So anyways, imagine this: a sunset, a lush river valley, a table set for two, a cocktail, and amazing food. All for us.
We were at our first stop on a 4 restaurant mystery itinerary with Bali Food Safaris, and about to eat the 1st of what would be 12 tasting plates that evening. Yes, you heard me right…12.
Bali Food Safari is a progressive style journey through some of the best restaurants in the region. It’s not about having canapés at one place, entrees at another, and so on- it’s about each restaurant providing tasting plates, or samples of some of the best they have to offer.
Nor is it just Indonesian cuisine- our safari took us through Asian fusion, then to Italy, across to Peru, and back to Indonesia for dessert….although, with more than a dozen restaurants on the books in Ubud, and a constantly changing menu, your trip is likely to be very different to ours.
Here’s how it works.
- You’re collected from your accommodation and delivered to your first destination by around 5.30- just in time for sunsets and cocktails.
- Your hostess will tell you a little about the restaurant and introduce you to the wait staff who will talk to you about what you’ll be sampling.
- You’ll be at each venue for around an hour.
- Each restaurant will provide you with 3 tasting plates- one after the other. They could be a taste of the signature dish, or something else the chef wants to showcase. And they’re serious about this- at two venues the chef came to talk to us about the food. Was it good, was the size right, what did we like about it. This makes sense- the tour is designed for people who love their food.
- On the way to the next venue, you’ll be told where you’re off to next.
Where did we go? I’d tell you where exactly, but that would spoil the mystery…
First stop on our safari was Thailand- full of romantic sunsets and dramatic forests…oh, and a pool that was being filled with 16kgs of flowers for something or other that was happening later that night. Hubby was horrified- he spends half his life cursing the leaves that thoughtlessly drop into our pool at home.
I want to come back for one of their poolside bbqs…and a spa treatment.
What we ate:
- A thai prawn spring roll- my favourite at this venue
- Salmon and corn tart- hubby’s favourite at this venue
- A chicken curry pie- which, incidentally, had the most perfect pastry that I’ve tasted in a long time. The pie may have been a tad heavy for a 12 plate tasting, but given it was so good, I’m prepared to overlook that detail.
Italian at a super posh hotel. Sadly the light was too bad here for me to take any photos, but the ambience was stunning, and the service attentive. This was also the only restaurant that gave us a printed “menu” with descriptions of what we’d be eating.
What we ate:
- Burrata- roast beets, red grapes, raddichio, house made vincotto, hazelnuts. This salad became my new dish of the night. We both groaned when the sourdough with olive oil and balsamic came out. I resisted the urge, hubby couldn’t- not when he had a glass of sangiovese in front of him.
- Arancini- Arborio rice balls, braised beef ragu stuffing, tapenade. Yes, balls…plural. At this point I wondered whether I would make it to the end, and made the decision to eat just one. My discipline astounded me too.
- Goats Cheese Tortelloni with dried orange, sage, almonds, parmesan. Surprisingly subtle.
South America. OMG, I can’t say enough good things about this place. The co-owner was born to be front of house, and her partner produces amazing food.
My hubby is still raving about their friendliness and flexibility. This was the only restaurant on the list that didn’t have a set plan in mind for us. Instead, we were asked what we’d eaten, what our appetite was still like, and what our tastes were.
We tried to get in for lunch yesterday, but they were closed. Maybe next trip.
What we ate:
- Ceviche- yes, raw fish…well, essentially raw…from the freshest possible fish. Incredible. With the ceviche liquor- leche de tigre- mahi mahi, this has a zing that lasts and lasts. This one took the mantle of dish of the night…until we tried the
- Causa del Mar (I think I’ve got that right)- a Peruvian potato cake with (I think) octopus, quail egg, and a sauce that I have no idea the name of. Whatever…dish of the night. Hands down. Sublime.
- Skirt steak cooked medium rare with corn cakes. Great, but anything after that causa del mar was going to need to be more than great.
Back to Indonesia for dessert. For us, this was the only hiccup in an otherwise excellent line-up. Although, given that neither of us eat desserts, that wasn’t a surprise. It’s also the only restaurant where the service wasn’t quite on par.
Having said that, the acoustic duo were fantastic.
What we ate:
On the plate was a black rice pudding (which I quite liked), banana fritters, something frozen (which hubby said was cassata) with chocolate sauce, and something with a lot of cream (probably a mille feuille). If you enjoy sweets, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Our hostesses- Nova and Fife- were super friendly, yet supremely professional. The venues were thoughtfully chosen, and the food…well, I’ve told you about that.
This is a great way to explore Ubud- we’ve since walked down some of the streets we drove down- and to show what’s happening in the restaurant scene here. Aside from that- it’s just a great night out.
What else do you need to know?
- This is an adults only activity.
- You’ll need money for drinks.
- Bring an open mind and an elastic waist. Resist the bread- if possible.
- This is not a shorts and bintang t-shirt tour. Leave the thongs at the hotel.
- Your tour could have a total of 8 people on it- on ours there was just us. If you want company, you have the option of ticking a box at booking to say you’re prepared to join with another group- or not. We had ticked the box, but got lucky.
- If you’re interested in knowing more, the linky thing is here.
Oh, the usual disclaimers- this is my opinion only and yes, we paid our own way…