Beyond art, Ubud is food paradise especially if you’re like me who loves his nasi goren, sate, and curried.
Just like the Balinese concept of good existing alongside bad, there is a fair share of good warung and bad eating places and food in Ubud. Of course, you can’t really judge an entire place based on one order so my biases are based on what I simply ate. Also, whenever I travel, I almost always stick to local food so you won’t findy non-Indonesian eats here.
Down by the Road.
Really delicious food doesn’t need to come in fancy packages. The best meal you can sometimes have is served in a little shack by the road.
My first taste of pepes and sate lilit ikan was at a little stall by the road on my way to Julah up in the north. It was way past lunch and I was really hungry. Both the pepes and the sate had just been grilled. I liked the sate most especially, I ate 5 sticks with a plate if nasi putih all for just IDR 7,000! As local as local could get.
My driver also took me to a warung in Singaraja to try siobak, a soecialty of the north. It was a thick gooey stew of pig ears, organs, and fatty cubes. It tasted sweet with a hint of spices. I didn’t like it very much. It only cost IDR 5,000.
While waiting for our orders, I had some sati babi which was grilling just outside the warung. Really delicious.
Probably one of the cheapest eats around and we gotta thank the Minangkabau of Sumatra for the concept and the recipes. These simple eateries are all over Indonesia and there are two in Ubud. One in Jl Hanoman and the other in Jl Raya Ubud a stone’s throw away from Ganesha book shop.
Yeah, the food is pre-cooked and has been sitting at the counter for some time but fear not as the kind of dishes displayed and their cooking techniques aren’t the type that spoil easily. Lots of locals eat here too. Try the chicken dishes which have been marinated in spices.
Warung Here Warung There
In central Ubud, a warung doesn’t automatically translate to cheap pit stops where the locals eat. It’s simply a place, any place, for tourists to eat. Real warungs do exist but you certainly wouldn’t find them along the main tourist areas.
Near the corner of Jl Raya Ubud and Jl Sandat where I’m staying at is an all green warung imaginatively named Warung Sandat.
Took a seat at the second level overlooking the street below and enjoyed my nasi campur.
Thank Brahma, Vishnu, and Siwa for restaurants that live up to their names. After a barong performance at nearby Agung Rai Museum (which, by the way, has a splendid collection housed in two galleries) I headed to Warung Enak, took a seat outside and ordered a nasi campur. It was simply enak.
Everything from the freshly fried kropokto the urab sayur to the nasi and everything in between was simply flavorful. The curries were simply the best I’ve had. I was tempted to ask for a full order. The rice was interestingly presented as the bottom layer was nadi putih and the top nasi kuning. Maybe next time I should have riijastafel all to myself. By the way, service was gracious and excellent.
The nasi goreng was very good though it could do a little less kecap manis. The krupuk however, was as stale as the server who didn’t want to be bothered from sorting a bunch of string beans.
I’ve heard much about Fair Warung Bale so on my way to Warung Schnitzel, I detoured there instead.
The place had a friendly atmosphere as the staff was all smiley. Unfortunately, that was what they were just mostly good at. Service was slow as they seemed to be more intetested chatting or hanging around the counter.
I ordered a chicken curry and their 5-minute Heavenly Cake. I’ve already written about the cake that turned out to be a burnt pancake in a previous post. The curry was of a generous size and quite good. However, at IDR 50,000 it wasn’t good value as you could get the same quality at other less expensive places.
I’m kinda ambivalent about this place. I’m not sure if I’m gonna like it or not. I kinda feel it’s just all hype. The owner, Alex, was a nice guy who greets customers and even clears the table as his staff is too busy chatting or trying to be cute.
The nasi goreng urutan at Warung Biah Biah at Jl Gootama was such a let down after all those reviews at Trip Advisor. Urutan is Balinese pork sausage which is delicious. Having tried one at the Ubud Market in the morning. Mixed with nasi goreng you can’t go wrong. However, it tasted just like ordinary fried rice with a little sausage mixed in. The pork in sweet soy sauce was just as average. Both dishes just didn’t have any hint of spices. The place was packed for dinner and I was fortunate to grab a single table at the back. It took some time for my order to arrive maybe because of the large crowd. The prices are reasonable and you can order small plates (IDR 8,000) which were really small like the equivalent of two tablespoons to create your own nasi campur or add it to your existing spread like what I did with mine.
A Warung by Any Other Name
Nothing really distinguishes a restaurant that calls itself a warung from one that calls itself something else such as a cafe or a restaurant.
Everyone loves Cafe Wayan and who wouldn’t? The service is warm, the setting beautiful, and the food plentiful and delicious.
The Sunday dinner offered a good sampling of Balinese and Indonesian favorites like nasi kuning, gado-gado, sate lilit, curry, and many more. Good value at IDR 150,000.
The New Year’s Eve dinner was quite expensive at IDR 275,000++ but I enjoyed it. Considering that other restaurants were offering sit-down dinners for IDR 250,000 it was good value.
I really enjoy dining at Cafe Wayan because not only do they have beautiful surroundings, the staff really make you feel at home.
Alas, what would have been a nice morning enjoying the place was cut short when my food arrived.
The concept was to create your own nasi campur. So I chose nasi kuning, jackfruit curry, and potato fritters. It amounted to less than IDR 20,000. Cheap. For such a huge cup of rice, the portions of the viands were so small. Jackfruit curry was only two spoonfulls and was so bland I had to put salt. The potato fritters were the size of a coin.
I was so disappointed I finished my food quickly, got my stuff, paid, and left. Never to return.
Babi and Bebek
Any tourist to Ubud has two items on their culinary bucket list– babi guling at Ibu Oka and bebek bingil at Bebek Bingil.
On my first visit to Ubud a couple of years ago, I enjoyed Ibu Oka’s babi guling so much I had it almost everyday. This time, I ordered a special for Christmas lunch and it was disappointing. Not very savory and the skin wasn’t crunchy. Three locals have already told me the taste of Ibu Oka isn’t very Balinese.
Food with a View
There’s nothing like Bali’s rice paddies, no matter if it’s just a few hectares, to bring people in and raise prices up. Often, it’s the only thing the warung, cafe, or restaurant has got going for itself. With tables placed literally alongside the rice paddies, I wonder how it look come planting or harvest season when people actually work the fields?
Located just beside the posh Three Monkeys, Roi Pasti is easy to miss with its small entrance. Once inside, you share the same paddies with its more expensive neighbor but you dine on more affordable food and simpler surroundings.
But you came for the paddies and the free wifi, right? So choose cheap and enjoy them at Roi Pasti unless you have a deep pocket.
Had a tempe in kecap manis. Cheap, filling, healthy, and yummy.
There is so much food to enjoy at Ubud. I hadn’t even tried others that come highly recommended such as Melting Wok for their curries and Warung Pulang Kelapa for their prok ribs. If you tire of local fare, Pizza Bagus and Scannapoli score points based on internet reviews. There’s even a taco joint!