Plush jungle, wicker bags sold from rows of street vendors, the faint smell of barbecue carried by the dust as motorcycles dash past you. It’s no where other than Bali, a location high up every wanderluster’s wishlist and one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve visited in the world. My first time at the popular tourist destination was early this year, where my goal was to see e and eat as much as I could along the way. You may be surprised (and relieved) to know I wasn’t there solely on an Instagram trip but was hoping to photograph and document anything I happened to find interesting for my blog. As Bali is so large, where it can take around three hours without traffic to get from Ubud to Uluwatu, destination dining is as much of a thing there as rainbow coloured smoothie bowls. But don’t worry there’s none of that here.
Set on a vantage point, OPIA in Jimbaran is truly beautiful and looks like my dream holiday home. It really is the kind of venue you would envision for a boho themed wedding. Upon arrival, you’re welcomed by a host that offers a complimentary aperitif. Dining is mainly outdoors, either sheltered or under a canopy of greenery and fairy lights, although a contemporary dining space also awaits inside. It’s a wonderful journey to be seated, you walk by water features with a view of plush greenery that plummets down below. It would’ve been perfect for a photo opportunity had the island not been experiencing torrential rain that evening. Note to self and others, do not visit in February.
Although you’ll be hard pressed to find poor service in Bali, OPIA does a fantastic job of rising above expectations. The restaurant even offers a free shuttle service to nearby neighbourhoods for their guests and everything feels very tended to and personal without the clinginess of those snooty European restaurants. Unfortunately, food here is only passable, where presentation and taste seems to decline with each course.
The cuisine claims to be Peruvian but the most prominent example of this are the ceviche dishes, which are worth ordering. But if you’ve had the genuine article, it’s a bit of a let down. The menu is better described as fusion, for example there’s a squid ink pasta topped with some superfluous foam, pork, prawn and accompanied by XO sauce. Not as confusing to the taste buds as it is to the mind but would have been much better simplified. The suckling pig was a recommended dish and became the subject of food envy on the table, however for a signature dish it didn’t leave a huge impression. Notably, the restaurant does serve a local Chardonnay that’s produced in Ubud, quite a rare find in a country not known for vineyards but tea plantations.
When it comes to OPIA, it’s important to keep in perspective that it’s about the atmosphere. I feel that every holiday has that one place that’s more about experience than substance and this is the place for that. Just don’t come hungry.
Jalan Bukit Permai
No. 2, Jimbaran,
The Seminyak hotspot is as known as Potato Head Beach Club and you’re likely to see the same kind of crowd. Despite its reputation, the restaurant was surprisingly quiet on a weekday afternoon. Tucked behind a busy stretch of fabulous boutiques, the wildly photogenic glass house is a popular place for brunch. Chef Manel and Chef Hans are responsible for the mouth-watering, healthy menu that’s laden with international influence: poke, ceviche, Japanese ingredients like miso butter and shimeji mushrooms mixed into Western plates. Compared to the Singapore branch, which was my first foray into the world of Kilo, the Bali kitchen is far more affordable. Although the desserts aren’t as strong as could be, for everything else you can think of, from service to its coffee, this Seminyak beauty is most definitely worth a visit.
The eclectic, satiating offering is not the only lure of Kilo, this is stuff made of interior dreams. A last supper-sized agate table, cacti gardens and an alfresco dining area. You only need to look at the photos to fall in love. If Kilo ever ventured into the hotels, I’d be the first to stay.
22 Jalan Drupadi,
Bali, Indonesia 80361
I had to include this for its cult status. Naughty Nuri’s keeps true to its roots as a small enterprise that started roadside in Ubud and despite international attention, it’s still very much for the locals. Unlike the other two on this list, this destination dining treasure is throbbing with those warung feels (a small, often home-based and family run eatery). The menu is simple with a focus on the barbecue spare ribs done American style. While nothing else on offer really lives up to this dish, you won’t be disappointed. The portions are huge and one order will more than suffice two to three diners. You’re encouraged to eat with your hands, where a huge sink awaits to wash away your meaty sins.
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud,
Bali 80571, Indonesia
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