Though Bali is known to many simply by its beaches and Bintangs, one of the absolute best things about Bali is actually the food. With new restaurants popping up on the daily and not mention all the local cuisine there is to try, where do you start? A great way to experience the very best of Bali’s food scene is to join a culinary tour with Bali Food Safari.
Introducing Bali Food Safari
Bali Food Safari offers curated mystery dining experiences where guests get to sample some of the best food in Bali in some of the best restaurants on the island with the help of an expert guide.
Bali Food Safari offers a variety of tours, ranging from the 3 restaurant, 9 dish Seminyak Discovery to the 4 restaurant, 12 dish Jimbaran Adventure and from epic helicopter-chartered tours to vibrant street food adventures.
We were feeling adventurous, so our team joined the Street Food Safari. This is the perfect way to get a feel of the “real” Bali as you’ll be visiting warungs and food stalls in Denpasar, Bali’s bustling capital. If your idea of Indonesian food is limited to the basic mie and nasi goreng served in tourist joints, this tour is a real eye opener.
And don’t worry about mystery dining being a no-go for those following a special diet. Gluten free? Vegan? Halal? No problem! Simply inform Bali Food Safari of your dietary requirements when booking and the tour will be tailored to fit your needs.
Experiencing Bali Street Food Safari
First of all, this is a spoiler free zone. I don’t want to give away too much as a definite part of Bali Food Safari’s charm is the element of mystery and surprise. You need to have a little sense of adventure to join these mystery dining tours – and isn’t that just what travelling should be all about?
Our tour begins in Seminyak, where our guide Richard meets us. From here, we make the 30-minute drive to Denpasar. Much of southern Bali has been polished and gentrified for tourists, but in Denpasar, as Richard points out, you still feel like you’re in Indonesia. This is where locals live their daily lives, away from the resorts and beach clubs.
Our first stop is a lively warung serving nasi campur. Nasi campur literally translates as mixed rice and it’s one of my favourite things to eat in Indonesia. Our first meal of the day is a flavourful dish of shredded chicken, tempeh, crispy beef and lawar, a delicious Balinese mix of greens, coconut and herbs. Of course, it all comes served with a generous dollop of spicy sambal! This particular warung has something of a cult status among Indonesians visiting Bali but western visitors are few and far between, so it definitely feels like discovering a hidden gem.
Next stop, babi! Indonesia is a dominantly Muslim country and a majority of the population doesn’t eat pork. Bali with its dominantly Hindu population is the exception to this rule and warungs selling babi guling (suckling pig) and sate babi are often some of the most popular on the island. Our flavoursome meal contains pork in all its forms – sausage, shredded, skin, you name it.
The third spot we visit is not so much a warung – you can’t really even call it a stall. Rather, it’s a sweet old lady sitting on a stool by the side of the road, selling pork sate with a side of lontong (rice cakes wrapped in banana leaf). In other words, it’s the kind of place you’d never find unless you had someone showing you the way. Richard tells us the vendor can sell a staggering 1,000 skewers a day and as we sit there eating, more than a few locals stop by for takeaway. As we wonder out loud where and when she has time to restock, her husband zooms over on his scooter, delivering a fresh batch of sate.
The fourth destination on our Street Food Safari is a warung selling soto next to the first supermarket to ever open in Bali. This is a popular lunch spot for locals and you can spot office workers and hotel employees by their uniforms and name tags. With its hearty broth, Indonesian soto really feels like the proverbial chicken soup for the soul. As an exotic side, we also get to try quail eggs painted chocolaty brown with soy sauce. We wash it all down with jamu, a traditional turmeric based drink which is basically said to cure whatever ails you.
After sipping the last of our jamu, it was definitely time for dessert! Indonesians are known for their sweet tooth and at our final stop, we got to try traditional desserts. Most of these treats hail from the neighbouring island of Java and they were served to us in a beautiful Joglo pavilion. My favourite was the dadar gulung, a crepe like pancake dyed green with pandan leaves. The yummy filling is a mix of coconut and palm sugar, giving the dish a unique tropical flavour. Perhaps the most exotic offering was the es doger, an intriguing mix of coconut milk, shaved ice, tapioca pearls and avocado. The perfect way to end a day of culinary adventure.
Whether you’re looking for the best fine dining on the island or want to find out how the locals eat, it can be tricky to navigate Bali’s diverse culinary scene on your own. None of the food on our Street Food Safari was the kind you’d stumble upon simply strolling down the tourist strip – you need someone to show you the way. Luckily, Bali Food Safari makes for the perfect guide.
Book you own culinary tour with Bali Food Safari at balifoodsafari.com
Enter code “Ministry” when booking to receive a 20% discount.