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w 3The view from our table at Star Fish Bloo at the W…and the freshly shucked oysters…

On our most recent trip to Bali, the many delights on offer in terms of culinary choices has grown exponentially over the past couple of years.

You have the choice to eat with the locals at really cheap prices or to go to the other end of the spectrum and really enjoy fine dining with amazing options in terms of the food on offer.

I have to admit that I have more of a desire to stay closer to my food choices that have some element of the local cuisine included.  This trip when deciding on where to eat and which places we would not head to I spent some time doing a little bit of research by hitting the web and also chatting to our great hosts at ZEN 4 Men where we stayed to get their recommendations.

There seem to have been a few restaurants that are moving away from the local cuisine and heading to a more heavier, French influenced menu…in the tropical environment this is a little too heavy for my taste and on this trip I chose to stay away from any of those restaurants.  That is not to say that perhaps next time we will indulge…but after a long day of massages, swimming in the pool and relaxing the chance to indulge in fresh seafood, local fresh vegetables all combined to create memorable dishes that were not drowned in heavy cream based sauces was more to my liking.

The W www.whotels.com  is now a well known and reasonably expensive option for dining but the service is first class, with the staff all being knowledgeable about the menu and also the wine menu and matching beverages to what ever food you are going to have.

On this trip we had 2 very different lunches at the W and both of them were a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours in the middle of the day.  The only thing that I was a bit concerned about was the limited range on offer.  I would have thought that being part of the W that Star Fish Bloo, (where we at both times) would have had more on offer for a lunchtime and not such a limited choice.  But putting that aside, as I said before, the friendly, professional staff and the food that we did have made up for the limited choices in the menu.

Being a lover of seafood when travelling through Asia, (as it is plentiful, fresh and delicious) both times I opted for freshly shucked oysters natural to start with and then followed this with a range of freshly made sushi and sashimi (I know not an Indonesian menu but it was a nice light lunch option on the days that we were there) and this was matched with some refreshing fruit based cocktails that added to the gorgeous setting of the restaurant right near the water.

On the first visit I also tried the hot rock salmon – a gorgeous individually heated rock that enabled you to cook your fresh salmon by dipping it in a traditional sauce and then lightly cooking it to your preference.  It was delicious and one of the most delightful dishes that I had on both my visits to Star Fish Bloo for lunch.

At the other end of the spectrum not 100 metres from the W down the beach is a local Warung called Panthai that is locally owned and run and serves traditional Indonesian cuisine for lunch and dinner.  This is located right on the beach and comprises of 15 tables and a hut that serves the drinks.  There is no cooking allowed at this site and so that is all down just down an alley way and the food is delivered to the Warung by motor bike.  I know a completely different alternative to the fine dining of the W but as a lover of authentic Indonesian food, especially Gado Gado this was a real find for me.

The staff were attentive and knowledgeable and the food was incredibly fresh and at unbelievable prices – $2.50 for Gado Gado for lunch…it was a wonderful lunch destination.  We chose to go there 5 times over the course of our 15 day stay and each time we were not disappointed with the food and the service.  It was not just the Gado Gado that was good it was also the satays, the traditional nasi goreng and a nice cold chilled Bintang Beer right on the beach that made this an ideal way to have a nice laid back and relaxed lunch.

I am a fiend when it comes to Gado Gado as I love the simplicity of steamed vegetables served with a spicy peanut sauce, soybean pattie, tofu, hard boiled eggs and shrimp crackers…I tried it in about 10 different places whilst in Bali and it was here at Panthai that I found my favorite…the peanut sauce had a wonderful spicy flavor that really complimented the vegetables and it was always served fresh and it was delicious.  It is not really an easy place to find but if you stumble across it you will not be disappointed.

Over the next couple of days I will fill you in on some of the other memorable meals that we enjoyed on this most recent trip and also give you my list of the top 5 dining experiences in terms of food, service, decor and fine dining!

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The amazing afternoon tea options at the W – whilst we did not indulge we had dreams about the wonderful cakes, donuts and other delights on offer…maybe next time.