken based sate lilit, pindang telur, and urap with fried peanuts to shows up on your plate. One word of caution though; adhering to Balinese standard, this kind of dish usually stays up high on the Scoville scale; it burns.

If you happen to stay around Ubud, look for Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku as the sure choice. However if you're staying down south around Jimbaran, look for Nasi Ayam Ibu Oki near the Jenggala Keramik factory. And if you stay around Sanur, visit Nasi Ayam Warung Krishna at Jl. Batur Sari.

Sup Kepala Ikan (Fish Head Soup)

Not a choice for fish challenged eaters, and to regular fish eaters as well, fish head promises quite a different eating experience compared with eating the rest of its body. However once you passed that initiation phase, there is no substitute to this kind of meal. The gelatinous jelly like substances goes along well with the mellow and spicy soup, creating a combination hard to find elsewhere.

Andrew Zimmern the Bizarre food expert dig fish eyes, however after you tasted one of these in the soup, you will see that it's not that extreme at all, only uncommon; and there's a good chance you might even dig it as well.

If you happen to stay around Sanur, look for Warung Mak Beng, which has been in the business since 1941, and currently the signature name for this specific kind of meal.

Again, since this one also adheres to Balinese standard, expect the dish to be spicy sweaty hot.

Sate Lilit & Sate Tusuk (Wrap around & Skewered Satay)

Easy to the taste and to comprehend, the two versions of Balinese traditional satay are the Sate Lilit, which is a minced fish mixture wrapped around bamboo blade (or lemongrass stalks for fancier version), and Sate Tusuk which consisted of fish chunks done in similar manner with other skewered style satay. What unique is, they both usually accompanies by sambal matah instead of peanut based sauce. The fish usually used for both kinds are sea fishes; while Sate Lilit can uses smaller fish like snapper, Sate Tusuk usually uses Tuna, for its capability to provide good chunk of meat.

Since this dish is quite popular you can find one almost everywhere. However should you're heading to Padang Bai consider stopping by Merta Sari about Desa Pesinggahan Klungkung. If you're near Sanur area, try the one sold near the intersection of Tukad Pakerisan and Waturenggong, in Panjer. (byms)

Have other suggestions of unique Balinese dishes and eateries you believe worth to try? Tell us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mention @hotelierindo in your Tweets.

Published in Hotelier Indonesia Magazine No.2, June 2011 under "Hot Spots".

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