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Over the course of a 15 day stay in Bali the options for dining on a range of different levels is rich and varied and this trip was no different.  What I wanted to do was to give you the top 5 restaurants the we ate at as a guide for you to consider if you ever find yourself in Bali and are looking for a great dining experience.  This is of course my recommendations and as things often change rapidly in Bali some of these places might not even be there when you venture there next time – but a couple of them have been around for a while and I think that they will still be here for a long time to come because they tick all the boxes – great food, great service, great location and a really interesting menu of dining options.

So beginning with number 5 and working towards my favorite from this trip:

5. GadoGado Restuarant

Jl Abimanyu Seminyak Kuta Badung  Indonesia

+62 361 736966

This restaurant was a recommendation from some close friends, who suggested that it was a real treat when they were there some 5 or 6 weeks before us and on most levels it did not disappoint.  The location is just wonderful, being right on the beach and for us it was a nice casual 30 minute walk down the beach just before sunset to then take our table on the terrace to have a cocktail while the sun went down over the ocean.

It set the scene for the GadoGado signature 5 course set menu that was a delight from first course to last.  We started with their signature gado gado that was served with flowers, herbs and a peanut sauce which was delightful and beautifully balanced.  This was followed by Pink snapper crusted with seeds and nuts served with sweet and sour carrot jus, coriander, cherry tomato & capers which was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth.

Grilled Atlantic Scallop with green pea ravioli, Serrano ham, soy bean vinaigrette & green pea puree was the third course and you could taste the succulence of the fresh atlantic scallop and it was not over powered by the vinaigrette which I thought that it might.

The main course was Grilled beef tenderloin with parsnip, grilled baby roman, beetroot & jus and again was cooked medium rare as we asked and we both enjoyed the accompanying vegetables and the rich flavor of the beef tenderloin.

The dessert also did not disappoint and I had the Poached pear with white chocolate sabayon, almond, mint, rum & raisin ice cream and Trevor indulged in the Gado-gado’s black forest: Chocolate brownie with marinated cherries, chocolate mousse, blackberry sorbet & whipped cream both of which finished the meal off perfectly.

The reason that Gado Gado did not make it higher up on my top 5 list was that they boast about their sommelier service and the range of wines on over is wide and covers most of the usual suspects in Bali – choices from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Cuba, South Africa and the home grown wines.  The issue that we had was that we requested some suggestions of which dessert wine would go well with our dessert selections and none of the staff seemed to be able to come up with any ideas and were not at all knowledgeable of the wine list.  Maybe this is me being picky but after seeing 3 different staff and none of them really comprehending the request we ended up with a wine that really did not compliment either of the dishes we ordered.

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Trevor and I enjoying GadoGado

4.  The Cafe at The Mulia Resort

Jl. Raya Nusa Dua Selatan,
Kawasan Sawangan
Nusa Dua 80363 Bali, Indonesia

Whilst staying in Bali one of the things that we love is a long lunch or brunch experience and there are more and more options for this being offered at a range of the top class hotels across the island.  Whilst in Bali one of our hosts at ZEN 4Men was celebrating a milestone birthday and we were invited to come along for a birthday brunch at the recently opened Mulia Resort in their signature Cafe.

What a treat and surprise this was!

Now that the new freeway has opened it makes the journey time into Nusa Dua (which anyone who has been to Bali knows could take up to 2 hours) less than half the usual time.  So we set off on our expedition and arrived at this wonderful new resort and before heading down to lunch we spent some time wondering the grounds and exploring what was on offer.  This really is a 5 star resort that offers a range of options for a holiday – they have a range of hotel room options as well as private villas all set out in a real tropical paradise…but enough on the resort (you really need to explore it if you venture over there yourself) and onto the meal!

The Cafe offers buffet dining but buffet dining unlike anything else I have ever had, and I have experienced quite a few in different locations on my travels!  This stood out because the decor is superb, the service is amazing and the range of food on offer is wonderful and for a buffet it is all cooked fresh and never sits getting cold so you always get to experience each dish as if it has just come out from the kitchen onto your plate.

The options were vast and all 5 of us who had lunch were are impressed with the range, the tastes and you would be hard pressed not to find at least half a dozen amazing food options that would thrill even the most discerning diner.  The pork belly was cooked to perfection and served in bite size pieces, like most of the food at the Cafe so you never felt like you were getting too much and enabled you to try many dishes and also go back to the ones that really impressed.

The duck was succulent, served beautifully and mouth watering,  the fresh oysters were bountiful and freshly shucked and there were a myriad of other options at dining stations that served cuisines from different parts of the world. And then there was the dessert buffet stations – yes stations as there were not just one but 2 amazing stations filled with dessert options that bought a smile to all of our faces and topped off our meal perfectly.

Then there was the price…for such a first class brunch the cost per person for food was less than $40 – amazing value!

mulia7The Cafe at The Mulia

3. Teatro Gastroteque

Jalan Kayu Aya Blok C No 1-2  

Seminyak, Kuta, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 8700078

You can read my review for Teatro in an earlier post – and will understand why it made it on to my list of top places to dine.  The only thing that really let it down was the overzealous serving staff.  They were constantly coming to the table to make sure everything was okay and even when we took a sip of wine they would then attempt to fill the glasses – can be a little annoying when you are trying to have a conversation and are constantly interrupted by staff who feel they have to constantly check on you.  This is the only thing that let Teatro down and I think that had the restaurant been full when we ate there perhaps the staff might not have been overly attentive and it would have rated higher on this list as the food was simply sensational!

2. Ja-Ma-Na at the Banyon Tree

Jl. Melasti, Banjar Kelod
Ungasan, Bali 80364
Indonesia

 +62 361 300 7000

Whilst we were in Bali this time I celebrated my birthday, it seems that we are frequently out of the country for my birthday, and so were looking for an experience that we would remember.

On the recommendation of a friend who said that the views and the location were amazing, not to mention the cocktails and the food that we booked Ja-Ma-Na at the Banyon Tree for the big night.  Being over near Jimbaran Bay can be problematic as the trip in a car can take quite a while but thanks to Trevor’s trusty GPS he found us a route that even our driver did not know of and got us there much quicker than if we had gone the tourist route.

The Banyon Tree is perched on the cliff and the signature restaurant Ja-Ma-Na is right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean.  It is a superb location with million dollar views and with prices to match.  It is made up of beautifully appointed villas and to get tot he restaurant we were put into a golf cart for the ride through the villas and were deposited at the entrance way to an amazing location.

We made sure that once again we were there to see the sunset and sat on the deck at the Ja-Ma-Na bar to have cocktails and take in the veiw (the view is up at the top of this post!).

Once the sun had gone down we made our way into the restaurant and were offered either an indoor table or one out on the veranda – and with those views we chose the veranda – it as stunning and they have lit the beach so you can watch the tide roll in as you settle down for your meal.

There were a number of options on the menu and they had signature tasting options, degustation options or a la carte options and this time we chose to go with a la carte.  They have an extensive menu and a wine list to match and a knowledgeable and attentive staff that never got in the way.

We chose the seafood tower to start with which included  Snow crab, tiger prawns, oysters, clams, lobster, mussels served with wasabi mayonnaise, ponzu and gribiche – this was beautifully served in a large serving dish and was fresh, succulent and a real delight.

We then had their version of surf and turf for main course which was grilled lobster and wagyu strip loin No.9+. served with  green asparagus, salsify and salt crusted potatoes.  I found the wagyu beef to be pure perfection and melted in my mouth with each bit and the grilled lobster was also delightful.

This was followed by their signature dessert 70% Valrhona Grand Cru Soft Chocolate Cake which was mouth watering and as it was my birthday they presented me with a beautiful orange cake just to top it all off.

This was a memorable night and the staff were amazing and they suggested wines for each course and knew their stuff!  I suppose the only real issue was the price -but it was a special occasion so it was worth it but it was by far the most expensive meal we had in Bali and probably the most expensive meal we have had for the last couple of years but the location, the food, the service and the occasion made us not think too much about the cost.

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The Seafood Tower

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Surf and Turf Ja-Ma-Na Style

1. Chandi Restaurant

Jalan Laksmana 72,
Seminyak, Bali 80361

+62.361.731 060

On our last night in Bali we had 2 choices of restaurants that we wanted to try and in the end I am so pleased that it was Chandi that won the day as it really was the perfect meal.  Located in the heart of Seminyak on Jalan Laksmana it is central and a real gem.  It was another recommendation, this time from a search we did of the best restaurants in Seminyak, and I have to say it did not disappoint.

We were lucky that we got there fairly early to eat as by the time we had finished dinner their was a line up of people waiting for tables – that is how good it is.  This one ticked all the boxes and then some.  The restaurant is beautifully appointed, the staff are friendly and know their menu and the menu itself was just wonderful.  Organically grown greens, spices, fruits and roots from local Bedugul farmers sit along side New Zealand and Australian Imported Meats. Lots of locally produced soy products, tempe and tofu. They also have an Organic Sumatra Mandailing Espresso Bar, Infused Cocktails with a variety of organic fruits, roots and beans, which all add up to make this a fantastic dining destination.

For this meal we again went with a la carte and started with the Chandi appetizer tasting plate which gave us the chance to try 8 of their amazing appetizers – mini beef rendang envelopes, spicy tenderloin lettuce cup, black pepper crab dumplings, salt & green pepper squid, seared scallops in tamarind peanut dressing,  crunchy tofu squares in pecel peanut sauce, crisp tempe manis, and chilled spiced watermelon soup.  They were all perfectly presented and all delicious and the seared scallops in tamarind peanut dressing were a real stand out to me…the blending of the dressing added a complexity to the overall taste with the scallop that it was wonderful.

For main course I chose the seafood hot lava stone sate platter which was made up of butterfish, black sea bass, sea scallops,  slipper lobster, whole soft shell crab,  squid, infinity bean  and lotus root which arrived searing hot and cooked to perfection.  The seafood was fresh, delicious and a real highlight but for me the real star of this meal was saved til the end – the dessert.

Usually I enjoy dessert but they do not usually get me excited the way that the dessert at Chandi did and it is another reason why this was my number 1 pick of restaurants in Bali…the whole meal was faultless.  So what was it that I am raving about?

It was  a very simple white chocolate fondant served with an exquisite vanilla bean ice cream and it was anything but simple.  When you pressed your fork into the fondant a river of rich white chocolate gorgeousness rushes onto the plate and envelopes the vanilla bean ice cream. It was pure bliss and topped off a perfect meal for me.

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The White Fondant and vanilla bean ice-cream – pure bliss!

So there you have it my top 5 dining experiences in Bali this time…

Have you eaten at any of them and do you agree to disagree with my choices..?