Sarah Douglas hits the streets.
The classic noodles and dumplings much loved in Shanghai get a touch of love and a New York twist at Fat Gajah. Sweetly positioned along the road in Seminyak, Fat Gajah is decked out with shiny, white cafe tiles, Bentwood chairs, marble-topped tables and a cracking bar. The open kitchen adds flair to this gorgeous little Asian-style bistro (the baby of the Chandi and Arang Sate family). The famed street food of the French-influenced Chinese city is given its fair due here, with silky steamed dumplings floating in flavourful broth, while crispy fried dumplings are the perfect foil for a spicy sambal. Hand-made noodle dishes happily marry with bright, crunchy Asian salads peppered with crispy tempe, soft shell crab and grilled slipper lobster and meat dishes like the best-selling half crisp pork spare ribs and a delicate butterfish in a miso dashi broth lay claim to the twist on classics. Fat Gajah is open for lunch and dinner and everything in between. Stay tuned for a new Fat Gajah in Oberoi Rd, you heard it here first.
A cacophony of Asian flavours combined with animated décor is only part of the appeal of the latest Asian eatery and lively bar to open on Jl Petitengett. LingLings is brand new at the time of writing. With a menu created by the same team who brought us Seminyak’s favourite sushi train, Sushimi, the menu is sparked with fast, fabulous and affordable Japanese, Chinese and Korean street food. From Yakitori to fried chicken, a fiery prawn dish and some inspired Asian salads, there’s a world of flavor on the menu. Competing with the Hello Kitty wall, the food is made to be picked up in your fingers, shared, washed down with fruity cocktails and Asian-inspired juices, or just cold beer, it’s bright and beautiful rather than fancy, and the deejay, tucked away in a giant Lucky Strike box, gets it right. The terrace overlooking the street reflects the wall of Hello Kitty’s and Miss Ling-Ling, who inspired this culinary adventure, is every bit as racy as the menu. It’s time to have a little fun, and don’t forget to visit the whimsical loo, the design trend continues.
Bo & Bun
Vietnam and Thailand are the inspiration for Bo & Bun’s streetside café where long cooked pho meets crunchy Asian salads, fluffy buns stuffed with sticky pork belly carries on with the famous Vietnamese sandwich sensation, banh mi, and both are worthy of our attention. An industria look street café close to Moka on the main Seminyak drag, the prices are easy, the service is friendly and the dishes are pure street in the nicest possible way. The young couple behind it, who also own Lantern, are passionate foodies with restaurants in their blood. Bo & Bun is the perfect incarnation of street food done well offering quirky interiors, snappy service and great incarnations of some classic Asian favourites.
Sate Babi Bawah Pohon
Now this folks is the real deal and you will want to get your cameras ready. The specialty of the house is pork sate, and this place features regularly on Instagram feeds. It’s smoky, burnt at the edges, the meat marinated to ensure it’s creamy and succulent, this is a warung where you will struggle to spend $5 and you will probably have to queue. Served with a tradtional rice cake and smothered in a sauce that is both spicy and sweet, you will get your chili hit from the fresh sambal served alongside and by the time you actually find this place tucked away in Legian, you will be happy to sit with the locals and devour the dish of the house, babi sate.
(Sate Babi Bawah Pohon Jl. Patih Jelantik, parkir Gelora Tri Sakti, Legian).
You want to try a warung but how do you tell the good from the bad? The flow of customers is usually a good sign but there are no guarantees and when it comes to authentic street food, there is always a risk, a sense of adventure. Well, this is possibly your ticket: Warung Murah. Located deep in batik land, along Jl Double Six, this is not the best warung you will ever try but it is certainly one of the busiest. Traders and tourists alike have been frequenting Warung Murah for two decades ( Murah means cheap) and although it’s not as cheap as the night market, you will struggle to spend Rp35,000, including your drink. It’s plastic stools and sticky tables, a lunch menu you choose from the display and tickets at the cash register are calculated by what you have on your plate. The dishes are in the classic nasi campur vein, mixed rice, choose white or red, fresh vegetables, stews and braises and curries, spicy salads, sticky fried tempe, prawns and crackers and all served up with the fiery sambal that sits on every table. It’s great hangover food and something everyone must try at least once. Go local, go street.
Slightly more refined on the Oberoi road is the brand new Batik. The interiors here are an attraction as is the wide, white street frontage. Inside batik has been used to great effect, the bathrooms are a real trick! The menu offers up classic dishes from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The plates are artisan, the atmosphere is airy and fresh and this one immediately grabbed the attention of local foodies. On the site of the former Khaima, a total refurb has resulted in a very graceful restaurant. Tropical in its interpretation, the menu strives for authenticity over edgy, so expect classic dishes, fresh ingredients, lots of favourites, all turned on pretty plates. It’s elegant simplicity based on the depth of Asian flavours. There’s a beautiful wooden bar that serves up cocktails, mocktails, juices and teas to accompany the meals or simply to offer respite and refreshment for those making the sweaty trek down this busy shopping strip.