Here is a list of some of the best traditional dishes in Bali
- Bali Guling – Babi guling, also known as suckling pig, is arguably Bali’s most iconic local dish that is a must-try. This dish is a complete nose-to-tail delicacy and is typically served with rice, pork sausage, vegetable salad in coconut chilli dressing, and generous cuts of spice-rubbed meat that has been slow-roasted for hours to achieve perfect tenderness. The skin of the dish is especially noteworthy, boasting a crispy, crunchy texture and a delicious flavor. If you’re looking to sample some of the best babi guling on the island, check out Warung Ibu Oka (located at Jl Tegal Sari No.2, Ubud), Babi Guling Candra (located at Jl Teuku Umar, Denpasar), or Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen (located at Jl Sunset Road No. 5, Seminyak).
- Nasi Campur – Balinese nasi campur, which literally translates to mixed rice, is a highly favored dish among locals and visitors alike. This dish, which can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, is a delectable assortment of Indonesia’s most popular flavors. Similar to a pick’n’mix, nasi campur offers a bit of everything in the Balinese culinary world. A mark of authentic nasi campur lies in the quality of the ayam panggang (grilled chicken), the beef rendang (beef curry), and, of course, the selection of hot sambals. For the best nasi campur experience, seek out buffet-style warungs that feature glass cabinets where you can choose your desired items. Some of the highly recommended places to try nasi campur include Warung Wardani (located at Jl Yudistira No.2, Denpasar), Warung Yess (located at Jl Pantai Pererenan, Canggu), or Stop Makan Yuk (located at Jl Raya Uluwatu).
- Sate Lilit Ikan – While satay (grilled skewered meat) is a common dish throughout Southeast Asia, not everyone has had the opportunity to try the traditional Balinese sate lilit ikan (fish satay). This delectable dish involves skewering and seasoning minced fish before grilling it over charcoal or an open fire (sometimes even on the side of the road). The result is a scrumptious morsel that’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and molded around a lemongrass stalk or wooden stick. For the best experience, savor this dish with a generous helping of sambal. If you’re looking for places to try this dish, check out Warung Mertha Sari (located at Jl Pesinggahan, Tuban) or Warung Ari (located at Jl Tukad Pakerisan, South Denpasar).
- Bebek Betutu – Bebek betutu, or smoked duck, is a one-of-a-kind local dish that should be at the top of your Bali must-eat list. Local ducks are carefully rubbed and stuffed with a blend of spices, then wrapped in banana leaves and coconut husks. The traditional cooking method involves placing the duck in a pit of embers underground for up to 24 hours. The sign of an authentically-cooked bebek betutu is plenty of smoky, melt-in-your-mouth duck meat that’s coated inside and out with slightly charred basa gede, Bali’s traditional spice mix, which leaves behind subtle hints of lemongrass, turmeric, and ginger. If you’re looking to try this dish, head over to Bebek Bengil (located at Jl Hanoman, Ubud) or Bumbu Bali Restaurant & Cooking School (located at Jl Pratama, Tanjung Benoa – Nusa Dua).
- Nasi or Mie Goreng – Nasi goreng, or fried rice, and mie goreng, or fried noodles, are practically considered as Indonesia’s national dishes and are essential in the local cuisine. The toppings and accompaniments of your nasi or mie goreng may vary depending on where you dine, but they typically come with a fried egg, dried shallots, vegetables, pickles, prawn crackers, and either chicken or beef satay. Once you find a truly delicious nasi goreng, you’ll become a lifelong fan. For some great options, check out Poppies Restaurant (located at Poppies Lane 1, Kuta) or Warung Padmasari (located at Jl Padma No.14, Legian).
- Sambal Matah – Sambal matah, Bali’s unique version of sambal, is a must-try spicy condiment that perfectly complements any Balinese dish. With over 300 variations of sambal in Indonesia, sambal matah is our top pick. It is made by finely chopping raw shallots, lemongrass, garlic, chili, and lime, then mixing it all together with hot oil, salt, sugar, and a little bit of shrimp paste. It pairs exceptionally well with fresh fish or chicken, or you can eat it directly with a spoon. To try sambal matah, visit Warung Cahaya (Jl Nakula, Seminyak) or Echo Beach House (Jl Pura Batu Mejan, Canggu).
- Lawar – Lawar is a Balinese salad made of minced pork (or sometimes unconventional ingredients like dragonflies and turtles), offal, young jackfruit, coconut, galangal, chilies, spices, and fresh blood. It’s not a dish for the faint-hearted and is definitely an adventurous culinary experience in Bali. However, it’s highly recommended to try if you can handle it. If you can’t handle the fresh blood, you can ask for it to be excluded, but it won’t be the authentic version.
For an authentic Lawar experience, you can try Warung Nasi Lawar Sapi Odah (Segara Beach, Sanur) or Lawar Kuwir Men Sono (Sangeh, Abiansemal).