Welcome to Business Insider’s new weekly column, An Insider’s 60-Second City Guide, which gives you the rundown on the best in eating, drinking, shopping, sleeping and sight-seeing from Australia and around the world.
Our first guide is Melbourne-born Richard Millar, executive chef at The W Retreat & Spa in Seminyak, Bali.
Can you suggest a couple of good places to sleep while we’re in town?
Your favourite places to eat in Bali?
Watercress in Batu Belig for its rustic breakfast and warung (local restaurant)-style fresh salads.
Cuca in Jimbaran, for a superb casual dining experience of western, contemporary tapas made using only locally-sourced ingredients.
Mama San for delectable Asian inspired dishes in an uber trendy ambience.
Rayjin in Seminyak for modern Teppanyaki-style cuisine served by enthusiastic chefs.
Barbacoa for Latin American-style tapas, perfectly matched with frozen margaritas, while enjoying beautiful decor from vintage leather banquettes.
Sea Circus for epic breakfast options, lunch and dinner, along with amazing cocktails and great coffee. My personal favourite is red quinoa and lentil salad, paired with a Madam Butterfly, a fresh beetroot-based juice, plus a latte.
Where do you go for good coffee or tea?
Revolver is heaven for coffee fanatics like me. There aren’t many places in Bali that serve great Melbourne-style coffee. I found it by accident as it’s tucked away in a little laneway,.
Watercress works closely with the acclaimed barista, Katie Allen, from Revolver.
Sea Circus uses only single origin Kintamani Arabica beans custom roasted on the island, ground by the cup and are serious about their coffee as they have “Five Senses” roasters from Melbourne/Perth constantly checking that they make great coffee consistently.
The best places to head for a drink?
Barbacoa for the best frozen margaritas in town; Mama San for a drink call P.I.M.P – words can’t do it justice. You’ve just got to try it! Merah Putih for its great lounge ambience and post-dinner liqueur coffees.
Any good shops to poke around in?
Earth Market is an organic/macrobiotic retail store that’s like Aladdin’s cave for vegans, and also interesting for inquisitive non-vegans like me. It has a little cafe for fresh organic juices or smoothie while you go through the bookshelf or information wall full of places to go for yoga, pilates, tarot readings, etc.
Carga is a homeware haven, in a sleek standalone Balinese house, for anyone seeking a bit of inspiration in Bali. The cool finds include bowls and dishes, stationary, wrapping paper, notebooks, ceramics, home decor and more.
Where do you like to head for down time?
After a good workout, I usually head over to either Watercress or Sea Circus for a long lunch and dinner/drinks at one of the other favourites.
What’s the area’s best-kept food secret?
Sari Kembar is a no-nonsense, open-to-the-street joint, with simple rickety tables and chairs. It’s a typical local babi guling warung – certainly not the cleanest restaurant I’ve been in, but the turnover is fast, which is always a good sign. Get a lovely piece of melt-in-the-mouth caramel crackling and dried crackling over a stick of pork sate, fresh lawar (a mix of pig blood & spices), bebek betutu (duck) stuffed with cassava leaves, fatty — in a good way — sausage, a few sweetmeats, tender pork, and rice, of course.
Babi guling (spit-roasted suckling pig) is one of Bali’s most famed dishes, stuffed and infused with a spicy concoction of turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic.
Anything we should avoid?
Giving personal information to people requesting you to fill in tourist surveys on the streets. Riding motor bikes without helmets.
What souvenir should we take home?
Jenggala ceramics is a Bali-based producer of high quality homewares. The showroom in Jimbaran, an art-deco space.
Sign up to the Make-a-Pot and Paint-a-Pot classes to throw your own pottery, or paint a design on a ceramic to take home as a reminder.
I also like Balinese paintings and you can get a family portrait sketched or painted, from an existing photo or live sitting.
When should we visit?
There are two main tourist seasons. Dry season runs from April to September and sees consistent warm weather, an influx of tourists and a hike in prices. Rainy season, October through to March, on other hand, offers cheaper prices, a less crowded experience, high humidity and frequent storms.
Ideal travel is April, May and late September when prices haven’t reached their peak and crowds are smaller.
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