Bali, day three (I’m almost through!)
This post is about the last day in Bali, and then I have to move on to Singapore!
The morning of the last day I went for a swim in the lagoon, but it was unsucessful. It was impossible to do laps because the pool is in a lagoon shape, but besides that, they were cleaning the pool while I was swimming in it (too early in the morning I guess). I still managed to get about 45 minutes in.
We were taken to explore the island again, but this time, the more touristy part, with lots of little crafts stores (Bali is known for its handicrafts) that actually seemed pretty authentic!
As always, our plan for the day was centered around eating, and Mr. Tek and Michelle wanted to take us out for “street food.” It turned out not to be actual street (hawker) food, but one of many restaurants on a popular street that were half outside, half inside.
The menu seemed to have about half Indonesian, half western food: they had club sandwiches and pasta, but also the classic noodles, fried rice, seafood, etc. Of course we went the Indonesian route.
On the whole, this was not the best meal we had, but there was something about the relaxing atmosphere and the humbleness of the presentation that was extremely refreshing in comparison to last night. The same would apply to what we ate for dinner.
We ordered shrimp skewers, grilled tuna, lamb kabobs (why?), calamari, fried rice (which turned out to have chicken in it), BROWN RICE, gado gado, and a vegetable dish.
I must say that what impressed me most were the brown rice and the gado gado. The brown rice turned out to be the same red rice that was in the dessert the night before, and made me realize how inferior white rice and refined grains are.
The gado gado was completely different from, and in my opinion, better than the Dirty Duck Diner’s. Instead of separate ingredients with a dipping sauce, it was tossed like a real salad– it also had more beansprouts, greens, and cabbage, as well as crumbled pieces of tempeh and peanuts on the top. The texture was fantastic: chewy tofu, crunchy peanuts, tempeh and vegetables, and that smooth creamy peanut sauce to pull it all together.
Shrimp and tuna were decent– the most I can say is that they were fresh, as all seafood is here. They were cooked as they should be– just on their own, with french fries that we didn’t eat.
The vegetable dish had meat in it the first time, and when we realized that we were still hungry, we ordered it again, but without meat. This dish was like the kind of food I eat 70% of the time: in fact, it was more like a soup, and I ate it in a bowl. It had tofu, carrots, cabbage, broccoli raabe, and possibly mushrooms, all floating in a wonderful soup with hints of lemongrass and possibly seafood paste.
After lunch we continued to walk, seeing many more parades for the final day of the holiday. Michelle also took us to her favorite shoe stall, where you can get ridiculously comfortable sandels for the equivalent of 20 yuan each (about 3 dollars)! So we went crazy.
They also took us to a beach that was swarming with tourists, but seemed to have great waves and just radiated excitement and vacation vibes. We hung around the beach for a while, and since by then it was already late afternoon, we decided to go back to the hotel and relax a while before dinner.
Strangely enough, my parents and I were starving, despite everything we ate for lunch. My parents went for a swim because they hadn’t gone yet, while I watched a terrifying episode of Buffy called the Puppet Show, then started freaking out because I realized my dad had bought my aunt a puppet from one of the crafts stores and that it was sitting somewhere in the other room!
I couldn’t wait until it was time for dinner, especially since the place we were going to had been recommended by drivers and people working in the hotel, not just Mr. Tek.
It was called Cafe Aroma, but I feel like it also had another name. Anyway, it was a casual seafood place swarming with both locals and tourists. In fact, it reminded me a bit of an East Coast seafood shack! What you do is go to the counter, on which is all the fresh seafood for the day, pick out exactly what you want, and then go sit down at a table. Everything you order comes with rice, vegetables and fresh fruit. The restaurant itself had a lot of space inside, but the whole reason to go is to be able to sit on the beach. Because it gets dark at around 6:00 in Indonesia (no daylight savings), it was unreal: hundreds and hundreds of tables, all lit with candles, stretching down the beach for miles, all from different restaurants.
We were first given peanuts, but peanuts coated in some kind of spice rub.
I’m sure we picked the best one, though. Mr. Tek, Michelle and I ordered young coconut juice, which I hadn’t had yet on the trip. It tasted even better with a squeeze of lime, and it seemed that the more I drank, the more there was.
I used my spoon to scoop out some of the coconut flesh and stared in fascination… it was hard to believe that the flesh was all saturated fat! Of course, coconut is good for you in moderation, but to think it’s the only plant source of saturated fat, and not only that, but that it has way more saturated fat and calories than butter (55 g, 618 calories a serving, I think). This is the flesh I’m talking about, not the juice.
The food arrived on what seemed like banana leaves on plastic plates with lime halves, a tray of spicy sauces, plates of vegetables (watercress, I think), and a huge basket of steaming rice.
We ordered: lobster, red snapper, another kind of fish, shrimp, calamari, and clams.
Everything was incredible: I never really paid attention to what was really good seafood, since I originally only started eating fish to add some variety and protein to my diet, but my mom kept saying how this was the best seafood/ meal she had ever had in her life.
The lobster was my favorite: it seemed a completely different creature from the lobster we had in Cape Cod– whereas Cape Cod lobster is simply boiled, its flesh in huge chunks and just a bit too cloyingly sweet for me, this lobster was a bit stringier, and since it was grilled, much more interesting to eat.
Calamari, which I don’t usually even like, not eating much fried food, was fantastic, because it was crispy and not oily at all.
The only unsuccessful dish were the clams: shells full of cold, soupy liquid and a taste that made me feel nauseous. We left those alone.
We all ate a lot, and I must say that by the end of the meal I felt I had pushed my limits for making animal protein the central feature of a meal. Usually I eat mainly vegetables and just a bit of fish. After this meal I knew I wouldn’t be eating so much seafood at once for a while, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t delicious.
I just wanted to say that part of the reason the Bali vacation was so relaxing is that we didn’t need to make decisions about anything, especially ordering food, which is something we argue a lot about. Planning just makes everyone stressed out, and so I really want to thank Mr. Tek and Michelle, who took us places when they really weren’t obligated to. If you’re reading, THANK YOU!
We left the next morning for Singapore (they came with us), where I didn’t eat that much amazing food, but saw it EVERYWHERE.