The warungs of Bali

Warungs could well be the only authentic Balinese thing about Seminyak, the upscale Bali neighbourhood. That, and the roadside spa joints peddling rather average Balinese massages. Warungs are family-run hole-in-the-walls that serve local Indonesian food at cheap prices (= a complete meal + a drink within 40,000 rupiah!). Nasi goreng, Mie Goreng, Nasi Campur, Ayam Bakar, Gado Gado… all these international stars of Indonesian cuisine had their humble beginnings at Warungs.

These traditional joints don’t have much in the name of décor or “service”, but what they lack in fuss, they more than make up for it in taste. As the adventurous backpackers from around the world will tell you, gorging on local food is one of the many gratifications of travelling – and you can tell good local when you see the locals milling around a space. Locals know. They do. And following the trails of some, here’s a list of the warungs you shouldn’t miss when you land in Seminyak next.

Eny
A clean family-run joint, Eny beats the competition with its Nasi Campur (pronounced: Nasi Champoor). Nasi Campur is a pick-and-mix dish with a mound of rice (white/red/yellow) in the centre, along with a choice of tofu, Tempe or fermented soyabean cakes, sauteed seasonal greens, Ayam Betutu or Balinese chicken, fried eggs, sauteed meats and the spicy sambal. The thick tomato chilli sambal also comes in varying degrees of heat – ask for “tidak” if you like it mild, and “tolong” if you like it fiery and want your eyes cleansed.
Eny is also popular for its seafood and satays, and offers all this yummyness in an unpretentious, farm shed setting.

Address: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak

 

Nasi Campur, a pick-and-mix dish with rice, sautéed vegetables, meats and sambal.

Kolega

This is a warung that the local celebrity chefs swear by. Kolega is more Javanese than Balinese in its offerings. In case you are wondering, Javanese style of cooking is spicy-and-sweet, while its Eastern counterpart is tongue-tingling spicy. Besides the killer Nasi Campur, you can look forward to the soulful and comforting Soto Ayam (chicken noodle soup) at Kolega.

Address: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak

 

Wahaha

Time, tide and pork ribs wait for none. Well, at least the ones they make at Wahaha don’t! Locals swear by them. The travellers swear by them. I can’t swear cuz I’ve been trying my hand at vegetarian-ism, but try them, you must!

Address: Jalan Sunset, Seminyak

Pak Malen Babi Guling
Babi Guling – the whole roast pig – is Bali’s iconic dish, and another one of the delicacies that I had to give a miss. When in Seminyak, look up Warung Pak Malen on the corner of Sunset Road for a fill of nasi (rice), pork satay, curry, and crackling, crunchy skin.
Pak Malen is a rather popular joint, and keeps its shutters up only till afternoon, which is also the time by when everything sells out. Queue up early for their legendary pork and jackfruit soup.

Address: Jalan Sunset, Seminyak

Or, Balinese chicken

Balinese chicken (Ayam Betutu)

Taman Bambu
Or, Bamboo Garden. This warung is really cosy, really niche and really inexpensive. And a really good place to have your first tryst with Indonesian food. Its not much to look at, and locals don’t show it off much either. Maybe because they don’t want to run out on the awesomepossum Nasi Goreng and seriously fiendish sambal that’s served here. And they have a huge selection for vegetarians to choose from (a fact which not many warungs can boast of!).

Address: Jalan Plawa, Seminyak

On your way out, don’t forget your Berapa (how much do I owe you) and Terima Kasih (thank you).