After a day exploring Bali’s natural and cultural wonders, you’ll be sure to work up an appetite. The wide array of restaurants, local warungs (small eateries), and street vendors makes for a delectable culinary adventure.
Balinese cuisine is influenced by a blend of local ingredients and aromatic spices like ginger, galangal, turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and chilis. Many Balinese dishes can be prepared without meat, making the cuisine very vegetarian-friendly.
During your trip to Bali, we recommend trying traditional dishes to savor the local flavors. Here are 10 of our favorite authentic dishes that offer a taste of Bali’s vibrant food culture. Stop by a local eatery to try them right here in Tulamben.
1. Mie Goreng
This popular, yet simple, Indonesian dish translates to “fried noodles” in English. At its most basic form, mie goreng is made with yellow wheat noodles that are stir-fried with chopped vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts and flavored with a kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) based sauce. This tasty noodle dish is often topped with a fried egg and may be served with another protein such as shrimp or chicken.
2. Gado Gado
Gado Gado is an Indonesian salad that includes a variety of blanched vegetables served with peanut sauce. The name gado gado literally means “mix-mix” in Indonesian, reflecting the diverse combination of ingredients in the dish. While everyone has their own way of preparing gado gado, some of the vegetables commonly used are cabbage, bean sprouts, water spinach, long beans, or potatoes. It may also include proteins like tofu, tempeh, or hard-boiled eggs and be accompanied by rice or sticky rice cakes.
3. Nasi Campur
Nasi campur features a serving of white rice accompanied by small portions of various dishes like meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, tempeh, tofu, and a side of sambal making for a diverse combination of flavors. Like gado gado, nasi campur greatly varies from one establishment to the next. When you order it in a restaurant, the sides are typically pre-determined and arranged neatly around the rice. But when you get it at a small warung you are often able to pick and choose what you want to build your own meal. This more traditional style of nasi campur usually comes wrapped in brown paper or a banana leaf that is folded into a cone.
4. Babi Guling
One of the most cherished dishes in Bali, Babi Guling features spit-roasted, whole suckling pig. The pig is seasoned with spices before being slow-roasted over a fire until the skin is crispy. It’s often served by Balinese people during special occasions like ceremonies.
5. Nasi Goreng
This local staple is the Indonesian version of fried rice and the sister to mie goreng. It typically consists of steamed rice stir-fried with ingredients like shallots, garlic, tamarind, kecap manis, and chili, along with a variety of other ingredients like vegetables, meat, or seafood. Like mie goreng, nasi goreng is typically topped with a fried egg. It is often served with crispy shrimp crackers that provide added crunch and texture. While nasi goreng is frequently enjoyed for lunch or dinner, it is not uncommon to also see it on menus as a breakfast dish.
6. Pepes Ikan
Pepes Ikan involves seasoning fish with a blend of local spices and wrapping it in banana leaves. The fish is then steamed or grilled inside of the banana leaf. This traditional cooking method adds a distinctive aroma and creates a moist and flavorful dish.
Satay consists of skewered, grilled meat that is typically served with peanut sauce. The skewers are made with marinated and seasoned chicken, goat, pork, beef, or fish. This dish is often sold by street vendors and can also be found in local warungs and restaurants throughout Bali.
Bakso is an Indonesian soup that consists of meatballs served in a flavorful broth. You’ll often see street vendors selling this soup out of their food carts. The meatballs are made from a mixture of ground meat, typically chicken, pork, or beef. In addition to the meatballs, bakso often contains noodles and vegetables like bean sprouts or greens and may be topped with additional condiments like crispy fried shallots.
9. Fresh Caught Seafood
Surrounded by water on all sides, Bali offers a diverse array of seafood. Many tourism destinations, like Tulamben, are fishing villages located right on the coast. That’s why a visit to Bali wouldn’t be complete without trying freshly caught seafood. Many restaurants will advertise which fish was just caught locally that day. Local delicacies include snapper, mahi-mahi, tuna, and barracuda. We recommend ordering it grilled to preserve the tenderness and bring out the flavor. Most Balinese seafood dishes will be accompanied by white rice, sambal, and some type of vegetable.
10. Soto Ayam
Soto Ayam is a comforting Indonesian chicken soup with an aromatic broth. The soup’s distinctive yellow color is due to the turmeric used in the broth. Along with shredded chicken, the soup typically contains noodles and vegetables. Some soto ayam also includes a hard-boiled egg or comes with a side serving of rice.