Bali has a reputation for being a tourist trap packed with Australian holiday-makers. There are parts of the island (or group of islands, really) where that’s certainly true. If you take some time to dig a little deeper, you’ll discover there’s another, more authentic side to this tropical wonderland. Of course, I’m talking about the food. I sat down at an unassuming stall along a busy nondescript road and ordered the first dish you should try anywhere in Indonesia – Nasi Goreng. Literally “fried rice”, this is like ordering pad thai at a Thai restaurant or spaghetti in Italy. It’s a test of the cook and how well they do this dish will either whet your appetite for more or tell you it’s best to try somewhere else. It’s usually good, sometimes very good. It’s also fast and cheap.
I love the mix of textures. Crunchy roasted peanuts contrast the tender chicken and crisp shallots. Garlic gives the dish a wonderful aroma. Sweet soy sauce makes the mouth water while a touch of tamarind and chili give just enough kick to bring the dish alive.
Once you’ve tried Nasi Goreng, there’s a whole world of other Indonesian and Balinese dishes to discover. Just look for that stall on the side of the road that’s a little less obvious, the one with rickety tables and short plastic seats. You never know how good or how bad the food might be, but that’s all part of the adventure of travel.