4 September 2009
When eating seafood, what is better than getting it fresh and having it grilled especially for you?
Jimabaran Bay, known as the fishing village and home to some of the finest luxury hotels of Bali and of the world, is located south of Ngurah Rai International Airport and close to some of Bali’s tourist destinations. This place has been consistently recommended by friends – tourists and locals – and was dubbed as one of Bali’s must-place-to-eat destinations. Seafood-lovers, indeed we are, we have found our way to this village on our second night in the island, with the quest to try and enjoy what this infamous place has to offer.
The first time I heard of this village from my Indonesian colleague, one place crossed my mind – Dampa Seaside Market and Restaurants in Macapagal Avenue, Philippines - a place where you can buy fresh seafood in any of the stalls in the wet market and have it cooked and served in the restaurant of your choice. However, upon stepping out of our rented car, we were a bit surprised from the sight that welcomed us. Instead of the wet-market feel and smell that I commonly find in Dampa, we were greeted with expensive-looking restaurants and a number of staffs, dressed in the traditional Balinese clothing, who were lined in-front ready to start their sales talk and to gracefully drag us inside. We strolled in the first few restaurants of Jimbaran and we noticed that each of them have well-maintained aquariums where one can pick, weigh and decide what to eat and an adjacent open kitchen where one can watch how they prepare and grill the food.
As competition is high in the whole stretch of Jimbaran, different restaurants offer different freebies, such as parking (for diners who brought their own car or motorcycle), after dinner hotel transfers and welcome drinks. We got a free parking and welcome drinks plus 110,000 IDR off the regular priced set menu for 2 persons from this restaurant called Cafe Jukung. The 550,000 IDR (regular price) package includes the following:
- 2 king prawns
- 1 lobster (300 grams)
- 6 clams
- 1 fish (300 grams)
- calamari (200 grams)
Served with 2 bottles of soft drinks, rice, soup, veggies, fresh fruits and nuts, I think we have found a good deal! Haggling for a good price was not easy as mostly offers the same price range from 250,000 IDR – 450,000 IDR (before tax and service charge which approximates an additional of 21%) for 1 kg, depending on the type of seafood. Good thing, this restaurant offers a set menu, which saves us from thinking of the WHATs and WEIGHTs and was fair enough to allow us to bargain. With a refreshing welcome drink in hand, we were guided to the rear porch of the restaurant, which at that time we have come to realize that the enclosed and cozy restaurant look is just a façade. In front of us are tables and chairs sprawled neatly at the beach’s seashore, facing the sea and its gigantic waves; at the far right side, a sight of the lights of the airport’s runway and at the left side are lights of the nearest town and village area. We were impressed with the numerous people – locals & tourists, couples, families and friends – who were enjoying the food, beautiful view, festive yet relaxing mood at the whole stretch of Jimbaran. Apparently, all restaurants offer this kind of experience to their customers.
We entertained ourselves by observing the busy runway of the airport, people watching and occasional chit-chat. We have also let ourselves soothed by the fresh sea-side air and the sound of Bali’s traditional music playing in the background. Over-all, the waiting time was truly relaxing and it was only when our food was served that we felt hungry.
Nuts, soup, seafood, rice and veggies – all served fresh and in the appropriate order and intervals. At an instant, we found ourselves trying each of the variants. As all of them were grilled (except for the calamari), each was marinated in the same blend of sweet barbeque sauce. This helped in maintaining the succulence of the meaty king prawns and lobsters. The sauce also keeps one from having that strange seafood after taste when eating clams; on the other hand, it gave a delectable twist in the grilled fish. While still impressed how everything blended tastefully in this barbeque sauce, I tried some of the additional sauce and dips served to us. These included minced garlic sautéed in butter sauce (which I used for the Calamari), spicy oyster sauce (which I used for the prawns and lobster) and Sambal (which I preferred to be paired with the grilled fish). Other dips available are the usual orange-colored sweet and spicy sauce and minced ginger. I have alternately sipped my ice-cold soft drink to help keep the balance of flavors and for a good appreciation of my next spoonful intake of such exciting mix of flavors (this is what I have learned by previously being a weekly customer in Dampa). In the other tables, they used beers and branded wines (we have no more budget for that unfortunately), but whatever it is, it’s good to have something to help you savor these delicious dishes. We finished by enjoying the fresh few slices of melon and watermelon served right after the meal.
As we went out of the restaurant, the same set of staffs that welcomed us bid goodbye and thanked us. They quickly sent one of their assistants to look for Agus while they happily asked us about their food and our dinner. We even managed to get a quick shot in front of the restaurant taken by one of friendly staffs.
Jimbaran Bay is a must-place-to-eat destination in Bali. You can forget about the beach but do not miss eating under the moon and the stars in this place. Truly, Bali has its own way of letting you experience the Balinese way of life while feeling close to home.
Mr Whattaworld would like to thank Ms Ahrvederyet for writing this particular post!