Rahel Stephanie: where to eat in Bali

After a childhood pinging back and forth between Jakarta and Singapore, Rahel Stephanie settled in London in 2013, where she’s made it her mission to change our perception of Indonesian food. Part of this involves returning ingredients like tempeh to their traditional Javanese roots, which she does at her celebrated plant-based supper club, Spoons, which sells out in minutes every time she lists a new one. We talked to her about where to eat on the beautiful island of Bali.

Rahel Stephanie

Nasi Ikan Bakar Manna, Kuta

Warungs are humble street-side restaurants and cafés that you find all over Indonesia. This family-run one is in Kuta, in the far south of Bali, and it specialises in grilled fish with corn rice, which comes with its own-recipe sambal manna, its take on a spicy Indonesian relish that’s been passed down for generations. The place is run by a couple, and their daughter, Kyla, who is also an artist and an illustrator. She designed the menus and curated the interior, which is all flashy colours and graphic table mats. You also find her often working the tables. As Kyla puts it, the warung is a place filled with love and tradition. It’s very rare in Bali to find a place that’s so unpretentiously stunning – in a contemporary sense – while maintaining warmth and a genuine family atmosphere that makes it feel like you’re walking into someone’s dining room.

Jln Legian No.387, Legian, Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali; instagram.com/nasiikanbakarmanna

Fed by Made, Seminyak

This reservation-only restaurant is run by four friends, two of whom used to run pop-ups in Melbourne before they moved back to Bali to open their first bricks-and-mortar place. Fed serves no-choice six-course set menus, which change biweekly and take inspiration from restaurants all over the world, including Planque and Mangal II in London.  Their approach is to reconceptualise that kind of modern approach to cooking by incorporating Indonesian-specific ingredients: lemongrass sausages, pork chops with green sambal, raw fish with kecombrang torch ginger. For pudding, they’ve done a snake fruit crumble which is really special. They’ve also got a really gorgeous natural wine list with some locally produced low-intervention wines by Park Juice, a side-project of one of the owners. And it’s great value for money: the six-course menu costs 350,000 rupiah, which is less than £20. It’s one of the best eating experiences I’ve had in Bali and a must-try when you’re there.

Jl. Kunti I No.117, Seminyak, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali; instagram.com/fed.bymade

Klepon Gianyar, Gianyar

A klepon is a traditional sweet snack of glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar and coated in freshly shaved coconut. Over the years I’ve eaten a lot of klepons, but none have come close to the ones at this traditional warung in Gianyar. They’re usually made with dry palm sugar, but here they use liquid sugar to ensure that they retain that explosive bite. And they’re made fresh, which means that you might have to wait for about 30 minutes, but it’s worth it as you can watch the production line of ladies: one hand-moulding the glutinous rice batter, another filling them with the sugar, a third tossing them into a large pot of boiling water and a fourth who coats them in freshly shaved coconut. It’s the most beautifully intricate and strategic assembly line I’ve ever seen. And the results are incredible: perfectly bouncy balls with a hint of saltiness, that explode with warm palm sugar.

Jl. Kalantaka No.14, Lingkungan Sengguan, Kawan, Kec. Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali; instagram.com/klepongianyar1980

For details on her next supper club, follow Rahel at @eatwithsp00ns

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