Often, it's not Bali's treasures beneath the surface of glittering blue seas or the glamorous beachfront hangouts visitors rave about; it's the culinary landscape. But with so many options from street-food joints to fine-dining, it's hard to know where to begin. That's where Simon Ward and his team at Bali Food Safari comes in.
Simon has sought out the very best flavours in Bali's cultural capitals to create four seriously tasty and decadent food tours in Seminyak, Ubud and Jimbaran. Think modern fare, stunning views and good company. We took 10 with Simon to chat about what's cooking in Bali, the future of his foodie tours and his tips to make the most out of your trip to Indonesia's crown jewel. (Hint: it includes a Bali Food Safari).
Can you sum up a Bali Food Safari in less than 10 words?
Culinary nirvana and a degustation like nothing else.
Where do you see Bali Food Safari in the next five years?
After we recently took out the Seven Star Luxury Award, we’ve been consumed with the idea of expanding – taking this show on the road and our guests across the globe to experience culinary discovery.
Tell me a little bit about how Bali Food Safari supports local communities.
We are very proud to be supporters of the team and children of charity Bali Kids. Part proceeds and donations from tours go to this worthy cause. Founded in 2006, Bali Kids provides care, medical treatment and health education to orphanages and other children across Bali to improve the quality of life for generations with a dedicated clinic and training programmes.
Hypothetical: I'm a food rookie who usually seeks out the Golden Arches wherever I travel. Is one of your tours for me?
The experience is truly for the culinary connoisseur, as well as those that may not be as passionate about food. We provide an adventure that takes our guests on a mystery dinner tour. We hand-select the menu (taking into account any special dietary requirements) and you’ll taste your way through up to twelve dishes amongst some unique establishments, beautiful views and maybe even a cheeky glass of wine.
Since we take care of each and every detail of the evening, even those that may usually go for the 'Mc-something' will come away thoroughly full and totally pleased with the dining experience. That’s progressive dining in every sense of the term!
What are your favourite Balinese dishes?
Bali is full of extravagant beauty and unique cuisine. Crunchy, saucy, spicy, sour, salty, sweet and above all else, tasty, is what Balinese dishes are all about. I love a traditional soto (Indonesian soup) with an honest serve of sambal (fiery condiment made out of chilli), and the babi guling (roast pork) is out of this world! You have me drooling now…
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What is it about Bali's culinary scene do you think sets it apart from other similar destinations?
There are so many wonderful things about the developing culinary landscape of Bali with some of the finest produce and traditions around. Yet, if I was to sum it up into one idea it would be confidence. Chefs are approaching dishes with an unabashed assertiveness with unique flavour combinations, a complexity in their dishes and innovative, modern presentations. We see more and more eateries with the confidence to create a distinctive place – to stand out and create something instead of just fitting the mould. It’s a gastronomic wonderland here in Bali!
That’s why we’re passionate about Bali Food Safari, the restaurants we partner with and opening the culinary horizons of discerning holidaymakers and diners in Bali.
When you're not trying the tastiest dishes Bali has to offer, what are you doing in this tropical paradise?
It’s a hard job sampling the dishes, but someone’s got to do it! When we’re not chasing the latest, tastiest dishes I’m usually by the office working with our team and planning world domination, then playing and enjoying moments in paradise with my wife and three beautiful children.
Where are your top spots to watch the sunset?
- JuMaNa, Jimbaran
- Anantara, Seminyak
- Seminyak beach
- El Kabron, Uluwatu
- Sundara infinity pool, Jimbaran
What are your tips for visitors to Bali?
While Bali is known by many as a foodie haven and an excellent place for great massages, shopping and Bintangs, it’s still a deeply spiritual and cultural island. My best recommendation for all visitors is to respect their beliefs and values, being aware and respectful of these will put you in good company with the friendly locals!
- Use both hands when giving or receiving - It is a compliment to use both hands when you give or receive things like money or a business card
- It’s considered offensive to point with your index finger - use the entire hand if you want to point out something.
- Haggle in markets and street shops with a little cheekiness and a smile!
- Avoid touching people’s heads (even kids) as the head is considered the most sacred part of the human body
- If you see a row of thongs at an entry or door, take off yours too!