As one of Bali’s most popular tourist spots, Seminyak finally houses some restaurants and bars to make it a destination for food and quality drink lovers.
Though Seminyak was never a party town with a debauchery level rivalling nearby Kuta, for a while it was looking like Bali’s spa and shopping destination might follow the party route of its more infamous neighbour, to its detriment. While the more upmarket Seminyak always had a couple of comfortable spots to dine, it lacked those destination places to match the town’s luxe accommodation. Visitors would historically journey to Ubud, and the mountain town’s shining restaurant star Locavore, instead of somewhere local for that special dining night out. This has all changed in recent years thanks to some diverse offerings in and around Seminyak.
It could be argued that Seminyak’s restaurant revolution started with one of its more famous party destinations: Motel Mexicola. The hotspot is known for its late night shenanigans but it has always dished up Mexican that was far superior to anything you could find in Adelaide, until the arrival of Lucky Lupita’s a few years ago and newer additions Taco Quetzalcoatl’s and Revolución Mexciana. With an eclectic fitout by Adelaide’s own MASH, Mexicola continues to be a must-visit for some decent tacos and micheladas. But head down during the day if you are after some quiet drinks and food with friends.
Sydney restaurateur Maurice Terzini and Mexicola’s owner Adrian Reed has a new place that could take Mexicola’s crown as Seminyak’s destination hotspot of choice: Da Maria. Like a cross between Adelaide’s Sunny’s and Chicco Palms, with an Ibiza edge, the Amalfi coastal vibe of Da Maria is the island’s best spot for traditional Naples pizzas and Italian fare (there is also a nod to Bali’s most famous dish with its wood-roasted suckling pig). Like Mexicola, it turns into a party destination at night, and with music curated by the on-point Sydney DJ Kali it features a good looking and sometimes glammed-up crowd that makes you think you are partying in the Harbour City.
The most impressive recent addition to Seminyak is Kaum Bali, in the Potato Head complex, which follows Kaum Hong Kong in China (and there is Kaum Jakarta to come). Chef Antoine Audran serves authentic Indonesian food in a beautiful setting. While a restaurant like Adelaide’s Orana uses native ingredients for a delicate fine-dining experience, this is simpler fare (but in a good way). The menu is inspired by the many islands and indigenous tribes of Indonesia that saw the team from Kaum visit a heap of areas to research ingredients, work with food producers and revive cooking techniques that were in danger of disappearing.
At the moment, Kaum is the island’s best restaurant. There are a few hideaway spots in Bali where locals, who are willing to share secrets, can introduce you to places that showcase dishes with these beautiful and unique spice combinations that taste like the Bali you imagine when you think about the food that could and should reflect the island’s best features. Kaum is the only big-name restaurant that I’ve been to that showcases these vibrant spice combinations.
While Seminyak might not have a fine dining head turner like Locavore the place has matured as a gastronomic destination. No matter where you are staying in Bali, it is worth that cheap taxi ride across the island to hit the restaurants and bars of Seminyak, especially Kaum – it truly is a special dining experience.