Driven by restless locals, fashion-conscious expats and an ever-changing cast of visitors, restaurants in Seminyak can quickly come and go. This fluid, dynamic whirl gives Seminyak its drive and helps make the district one of Asia’s best for affordable fine dining. But these 10 eateries, both veteran and virgin, are in it for the long haul.
Dinner with a View
A classic beachfront choice, Chez Gado-Gado was one of the first restaurants into Seminyak — and its range extends way beyond the eponymous vegetable medley. The menu extends to Pan-Mediterranean cuisine, as well as a few fusion dishes, in the airy pavilion and pretty gardens: anything from beef carpaccio to ayam betutu ravioli.
Owned by a member of Ubud’s royal family, Biku‘s high teas are legendary — not just for the selection of Indonesian and international teas, but also for Asian and European snacks, from finger sandwiches to pandan leaf pancakes. Soak up the atmosphere in the 150-year-old teak joglo pavilion. Coming for lunch? Try the nasi campur, a mixed rice dish that’s Indonesia’s answer to India’s thali.
Raw edges, polished concrete and minimalist cool dominate Kilo, an open, urban space that stands apart from most of its beachy peers. The first overseas offering from Puerto Rico-born Singapore chef Javier Perez marries Pacific Rim flavors with global influences and textured creativity: Picture dishes like Korean beef tartare or pork in a Puerto Rican “laksa.”
The triple-height space at Merah Putih, with its towering palms, vaulted ceiling and brilliant white columns, has major wow factor. But it’s the cuisine of Indonesia that takes center stage. Dishes from many of the 3,200-mile archipelago’s 17,000-odd islands are on the menu, beautifully plated and lovingly interpreted into either modern or classic styles. Think a succulent fish curry from Aceh in Sumatra, or Lombok octopus adorned with fern tips and red pepper sambal.
Refined Street Food
Celebrity chef Will Meyrick is Asia’s street food king. Yet as lamps illuminate the tranquil garden and cool pavilions, Sarong feels a loooong way from street-side barbecues and pungent wet markets. Big bold flavors and seductive hues dominate the pan-Asian menu. Besides the expected — Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia — you’ll discover lesser-known culinary cultures like that of Sri Lanka and Singapore.
Italian favorite La Lucciola benefits from a prime location on a gorgeous strip of Seminyak Beach. Sunsets from the palm-fringed garden can be spectacular. Classic Italian, from pasta to the freshest local seafood, is well-executed, while cool breezes waft through the open pavilion. If you’re craving osso bucco or zucchini flowers, this is where to come.
Behind the Wall
Like a Balinese palace updated for the modern era, Bambu stands, discreet and elegant, behind a concealing wall. Once you’re in, airy modernist pavilions tower over pristine ponds creating an effect that’s timeless and very lux. On the menu? Classic dishes from Sumatra’s ceviche-style naniura to Bali’s ceremonial dish ayam pelalah are curated, manicured and served at your chosen level of spicing. It’s so under-the-radar it doesn’t even have a website.
Hotel Indigo’s Makase offers a welcoming spot to begin or end your day at the resort. Serving breakfast and dinner, the restaurant features built-in entertainment: an open kitchen that lets diners get an up-close view of their meal being prepared. The menu is built around Balinese-inspired shared plates made with local produce.
A Taste of Shanghai
Another Will Meyrick offering, MAMA San reimagines Shanghai during the glory days of the 1920s and marries it with industrial warehouse style. The fare downstairs is pan-Asian, with dumplings the main tribute to Shanghai. But the star of the show is the intimate, at-the-bar dining at Tasting Club upstairs. Pair big, bold cocktails with light Asian bites, from hand rolls to dishes from the Golden Triangle’s hill tribes. Note: Advanced reservations are a must, as the restaurant books up fast.
Probably the best-known of Indonesian celebrity chef Mandif Warokka’s Bali restaurants, Teatro features a dégustation-only menu. As an example of what home-grown chefs are doing on a scene dominated by expatriates, it’s very much worth checking out.