Destinations

A chef's guide to where to eat in Bali

From a zero-waste restaurant to the best babi guling, chef Will Goldfarb shares his tips on where to eat and drink in Bali.

By Jessica Rigg
Courtesy of Kaum at Potato Head Bali
Will Goldfarb. Photo: courtesy of Room 4 Dessert
For the best Indonesian food in Bali, go to Kaum at Potato Head. The menu is a combination of Indonesian classics and creations inspired by different islands
across the archipelago. I can't say no to any of chef Wayan Kresna Yasa's sates (satays), particularly the babi (pork). The rice dishes blow my mind, and when the moringa soup
is on the menu, it's a can't miss.
Also at Potato Head is Ijen, a zero-waste fish-grill restaurant where chef Daryl Wonorahardjo cooks everything over an open fire. The new menu is more refined than the previous but remains simple in nature, with dishes like local snapper that's aged and perfectly grilled. There's also a fantastic dish of ravioli made from daikon shavings with a bisque sauce made from fish bones.
If I have an evening free, I go to Pica South American Kitchen by Cristian Encina in Ubud. The food is super fresh and super delicious. Cristian's Chilean, but I would say the food is more Peruvian. I always have the same thing: a classic ceviche, a rare grilled steak with a side of salsa verde and a tres leches (three milk) cake with passion fruit seeds.
Ijen, Seminyak. Photo: Courtesy of Potato Head Bali
Down the street from Pica, Cristian has opened a cocktail bar called Boliche. Tucked away behind a little secret door, the bar is the place to go right now. Inside, there's a beautiful terrace overlooking one of the temples in Ubud right by the bridge. It does Peruvian cocktails and Latin-inspired snacks. The menu is constantly changing, but it's always fun, party-friendly food.
Warung Sate Kakul, Ubud
If I want to have a snack in the afternoon, I go to Warung Sate Kakul in Ubud for freshwater snail satay. It's fantastic. Like the name suggests, the eatery serves super fresh barbecue-grilled snails with soup made from banana heart. There are a lot of rice fields on the island and, by extension, a lot of rice field snails.
A dish I miss when I'm away from Bali is babi guling (roast suckling pig). There's a lot of debate on who does the best babi guling, but Babi Guling Pande Egi has recently taken it to another level. I'm also a big fan of Babi Guling Ibu Oka. It's touristy, but it's still great.
Warung Makan Rama Ayam Betutu, multiple locations
You'll find the best betutu (chicken cooked in a richly spiced sauce) at Warung Makan Rama Ayam Betutu. There are about six of them all over the south of Bali. It's like a franchise, but by franchise I mean it's one woman with one bowl and one chicken, and they make the sambal fresh in each one. They cook the rice over charcoal too, so everything is super smoky.
Pica South American Kitchen. Photo: courtesy of Pica
I like to get down to Canggu to see chef Ben Cross at his restaurant Mason. The food is fantastic and very reasonably priced. One dish I really love is the charcoal eggplant purée with wood-fired flatbreads. The chefs do all the charcuterie and butchery in-house and there's a strong cocktail and wine program. At the back of the restaurant you'll find a door leading to The Back Room – a New York-style bar, which is an insane party place with killer cocktails.
At Sangsaka, you can see traces of chef Kieran Morland's background from New York's Momofuku Ssäm Bar and The Wapping Project in London. He has a true passion for Indonesian flavours and products. His wife, Yunika, is the real flavour goddess behind the place. You can taste her sambal in everything Kieran cooks, like his lobster dumplings.
My guilty pleasure is going to Gaya Gelato in Sayan, just next to my house. My go-to is pistachio and zabaglione with whipped cream on top.
Everything we do at Room 4 Dessert is built around our garden, which is now in its fourth year. We just planted another 2000 square metres of medicinal herbs, plants and flowers in the last 90 days. Every menu we create has 21 dishes and is built around 21 plants that we grow. We've been using a book called Apotek Hidup, or Living Pharmacy, as the base for what we do. It studies Balinese plants and how they're used traditionally. Everything we do is built around the plants that we grow and our healing through food.