Our villa was in Seminyak - far away from the mayhem of crazy-busy Kuta, but still close to the action (which is basically at your front door everywhere you go in Bali unless you go to a rural location and "zen" out). We had shopping right on our doorstep and the beach was about 800m down the road. We spent our days lazing about, wandering along the beach, stopping for cold drinks, shopping (and trying to bargain but mostly failing) and of course...EATING!
We mostly stuck to the local-style eateries near our villa - though we did go fancy twice + I'll write about those later. Without a doubt our favourite place was Warung Mimpi - a small warung (eatery) that served up simple (but great) Indonesian food...and only Indonesian food. So many of the eateries in Bali try to cater for all tastes so you end up with an odd mix of Indonesian, Balinese, Hamburgers, Mexican, Pasta, Pizza - blah!
Nasi Campur - probably my favourite meal in Bali - is something I had more than a few times at Mimpi. Simply go to the counter and point to whatever takes your fancy (tuna curry = OMG). It's kinda easy to overload your plate this way but Mr Mimpi (if that is his real name) gave me a nod when he thought I was getting out-of-control. The Boy was stuck on Nasi Lemak (fried rice with a satay skewer, fried egg + giant prawn cracker) but broke out of the mold a few times for grilled whole snapper ($8 !!!!) and a plate of fried noodles with seafood. I even got my fix of Ikan Bilis (little dried/fried fish)...I kept going back until they finally had it on the menu. Ah Mimpi, we miss you!
Another warung not too far from our villa was Warung Ocha which we tried out for lunch one day. It was much bigger than Mimpi, on a pretty busy road (Jalan Seminyak) and I don't think the staff were anywhere near as friendly as Mr + Mrs Mimpi who ran Mimpi by themselves. That said we had pretty good lunch at Ocha and they have a nice open courtyard with free wifi! I tried the Ayam Goreng (fried chook) which came with a tasty piece of Tempeh (yum) as well as a bowl of Lodeh. I had no idea what Lodeh was...but it turns out to be a pretty tasty coconut based curry with mixed veggies. The Boy went for a plate of fried noodles...with a non-runny egg! Crimes against eggs...tut tut.
One of the best things about our villa was its proximity to a bunch of great little eateries on the Seminyak beachfront. None of them were fancy (we weren't in the fancy part of Seminyak), but I guess they were all touristy...but hey, we're tourists so that's fine with me. We found ourselves at La Plancha quite a few times - mostly for a cold drink (or two) and to sit and watch the waves roll in and the sunbathers get hassled by hawkers. My favourite drink was a really refreshing lemon-soda with fresh mint (which gave me a GREAT idea of what to do with all my homegrown mint).
After my brief dance with a bout of Bali belly I laid of the Indonesian food for a while and was craving plain, starchy foods. La Plancha served Spanish Tapas and a bowl of hot chips (aka patatas) and a potato tortilla were just what the doctor ordered. The Boy indulged in serve of grilled prawns and some grilled chicken. All of these dishes were around $4 - amazing...and even more amazing when you can watch the sunset.
And the reason we were in Bali? The Boy's birthday of course! And a birthday means a birthday dinner. The birthday boy decided on a Warung near our place called Delicious Onion (I didn't see any onions on the menu though...curious) which was tucked down a fairly quiet street with a lovely big (shady) tree over the outdoor area.
We started with a (lethal) cocktail and an entree of Thai Kafir Lime Leaf Chicken in a wonton cup - like a fancy vol-au-vent. I'd read about the Double Happiness on TripAdvisor when checking out local restaurants so knew before I arrived that this is what I was going to order. Two types of pork (Char Siew and Roast Pork) with rice, pickles and soup...all for SEVEN DOLLARS! It was such a great meal and it blows my mind that the food in Bali is so cheap!
I don't seem to have much luck tracking down "real" street food vendors when I travel in Asia. I always just seem to miss the motorbikes full of food as they dash past me, or I've just eaten a HUGE meal and am too full to fit in one more thing. I did try Bali Kopi (aka coffee) a few times...SO good! So sweet, thick and totally addictive. And we were lucky enough to snag a mystery brown packet off the back of a motorbike which turned out to be a delicious chicken with rice. Prawn or pork crackers are always a good snack too...but whatever the weird coconut drink with vegetables in it was...blergh!
And so ends the first installment of my Bali eats. Stayed tuned!