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From beach clubs and aphrodisiac cocktails to sophisticated high tea, the 'island of the Gods' has plenty to offer travellers. Here are Bali's top 10 secrets, as revealed in Bali Secrets from Deck of Secrets.
Jl Raya Gelumpang
Gelumpang Village Amlapura Karangasem
A day-trip must for foodies and those intrigued by Balinese culture. Hire a driver and aim for Candidasa then head inland. Asli means 'authentic' in Balinese and this is the place to experience fine local cuisine with a locavore pedigree, including the drinks list, a highlight of which was the pineapple beer. Even the cooking methods are traditional. The menu is written daily on a lontar, a palm leaf manuscript and features items you're unlikely to find elsewhere. Set up high with views for miles and with luck Mount Agung will rise clearly in the distance.
NOTE: Open for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Take a detour before or after to see the fabulous Tirta Gangga, water palace built in 1946.
Chiringuito El Kabron
Jl Pantai Cemongkak
Perched high on the limestone cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula, the view from El Kabron is all Bali, while the vibe, the soundtrack and the cheerful blue and white décor are pure Ibiza-style 'chill out'. Mesmerising sunsets are best enjoyed from the infinity pool, or the comfort of a squishy bean bag, with a jug of Sangria in hand. Chef Marc Torices has a love of food that borders on obsession, creating classic Spanish fare like seafood paella, tapas and crema catalana, while 'flip flop fine dining', offers an inspired degustation menu that you don't have to dress up for.
NOTE: Check the website for regular weekly events such as classic movie screenings on Tuesday.
Double Six Beach, Jl Double Six
La Plancha has the proud distinction of introducing beanbags to Seminyak beach – dozens of them, in all shapes and colours, plonked on the sand and perfectly positioned for lazy tropical sunsets! While others have followed suit, no one does it with quite the same flair as the cool Spanish surfer crew behind La Plancha. The quirky, beach shack comes with all the trimmings, including a ramshackle collection of furniture, stained glass lamps, live sunset acoustic sets, seafood tapas and cocktails. They also keeps the beach party spirit alive and kicking with regular Friday DJ events packing the beach with an up-for-it crowd.
Mozaic Beach Club
Jl Pantai Batubelig
Prepare yourself for something big, really big. Mozaic Beach Club on Batubelig beach offers some of the best of their fine dining Ubud restaurant with more of a beach-side feeling but it's no replica of the original. Seating over 200 in a casual poolside bistro setting and the more formal upstairs dining room, this is a place where you can enjoy a la carte any way. Tasting menus will feature but aren't compulsory, while poolside for breakfast and lunch will offer more causal fare but will still include a foie gras menu. Overlooking the beach, this looks set to be a hit.
Note: Mozaic Beach Club is an off-shoot of the gastronomic favourite Mozaic restaurant in Ubud, the highest rated restaurant on the island in The Miele Asian restaurant guide.
Nammos Beach Club
Karma Kandara Resort, Jl Wijaya Kusuma
Take a holiday from your holiday and escape to a hidden paradise where dazzling white sand meets a glittering emerald sea, and gourmet food and designer cocktails are served direct to your deckchair. Getting to Nammos is half the fun, with an inclinator traversing the sheer cliff face to reveal panoramic views over the rugged coastline. Step out into a picturesque cove scattered with deck chairs and stripy parasols or head into the restaurant – the ultimate in beach shack chic with its thatched roof, bamboo veranda and rustic outdoor furniture. Mediterranean themed lunches, Asian influenced dinners, and an Ibiza inspired soundtrack complete the picture.
Jl Petitenget 40X
With a great location in the heart of the trendy dining district of Petitenget (also known as Eat Street), this modern Mediterranean style restaurant/bar combines a casual sidewalk vibe with elegant décor and stylish menu. Table tops are marble, vases are brimming with red roses, Martinis are infused with lychee, and crunchy baguettes are decked out in grilled prawns. Popular with ladies who lunch, Petitenget also makes a classy pit-stop on the Seminyak boutique circuit. Refuel with a salad of goats cheese, hazelnuts and honey roasted beets, or perhaps a crab risotto, and finish with one of the islands better cappuccinos.
Thousands of antique shutters mounted into a quirky replica of the colosseum creates an extraordinary site, not to mention fabulous acoustics for the islands most fabulous parties. This beach club has it all going on with distinct bar and dining areas offering everything from pool side cocktails served with funky tunes, to exquisite French/Japanese influenced fine dining, traditional bistro food, and excellent South East Asian style tapas. Signature cocktails – designed by renowned Mixologist to the stars, Dre Masso – are in a league of their own; think island spiced sangria, long island's served in tea pots and 70's style punch. Good times guaranteed!
Sakti Dining Room
Fivelements, Banjar Baturning
The tragedy of Sakti is that there is only one and it's unlikely you'll live close enough to make it your local. Dining for the taste alone is sufficient reason to head out to town to Fivelements resort but you'll simultaneously discover that organic, raw, vegan food can taste spectacularly good and deceptively similar in the case of the lasagne. Sakti is exactly what Hippocrates intended when he said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food". Alcohol & caffeine are out but the raw chocolate truffles well compensate. Make a day of it with the extensive treatment options offered by specialist practitioners.
Sari Organik Bodag Maliah
Subak Sok Wayah off Jl Raya Ubud
The rustic bamboo pavilion that rises like a ship in a sea of lush green rice paddies provides a quintessential Balinese setting that focuses on organic food and healthy elixirs. Bodag Maliah translates as overflowing basket, offering salads literally picked fresh from the garden; you can even pick them yourself! The cafe is part of the Sari Organik Centre – at the forefront of the organic movement that is sweeping across Ubud – guests are welcome to explore the farm, which also produces jams, homemade wines and cheese. Getting there is half the fun, a 15-minute walk along a narrow trail across the rice fields.
NOTE: Take a look at the adjacent garden to see where much of the food comes from.
Seniman Coffee Studio
Coffee connoisseurs will love this boutique coffee studio with its fabulous organic Indonesian blends, and super hip vibe. Seniman translates as artist in Indonesian and this funky café celebrates the art of coffee crafting. The concept of slow coffee is the antithesis of High street style 'coffee to go,' so plant yourself at the counter (in a customised rocking chair) and watch as a rich smooth elixir is extracted drip by drip into a glass siphon. Fresh brews are served on custom made wooden trays, accompanied by a homemade Indonesian sweet. If the coffee doesn't wake up you the funky music and upbeat vibe will.
Word of Mouth cafe
Jl Kunti 9
Word of Mouth is a shop with a cafe concept that could easily see the cafe annexed and thriving in its own right. The slim menu sports some standard items but done particularly well and some more substantial and interesting dishes like the seared Tuna with wasabi and jalapeños. The 'greatest hits' cocktail list disappoints at most places but delivers at WOM which goes some way to explaining why the after work crowd congregates here. The shop with, its quirky, arty design driven range naturally attracts a creative crowd. They and you will notice the small details in the cafe. All crockery designed and made for WOM by local potters Gaya and furnished with items you can order and take home with you.
This is an extract from Bali Secrets, 52 of Bali's best bars, beach clubs, cafes and restaurants. Available in bookstores (RRP $9.95 in Australia, or IDR120,000 in Bali) . Also available a iPhone and Windows mobile apps for $2.99. See www.deckofsecrets.com