24 Hours To Dine: Nicholas Scorpion's Guide To Eating In Bali
A relatively new face in Malaysia's F&B scene, Singaporean chef Nicholas Scorpion can be found orchestrating the goings-ons in Jing Ze's open kitchen every Tuesday through Sunday. During a serendipitous meeting at a Burgundy wine tasting, he confided that he'd only learned to appreciate his Asian roots in recent years, hence his contemporary Asian restaurant; Jing Ze, which turns a year old in September 2019, is literally the chef's Chinese name.
Home is wherever he hangs his hat. Scorpion has staffed kitchens in some 10 countries including Indonesia, where he is scheduled to open his second restaurant (see the halal lunch option below) before the end of 2019 — such ambition from a street urchin turned self-made man. "I was paid peanuts for a long time, but never once did I feel bitter about money. I simply kept my head down and cooked with all my heart," cites the chef. "I do understand that pay cheques here are abominable, hence industry personnel feeling demoralised, but we need people who care about their craft, not just ringgits and cents."
Breakfast - Legian Traditional Market / Pasar Desa Adat Legian
A place to get both cooked foods and raw produce, this market is definitely a 'locals only' venue. It provides an opportunity to peek into Balinese breakfast culture: fresh fruits can be cut up for you on the spot, and there is super traditional jajanan pasar (Balinese steamed cakes) that are sold by a third-generation vendor for close to nothing.
I personally love coming here for breakfast because of the traditional foods that one cannot find in tourist areas.
Nothing wrong with an air-conditioned venue and paying 10USD for avocado toast, though! If that's more your speed, the market is located near Dewi Sri Street, which is lined with a ton of other eateries, cafés and chill spots.
Legian Traditional Market / Pasar Desa Adat Legian | Jalan Sri Rama, Legian, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Lunch - Babi Guling Chandra (Non-halal)
It's one of Bali's most popular spots for babi guling (suckling pig) and for good reason. Every component of their nasi campur (mixed rice) follows tradition and is done oh-so well. The urutan (pork sausage) is simply sublime with its fatty, coarse texture while the kulit (skin) has an almost glass-like translucency and a toasted aroma – plus, it snaps beneath your teeth. Everything is delicious, right down to their sambal. Babi guling is a true work of art, in my opinion, and these guys are great at it.
Getting here takes a little more travel time – some 20 to 40 minutes from most popular accommodation sites – but once you’ve tried Babi Guling Chandra, you'll know that you’ve tasted the best.
Babi Guling Chandra | Jalan Teuku Umar, 232, Dauh Puri Kauh, Kec. Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
Lunch: Super Lucky (Halal option)
For non-pork eaters there is Super Lucky, sister restaurant to Malaysia's own Jing Ze. Officially open in December 2019, Super Lucky is located on Petitenget Street in the heart of Seminyak.
Since we launched our rice bowls at Jing Ze in mid-2019, customers have been going nuts over them, so we thought it would make sense to bring them to Bali. Super Lucky is all about putting our favourite Asian food profiles together in one compact rice bowl. For instance, the Wagyu Gyudon is composed of a more interesting cut of bovine muscle, pickles, vegetables, a soft egg, our special sauce, and sambal matah, which is so iconic to Bali. Other options include Bebek Bengil-style fried duck and some vegetarian dishes.
Super Lucky | Petitenget Street, 114, Kerobokan Kelod, North Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
A restaurant that's very close to my heart. Chef Kieran Morland's other brainchild is the famous Merah Putih on Jalan Petitenget. Sangsaka is more personal and serves contemporary Indonesian fare at a high level of cooking. For those that have visited Merah Putih, you can now pop over to Sangsaka for just as similar (if not higher) standards and a much more personal dining experience.
Sangsaka Restaurant | Jalan Pangkung Sari, 100 Kerobokan, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Cocktails: El Nacional
If you’re not into large-scale, beach club, touristy vibes (which I'm not), here ya go: El Nacional is probably one of the best bars on the island and boasts the largest rum collection in Indonesia (they do have other peripheral spirits, of course) to boot. Established in 2018, the bar barely markets itself, and this is probably the first time I'm giving them a public shout-out. This is a bar where I can truly unwind while having world-class cocktails at very fair prices.
I don't even have to worry about getting hit in the head with a selfie stick!
The venue has a beautiful patio overlooking some Balinese rice fields and a very sexy in-door space that’ll subconsciously coax you into getting a cigar. Cocktails and vibes aside, take note of the food – being a chef, this is a huge plus point. El Nacional has a small but powerful bar food menu that’ll go hand-in-hand with your tipples. Visit El Nacional before it becomes too crowded – don't say I didn’t warn ya. And please leave your selfie sticks at home; you might hit someone in the head.
El Nacional | Jalan Petitenget, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Be ready to receive a baptism of desserts.
R4D is a desserts-only venue that serves up to 21 items in 3 areas on the property. Its location in Ubud plus Will Goldfarb’s approach towards his little space of sweets immediately had me sold. The eatery is fun yet relaxed, exciting yet down-to-earth, and always provocative. After a 3-hour meal there, I summed it up as "the El Bulli of the dessert world." Reserve early. WAY early.
Room4Dessert | Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia.