Searching for a halal restaurant in Bali can be a tricky situation. Pork is common in Balinese cuisine — be it grilled or roasted meat, lard used for frying, or additions to salads.
However, halal food is not a rare commodity in Bali, as the island also welcomes a steady stream of Muslim tourists from neighboring cities, other Southeast Asian countries, and even the Middle East.
There are plenty of choices if you want to try something outside the halal-guaranteed popular fast food chains.
Here is a general overview of the halal culinary scene in southern Bali.
KUTA and SEMINYAK
The busiest tourist scene in Bali includes halal food establishments in its range of available restaurants. The food courts in shopping complexes like Beachwalk and Discovery Mall consist of mostly halal-certified food outlets.
The available Balinese warung (food stalls), on the other hand, can be rather tricky.
Notable halal restaurants in the area include:
Queen’s of India on Jl. Kartika Plaza for Indian cuisine;
Bho Bho Thai on Jl. Dewi Sri for Thai food;
Madania Restaurant on Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai for Indonesian meals; Warung Bunana on Jl. Kerobokan for Malaysian and Indian food; Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika on Jl. Raya Kuta for spicy Indonesian food;
RM Taliwang Bersaudara on Jl. Raya Kuta for spicy Lombok chicken.
The provincial capital is one of the easiest areas to find halal food due to the abundance of local food chains and Javanese warung in the area. Most of the Indonesian franchised restaurants apply halal certificates as standard.
The halal culinary scene has grown steadily as Denpasar is home to around 40 percent of the total number of Muslims staying in Bali, according to the 2010 national census.
You can find halal restaurants lining the streets in the Renon area. During the fasting month of Ramadhan, these already-crowded streets are even more packed at sundown by Muslims who are looking to break the fast.
Notable halal restaurants in the area are:
Restoran Renon on Jl. Cok Agung Tresna;
Warung Bendega on Jl. Cok Agung Tresna;
Warung Be Pasih on Jl. Bedahulu;
Tan’s Kitchen on Jl. Teuku Umar;
Warung Mak Beng on Jl. Segara Ayu.
The area is famous for its seafood scene, with a long line of restaurants along the beach that open up right before sunset. We recommend these seafood restaurants for your fix of halal food.
The restaurants rarely claim to be halal, but their menus are strictly seafood-based, with vegetables as side dishes. Locals and Malaysian tourists can often be found eating here, so hopefully that can put your mind at ease on the halal issue.
You can choose any of the restaurants on the beach; there is no significant difference in terms of quality between one establishment and another. The area is divided into three sections: Muaya beach, which borders the Four Seasons resort; the Kedonganan area, which is also crowded at night; and Kelan, which is separated from the other two by a fish market.
“Most of the other restaurants that do not label themselves as organic or vegetarian are likely to serve pork — even Ubud’s famous duck restaurant.”
The culinary scene in Ubud is an interesting one when it comes to the halal issue. With healthy lifestyles becoming a trend in the area, plenty of organic and vegetarian restaurants have sprung up.
Theoretically, vegetarian menus have more chance of being halal, but it would still be better if you inquire about whether they used any pork-based products.
Most of the other restaurants that do not label themselves as organic or vegetarian are likely to serve pork — even Ubud’s famous duck restaurant.
One notable restaurant that has the halal label is Indian Delites on Jl. Campuhan. Other than that, your safest bet is the Padang food (Padang being a city in West Sumatra with a strong Muslim culture) that is available at several spots across Ubud, such as Warung Padang Putri Minang on Jl. Raya Ubud.
Commonly considered as a way to kick start your day, drinking coffee was simply the choice of people who had to drag themselves to work early in the morning. Then, it developed into a lifestyle with the growth of many cafés and chain stores specializing in coffee, gathering many devoted fans along the way. These fans then educated themselves in all the stages of producing coffee, thus elevating it into a culinary art. This is known as the third wave coffee movement; one that took coffee into the same level of complexity enjoyed by wine.
The movement arose about a decade ago and is still budding in the United States, Australia, Scandinavia, and several countries in Asia. It emphasizes how to serve coffee at its best and improving the quality of the whole process from planting and roasting, until brewing – using both modern and manual brewing methods (Siphon, Hario, Chemex, etc). This way, coffee beans are no longer categorized by regions but by the ‘traceability’ concept that scans through the story behind – the plantations, when the beans were harvested, when the beans were roasted, and other pre-serving processes. All this is meant to ensure the quality and sustainability of the beans, which in turns changes the focus of coffee production on to breeding single origins as opposed to blends.
In Indonesia, it is often said that the pioneers of this movement was Jakarta’s Anomali Coffee a few years back and followed by several other roasters with the mission to promote Indonesian coffee. Now, new players emerge as they introduce the third wave culture by serving beans from established third wave roasters abroad. From here, they experiment constantly to get the best of the beans and to educate customers about their newly-found appreciation even if they are not yet implementing the initial processes such as planting or roasting fully.
Players like these are currently still few in number, but one of the examples is Noah’s Barn in Bandung which was co-founded by two coffee aficionados, Hank and Guido. Aside from being the first to open an educational coffee shop in Bandung, Hank nursed the dream he had since 2007 back in Singapore to open a similar concept café there – and if he had done so then he would have been the pioneer in that city. Instead, fate took him to meet Guido, an Indonesian barista in Australia during his college years, and together they built their coffee dreams in Bandung.
Currently, Hank and Guido use Anomali’s Black Pearl for their daily coffee and offer micro batches from famous roasters in the US, Japan and Australia, such as Intelligentsia, Streamer, Proud Mary and 7 Seeds. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sip the complex goodness of a highly sought after Panamanian Don Pachi’s Geisha coffee.
Meanwhile in Jakarta, a café named 1/15 Coffee on Jln. Gandaria owned by Lia has a similar story. She once desired to build a serious café although she wasn’t even fond of coffee at first but her journey of discovery to The US and Australia opened her eyes about a prospect never seen before in Jakarta. Now, 1/15 Coffee has quickly become a magnet for coffee devotees and experts. Led by Doddy, a star barista from Yogyakarta, 1/15 Coffee serves an array of coffee beans from third-wave roasters all around the globe and, just recently, Lia brought home delicious African beans roasted by Tim Wendelboe of Norway.
So far this movement has inspired other cafés such as Pandava Coffee at Epicentrum Mall, Jakarta, which a few months ago started to serve beans mostly from roasters such as Oriole and Toby’s Estate.
An interesting move has even been made by Sea Circus, a famous café at Seminyak, Bali. It initiated the continuous cooperation with master roasters from Five Senses, Australia, to help them produce their own single-origin Arabica coffee planted on the highlands of Kintamani.From here, it’s an open road ahead of them. The trend seems to be far from over and it may never stop.
Who doesn’t know Chef Will Meyrick nowadays? He’s the mastermind behind all the mythical culinary excellence of Sarong and Mama San as well as a food adventurer himself. Returning back from Myanmar and amassing newly found local cuisine knowledge, he held another series of Kitchen Sessions at Mama San. I was there to witness his wizardry.
It seemed back then that my planned trip to Bali was overheard by many people including my former colleague back at Time Out Jakarta, Mr Jed Doble. We’ve been working together also to promote a bit about Otel Lobby back then in my blog and this time he hinted me about Mama San’s event as well. Since I was about to go to Bali soon then he gave me an idea to visit establishments under Mr Meyrick’s governance. I thought that day instantly that it’s going to be a very interesting experience and TGA will be moving faster and broader by this particular event.
Hence the day came but not without troubles. My trip organizer mistakenly arranged my trip to start a day after the Mama San invitation but lucky that they can arrange the plane ticket in accord with my needs. Nevertheless, I had to find my own hotel for a night and I was searching for the nearest possible hotel with Mama San. So without further due, here’s the story after my falafel experience.
A different crowd
As we all know, Bali is a land of infinite worldly desires and that attracts tourists or pilgrims of any purpose from all over the world. Over the years, perhaps mostly owing to proximity advantage, legions of Australians enter Bali every day. Some of them reside there for years and working in many professions – being the closest to what I’m doing now would be on journalism, hospitality, and F&B.
Add those facts with ‘lifestyle-refined’ people coming from Jakarta to invest on what they all know about food, fun, and fashion. As a result, many uneducated tourists know Bali as a nation instead of Indonesia! But for many years now, this unique condition created the Bali as what we know right now – rich, vibrant, and full of dynamics.
That night as I entered Mama San for the first time in my life, I immediately realized that the impact had become so huge and Mama San appeared more like a leisure den under the shade of foreign embassy – meaning that the patrons are mostly bule! Apart from that, Mama San is dark but beautifully designed and serves as both watering hole and casual dine out establishment, quite different with Sarong. One thing that caught my attention from all was actually a huge painting of a Chinese woman, appears more like a beautiful geisha judging from the place’s name – by the way the terminology of Mama San came from Japanese language meaning the owner of a pub or geisha joint. Additionally, Mama San also decorated herself with plenty of mostly grayscale photos, assumingly from Mr Meyrick’s travels all over the globe.
I headed upstairs for the rendezvous and found the second floor more as a lounge with a live kitchen as the center of the attention. This is where Mr Meyrick usually cooks for the chef’s table. Finally I met Ms Raechel Temily, who’s so kind in taking care all of my needs back at Bali, and several other foreign journalists. Among them to my surprise was a fellow Sundanese food blogger, Mr Bayu Amus (Epicurina Indonesia)! I immersed myself with exciting conversations about the life in Bali and its culinary scene. Personally, it’s a really a different crowd even though I had been to numerous events that involved foreign chefs or them but upon seeing this happen in Bali, it was just enthralling.
An exciting feast
Mr Meyrick is a prolific chef that appreciates and learns a lot anywhere he’s at. Currently he’s living in Bali with his Indonesian family and that motivates him a lot to scour all over Indonesia more than most of us do. During his travels, he seeks places that can teach him about the know-how of local cuisine and even stays with the natives for that purpose.
This time he hosted a media dinner to introduce his newly found knowledge acquired during his trip to Myanmar a few months earlier and branded the event as Kitchen Session which will be continuously held especially upon returning from a particularly enlightening trip.
After a warm opener of interesting conversations over some refreshments, we hopped in to the dining table and Mr Meyrick introduced himself alongside his most trusted assistant chef, Mr Palm Amatawet from Thailand. Then off we went for the excitements displayed majestically the whole night!
The first dish was kachooris with mint chutney and yogurt. The kachooris reminds me of Indian’s samosa or Indonesian’s (probably dated back from colonial times) pastel. But judging easily from the close proximity of India from Myanmar and the fillings, clearly it was influenced from there but blended nicely into a more herb-ish flavoring. A very enticing start from Mr Meyrick aided with the always-there-sidekick to neutralize the thick taste – the kimchi.
More dishes came and took me by surprise that not only Mr Meyrick was very adept in refining these traditional dishes but also miraculously combining each element perfectly. Some of ingredients used were distinctively Asian and rarely seen here. It was a dining experience filled with thrilling rollercoaster ride of heavenly flavors! A commanding presence of sour fresh flavor of snapper mohinga soup that uses coriander and noodle; the black rice cakes that reminds me of ranginang/rengginang savored with interesting chili relish and lalapan a la Mama San alongside duck buns; chicken wings with pickled tea leaves; and a curious combination between soft shell crabs and pennyworth salad. All I did was to sit back and enjoy the glorious dishes, pausing in-betweens with kimchi to clear some heavy after taste. So far it had been a masterful performance of Mr Meyrick and Mr Amatawet.
Well, that was quite a treat right? But not stopping there because more and more kept on coming. A huge crispy carp with coriander, fried shallot, and garam masala which was quite frightening for some people there but I found it very tempting. Within this jungle of temptations, Mr Meyrick also equipped us with roti canai and pilaf rice to combine both the fish and the next alluring dish of duck curry with black pepper, turmeric, chili, and yogurt.
The coup de grace in a form of dessert platter was also keenly prepared and colorfully presented – one of them was the Thai iced tea made into pudding and had a surprisingly very similar taste! Thus that ended the extraordinary feast, a night of its own worth remembering for many many years to come, and a story worth written in thousands of words indeed.
A visionary maestro
Mr Meyrick was clearly content to see the happy faces and after changing his attire, he mingled with every one of us to share his vision about his ideal version of culinary world in Indonesia. Alongside Mr Amus, we shared our fascinations of his masterful creations that night and I was personally amazed with his wonderful finesse in devising the Burmese cuisine into a modern presentation without leaving the original trace behind.
So far I haven’t found somebody as passionate as Mr Meyrick in learning what’s best from Indonesia the way he does. Therein lies the problem, are there any of us Indonesian that passionate enough or aware enough to promote the best of this country has? Many of us proudly learn too much about foreign cuisines and forgetting the nature of Indonesia as the only country that devises thousands of complex, distinctive dishes from huge multicultural backgrounds.
Mr Meyrick told us that there’s always a Malaysian chef for Malaysian dishes, or Thais for Thai cuisine. For him it’s rarely seen in Indonesia a restaurant that supports the growth of Indonesian cuisine capabilities ‘indefinitely’. They’d just hire another foreign chef to dictate again his staffs with foreign cuisines, never leaving them a real chance to demonstrate the best of Indonesia, or moreover to involve them all in a sense of belonging for the place they’re working for. It’s an insight that he asked specifically for me and Mr Amus as bloggers to deliver for our readers.
With that insight, he’s soon ready to takeover Jakarta by the end of 2012 with his groundbreaking restaurant concept that will introduce the pride of Indonesia there. It’s definitely a chance that I wouldn’t miss at all and something that I would proudly tell everyone to try.
It was a long but very enjoyable night filled with magical dishes by the passionate duo of Mama San and Sarong, Mr Meyrick and Mr Amatawet. That night I also told Mr Amatawet that I’d be visiting Sarong in a few days. So, dear readers, another beautiful adventure there will soon be posted here. Afterwards, we all parted ways with a natural contention but also mind clouded with thoughts on how to appreciate food better. It’s not an easy task especially as a writer or even more as a chef, but it’s a message that I have to deliver and I have my entire life to do that wholeheartedly.
-Pictures courtesy of Mama San and Will Meyrick’s personal collections-
Strategic and omnipresent? Yup, that’s Ryoshi. Again, I tell another story for Japanese cuisine craving while in Bali. It may not be wise to do it too often because Bali holds so many treasure for you to dig in but one cannot hold it when the urge comes out.
Sushi Tei may be famous back in Jakarta or Bandung, but not here ladies and gents. While some outlets may appear humble or small, many favor or at least mention about their inevitable encounters with Ryoshi. While richer in menu selections than Kunti on my previous post, Ryoshi still prides itself in presenting the classic style dishes.
So we got a good bargain for discovering their new outlet just nearby Discovery Mall at Kuta and that was a solid 20 percent discount for their soft opening period (until July 2012 only). There, Ryoshi becomes an open air restaurant but with a roof on it. The entrance is a stairway surrounded with beautiful pillars and dining sections on the side of it. An air conditioned indoor dining room is also available further inside alongside the usual tatami section.
On the contrary with Kunti, the menu was designed well and helpful. The waitress was also highly knowledgeable and helpful by explaining the details of the dishes adeptly. Even though the outlet’s still new, this kind of thing ensured us that we’re in good hands. But too many expectations there as I have to wait my seafood okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) although it ended up well. For the time being, we enjoyed also the Japanese style fish carpaccio (sliced raw) which I forgot the name was and the beef donburi (rice bowl).
Plenty of options from appetizers to main dishes consisting of sushi, sashimi, menrui (noodles), yakimono, donburi, and other usual choices you encounter at any Japanese restaurants. Bottom line is that Ryoshi would be the easiest and casual choice for everyone. With an affordable price tag, quite similar with Jakarta’s, Ryoshi is something that I would want to seek again whenever my family or my wife, in particular, would like for something common and comforting. With plenty available outlets everywhere now, I have no worries.
Some menu suitable for vegetarians
Address: TBA for address details. Currently Ryoshi has several outlets at Seminyak, Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, and Galeria Mall.
Opening Hours: Daily, TBA for opening hours.
Galeria Mall +62.361.751.684
BB Pin: N/A
Atmosphere: Best visited during night time. Warm and cozy, especially the latest outlet at Kuta just beside the Discovery Mall.
Service: May be slow at times.
Pricing: Around IDR 100,000 – IDR 150,000 for two.
Looking for an affordable stay at Seminyak vicinity can be quite tough. If you don’t want to look that thoroughly then the choices are limited, unless you’re looking for a long place to stay. Within that limited amount of time and the proximity considerations, it was clear that only for that one night, the seemingly right choice was given for Fave Hotel.
Many things made me happy already with the decision. Not only that I have a good bargain price of around IDR 300,000/night but it’s also nearby numerous Seminyak attractions from shopping (though mostly expensive, but that’ll keep the wife happy just to let her browse) and as for my turf, the food.
For direction, Fave Hotel has been known well among taxi drivers and they can quickly recognize it even with a wrong pronunciation (Fa’-fe). If you’re lucky, the driver will take you through the relatively unknown small streets to avoid the jammed main routes to Seminyak. After around half an hour drive, we finally arrived at the hotel.
The facade of the hotel appeared modern, the typical minimalist type you see nowadays. While it appeared appealing so far, the booking problem arose. We booked it online directly from the hotel’s website on the previous night and when we arrived the next evening, the reception’s still not getting any sign of our booking. In this case you will have to show the booking confirmations from the email or the printed one. ID and credit card will also be needed as the guarantors. What annoyed me was that after all was finalized, the booking confirmation then appeared.
The good thing was that the rest of the services went good – from the bell boy, the masseur and when we checked out. The room itself was quite neat but with cheap appearance especially from the furnishings, honestly speaking. Well, that’s what you get from the price but bottom line is, both the room and the bath room were clean and the bed was very decent with additional point for clean, good linens. My wife had a nice in-room massage with an exemplary service from the masseur. So far, they have not yet constructed special space for spa & massage. As for the gym, I suppose it’s just optional because it’s better if we spend the whole day at the beach right? But it’s also not nearby from the hotel.
Our room viewed the vicinity around and there was no sign of beach, but it’s much better than getting the view of another hotel wing. For me personally, as long as the room is neat and clean, those would be a major big plus and Fave Hotel successfully delivered it. Not only that it’s affordable, equipped with Wi-Fi in every of its room, we also had our privacy – with the only noise came from outside of our room’s door managed to breach for just a while.
Probably the only problem was the breakfast. It was not inspiring, especially with the stale vegetables on the salad corner, and the service was a bit slow as well. For those of you who are too lazy to venture around, the hotel also provides adequate swimming pool, though I would opt for the beach instead. A sports bar is also there to comfort your legs and thirst from all the adventures.
Proximities to plenty dine out selections and shops are also friendly. It’s very easy to find cabs or help for any directions as well. So in all, it was a good budget decision but you might want to find better options for prolonged stay. For shorter stay, two days tops, then this establishment would be very suitable.