With innovative chefs, authentic concepts and locally-sourced ingredients, these are the best dining experiences in Bali.
More than just beaches and temples, Bali has developed a world-class dining scene that ranges from cool neighbourhood spots championing natural wine to innovative fine-dining enclaves that give you an excuse to swap the sandals for stilettos. We look at some of the island’s hottest tables for the year ahead.
One of the coolest new openings in Canggu, Santanera (above) is the brainchild of chefs-restauranteurs Andres Becerra and German Rincon, two culinary connoisseurs from Colombia who deliver a thoroughly modern take on Latin American cuisine laced with European sophistication and set against stylish interiors.
Be sure to catch the sunset from the recently opened rooftop terrace before skipping down the wrought iron staircase and slipping into a deep-set booth to sample contemporary tapas-style sharing dishes packed with organic, farm-to-plate produce, including Hamachi ceviche with plantain crackers, gooseberries and Leche De Tigre; jicama cooked over coals and served with white chocolate and jalapeno mole; and a beef tenderloin modelled after the traditional Colombian dish Lomo al trapo, that’s rolled in rock salt and wrapped in a piece of cloth that is soaked in beer.
One of the hottest tables in trendy Berawa, Uni, the creation of Australian chef Steven Skelly, serves an elegant, Japanese-driven menu packed with local ingredients and the modern twists that have won the chef critical acclaim. Here, the emphasis is on fresh, locally-caught seafood – think prawn and snapper gyoza; and crispy skin coral trout with miso eggplant and spinach – paired with the likes of grilled Wagyu beef cooked over a Hibachi grill and served with braised turnip and a red wine sauce.
Also look out for new cocktails by Mexicola Group’s Denny Bakiev and Uni’s resident mixologist Jordy Outra that celebrate Japan’s booming bar culture, specialty spirits, and unique ingredients.
Honey & Smoke
The newest creation of celebrity chef Will Meyrick, Honey & Smoke in Ubud combines casual street-side dining with an infinitely elegant speakeasy. With an open kitchen concept and Wes Anderson-inspired styling reminiscent of a traditional train carriage, Honey & Smoke is all about chargrilling and taps into the Mama San-founding chef’s modern Australian culinary style – think grilled scallops with chilli butter, dried mint yoghurt, and sumac; and wood-fired aged snapper with pennyworth, kacang lima, charred kale, and miso beurre blanc.
Grab a perfectly made martini or signature libation (the Norihana Smoke, with kaffir lime rum, pineapple, orgeat syrup, yuzu and wasabi is a winner) upstairs in the sexy lounge before taking your space in the vibrant dining room below, where the people watching is almost as good as the food.
Batique Whiskey & Cigar
If you enjoy a little tipple at the end of a long day you’re in luck with the arrival of Batique Whiskey & Cigar at Alila Villas Uluwatu. A cosy den of discreet sophistication, Batique houses one of the most extensive collections of single malt whiskies on the island, including some real rarities that will tantalise the senses of ardent whisky lovers. These liquid treasures are complemented by a variety of fine cigars, allowing guests to indulge in the exquisite tradition of this timeless pairing.
Opt for the specially curated “Whisky Journey” tasting experience, guided by Batique’s resident whisky sommelier, which includes a sampling of selections spanning different ages and regions. In addition, a range of original whisky-based cocktails is available for a lighter libation while a selection of classic cocktails, spirits and wines round out the bar’s offerings.
As iconic an eatery as you’ll find on the island of Bali, Mason in Canggu is a dynamic eatery that constantly thrills visitors and locals alike. The beautiful restaurant, tucked away at the heart of vibrant Canggu, is dedicated to great ingredients, from the best meat (which is often cured in-house) and cheese to local, seasonal vegetables, and a nose-to-tail culinary approach.
The creation of Brett Hospitality (they of Fishbone Local fame), the 100-seat restaurant boasts a popular alfresco courtyard and a lively open kitchen concept. Dishes not to miss include the halloumi with honey and mint; the burrata caponata with basil oil; the Wagyu beef pastrami; and mains like the wood-roasted lamb shoulder with cumin rub, house yogurt and salsa verde. Don’t forget to sample the sensational cocktails of Brett Hospitality Group Bar Director Zac de Git in The Back Room, Mason’s own speakeasy.
One of Ubud’s most popular kitchens, Hujan Locale, another creation of Mirah Investment & Development’s F&A arm and chef Will Meyrick, has captivated diners for a few years now. It recently reopened with a renewed focus on Indonesian cuisine although there are hints of other food cultures throughout the menu. With a focus on the experience of sharing a meal, the menu is packed with family-sized dishes and smaller bite-sized servings.
On the grazing menu, you’ll find grouper and garlic chive dumplings with smoked dashi and ginger shallot broth; crispy rabbit and pork fat Batagor dumplings with charred kimchi cabbage, tofu and cashew nut; sate babi merah with plecing kangkung and sambal bongkot; Acehnese charred grilled octopus with young sour starfruit, curry leaf, pandan, green chilli and charred cabbage; and hand chopped duck salad with snake bean, roasted coconut, palm heart, sambal kelur and semanggi.
Don’t miss out on the innovative cocktail list, which includes the Chilli & Lime Margarita with pineapple; and the Pala Old Fashioned, a blend of bourbon whiskey, lemon, sugar syrup, bitters and house-made pala jam.
A popular neighbourhood hotspot in Berawa, Mosto is Bali’s home to natural wines. In fact, inspired by the low-intervention wine bars of places like Sydney and Paris and spearheaded by sommelier Nicolas Lento, it was Indonesia’s first natural wine bar, and its selection of biodynamic and organic vinos is nothing short of impressive.
The first venue for partners Isabella Rowell, Lorenzo Depeteris, Nicolas Lento, Federico Sirito, Denny Bakiev and Vanessa Di Maria – all permanent fixtures in Bali’s pioneering Mexicola Group (Da Maria, Luigi’s, Uni, Motel Mexicola) – the restaurant caters to 70 guests although the intimate tables out front are the best for a spot of people watching in one of the island’s most vibrant and electric neighbourhoods.
In addition to its 70+ label strong wine offering, Mosto does classic cocktails to perfection – the Aperol Spritz is just the ticket – while the bistro-centric menu includes the likes of tagliolini with sambal arrabbiata and coriander; Sakoshi Bay oysters with mignonette; and the island’s best chicken liver parfait, served with sumac onions and ancient grain sourdough.
Ensō Japanese Fusion & Bar
A contemporary and elegant Japanese addition to Canggu’s vibrant dining scene, Ensō welcomes guests with bright new interiors and an eclectic and comprehensive menu packed with authentic flavours. Diners can expect a remarkably beautiful and minimalist space dressed in cedar and cream, with an elegant stand-alone cocktail bar serving modern takes on Japanese classics, a separate sushi counter for those who like to be in the thick of the action with the itamae sushi chefs, traditional seating on the second floor, and a series of coveted booths downstairs.
There’s something for everyone on the menu, ranging from fresh sushi and sashimi to makimono rolls, agemono tempura and even vegan options (this is Canggu after all). Ingredients are sourced from across Bali with a few tempting options flown in from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Sanur’s reputation as a quiet resort town in the east of Bali might be a thing of the past with the arrival of a vibrant new resident. Byrd House is a multi-faceted lifestyle destination merging a pool club with restaurants perched on the sands of Sanur’s acclaimed Segara Beach. With unforgettable architecture by Yoke Sara and sleek lines and minimalist interiors that include plenty of bamboo, Byrd House boasts a duo of dining venues; the main eatery serves up Mediterranean-inspired flavours laced with locally sourced produce, while the second focuses on dishes inspired by Indonesia and Japan.
Leave time for a sunset cocktail at the bar, where the cocktail list includes an impressive number of martinis and after dinner, retire to the lounge, an adult-only speakeasy where fine wines and curated cocktails are partnered with light bites for a sophisticated soiree after-hours.
Led by Swedish chef Kim Jonsson, Kong, the creation of Mirah Investment & Development’s F&B division, is a contemporary bistro that hosts an eclectic European-inspired menu packed with innovation and inspired by the chef’s extensive travels. Signatures from the ever-changing menu include homemade ravioli stuffed with butter-poached bamboo lobster; and Swedish brown butter waffles with homemade smoked salmon.
Dishes are crafted from the freshest of ingredients, with local suppliers and sustainability in mind, and are served against elegant interiors; the venue is nestled within a colonial-style building on JL. Pantai Berawa, with wooden shutters and inner archways scattered throughout an architectural nod to 1920s Singapore. Wood surfaces are fringed by navy-washed walls and polished white floors, and accented by velvet and wood furniture, ensuring a dining experience that’s as enticing as it is invigorating.
Newly opened at the luxurious Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Ubud, Ambar has to be one of the spiritual capital’s best cocktail enclaves. Ambar, which means sky in Sanskrit, is an indulgent haven for cocktail and gastronomy enthusiasts seeking an elevated experience in the heart of Mother Nature. The new space includes an outdoor wooden deck with spectacular views of lush forest, especially during glorious sunsets.
A celebration of the rich flavours of Bali paired with the traditional beverage and culinary techniques of Japan, Belantara, Ambar’s cocktail list, is imaginative and innovative, with drinks laced with handpicked ingredients from the surrounding forest. Look out for the elegant Yuzu Negroni, or selections from The Fruits of the Forest, a series of classic cocktails – such as the Lemon Grass Gin & Tonic– that give tried-and-tested combinations a modern nudge.
The bar is also the perfect precursor for dinner at Kubu, the resort’s acclaimed signature restaurant, where six to eight-course tasting menus showcase native farming traditions – be sure to book ahead for one of the coveted bamboo dining pods.
Another newcomer to Ubud, Ramu is inspired by the collective consciousness of the earth’s soil and ocean as one of Mother Nature’s legacies and is inspired by Tri Hita Karana – the three causes of wellbeing – a traditional Balinese philosophy for life. At Ramu, this translates as a casual farm-to-plate dining experience helmed by executive chef Joshira Yugopradana and punctuated with local ingredients from across the island. Ramu collaborates with a number of local farmers within Bali to ensure that the ingredients used – ranging from Balinese sea salt to sustainable spearfished seafood – are locally sourced, fresh and of the finest quality.
Guests can expect wholesome and tasty Asian and European fusion sharing plates that rotate with the seasons. Menu highlights include chicken nanban with garlic sambal and sudachi lime; smoked seasonal line-caught fish croquettes with picked Caesar dressing; buffalo carpaccio with oven-dried tomatoes, “rendang” gremolata, and Java volcanic salt; Lombok octopus ceviche with radish, burnt corn, pomelo, and toasted nori; and unforgettable local truffle cream cheese focaccia with clove honey and fresh cracked Balinese pepper.
For a laid-back start to the day, you can’t go past the recently opened Doheny, on Echo Beach’s Jalan Pantai Batu Mejan, This Californian-inspired eatery (it’s named for a street in LA), which features both indoor and outdoor seating with views over the rice terraces, is a chic neighbourhood favourite serving western all-day brunch and dinner. Here, guests can feel the distinct LA vibe with a combination of Balinese touches, thanks to a tropical design that includes a green wall and homey décor.
A top spot for leisurely breakfasts, Doheny offers locally hand-picked coffee beans and a range of classic, signature iced coffees – the Iced Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso is what we all need in the morning – while the all-day brunch selection includes a classic big breakfast, light rice bowls, sandwiches, sweets, and quite possibly the best French Toast on the entire island. The restaurant is also open for dinner, when the likes of Chinese chicken salad with Ohyong fried chicken, cabbage, mandarin, and Chinese dressing; or crispy free-range pork chops with raspberry red wine jus, and a rocket and radish salad steal the show.
Cliff at Canna
Located at Canna Bali, the island’s newest lifestyle destination, Cliff at Canna introduces to Nusa Dua an utterly romantic and elegant dining experience helmed by founder Chef Chandra Yudasswara. The new eatery combines an impressive wine selection with a seasonal culinary approach that sees the menu change every four months.
Laced with both Asian and Western flavours and gastronomic techniques, set menus showcasing the highest-quality ingredients and plenty of artistic flares – think gulai snapper curry with turmeric lemon grass coconut gravy; Batagor, tofu, prawns, and fish cakes with peanut sauce, limo, and sweet soya; and Japanese Picanha Wagyu A5 with parmigiano reggiano mashed potato and a rocket salad. Also look out for a revolving roster of visiting chefs who will impart their own creative visions on the luxurious space, which overlooks Canna’s private beach.
Other Bali Hotspots
Java Hit: Combine your morning beach walk with a great locally-roasted coffee from Quickie – look for their cute little coffee carts at Petitenget and Batu Belig beaches.
Local Produce: Head to the La Brisa Weekend Markets in Canggu for great artisanal products ranging from local honey and freshly-shucked oysters to authentic hot sauces.
Great Cocktails: Intimate Seminyak speakeasy Raja’s makes some of the best martinis on the island.
Rock On: 40 Thieves, another Seminyak speakeasy, this one hidden above Mad Ronin ramen, rocks until the wee hours with visiting live acts.
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