Typical Balinese Food

There’s no question that you’ll eat well on Bali; the dining possibilities are endless, the prices often pleasantly low and the taste treats terrific. For the most part, however, real Balinese food is not on the menu. Though Bali does have its own cuisine, it is not readily adaptable to a restaurant menu. The everyday Balinese diet at home is a couple of meals and a few snacks of cold steamed rice, with some vegetables, some crunchy stuff  like nuts or krupuk (prawn crackers), and a little chicken, pork or fish. The food is prepared in the morning and people help themselves individually throughout the day. Balinese haute cuisine is reserved for the elaborate food offerings made to the gods, and sumptuous feasts to celebrate important occasions. The dishes for a traditional Balinese feasts require some time to cook, and the elaborate preparations and ritual are a major community exercise. Two of the great feast dishes, babi guling (spit-roasted suckling pig) and betutu bebek (duck roasted in banana leaves), are the only truly Balinese dishes you’ll see with any regularity in restaurants, and they usually have to be ordered a day in advance. The best places to look for Balinese specialties are around Denpasar and in Ubud – most famous in ubud called Bu Oka, Balinese feasts in the Ubud section Upmarket tourist hotels also do elaborate-creations of a Balinese feasts, but the ambiance can be more like a suburban barbecue. The tourist restaurant around the corner, a nasi goreng could cost 30.000 Idr, but it mightn’t be freshly cooked and it won’t have the same spicy taste (dishes tend to be wimped down for what the Balinese see as ‘tourist tastes’). Fried noodles (mie goreng), satay (sate) and soup (soto) are other street stall staples which cost more and taste less when you get them in a restaurant.