Foods you MUST try while you’re in Bali
This blog is for all the foodies out there. If food is one of the reasons you travel to different destinations, then Bali will not disappoint you. What’s even better about the food here is that you don’t need to burn a hole in your pocket to have a satisfying meal. From fancy restaurants to outdoor cafes to street food stalls, Bali has something for all your food cravings!
Whenever I travel to a foreign destination, I make sure I try out some of their popular food items and cuisines. And to my surprise, everything I tasted in Bali was great, and it was also quite pocket-friendly.
So, in this blog, I will tell you all about the food items that you must try while you are in Bali. Oh, and also, try to taste as many food items as you can. This is because not only are these food items delicious and light on the pocket, but they are also foodgasm goals!
1. Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng
I’m starting off with the best! Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Mie Goreng (fried noodles) are considered to be Indonesia’s national dishes. In different restaurants, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng are served differently. For instance, when I tried out the dish at a small restaurant in Kuta, the dish came along with fried eggs and dried shallots. At another restaurant, it was served with prawn crackers, lots of vegetables along with pickle, and a few sticks of chicken satay. And honestly, the dish at both restaurants tasted heavenly!
In my opinion, any trip to Bali would be incomplete without trying out Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng at least once!
2. Babi Guling
Here’s something for all the pork lovers out there. Babi Guling is one of the most popular dishes in Bali and is served at most restaurants and street stalls. Also known as suckling pig, it is served with flavoured rice, pork sausages, huge cuts of spit-roasted and spice-rubbed meat, and a special ingredient called sayur urap. It is basically a vegetable salad in coconut chilli dressing!
All the ingredients are slow-roasted to tender perfection for several hours to get the perfect taste of this dish. If you love pork, then you have got to try out this dish on your Bali trip!
3. Pisang Goreng
Pisang Goreng or fried bananas are one of my favourite desserts from Bali. The island has a wide variety when it comes to bananas. You will find both the small sweet ones and the big ones that kind of look like a huge weapon! However, the dessert prepared with both types of bananas may taste different. The toppings may also differ at every restaurant or street stall. For instance, some restaurants serve honey, and some serve palm sugar syrup. Other toppings used for the dessert include flaked coconut, vanilla ice cream. In case you want to have the dessert plain, you can say no to the toppings. Plain Pisang Goreng tastes heavenly in itself too!
When I tried out Pisang Goreng on my solo trip to Bali, I was hooked to the dessert. It was served with honey and a little bit of vanilla ice cream to enhance its flavour a little more! And Pisang Goreng instantly became one of the best desserts I have tried so far.
4. Sate Lilit Ikan
Satay, also known as grilled skewered meat, is quite a famous food item you can easily find in Southeast Asia. Owing to its popularity, if you have travelled to Southeast Asian countries such as India, you must know how delicious grilled skewered meat is. Well, the traditional Balinese Sate Lilit Ikan is just another version of grilled skewered meat but made with fish!
This dish is prepared over an open fire or charcoal. The minced fish is skewered and spiced, and the output is partially spicy and partially sweet! While serving, the skewered fish is moulded around a wooden stick or, sometimes, a lemongrass stalk.
5. Sambal Matah
You will find out that there are more than 300 variations of Sambal in Indonesia. But the one that I tried on my solo trip to Bali was Sambal Matah. It is considered Bali’s own version of Sambal.
Sambal Matah is cooked with finely chopped raw shallots, chilli, lime, garlic, and lemongrass. Then, this mixture is further enhanced with oil, sugar, salt, and a little bit of shrimp paste. Though the whole process of cooking may seem a bit confusing, the taste of Sambal Matah turns out to be too good. You can have it with either fresh chicken or fish like the Sate Lilit Ikan or as it is. Either way, it tastes very good!
Disclaimer: this dish is not for the faint-hearted. And also, it is made with fresh blood, so not everyone can be brave enough to have it. Well, I was not that brave enough to try it out, and I kind of do not have any regrets about that. A few of the locals I met during my trip suggested I try out Lawar. Although they had explained to me what it is and how it is prepared, I just could not bring myself to try it.
But if you do want to try it, go for it! It is considered one of the most delicious food items in Bali (if you ignore its ingredients). It is basically a type of meat salad prepared with minced pork, fresh blood, coconut, chillies, young jackfruit, spices, offal, and galangal. The dish surely makes for a real adventure on the Balinese culinary journey!
To know more about Lawar and some of the top places that serve this dish, check out this blog.
7. Nasi Campur
A food item that can be eaten during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Nasi Campur is Bali’s popular dish among locals. It is mixed rice served with lots of vegetables alongside a beef curry or grilled chicken. It can be also be eaten with hot Sambals.
The best part about Nasi Campur is that some restaurants let you choose the toppings and sides for yourself. For instance, if you do not want a certain vegetable in your dish, you can ask them not to add it.
When I went to Bali on my solo trip, Nasi Campur was like my go-to breakfast meal. It is healthy, nutritious, easily available, and affordable too!
8. Spring Rolls
I am guessing everyone must have tried crispy spring rolls, at least at some point in their lives. These are easily available in most parts of the world. Now you must be thinking about why you should try out a food item in Bali that is famous all over the world? Well, the answer lies in the fact that the Balinese Spring Rolls taste quite different from what you get in other countries.
In Bali, the spring rolls are prepared with minced chicken and lots of vegetables, making them both delicious and healthy. And they are served with either a sweet chilli sauce or peanut sauce. Having tried plenty of spring rolls in India, I ended up giving a try to the Balinese spring rolls as well. And trust me when I say that these became my instant favourite in Bali!
Also, spring rolls can work as a quick snack in the evening. You can grab a spring roll from any of the street stall (most of these stalls serve good spring rolls) and keep on exploring the island!
A delicious food item with a unique name, Gado-Gado is something you should definitely try out on your solo trip to Bali. The term Gado-Gado translates to ‘mix-mix.’ The dish is prepared with a mixture of vegetables and sauces.
Traditionally, it is served as a vegetable salad with a classic peanut sauce. The vegetables used for the dish are boiled beans, potato, spinach, corn, bean sprouts, tofu, cucumber, tempe, and egg. The dish is served cold, but if you want, you can ask them to serve you warm as well. I bet it will taste just as amazing both ways!
10. Bebek Betutu
Arguably one of the unique dishes in Bali, Bebek Betutu is a type of smoked duck dish. The process of cooking the duck is quite unique too. The ducks are rubbed and stuffed with spices, then wrapped in coconut husks and banana leaves. After that, the wrapped ducks are cooked in an underground pit for about 24 hours to achieve the desired taste.
However, here is something you need to keep in mind before making a plan of having smoked duck for your lunch or dinner. Since the cooking process takes almost a day, you will have to give the restaurants a day’s notice to prepare the dish.
Some famous restaurants that serve world-class Bebek Betutu are Bebek Bengil in Ubud and Bumbu Bali Restaurant and Cooking School in Nusa Dua.
If you are travelling to Bali for the first time, you can read my blog on Important things to carry on a solo trip.
A traditional sweet dish, you must definitely try out Laklak if you have a sweet tooth. This sweet dish is served hot, and it literally just melts into your mouth. It is prepared with rice flour, and pandan leaves for aroma and colour. The palm sugar and grilled coconut toppings are the best part of this sweet dish.
During my solo trip to Bali, I was introduced to Laklak from a street stall at Ubud Market. I had a takeaway to have it in my hotel room. Unfortunately, the dish got cold by the time I reached my room, but in all honesty, I think it tasted quite delicious even after getting cold.
12. Pepes Ikan
For all the seafood lovers out there, this dish is for you. Pepes Ikan is a traditional Balinese food dish prepared with either meat or fish. But in a majority of the restaurants, you will find Pepes Ikan prepared with fish.
The fish is wrapped in banana leaves along with a mix of spices. Then, it is steam cooked and finally, barbecued. All these efforts really do make the dish quite delicious. Traditionally, the dish is served in restaurants, but you will also find a lot of local vendors selling Pepes Ikan cooked with different types of meat.
When I visited Bali on my solo trip, I tried this dish in Jimbaran Bay. And in all honesty, this dish instantly became one of my favourites in Bali. I would highly recommend you try this dish out if you are a seafood lover just like me!
13. Cold Coconut Water
I know what you all must be thinking – coconut water is not really a dish. Since it is literally available in every continent on the planet, why have it in Bali, right? And you are right. You should not consider coconut water a dish that you must try out in Bali.
But when I visited Bali, it was extremely hot and sunny on most days. This meant I had to carry a water bottle of cold water along with me at all times. And most times, drinking just water did not really work. This is where the cold coconut water came to the rescue!
Finding coconut water in Bali is not that difficult. The best part is the coconuts are stored in freezers or ice cubes which ensures that they are cold throughout the afternoon and evening.
Cold coconut water can act as a saviour for when you are out in the market shopping or just exploring different places on the island. And also, it is very healthy and delicious. So, don’t think twice and just grab one whenever you feel thirsty and need a refreshment!
So, what is your favourite must-try food item in Bali?
Bali is a paradise for all the foodies. You will find something for each of your cravings. The dishes here in Bali are quite different from what you may come across in other Southeast Asian countries. And this is something that gives you one more reason to go on a solo trip to Bali!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.