Sarah Douglas goes all English in search of fish and chips.
Being island bound means thoughts of sand and swimmers, waves and sunny days and seafood, lots of it. The traditional seaside food of fish and chips shows up in both high-end restaurants, resorts, pubs and beach bars and yet, the search for the best fish and chips on the island turned out to be an exhaustive one for Sarah Douglas. Here are her picks.
The location upstairs in Seminyak Square doesn’t exactly inspire confidence however Man Frydays goes all out to do English food right and their fish and chips were among the best I tried. Even the location started to grow on me a bit. Eat in or take away (and don’t get blown over by the Union Jack flags, there are a lot of them), when push comes to shove the fish is delicious. Crispy batter surrounding succulent white fish, it was cooked so that it still retained a little texture and was juicy and fresh. The chips are proper too, thick hand cut chips with great colour but not too crunchy, which means they would work perfectly between two slices of white bread. The menu offers lots of variety, Bali cod, mahi-mahi or snapper for the fish alongside battered prawns and potato scallops. Sauces and sides include classic favourites like mushy peas, tartar sauce, curry sauce, gravy, aioli and even vinegar. If fish doesn’t take your fancy, they have curries, even battered saveloy. You could get real fat eating here but here’s a tip, I chose the child’s portion and it was plenty. Big appetites can trade up and seafood platters are also on offer. Man Frydays is also open in Sanur.
Tel. 081238313338 www.manfrydays.com Yak Map P.7
Azul Beach Bar
Azul is an eye opener for Legian regulars, it is a meandering bamboo structure, which is the fashion currently, that is beautifully highlighted with azure walls, coloured floors, tiles and a large open kitchen manned by one of Bali’s leading chefs. The fish and chips here, like much of the menu, is traded up with a chefy touch but ultimately is worthy of the calories. Fresh-from-the-sea barramundi holds up well to the fryer, with white flesh that stays firm and delicious. The batter is a perfect execution of the classic beer batter, although you can have it grilled to order. The gentle heap of hand cut chips is flawless, while a charred half lemon sits aside to pretty it up on the wooden board. There’s plenty of seafood on this menu, from Asian-flavoured sashimi dishes to grilled lobster and seafood pastas. Azul is a step up for Legian with views over the beach, a great sound track, drop-dead bathrooms and a lively open kitchen where a worldly chef has tweaked some creative dishes to create a menu worth dressing up for. Cocktails are a treat here as well. Cocktails on the mezzanine level offers a bird’s eye view of one of Bali’s iconic beachfronts and the offerings are filled with classic and intoxicating creations. Azul gets the heads up for Legian, and it even offers parking.
Tel. 765759 www.azulbali.com Yak Map Q.15
Five star hotels have to cater for an international clientele and usually do the simple things very well. Conrad is no exception. The fish and chips here are beautiful, fresh and crispy with a great texture. The addition of a side salad, which I needed, was happily provided and our view over the beach from the poolside restaurant made it the perfect location to enjoy a meal of fish and chips. The portions are hearty but still delicate enough to earn a five-star tag. Conrad is open to outside guests and for a small fee you can even use the extensive pool or linger on the white sand beach in front. Five star fish and chips hit the spot and the established resort sits so gracefully among flashier new neighbours that it feels very elegant, no matter what you order, and the list is quite extensive at their numerous restaurants. This one ticks the boxes on all counts.
The hip café on the way to La Lucciola, tucked away at the top of Oberoi Road, is a magnet for hipsters who come for extended breakfasts, good coffee and a sunny, laid-back environment. Fish and chips is a standard on their menu and has been since opening. Once again, the diner can choose to have them battered and wicked or grilled for a more saintly version of the famous dish. The fries here are shoestring and plentiful. Hangover anyone? Pair this with a Bloody Mary and things will look right again. The fish and chips sit prettily in a woven basket, lemon, salt and aioli add a touch of trendy café to the mix. We mixed ours with zesty flavoured kombucha to assuage the guilt of fried food and yet, this one was light, fluffy and not too large. Sea Circus is a happening place, the menu is full of vibrant café classics and yet, when you get the itch for fish and chips, this one will fix it.
Tel. 738667 www.seacircus-bali.com Yak Map N.7
Beachbreak – On the Beach
Where better to chow down on seafood inspired snacks than right on the sand at Legian Beach? It might not be the trendiest, nor the most salubrious, but put on a sunny day, glass-like surf conditions and a wet bathing suit and nothing hits the spot like the less than flashy Beachbreak, located in front of Jayakarta Resort. Offering a surprising range of seafood and Aussie-inspired sandwiches, platters and grills, grabbing a plastic chair at Jerry’s esky bar on the sand, ordering an ice cold beer and chowing down on prawn cutlets, calamari and fish bites made with the catch of the day is a very pleasant way to enjoy lunch or an afternoon snack. The fish will vary depending on what appears fresh at the market, the day we visited the stall was advertising red emperor as the fish of the day. Breaded rather than battered, the fish bites are succulent and seasoned, as only an Indonesian cook will do, in other words plenty of salt, a biting chili mayo on the side and plenty of fish. Fish burgers are also a treat here, piled high with fresh salad. Quite how this little stall managed to set up both a barbecue and a fryer on the beach is astounding, but the Indonesians are certainly creative. At around Rp50,000 a plate, the tide is high and the price is low. It’s a favourite beach day meal, and the view is free.
Karma Beach adds a twinkle of Ibiza, a sprinkling of Mykonos and a lot of Bali magic to compete with some of the world’s best beach clubs. What better way to enjoy on the sands overlooking the calm, clear, turquoise sea than seafood as close to source as is possible. With big news on the horizon about a talented new chef who has some lofty experience in seafood, the team at Karma continue to deliver the perfect by-the-sea dining experience that naturally includes fish and chips, buckets of fresh prawns, sashimi and sushi and grilled seafood that has the tang of the Mediterranean or the spice of Asia, depending on how you like it. Jugs of ice-cold beers, martinis and frozen cocktails, an impressive wine list and sparkling by the glass go down a treat at the ultimate destination for lovers of the sea. Expect a little magic that begins with the decline down the craggy cliff to reveal the loft bamboo beach club that features international Djs. If you have the time, squeeze in a trip to Karma Reef at Gili Meno where the sea laps your toes and the seafood shines.