Whether you choose to indulge in some of the traditional delicacies or stick to the more familiar standards of the hotel restaurants, Balinese cuisine is sure to delight. The many open-air bamboo cafes and found along Bali's streets are the perfect spot to soak up the atmosphere while you enjoy a fresh meal. Home to some of the world's most trend-setting restaurants, Bali constantly attracts western businesses looking to appeal to tourists love of coffee and trendy 'brunch culture" that is common in countries like Australia. Staple menu items at Bali cafes include smoothie bowls, healthy salads and raw vegan treats. Although, if you're not really into that style of food or just feel more comfortable dining at one of the resort restaurants, there are plenty of options to choose from to suit all tastes and budgets.
If you're a fan of trying spicy dishes, you're going to love authentic Bali food. Traditional Balinese cuisine is a contrast between everyday food and festival treats. A staple Balinese diet generally consists of rice and vegetables accompanied by small amounts of meat or fish cooked in a range of condiments. Food is eaten quickly, when necessary and without fuss. Eating out or in groups is not a social custom for locals.
That is with the exception of major festivals, where food is prepared elaborately and decoratively to be eaten with others in celebration of culture. So, unless you happen to visit Bali during a festival, or are lucky enough to be invited to dine with some of the locals, resort and tourist restaurants hosting Bali cultural nights may be your only chance to experience a traditional Bali feast.
Apart from festival food, most Bali cuisine served in restaurants offers the Indonesian fried rice dish featuring egg known as nasi goreng as well as fried noodles with egg, mie goreng. These dishes are fairly basic and are catered to tourist tummies that may not be used to quite an exotic diet. However, if you're willing to try some of the more spicy dishes, your taste buds will be rewarded with some of the local favourites including the spicy peanut sauce and barbequed satay meat skewers, a spicy Indonesian salad known as gado gado and other more Chinese influenced dishes such as the sweet and sour stir frys and cap-cay.
Fresh seafood is a popular ingredient in most Bali cuisine and fish and shellfish are generally kept in tanks until they are ready to be cooked. Most Bali food is influenced by popular Indonesian meals such as martabak, a roti bread filled with vegetables or meat, as well as coconut milk chicken served with white rice. Although the Balinese are not renowned for having a sweet tooth, there are a couple of sweet dishes that the locals enjoy including martabak manis, a sweet pancake topped with butter, cheese, chocolate, condensed milk and peanuts, and bubuh injin, a black rice pudding served hot with a thick coconut cream and palm sugar sweet sauce.
For more information about Bali cuisine, consult our best Bali restaurants guide.