It seems like a very long time since we were in Bali and yet, I still have so much to write about from that trip! I thought a good place to start was a foodie round-up: Sanur is a fishing village on the south-west coast of Bali, we chose it initially because it has a more relaxed vibe than party towns Kuta and Seminyak nearby. It’s not got that Balinese honeymoon beauty you see on travel shows but we enjoyed our time there.
Don’t be fooled, Sanur is not ‘off the beaten track’. It’s still a tourist town and there are some terrible restaurants there… BUT, it’s definitely a calmer, sleepier place than some of its neighbours like Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. And, if you look, there is some great food to be had too. Don’t be scared to eat with the locals. You’ll find the food is tastier and much cheaper.
Just a few words of advice when eating locally. Travelling far from home can make you more likely to pick up bugs your tummy isn’t used to. This is especially common in places like Asia where the water isn’t filtered as heavily as back home. So, you need to careful when it comes to drinks and unless you’re in a hotel, I’d say avoid ice in any drinks prepared for you. I usually had bottled water or fizzy drinks to be safe and used hand sanitizer liberally. Avoid raw, peeled fruit and vegetables and salads unless you know they’ve been washed in filtered water.
Stick to restaurants (however ‘local’) over the street food stalls without fridges or electricity as they may have had produce sat in the heat all day long. Basically be cautious and use your common sense but don’t let your fear of a tummy bug or the unknown lead you into the boring, western tourist restaurants!
With all of that in mind, here are my favourite suggestions for eating like a local in Sanur:
Eat like a local: Warung Jawa Moro Senang
Prepare to be very hot and sweaty as this open fronted roadside warung has no air conditioning. Half shop, half cafe, expect more locals than tourists and a crowd of people at the counter pointing out what they want to eat. We went for breakfast and chose, buffet style, from a whole range of food including rice, curries, vegetables and fried chicken.
Through broken English and lots of pointing, the army of women behind the counter handed over two plates of food. They also handed over two price tickets, selected once we’d chosen our selection, from a peg board behind them. I had beef rendang, rice and stewed aubergine, Dave had fried chicken, rice, beansprout salad and stir fried greens. Everything was spicy and delicious. To give you an idea of price, the beef rendang below cost 70 pence.
If you want to get away from the modern cafes and cheap restaurants set up for holiday makers and get a sense of Sanur sans tourist, I would recommend this place. It’s an assault on your senses in every way, but more importantly, a treat for your tastebuds!
Beachside Dining: Lilla Pantai
A little different from the warung above (and more touristy for sure) but with equally tasty food. We really liked our meal at Lilla Pantai on on the Sanur Beach Walk promenade. There is a myriad of places to choose along this stretch, some better than others. Dodge the sales guys with their wipe clean menus and head to Lilla Pantai. This relaxed café/restaurant is a great spot for a drink or something to eat and is clearly popular with locals and tourists from the nearby hotels.
Like a lot of the places in Sanur, the menu features plenty of Western dishes (should this float your boat) but also a good sized selection of local favourites too. We opted for the Nasi Goreng for me (left) and for Dave, the Gado – Gado and a big green smoothie.
Everything was fresh and cooked in the open kitchen in front of us. The peanut sauce on Dave’s Gado-Gado was really thick and crunchy. The tempeh and tofu were well seasoned and full of flavour. Asia has really opened up my eyes to these ingredients which I think get a bad press back home. My Nasi Goreng was delicious too, with a perfectly cooked omelette on top! I tried a few whilst we were in Bali and this was one of my favourites.
Roadside Breakfast: Masakan Padang
During our time in Bali we ate at a couple of Padang restaurants and enjoyed the variety and style of food on offer. Masakan Padang refers to a specific type of Indonesian cuisine and often you’ll see it written on the front of restaurants in place of a business name. There are several of them in Sanur.
Expect lots of bowls of different food (curries, fish, meat and vegetables), served with mounds of rice. Kind of like a buffet where you pick and choose what you want. Despite being the only non-Balinese people in the small restaurant on Jalan Danau Poso, we were welcomed in and given a delicious (and very cheap) meal there.
Healthy Yogi Experience: Bali Buda
A lot of Bali’s tourism seems to be built around yoga, no doubt in part thanks to the success of the novel and film Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. That said, it’s more yogi-centric in Ubud, where it felt like there was a yoga studio on every corner! With yoga, healthy eating and often vegetarianism and veganism follow. We didn’t eat at too many of the healthy places during our time in Bali but we did try a few. In Sanur, Bali Buda is totally organic and probably the best and most interesting there. As well as being a cafe and restaurant, it’s also a deli and shop. We picked up some of this raw chocolate whilst we were there! Yum!
We ate there on our last night in the town and honestly, it wasn’t really my cup of tea but the food was fresh and tasty. And, surprisingly, it filled me up too. Dave had a macrobiotic plate (of course he did!) which consisted of steamed broccoli, brown rice, grilled tofu, chickpeas, slaw, miso and interestingly, something called spirulina gomasio. It’s that green thing on the side of the tofu and is essentially algae (spirulina) seasoned with a Japanese condiment made up of sesame among other things. It was actually really tasty and needed on a plate with not many other flavours. Also, spirulina is incredibly good for you as it’s very protein rich!
I had a superfood salad which was jam-packed with seeds, bean sprouts and peppers. It came with some homemade crisp bread which was interesting and added a bit of texture to the dish. Also, off camera, a bowl of dressing!
This place was more expensive than some of the other places I’ve listed today. But, for a healthy experience, I’d say it was worth going to and probably more authentic than a lot of the ‘yogi’ places in Ubud.
So that’s it. A whistle-stop tour through the dining scene in Sanur. Have you been? I’d love to hear your stories and recommendations!