Eat Like a Local

Nasi Campur

Balinese nasi campur (literally meaning mixed rice) is a fave food with locals (and us!) who typically dine on this bit-of-everything dish for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Like the pick’n’mix of the Balinese dining world, it’s an assortment of Indonesia’s best bites. For us, the mark of authentically good nasi campur lies in the ayam panggang (grilled chicken), the beef rendang (beef curry) and of course, the selection of hot sambals. For the best nasi campur experience, look for the buffet-style warungs that let you point to what you want from the glass cabinets.

Sate Lilit

We’ve all tried satay (grilled skewered meat) before – it’s almost everywhere in Southeast Asia. But not everyone has had the pleasure of tasting traditional Balinese sate lilit ikan (fish satay). Skewered and spiced, minced fish is grilled over charcoal or an open fire (sometimes on the side of the road) and the result is a slightly sweet, slightly spicy and totally delicious morsel moulded around a lemongrass stalk or wooden stick. It’s best enjoyed with a healthy dose of sambal – naturally.

Bebek Betutu

Bebek betutu (smoked duck) is probably the most unique local dish on Bali’s must-eat list. Local ducks are rubbed and stuffed with a mix of spices, wrapped in banana leaves and coconut husks, then traditionally cooked in a pit of embers underground for up to 24 hours. Spotting an authentically-cooked Bebek Betutu is easy: look for lashings of smoky duck meat that’s been cooked to a melty softness, slathered inside and out with slightly charred basa gede (Bali’s traditional spice mix) with lingering hints of lemongrass, turmeric and ginger.

Nasi Goreng

Practically the national dish of Indonesia, nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles) are staples in the local diet. What your nasi or mie goreng comes with depends on where you’re dining, but it’s generally topped with a fried egg and dried shallots, mixed with veggies and sided with pickles, prawn crackers, and a few sticks of either chicken or beef satay. Find a really good nasi goreng, and you’ll be hooked for life.

Sambal Matah

It’s said there are over 300 variations of sambal in Indonesia, but so far, sambal matah is our ultimate fave. It’s Bali’s own version of sambal, and a delicious, spicy staple for any Balinese dish. It’s made by finely chopping raw shallots, lemongrass, garlic, chilli and lime, then kneading it all together with hot oil, salt, sugar and a dash of shrimp paste. It’s best enjoyed on fresh fish or chicken, or if you’re like us, you can just dig in with a spoon.


Not for the faint-hearted, Lawar is a Balinese meat salad made of minced pork (or sometimes even dragonflies and turtles), offal, young jackfruit, coconut, galangal, chilies, spices, and fresh blood. It’s an out-there local dish that makes for a real adventure on any Balinese culinary journey, but it’s highly recommended if you can stomach it! If you can’t, you can request lawar without the blood in the mix, but it’s just not the real deal.