Food in Bali is hot! If you aren’t tolerant to spice, food in Bali may be a bit much for you!
Last night we arrived in Bali, greeted with 27 degrees, humidity, incense and the soft waft of unknown origins of fermentation. A slow smile starts on my face as memories of my first time to Bali are recalled.
It was 2013, Josh and I had been told by what seemed like every Australian, that Bali was the place to go. At that time we hadn’t travelled much together, let alone individually, abroad. “Okay, so here are your choices,” he started. “I can get you front row, VIP tickets to Justin Timberlake in Melbourne,” I knew without hearing the alternative this was going to be a tough call. “Or we can go to Indonesia for one week for the same price.” Stunned. I sat there, speechless. How can you even compare the two!?! This is apples and oranges!
After travelling together now, I understand that type of traveller I am. To be honest, I wish I was MORE adventurous, but alas, this is what travelling looks like to me.
We’re trying to keep a routine, so after a short workout in the hotel gym, we stepped away from the hotel grounds and explored the surrounds — top priorities: coffee and SIM cards. We walked along the main roads with only a few punters heckling us. We kicked off our slippers as we started on the brownish-grey sand. The beach was what you’d expect from a tourist concentrated area – lounge chairs, colourful umbrellas, surf lessons, the odd drinks cart. Nonetheless, it was beautiful.
When we made our way back, off the beach and onto the main road, Josh spotted a tiny hut. Honestly, if he hadn’t pointed out, I would have walked right past it. Under a tin roof, held up by old bamboo poles and dried palm fronds were two small counters with plastic chairs along with a food cart. “Maaf bu, do you serve coffee?” Josh has been learning Bahasa Indonesia, and it’s proving to be useful. She kindly confirmed and gestured to prepare us both a cup. The kopi was nothing special as the contents of a foil sachet stirred with hot water. But it was definitely a unique experience. Our coffee chats are foundational to our relationship, and this time was no different. As we sipped, we watched other tourists stroll by and wondered what they thought of us in this little lady’s stall and if they were headed to the tourist coffee house up the street.
After we finished, we exchanged goodbyes and continued on our way. A few more heckles included transport and some distant resort now. We wandered through main streets, back roads, busy roads and by this time I was hot and hungry. “Soon, I’ll need to stop for lunch.”
Warung Darsana is tucked away, not vying for attention like the souvenir and merchandise shops. Ibu was sitting at a table preparing bananas, and the smell of fried delectables and incense was captivating. We bowed to her and asked if we could sit for lunch. In her glass box, there several mounds of options and we looked on trying to identify one meat from the other. I notice a milky yellow soup with chicken pieces, “Kare ayam” she said, chicken curry. “Is it spicy?” I asked she replied by shaking her head. We settled on kare ayam, chicken curry, and mie goreng, fried noodles. My first bite was part apprehension, part excitement. Bali belly is a real concern in Australia. However, someone told me that it’s probably not from the food in Bali, but rather your hands, which may have touched something foreign and then using your hands to eat that may cause you to get sick. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the soup, delicious. And, about three seconds later, spicy. Very spicy. My lips seemed to flare up as if I just had lip fillers put in. A swift reminder that Southeast Asians are on a different level when it comes to spiciness. After adding on two banana fritters to our bill, we left the warung thoroughly delighted. What is there not to love about food in Bali?!
Places to try;
A tiny restaurant that has a different selection of options daily. A plate of 2-3 options with rice will cost you cost $3-4 per person. Great for lunch.
We went for dinner. Mid-sized restaurant serving local fare. I tried the Nasi Ayam Lalapan (fried chicken) and cost about $5-6 per person for a decent serve. Careful of the spice.