Mr. Selfish and I didn’t know much about Balinese food prior to this trip. The only other time we had had Indonesian food was in Amsterdam. We had enjoyed a variety of delicious and very spicy small plates, which is known as Padang and is from the area of Sumatra. This type of cuisine is entirely different from Balinese cuisine, so we were excited to learn about actual Balinese food.
One of our best meals in Bali was at Ibu Oka, where they serve roasted pork (“babi guling”). This dish is distinctly Balinese. The Balinese prepare the pork by stuffing and infusing it with a spicy concoction typically involving turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic and then the pig is spit-roasted. Yes, it is just as amazing as it sounds.
We also had delicious crispy duck from Bebek Bengil a/k/a the Dirty Duck Diner. I’m not sure if crispy duck is distinctly Balinese but it was certainly tasty. I preferred the original crispy duck to the one with green herb paste.
On our first night in Sanur, we ventured to the night market and saw that hawkers were serving all sorts of delights. We settled on a stand serving noodles topped with an egg (known as “mie goreng”) and fried rice topped with an egg (known as “nasi goreng”). Both are made with a sweet soy sauce and contained a variety of veggies and meat. Apparently, nasi goreng is considered by many to be the national dish of Indonesia. And I can see why – I had it from many different places during our trip and it was always delicious.
Finally, we had civet coffee, which is made from coffee berries that a civet eats, digests, and then defecates. Apparently, the civet’s digestion of the coffee berries is supposed to improve its flavor. We walked by a coffee shop claiming to sell civet coffee, and I was skeptical until we saw a couple of civets. The civets are actually cute little fox-like creatures. We ended up having civet coffee at two locations, and I must say that the coffee has an interesting flavor (although not necessarily a better flavor).
Since then, I’ve learned that civet coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world and that it is primarily produced in Indonesia. However, I also learned that most civet coffee is fake since more civet coffee is sold than produced. So, I’ll never know if it was the real stuff or not.
In any case, Balinese cuisine is quite tasty, and I will be definitely be visiting Bali again sometime in the future.