Header image courtesy of Scott Dunn
There are as many facets that make up Indonesian cuisine as there are islands in the territory of the nation. Indulge in a culinary adventure across Indonesia and revel in the diverse flavours by sampling the finest dishes each area has to offer.
Ubud is arguably seen as the foodie capital of Bali, with an eclectic mix of fine-dining restaurants, local warungs (small family-owned businesses), and healthy hipster cafés. Have dinner at Api Jiwa in the recently opened Capella Ubud. This BBQ dining experience is an animated affair with unusual concoctions being cooked up directly in front of you. Dishes included Lombok oyster, duck yakitori, Wagyu beef rendang, and cured hamachi with squid noodles & smoked dashi. The most unusual dish was certainly dessert—coconut gelato with sea salt, olive oil, and caviar. It sounds bizarre, but it somehow works. Tip: Make sure to turn up hungry as the restaurant exclusively offers a 10-course degustation menu, so there’s a lot of food to get through.
Api Jawa at Capella Ubud, Banjar Triwangsa, Jl. RY Dalem, Keliki, Kec. Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia | (+62) 361 2091888
A firm favourite for guests wanting to indulge in contemporary fine-dining is Kubu Restaurant at Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. With the option of dining in a private bamboo nest, dinner at Kubu is an experience in itself. Each course is beautifully presented, the food is exquisite, and the waiting staff are very attentive.
Kubu Restaurant, Jalan Kedewatan, Banjar Kedewatan, Ubud, Bali, 80571 Gianyar Indonesia | (+62) 361 479 2777
However, for those looking for something simpler, then turn your eye to The Fair Warung Bale by the Fair Future Foundation. This local warung can be found in Ubud town centre and is a modest affair—expect worn wooden chairs and tables, or dining on the floor in a traditional bale. Dishes here include local favourites such as nasi goreng (fried rice), cashew tofu & tempeh, and red chicken curry. However, the real appeal of dining here is knowing that all profits are donated to the Fair Future Foundation, which supports local communities through health, social, and welfare programmes.
The Fair Warung Bale at Fair Future Foundation, Jl. Sri Wedari No.6, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia | (+62) 361 975370
Seminyak is a fantastic destination for those looking to enjoy good surf, shop for bohemian homewares and tuck into healthy treats. Although there is a multitude of quirky cafes and hipster coffee shops, one personal favourite is Shelter Bali. Hidden down a small lane, amidst working rice paddy fields, Shelter is a great place to escape the midday sun, and cool off with a cold coffee or fruity smoothie. Other dishes on the menu include veggie buddha bowls, blueberry hotcakes, and Australian beef burgers.
Shelter Bali, Jl. Drupadi 1 No.2b, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia | (+62) 813 3770 6471
Make sure to go on a local street food tour of Denpasar as well. This is a great way to see what the Balinese treat themselves to, with local delicacies including babi guling (suckling pig), bebek betutu (slow cooked duck), and ikan bakar (grilled fish). Here, you will also learn about the history and significance behind the dishes, and backstories of the local storeowners.
For a culinary delight, make sure to visit Amankila in Manggis, over on Bali’s east coast. Visiting this side of the island feels like stepping back in time—away from the crowds of the busier west coast. However, the food does not linger behind. Traditional dishes are cooked up using locally sourced ingredients and are an absolute standout. Highlights here included afternoon tea with a Balinese twist, featuring little rice pancakes and a cup of jamu (tumeric and ginger tonic), and a spiced nasi goreng for breakfast.
Amankila, Jl. Raya Manggis, Manggis, Kec. Manggis, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80871, Indonesia | (+62) 363 41333
Despite being less than a two-hour flight away from Bali, the food on Java has very different intricacies. My main recommendation would be to try rijsttafel, a Dutch word meaning “rice table.” This extravagant meal is made up of numerous small side dishes, such as sambals, satays, rendang, gado-gado, lodeh, and tempeh, and was designed by the Dutch as a way of impressing visitors when they travelled to colonial Java. Nowadays, it’s a fantastic way of trying lots of different plates—rather than committing exclusively to one big dish. Whilst sampling Java’s culinary delights, enjoy a stay at Amanjiwo, a luxurious boutique property in the rural heartland of Central Java overlooking the Buddhist temple site of Borobudur.
Amanjiwo, Desa, Sawah, Majaksingi, Kec. Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56553, Indonesia | (+62) 293 788333
One of the best ways of exploring the Komodo Islands is by hopping on board a luxury yacht and cruising through the islands. As well as being able to explore untouched corners and dive in remote regions, it also allows you to tuck into a wide variety of dishes whilst on board. Spend a day onboard the Dunia Baru for a real gastronomic treat featuring a sumptuous spread of brunch dishes—expect much more than regular avocado on toast. Think freshly cooked bowls of mie goreng (fried noodles), spicy vegetable frittatas, and exquisitely cooked Indonesian Wagyu beef. The chef on board can cook up almost anything your heart desires, so make sure to discuss your preferences by contacting the restaurant in advance.
Dunia Baru, Jl. Gardujati No.39, Kb. Jeruk, Kec. Andir, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40181, Indonesia | (+ 62) 226 010084