Whenever I am in a new country I am always keen to try as much local cuisine as possible and a few days ago this led me to Bambu Bali.
We took the 45 minute taxi ride from Padang Padang to Nusa Dua as I was reliably informed that this was the best traditional Balinese food available on the island. It certainly did not disappoint.
As we walked in we were greeted by a chorus of “Salam” from the happy smiling staff and the service was absolutely first class throughout, providing extra rice for no charge and always happy to answer our questions about the restaurant’s history and life in Bali.
The restaurant was created following the principles used in designing a traditional Balinese home compound, with a group of buildings surrounding a courtyard and a shrine to the god of evil spirits, as will be found in almost all homes in Bali. In addition to this, wooden posts were covered in the traditional black and white checked fabric which is thought to have protective powers against evil spirits. I certainly felt I was in safe hands!!
The food was quick to the table, just as it would be in a traditional family home, as the cook prepares most of this midmorning so that it is ready for around 11am when the Balinese have their main meal of the day. Leftovers are then eaten throughout the day and sometimes for breakfast the following morning.
We opted for the beautifully presented Rijsttafel which was a selection of small dishes served with rice. This included, Pork, Chicken and Seafood Satay, Ayam Sambel Metha (shredded chicken with shallots and lemongrass), Jejeruk Ayam (shredded chicken with vegetables and coconut), Sayur Mesanten (braised vegetables in coconut milk), Ketipat Cantok (warm vegetable salad with rice cakes), Pork in Sweet Soy Sauce, Hasil Laut Bumbu Kuning (seafood in yellow turmeric sauce) and much more.
The satay was absolutely to die for. Served on a satay grill to keep it warm, extra dipping sauces were provided on the side. The seafood satay was skewered on a stick of lemongrass which was a brilliant touch as it really took on the flavour of the lemongrass. The meat and fish were both succulent and the sauce was the kind that had you licking your lips afterwards.
The pork in sweet soy sauce was probably my favourite dish. The small cubes of pork literally melted in the mouth and the sauce was just perfect, sweet but not sickly with a touch of vinegar cutting through the sweetness and aromatic spices really adding to the flavour.
Everything was delicious but I must also give the Ayam Sambel Metha a special mention. It reminded me of a Thai salad, really zingy and moreish. Most of the dishes were strongly flavoured, a number of them with a mild and slightly creamy peanut sauce, such as the Ketipat Cantok and a green bean salad. Plain rice was the perfect accompaniment.
For desert we were presented with a fresh fruit platter which included mango, pineapple, water melon, starfruit, papaya and passion fruit. Delicious and perfect after such a big meal.
During the meal we had a few large Bintang (Indonesian lager) and then finished off with a Balinese coffee, which was strong enough to put hairs on your chest. It was also full of granules, so very different to the coffee we are used to drinking in England.
The whole thing came to just under £40 including service which is quite a lot by Bali standards but an absolute bargain when you are used to paying London prices.
If you are in Bali you must go. I couldn’t recommend it enough and I am rather sad that I am now at the other end of the island and won’t get a chance to go back before I leave. A definite 9/10.