Brimming with glossy, indigo-hued eggplants, brilliant-green beans and sunny yellow bananas. Calls ring out spruiking exotic produce of hairy rambutans, bubbly-skinned gourds and bunches of longans.
This daily buffet of ingredients catches the eye of passing locals, tourists and chefs as they meander through the vibrant market. Much of this bounty will end up at Bali’s restaurants and warungs (eateries) that have become part of the island’s happening food scene – a scene that beautifully fuses both local and western ingredients and cooking styles.
From the beach to the rice fields, you will find fine dining restaurants dishing up internationally inspired plates beside traditional Balinese fare and hip, health-conscious eateries. It is a flavour-packed balance that makes Bali an enviable culinary destination.
An excursion to Ubud’s market is a good place to start, but it is just a small amuse-bouche of what is on offer. At the same time, you are in the rice paddy-fringed town, sample some truly local fare, such as the Balinese speciality of the spit-roasted pig, or babi guling. This robust meal served with crunchy crackling, and a tangy side salad is cooked over an open fire-pit then dished out at warungs. It is a food-lovers paradise.
For a real taste of Bali’s food scene, you can also take a cooking class. In the island’s north-east you will find Bali Asli: surrounded by serene rice fields with uninterrupted views of Mount Agung, you can learn how to cook over the fire, plant rice and enjoy typical Balinese celebration cuisine. Alternatively, head north to Les Village to visit Chef Yudi, at Dapur Bali Mula, a part-time chef and Hindu priest, who will teach you the art of Balinese barbecue with a side order of Hindu prayer.
Of course, Bali is not all rice fields.
The beachside towns of Seminyak and Canggu draw travellers for their lively energy and world-class restaurants. Make a shortlist of the best on offer and tick them off during your stay. You might start with one of Seminyak’s many sleek, design-led eateries such as Sarong and Bambu Bali, experience Balinese culture on a plate at Canggu’s Tugu Bali restaurant with 14th-century Indonesian heritage cuisine, or head to Bingin Beach for a toes-in-sand fish barbecue at Lucky Fish.
However you choose to eat your way around Indonesia’s culinary island, you certainly will not leave hungry.