COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Hiding in plain sight, just off of Jimbaran’s busy Jl. Uluwatu is a gourmand’s paradise.
Tucked away in the gardens of the vintage-style boutique hotel, the Balquisse, is Asam Garam, a stunning open-air affair where you can eat your way around the archipelago with traditional Indonesian and Balinese dishes.
While you can also order fusion takes on Southeast Asian favorites like Vietnamese spring rolls and Pad Thai, we’ve got to recommend you go with the mainstay of Asam Garam, their rijsttafel, a legacy of the Dutch colonial area—essentially the Dutch take on nasi padang. Just don’t expect nasi padang prices, because the restaurant sources premium, natural ingredients locally and is serving it gourmet-style in a chic setting.
Translating to “rice table,” rijstaffel is like Indonesian tapas, where everyone gets their own rice and a number of small plates, meant to share. And to keep things full of flavor, Asam Garam offers nasi kuning (yellow rice). Usually reserved for special occasions and festivals, nasi kuning is an Indonesian classic that gets its color from turmeric.
At Asam Garam, you can choose from a huge list of small plates of Balinese specialities like sate lilt (minced tuna satay) and iga babi bakar (grilled pork ribs) and morsels from all over Indonesia like ikan pepes (fish steamed in banana leaves).
Our favorite has to be the tahu kalas: tofu in ‘kalas’, a spice blend of turmeric, red onion, galangal, garlic, galangal, and coriander, mixed with coconut milk. Can’t get much more of a Balinese flavor profile than that!
And while we love the food at Asam Garam, we’ve got to admit that the setting is just as amazing as the dining. Situated in the Balquisse’s lush tropical gardens that seem a planet away from the hustle and bustle of Jl. Uluwatu, the restaurant sits in a whitewashed wooden antique Javanese joglo structure with colonial-style furniture, batik placemats, brass cutlery, and elegant ceramic dish-ware.
If you’ve been to the Bistrot on Oberoi or Balique, just down the road from Balquisse, it won’t be hard to believe the same people are behind Asam Garam. While each of the three restaurants certainly has its own distinct style and menu, all three spots seamlessly combine that vintage chic style with lean, gourmet cooking.
Coconuts Hot Spots are notable new restaurants or undiscovered gems around Bali that we think are worth a visit.