Ubud, Bali, has an incredible variety of places to eat. It is fascinating to uncover local Indonesian cuisines in Ubud. One of Ubud’s most popular Indonesian restaurants is Kafe Batan Waru. We heard so many good reviews about Batan Waru. So, we decided to have a dinner there.
The restaurant opens until midnight. Because I had to take care of my precious S until she was asleep, Batan Waru was an excellent choice for us for a late dinner. The place is cozy and atmospheric at night, decorated with artistic paintings and ornaments. The entrance is lit with candles. The modern Balinese dining area has a very inviting and relaxing ambiance. Simply a great place to eat, drink and chat the night away.
Yun’s favorite: Ayam panggang rica rica and A’s favorite: Ayam rica rica
Tum Ayam, variety of chili and red rice
Ayam panggang Bali
The ambitious menu has many selections of traditional dishes. A very much likes their Ayam Rica Rica, which is claimed to be Batan Waru’s favorite. It is grilled boneless chicken shimmered in Manadonese chili, shiitake mushroom and coconut milk sauce. I looove their special menu of the day, Ayam Panggang Rica Rica. It is similar to what A had, but with half grilled chicken and then served with coconut milk, mixed with herbs on top of the chicken. I came back again to Batan Waru later that month to order the same dish. Unfortunately, it was no longer on their menu.
Kafe Batan Waru
Dewi Sita Street
A and I finally got the chance to go to Mozaic Restaurant in Ubud, Bali for a nice fine dining. Yay! In our recent trip to Bali, we stayed at a nearby villa at Ubud, and Shiori’s nanny joined our trip as well. So, we took advantage of this situation to celebrate our sixth anniversary privately.
Chris Salan, the owner and chef at Mozaic, previously worked as a head chef at Thomas Keller’s French Bistro Restaurant at Napa Valley, California before he decided to return to Indonesia, where his wife originally comes from. Now he has developed his own cuisine style. He creates a cuisine with a perfect balance between Indonesian flavors using western cooking techniques. His commitment to use local produce and fresh ingredients brings Mozaic into one of the world’s famous restaurants. Mozaic is included in the list of the 100 best restaurants in the world in the 2009 San Pellegrino Guide and is recognized as one of the top 10 best restaurant in Asia in the 2009 Miele Guide.
As we arrived at the restaurant, we were seated in the lounge area and served with their amuse bouche, gougeres stuffed with black truffle cream. After a few minutes of waiting, they brought us into a walkway that leads to a beautiful garden with a unique setting and elegance touched. We were very fortunate at that time to have a nice weather so that we could experience a dinner in the restaurant’s outdoor garden. I personally loved the ambiance and the garden setting dinner. We must say that it was the most romantic garden dinner experience we’ve ever had. Happy 6th anniversary, my dear A! Thanks for giving me eighteen years full of love, laugh and happiness since our first date.
We decided to order two different menus so that we could explore the different types of food Chef Salan created. A decided to have the Discovery Menu, focusing on fresh seasonal Indonesia ingredients and flavors prepared with western cooking techniques of preparation and presentation. While I had the Surprise Menu, consisting of six surprise dishes composed of only the finest, rarest and the most precious ingredients available.
Pictures of the various dishes that A and I had are included below.
Y: White chocolate mouse with orange rosemary served with black olive sorbet and black olive marmalade
A: Seasonal apples baked in a caramelized phyllo, ras-el-hanout gelle and chili lemongrass ice cream
This time I won’t talk about details of each food. I will let the pictures tell the story and also let your imagination run wild. Hehe. Hopefully, this can attract you to also go there to experience a nice dinner at Mozaic. Please do let me know if you do that!
The Discovery Menu really surprised me. I love what A had, especially the Balinese spiced rabbit tortellini in a broth of kluwek nut. Wow! It blew me away. The kluwek flavor gave a slight taste that works perfectly with tortellini. It was something that never crossed my mind to mix pasta with traditional Indonesian spices such as kluwek.
We also loved their warm bread rolls, especially the seaweed and green tea rolls, which were served with salted butter. If we were not about to have six course dishes, we would probably eat more bread that evening.
At the end of the meal, both of us agreed that the Mozaic dinner was truly a nice anniversary celebration for us. The food met our expectations. The ambiance was remarkable. The garden was an outstanding place to celebrate our special moment.
Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Gianyar — Bali
Early this month, A and I visited Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi province, mainly for its world famous diving. Manado’s local food, also known as Minahasan food, was also an interest to us. Manadonese food is very famous throughout Indonesia for two things. First, the flavor of choice is very, very hot and spicy. People in Manado will likely not go for a strike when fuel costs increase, but it is very unlikely for them to stay quiet when chili prices increase. Second, Minahasan people eat absolutely anything with legs, except tables and chairs for sure. Exotic meat choices include dogs, fruit bats, forest rats, cats, snakes. So, be prepared with what you’ll see in a Minahasan restaurant, or for more bizarre sights, in a butcher section at a Minahasan market.
Because of the distant location of our hotel from Manado city, we came down to the city only twice. So, due to the very limited time we got, we sadly must narrow down the list of food we wanted to explore in Manado.
Not long ago, my mom and I talked about different kinds of Soto, a traditional Indonesian soup mainly composed of broth, meat, and vegetables. Beef soto and chicken soto are omnipresent in various regions in Muslim-majority Indonesia, but we had never found pork soto. Since the majority of the inhabitants of North Sulawesi are Christians, alcohol and pork are often used in Manadonese cuisine. We unexpectedly found restaurants offering Soto Rusuk on the day we arrived at Manado, which is equivalent to pork soto made from pork ribs. Ahaa! Finally, we found pork soto! We went to Soto Rusuk Ko Petrus, which is famous in Manado, for our late lunch. The taste of the pork soto was beyond our expectation. The soup is very savory and the meat is so tender. If you want extra soup, they can refill it for you for free.
We picked fresh seafood for our first dinner at Manado. There are many seafood restaurants along the Kalasey beach, just south of Manado city. Our friends gave us two restaurant recommendations: City Extra and Ria Rio. We opted for City Extra. Our taxi driver told us that City Extra is popular among government officials. With its location by the beach, the seafood is very fresh, and I am a big fan of fresh seafood. We ordered Grilled Gala Shrimp and Grilled Spicy Grouper. Both were served fresh and very flavorful. The fish was covered with chili paste, reminding me of my mom who is crazy about hot spicy food. In addition to the two main dishes, Sambal Dabu-Dabu, which is a mixture of shallots, tomatoes, limes and various kinds of chilies, was also given as a dipping hot sauce. It was ultra hot.
One general rule of thumb for diving is no flying for at least 12 hours (or 24 hours to be safe) after diving. Consequently, we got one full day to revisit Manado city, to continue our food journey. Our plan was first to go to Wakeke to eat the famous Bubur Tinutuan, but we changed direction. One the way to Wakeke, we were chatting about Minahasan food with our taxi driver, and he said that he knew one restaurant popular for its Ragey (pork satay), which is another popular Minahasan dish. I of course said, “Yes, please bring us there.” Based on the information provided by the driver, the Ragey is good only when it is fresh from the grill. And yes, we were fortunate that, when we arrived at the restaurant, they were still grilling their famous Ragey. I thanked him for taking us to this restaurant, Kios Natasya. The restaurant was packed with local people. Perhaps, we’re the only tourists in the restaurant at that time. The Ragey was really really good. I will definitely return to this restaurant in my next visit to Manado.
The next dish was Bubur Tinutuan. There are many restaurants serving Bubur Tinutuan on the touristy Wakeke Road. Our restaurant of choice was Dego-Dego. In addition to Bubur Tinutuan, Perkedel Ikan Nike (fritter made from tiny fish indigenous to Lake Tondano, called Nike) and Perkedel Jagung (corn fritter) are also their specialties. For me, the taste of Bubur Tinutuan, which is a mixture of rice, yam, pumpkin, vegetables and some spices, was a little odd. Both of us did not really like it. I like the corn fritter very much, and it would taste even better if it was served hot. The fish fritter was very good and we ordered three portions of it. We also ordered Fried Banana, which tasted okay, not very special for Indonesians like us. It was surprising to us to see Manadonese people eating fried bananas with chili paste. Wow! They eat almost anything with chilies, even for fried sweet banana.
Then we ate “es kacang” for dessert at Es Miangas. A and I had different orders. Mine was red beans on ice, whereas A’s was a mix of fruits and red beans on ice. The iced red beans are an all time favorite dish of that restaurant. It was good and absolutely a perfect dessert for red bean lovers.
Our last meal in Manado was seafood at Ria Rio, very close to City Extra, also located along the Kalasey beach. The meal was very interesting. We ordered a 2-kg coconut crab cooked in black pepper sauce. Coconut crab is the largest land-living arthropod in the world, considered a delicacy and an aphrodisiac, with a taste very similar to lobster and crab meat. Eating a 2 kg of coconut crab is a lot of food. We also ordered a whole Garoupa fish (grouper) cooked in Woku Belanga style, which refers to being cooked inside a pot enriched with various spices such as lemon basil, turmeric leaf, lemon grass, tomato, chili pepper, and lemon. The fish was tasty but blazingly spicy. It was so good that A finished everything in the bowl, including the hot sauce, even though it tasted too spicy for him. He didn’t want to waste anything. Then he got a stomachache the next day. Haha… funny. Our last dinner at Ria Rio gave us a gratifying ending to our trip to Manado.
Ubud, Bali, offers visitors the feel of Balinese art village and also an amazingly long list of good eating places, and this list keeps expanding fast. There are a myriad of cuisine selections in Ubud to choose from Indonesian, French, American, Italian, Japanese, etc. One restaurant, suitable for desserts, an afternoon tea time and chatting with friends, that needs to be on your list is Casa Luna. It is located on the main road, Jl. Raya Ubud, close to Ubud Traditional Market.
My visit with A to Casa Luna was primarily to relax, spend a casual afternoon, and enjoy desserts, which I heard they were superb. At the front of the restaurant is the bakery counter, Honeymoon Bakery, serving breads and freshly baked pastries. At the back is the restaurant. The restaurant location is absolutely beautiful, epitomizing the feel of Ubud. The restaurant is built on a cliff with layers of terraced floors, overlooking a deep valley and river that runs through town. The staff were all friendly and wearing traditional Balinese costumes. Arriving at the restaurant, we chose to sit at the back on wooden benches facing the beautiful green valley with a flowing river. It was a perfect setting for an afternoon tea.
My dessert order was their popular Paris Match, also commonly known as Mille Feuille (literally means “a thousand leaves/sheets”), which is actually a French puff pastry filled with vanilla custard. A ordered Tiramisu Torte. For drinks, both of us ordered hot red hibiscus tea. Also, Brem Balinese rice wine on ice was included in A’s drink orders. Although the Paris Match was not the best I’ve ever eaten, it was yummy and a great fit to accompany my afternoon tea. It was light, not very sweet, and soft with a slight crunch. A’s tiramisu was fine. It was soft, moist, and not overly sweet, but I personally think the tiramisu would taste better if it was a bit soggier. The taste of the hibiscus tea was naturally sweet and very delicate. The tea was simply perfect. The local rice wine, which is made from black glutinous rice and coconut milk, was pleasantly sweet and light (about 7% alcohol content). Our meal at Casa Luna was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.
The owner of Casa Luna is Janet de Neefe, an Australian woman who travelled to Ubud, met and married a Balinese man, had children and started opening up restaurants, guesthouses, and bakeries. Another popular restaurant of hers is Indus, which is located in Ubud as well. Her best-selling book, Fragrant Rice, is about her life and her love of Balinese culture and food. Her book also includes various food recipes. At her Honeymoon Guesthouses, she regularly conducts cooking classes that successfully receive a lot of international attention. With all of her hard work, many things she has touched have turned into gold. My hat is off to her.
Jl. Raya Ubud
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
This year, A and I decided, since we are spending quite some time in Indonesia, to travel to Manado, located on the northern tip of North Sulawesi province, to explore the underwater beauty of Indonesia. For divers, North Sulawesi is a paradise. The coral reefs in North Sulawesi are renowned for its marine biodiversity as it is located at the center of “Coral Triangle”, a geographic area that boasts the largest variety of coral species not found anywhere else in the world. Why this broad area is so rich in underwater life is because it is the meeting point between the Pacific and the Indian oceans, bringing a wealth of nutrition to feed the numerous species. There are even more marine species here than on the Great Barrier Reef.
Three totally different dive areas in North Sulawesi are reachable within a maximum of 1.5 hours boat trip. The most well-known dive area is Bunaken National Marine Park. The truth is that when you are diving in the waters of Bunaken, you can see over 70% of all fish species that exist in Indo-Pacific. The underwater biodiversity becomes even higher if we add the additional species that can be found in the other two dive areas: the Bangka Archipelago and the Lembeh Strait. The coral life around these areas is absolutely remarkable.
There were not many hotel choices for us in Manado. Our preference was to pick a hotel that offers a diving package and is also near the dive sites so that we did not need to leave our ten-month old baby Shiori and her nanny at the hotel for a long period of time. Hence, we selected Seaside Resort Santika as our hotel and Thalassa as our dive center. The dive center is positioned on the premises of the resort, which is 15 kilometers north of the Manado city. The location of the resort and the dive center is on the mainland, amongst palm trees and flourishing mangrove forests, in the middle of Bunaken National Park. Such a strategic location enabled us to always come back to our hotel room in between each dive, to see Shiori. The breaks between dives brought great convenience to our stay over there.
We stayed at Santika for seven days, with four full days of scuba diving. The four-star resort is built on a large area of lush garden and is implemented with a good balance between Western demands and local atmosphere. The restaurant on the premises offers food both local and international. The view of Mount Manado Tua, the islands and the sea from the restaurant is simply spectacular. In the large garden, there are a free form swimming pool and a children playground, so that guests can experience a family-style atmosphere. Traditional massages and body treatments are offered by the resort’s spa. There is no beach at Santika since the resort is surrounded by mangrove swamps. Consequently, the resort constructed a long jetty, with a stunning view of Bunaken and the sea. The hotel room, especially the bathroom, was, however, below my expectation. The buildings are a bit old. Also, the taste and the variety of the food (especially the breakfast) needed to be improved. Some guests took advantage the free shuttle service to Manado (about 45-minute drive) for a dinner in the city. We went to Manado twice for tasting local food. Another blog about my favorite Manado foods is currently in the work.
Overall, we were pretty happy with Thalassa Dive Center. Each day, Thalassa offers three dives: two in the morning (8am and 10am) and one in the afternoon (2pm). Divers are given freedom and flexibility to create their own dive schedule. A night dive can also be arranged. Since the dive center is very close to Bunaken, we typically come back to the resort during surface intervals if the chosen dive site is not far from the resort. If we go to distant dive sites such as Bangka Archipelago and Lembeh Strait, we will need to leave in the morning around 8am and return in the afternoon, with a yummy lunch provided on the boat. Another good thing about Thalassa is that a large group of divers is split into smaller groups and placed on different boats, so that we do not feel overcrowded when diving. As part of the dive package, they prepared tasty local food for lunch and also delicious snacks with hot tea and coffee in the afternoon. I personally liked the food provided by Thalassa’s chefs better than the resort.
In summary, our diving experience was really amazing and very memorable. We will definitely return to North Sulawesi again someday for another diving experience. We explored many dive sites at Bunaken that have impressive, completely overgrown steep walls. Diving along the Bunaken’s steep walls gave me an interestingly eerie feeling as I could not see the bottom of the sea. But I was truly impressed with the abundance and diversity of the coral life. We saw schools of different kinds of small and big fish passing by the walls, such as turtles, sharks, barracudas, eagle rays, napoleon fish, parrot fish, sweetlips, butterfly fish, moray eels, etc. With the help of our dive guides, we discovered a wealth of very well camouflaged critters hiding in little cavities and corals on the walls. These critters include a great variety of beautiful nudibranchs, different species of sea horses, scorpion fish, lion fish, frogfish, stone fish, cuttlefish, and still many more. Our favorite dive sites at Bunaken were Tanjung Kopi, Mandolin, and Lekuan 1. In Tanjung Kopi, we saw many kinds of big fish including barracudas, parrot fish, and sharks. The colorful deep wall of Mandolin is impressive, and the strong current will give you a nice drift diving experience. And diving in Lekuan 1 almost guarantees that you will see turtles.
We also spent one full day diving in the north, at the Bangka Archipelago, formed by active volcanoes that extend from the mainland into the sea. The dive sites at Bangka are relatively new reefs, where the hard corals did not have a chance to grow yet. Underwater, we could see traces of volcanic rocks, covered with amazingly colorful soft corals. Here we not only saw big schools of fish, but also many special critters hiding in between corals and small crevices, such as pygmy sea horses, ribbon eels, frogfish, nudibranchs, various types of crabs, and so on. When the sea current is running, the soft corals bloom to catch all the passing nutrients. Although the visibility sometimes was not as good as Bunaken (due to the crashing waves), a visit to Bangka must not be missed.
We unfortunately did not scuba dive at the Lembeh Strait, which is on the east side of the peninsula. The reason was due to the long 5-hour round trip required to reach Lembeh from our resort by car and boat. So, we would have arrived back at the hotel very late at night, and it would not be good for my lovely Shiori. I talked to one of the divers who went to Lembeh. She said that Lembeh is covered with black sand both underwater and on the surface. There is no interesting reef in Lembeh, but it is a paradise for underwater macro photography because of the large selection of rare, exotic, and bizarre species. Exceptionally strange small animals usually dig themselves in the black sand and they are difficult to spot. So, the eagle eyes of our dive guides are definitely a big help in spotting them. Lembeh will be unquestionably a place to dive for us when we return to North Sulawesi later in the future.
Not having an underwater camera and sufficient time to purchase one, I was planning to rent one of Thalassa’s underwater cameras. But, very disappointingly, their underwater camera housings were all broken, so I was not able to rent and take my own underwater pictures. All of the underwater photos shown in this blog were taken by Natasha Monina, a sweet Russian girl we met in one of our Bunaken dive trips, who kindly shared her underwater photos with me. Thanks much, Natasha! Next time I scuba dive, I will buy an underwater camera first, not a dive computer, although Mr. and Mrs. Unger (a German couple we got to know in Santika) repeatedly reminded me of the importance of dive computers for our safety and health. They are absolutely correct! But I still can’t change my mind. Haha.