25 Foods and drinks to try in Bali, Indonesia
Trying Indonesian food makes me feel like home. The striking similarity between Indonesian and Philippine foods, even with other Southeast Asian cuisine are very evident. But you know you are in the Spice Islands because the obvious dissimilarity that you can think of would probably be the spices. Indonesian islands have lots of native spices that any other Asian countries and some of them were even introduced to the world.
Here are the top foods and drinks to try in Bali, Indonesia, one of the famous holiday destinations in the world. If you’re a Filipino, you might be totally startled by the countless number of Indonesian dishes that are just way bit familiar to us. But you’ll know that it cannot be Filipino food, you simply know it isn’t.
25. Teh/ tea
Did you know that Indonesia ranks as the sixth largest producer of tea in the world? There are tea plantations in Bali. It may not be as famous as its coffee counterpart but the tea trade has been flourishing since the 19th century which is 3 centuries after this famous drink was introduced to the country by their Dutch colonizers.
It can be drink hot or cold . The latter is referred to as es teh. Both forms can be mixed with milk, lemon, ginger, lemongrass or whatever flavor that may please you.
It seems that Indonesia has managed to bag several titles in the food department. If it ‘s the 6th largest tea producer in the world, last 2014, it comes in 4th in the coffee business. Yes, Indonesia has made a name for itself in the coffee industry, as well. In fact, there are plenitude of coffee making or coffee tasting tours when you visit the country. Be it pure coffee or flavored, I cannot deny that Indonesian coffee is the best that I have tasted so far.
23. Tropical fruit juice/shakes
Bali is a true tropical paradise for fruit lovers out there. You can find different species of tropical fruits that are common in other Asian tropics such as papaya, durian, banana, , mango, mangosteen, guava and so on. Even avocados. And snake fruit, anyone? Really, this is the only fruit that is unique in the country because you can hardly encounter it in its neighbors. So, while in Bali, enjoy this refreshing, summer fruit juices or shakes.
22. Pisang Goreng
Indonesian dish is named according to its main ingredient and cooking method. So, when you hear the word ” goreng “, which means fried, and “pisang” which refers to banana, tada!, you’ve got fried banana. As a Filipina, I would easily recognize it as “saging frito” which is also a fave snack in the Philippines. But if I’ll just hear the word or look at the menu without the picture, I would not determine what it is exactly but probably will get the hint that its fried due to the word ” goreng” but wouldn’t know what kind of fried food it is. This is actually my all-time favorite snack back in beloved native land since I was a kid and the Indonesian version is simply the same as the Philippine one.
21. Fruit pancakes
Though not a type of Asian food, pancakes have taken the breakfast table in this tourist-flooded place. When you lodge in hotels or even hostels that offer free-breakfast, this normally is their complimentary food. I love that they include cuts of jungle fruits, accompanied by hot coffee,which will satisfy your morning.
Rempeyek or peyek is a deep-fried Indonesian brown cracker made from rice flour. It is typically placed on the tables of regular restaurants as appetizers while waiting for your orders. The most common type of rempeyek is the peyek kacang ( with peanuts as the main ingredient). Other types of peyek include rebon (small shrimp), teri (dried anchovies) or edi (dried shrimp).
19. Jagung Bakar Pedas/roast corn
What I like about their grilled corn cobs is that they are being coated not only with butter, but also with chili before being grilled which added more flavor to it. Plus, most of them are being sold on nearby popular beaches like Kuta and Jimbaran. Isn’t it a delight munching over your sweet corn while watching the stunning sunset ?
18. Sup Ayam (Balinese chicken soup)
This is the Balinese version of chicken soup. What I like about it is that it’s full of vegetables like carrots, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes and even potatoes. Such a good soup to keep you warm in cold weather or to recover from that terrible flu.
17. Dadar gulung (rolled cake with coconut and palm sugar)
This is one of my favorite desserts or shall we say snacks. Even before I went to Indonesia, I’d got to taste it in some restaurants in the Philippines. And when I learned how to prepare one in my Balinese cooking class, the more I loved it. I really like anything made from coconut, so for me the taste of the grated coconut and palm sugar inside the roll complements the pandan-made batter. Dadar in Bahasa Indonesia literally means omellete or pancake while gulung refers to roll.
You can find many food street vendors selling bakso on portable carts or humble street-side stalls. Such popularity has integrated this meal into Indonesian cuisine though it is Chinese in origin tracing back in the 7th century when Chinese started to migrate to Indonesia. These are meatballs dished up with hot broth, noodles, sometimes with fried dumplings and other stuff. Its your go to budget snack , which is also perfect during rainy season or when weather gets cold in Bali which is rare but do happen.
15. Fish ball noodle soup
This was the actually the first Balinese food I tried upon arrival in Bali. Just few meters away from the airport, I found an array of restaurants which serve affordable local dishes. Since I arrived in Bali early morning, I was craving for something soupy and light, so when I saw this in the menu, I went for it. And I wanted to know how fish ball in Bali tastes like , so it was really my bet at that time. I’m planning to cook one at home seeing that it looks simple to make with common ingredients such as the white, thin noodles, tofu, then the fish balls and some veggies. Why not?
14. Mie Goreng
Again, the word “goreng” which gives us an idea that it is a fried dish. And the Mie,well, if you’ve been around Indonesia for about a week now or even just a few days, you can guess that it points out to noodles. It may sound like a classic Indonesian staple as its ubiquitous as other Indonesian dishes around but as a matter of fact it is an adaptation of Chinese noodle.One can tell that in almost all Southeast Asian countries, most of the food have Chinese influence. You can ask to add for a fried egg on top.
13. Sambal kacang /Peanut sauce
The fertile soil in Indonesia and its ecuatorial weather allow peanuts to grow abundantly. Due to its ampleness, several ways are adapted to fully utilize it not only as a snack but also as sauce considering Indonesians love sauces, right? Called as sambal kacang, the sweet flavor of the peanuts, roasted and chopped, wonderfully balances the strong taste of its ingredients like tamarind, lemongrass, chilies and sweet soy sauce, without taking the spotlight away from the peanuts.
12. Lawar/grated coconut salad
As I told you earlier, I enjoy eating anything that is made from coconut. That’s why when I chanced upon this salad in a vegetarian Balinese resto, I right away ordered it. I’m sure Philippines have this same kind of salad since coconut is being utilized basically for almost all types of uses. The salad, a Balinese origin, is a mixture of vegetables, slit coconut meat, some herbs and spices and minced meat.
If you ‘re vegetarian, head over to a local restaurant or warung and you’ll surely find this food that serves as meat subtitute. For instance, it replaces the meat patty on your regular burger so it becomes tempe burger which is a good fast food vegan snack. It’s so versatile that aside from its various purposes, it can also be served in varied forms such as but not limited to snacks, tempe crackers, side dish, or even main dish. Not only that, it can also be prepared fried, stuffed, sauteed, battered and in many other ways .
10. Sayur Urab (Balinese vegetables salad)
This is a variation to the Balinese- origin salad, Lawar. It can be eaten on its own as a salad or as a side dish. Sayur means vegetable in Indonesia. This salad dish is made from steamed vegetables like spinach, cassava leaf, papaya leaf, longbeans,and cabbage with shredded cocconut seasoned with numerous spices.
Gado-gado is a popular Indonesian salad with peanut sauce dressing. It does not require a great effort to become a vegan in Bali as there’s a wide selection of vegetables and vegetable-based dishes such as gado-gado. Its fundamentally a salad, having a mixture of various vegetables that can be raw or boiled such as cabbage, lettuce, carrot, and bean sprouts, with fried tofu, tempe and boiled eggs, served with rice.
8. Pepes ikan (steam fish in banana leaf)
Pepe is a type of Indonesian cooking technique commonly used to prepare fish (ikan). It utilizes banana leaf as food wrapping. Pepe is prepared by mixing descaled fish with several spices ( well, we know that Indonesia is rich of spices), tight wrapped with small sticks at both ends, and later steamed.
7. Nasi Goreng
It seems that I like “goreng” food. Nasi goreng is nothing but like mie goreng in rice form. One of the most basic and popular dishes in Bali, is eaten at any time of the day just like in other Asian countries. It is as affordable as its noodle counterpart, the Mie Goreng and can be bought at only 0.6 USD per order.
6. Nasi Padang
Nasi padang is made from padang-styled steamed rice served with a wide choices of pre-cooked dishes ranging from meats, fish, vegetables, and spicy sambals.
5. Ayam Goreng/fried chicken
Just over 3 days in Bali, I realized that I’m gradually learning its Bahasa Indonesia. Dining out is one way to learn their language. This ayam word seemed to pop up every time until I became acquainted with the term. So, on the next visit to a local diner, when I saw ayam in the menu, I knew that it translates to chicken and goreng is also a popular cooking word for fried. So happy that I got to understand the food name. It may sound simple but the Indonesian deep-fried chicken is infused with aromatic garlic, turmeric, and lemongrass. It’s usually served with rice, sambal, wedges of cucumber and tofu or tempe as side dish.
4. Nasi Campur
At first glance, I thought it was a regular Asian plate that is a combination of a mound of rice, portions of a viand ( fish or any type of meat) and some vegetables. Yet, this one is a dish itself that Indonesians called as ” Nasi Campur “. This is one of the national dishes of Indonesia and the fun part of it is that there’s no Nasi campur with the same mix , it will always be different and unique.
Related article: Foods to try in Batam
3. Kari Ayam (Balinese chicken curry)
Its Balinese variant for chicken curry marinated in Balinese spices. I think every Asian countries has adapted and integrated both some Chinese and Indian foods into their cuisine. Like curry. In every Asian countries I’ve visited, you will always find a meal that is made from curry.
2. Sate tusuk ayam/Chicken satay
Its variation is called satay in Malaysia, satti in Zamboanga, Philippines, in Indonesia it is known as sate, a barbecued meat on a skewer made from lemon grass sticks which normally includes mashed chicken (called as sate tusuk ayam) as the main ingredient blended with a variety of spices and sometimes with peanut sauce. It landed on 14th place as world’s delicious dishes in a poll conducted by CNN internatonal.
Read also: 10 Best Things to do in Batam
1. Babi Guling
Just with a different name, and perhaps just stuffed with more spices, Babi guling, a spit-roasted pig, is presumably the most noted dish in Bali. You might wonder why this part of the archipelago eats pig when Indonesia is a Muslim- denominated country. It’s due to the fact that an ample amount of the population is Catholic (2.5%), and is generally Hindu (83.5%). Price is almost the same as when you eat it in the Philippines. Really felt at home when I tasted this. The only difference perhaps is the type of stuffings that they put. This Balinese suckling pig is stuffed with chili, turmeric, ginger and garlic.
If you’re more of a visual person, you may check out this video: