Ubud is often referred to as the foodie capital of Bali. You’ll find Balinese, Indonesian and international food to suit every palate and budget.
Ubud town itself has developed a lot in the last five years – Whatever you read in Eat Pray Love is not quite what it was. One local we spoke to explained that just a few years back, the central buildings of the town were surrounded by rice paddies. Now those buildings are surrounded by other buildings!
But what Ubud has lost in scenery, it has made up for in dining options.
For most tourists, you’ll only get a few days at most staying in Ubud. In that time there are some essential dishes you must try. But where to taste them at their best? Some of our favourite restaurants and food choices below.
Petani Restaurant ($ Mid Range – Main courses around $8USD)
The extensive menu at Petani Restaurant features a mix of local and international classics. Each dish handled with a personal flare and fantastic presentation.
In Bali we found the main advantage of going mid range, rather than going to the very local, budget places, is not necessarily better flavour, but quality of ingredients, menu selection and presentation. That said, I’m speaking in general. Petani Restaurant in particular also delivered excellent flavour.
Some of the highlights of the menu for us (We tried a lot!)
1. Bebek Goreng – Crispy Duck
This has to be THE must try dish in Ubud. We tried a few versions of it (We are massive fans of duck!) and we agreed the version at Petani Restaurant was the best. Why? Crispy succulence! Striking the balance between under frying – where the skin does not crisp enough. Or over frying, where the meat inside dries out. It’s not easy to get that perfect.
Petani got it perfect. Salty, crispy fatty duck skin with fall off the bone, soft duck meat inside.
Served with a palate refreshing but slightly spicy green bean salad. Also 3 types of sambal for dipping – Sambal Matah (Made with chilli, kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste), Tomato sambal, and Sambal Bali – a secret house special.
2. Mixed Grilled Balinese Satay (Beef, Chicken, Prawn)
Of course, Satay is the quintessential Indonesian dish. You’ll see it on every menu and you cannot escape it! But that’s ok, because if you get a good one, you’ll love it. So how do you spot a good one?
During our time in Indonesia we feel we only had two very good Satay’s. One, we made ourself at the Gilli Air Cooking Class. The other was at Petani’s. The reason some are good and some not, is down to the consistency of the sauce and the amount of peanut.
I mentioned before about spending a little more to get better quality ingredients. Well, this is essential when it comes to getting the best satay. We were surprised at our cooking class just how many peanuts go into one small satay dip. The sauce comes out like a think nutty paste – thicker than peanut butter.
When you get a cheap imitation version, it comes out more like the consistency of brown ketchup with the hint of peanut. This is because, of course, the peanuts are the expensive ingredient, so essentially, budget restaurants water it down. Not saying you can’t find good street food satay, just that we didn’t. The premium versions are simply better.
To add to this, the satay was presented on a small bbq grill, complete with smoking hot coal.
We also tried the Grilled Jimbaran Tuna, Thai Duck Curry, sweet potato chips and avocado salad. Consistently good! The tuna was seared perfectly leaving a very purple inside.
We somehow managed to finish off our already stuffed bellies, by ordering the Dessert Sampler – 5 mini portions of Petani’s best desserts. The chocolate tart and apple pie being our favourites.
Petani Restaurant on Facebook.
Other unmissable Ubud Dining Choices & Dishes
As we mentioned, duck is a must try. But crispy duck is not the only option.
Rather than being crispy, Bebek Betutu is cooked either by steaming or smoking with Indonesian spices.
We saw many restaurants offering this dish only if booked with 24 hours notice. You would then order the whole, slow cooked duck. Admittedly, this may be the best way to eat this dish. But, if you are not that organised – like us apparently – then a few places offer the faster cooked version.
At Cafe Bunute, the duck is served steamed, spiced and soft. Melt in the mouth soft. The meat is just waiting to escape it’s boney prison the second your fork touches it.
The Betutu paste used to season the duck includes spices like lemongrass, garlic, black pepper, coriander seeds, ginger, kaffir lime, chilli and turmeric. Loved it!
Cafe Bunute & Secret Lounge
And For Dessert…
We don’t go too crazy for dessert. Normally we eat so much main course we can never make it to the sweet stuff. However, we thought it would be wrong to visit Bali and not try some local favourite desserts.
Once again, we were at Cafe Bunute. For the first time we tried the bubur Injin – which is black rice sweetened with rich, dark palm sugar and then topped with coconut milk. But Cafe Bunute went one step further, serving with coconut ice-cream and sliced banana.
Wow! Sweet, but not overpowering. Moorish coconut ice-cream melting and blending with starchy, sticky rice. It was worth the calories.
After trying this the first time, we made an effort to get it again elsewhere in Bali… Just not the same. Cafe Bunute was a real winner.
There is more to Indonesian food than the few dishes I’ve referenced in this article. For our big list of must-try Balinese and Lombok cuisine, click here.
Check out Our Top Ubud Picks HERE
Other recommended Restaurants
Ready for Indonesian Degustation?
If you want a luxury dining experience that completely re-invents classic Indonesian dishes, we ate at Cascades.
Dishes like Gado-Gado and Beef Rendang have been interpreted for an extensive degustation menu with wine pairings.
You can read our full review of Cascades HERE
Melting Wok Restaurant
We can’t give a personal recommendation of Melting Wok, because we did not eat there… Why? You have to book 24 hours in advance as they are always full! The concept seems to be an ever-changing specials menu with just a couple of dishes every night, plus some standards available every night – always fantastic food and exceptional reviews.
If you are in Ubud, give it a try and let us know in the comments below if you enjoyed it.
I mentioned at the start of this article that the rice terraces inside the city limits of Ubud have rapidly been disappearing. But some hotels, such as Alaya Resort, have bought enough land around their location in order to maintain a feeling of what Ubud once was. They are keeping those areas preserved as rice terraces, rather than building on them.
If you want to feel that old vibe, how it once was, Alaya is an ideal accommodation option. Plus, you get that perfect touch of luxury for your vacation too!
The bedrooms come in a modern meets traditional style. The Beautiful silhouette design on the wall, and an open shower room (bathtub rooms also available.) You can pull curtains around the shower area for privacy.
For the inclusive breakfast you get the bakery tray, as well as fruit, as standard. Then you can select your “main course” from continental, to American to healthy eating options.
To book this hotel or for more information CLICK HERE
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