Broadfield Bali

Graeme Butler

Not too many years ago - mention Bali food and you thought of Bali Belly, but the game's changed. A new crop of high-end restaurants are helping fuel a tourist boom on the island as Aussie's in their thousands flock to new eateries ... many run by Australian ex-pats.

"Before we come over we all get on the email and everyone tags each other about which restaurants we're going to or what night and it's all planned before we get here" says one tourist , "I can't afford to go to Australian restaurants and get the food i get here at home it's like $50 $60 and I'm not prepared to pay that where this here is like $20/ 30 it's perfect"

We've invited The West's food writer Rob Broadfield to show us his picks of Bali's Best and to introduce us to some of the Australian Chefs who are transforming the island of the gods into a dining paradise.

"Food tourism now become part of the Bali thing people come to Bali to eat where previously they came to Bali to sit around a pool now they're coming to eat" says Rob Broadfield, " a lot of Australian chefs have moved here, famously will Meyrick of course who started Sarong and lately Mama san was sort of he was the guy that started all that sort of movement of Australian chefs here, a lot have followed and they bring with them that unique understanding of Asian food which we Australians are really good at".

Will Meyrick - is now a famous celebrity chef in Indonesia - he has his own TV Show, Street Food Chef, but Aussie visitors to Bali will know Will best for his signature restaurant Sarong.

Will opened Sarong in 2008 after shooting to fame as the chef behind Sydney's Jimmy Liks restaurant... it was a gamble that paid off.

"What makes Sarong a success is that the food that we do is food that we've found through heritage recipes that have been handed down from one person to another having two recipes or having one recipe and having two villages cook it in a different way but they're only a kilometre apart that is the interesting part of understanding food" Will says.

Sarong is lavish ... and the food is knockout... but like many of the new breed of Bali Restaurants the prices won't break the bank - entrees around $5 and mains $15 - $20 a fraction of what you'd pay in Australia for a comparable meal.

"This is my favourite restaurant in Bali without question cos of this food, it's so powerful and full of flavour just rich and sweet and sour and all of those wonderful south east Asian flavours i think for my taste this guy is the best cook in Bali" Rob says.

After the success of Sarong Will Meyrick opened another Bali eatery - the slightly hipper Mama San - again an Asian inspired restaurant with dishes designed to share and its reputation has secured it's place in the West's Good Food Guide

"It's the only good food guide in Australia that does something out of Australia, for a very good reason about 40,000 of us come up to Bali every month and food tourism is increasingly on the agenda because of the amount of great restaurants here people come here to eat so it sort of makes sense that we put a listing in our good food guide about what are the best restaurants and that section funnily enough is growing faster than any other section in the guide" Rob says.

Ginger Moon is a new kid on the block - but the Aussie chef behind it certainly isn't ... Dean Keddell has almost three decades of experience behind him.. he founded Bali's famous Gado Gado but this is his first venture into his own business and according to Rob Broadfield this eatery should be on your list of must-trys.

"I think they like the fact that you can still recognise the food, it is Indonesian influenced but it's still recognisable i haven't hidden it so much that no one knows what they're eating" Dean says.

And that's reflected in the menu - Bali on a plate, with all the twists and turns you'd expect from a chef like Dean - beef randang pizza that'll set you back just $9 and there is Dean's babi guling pork bun

"That's the flavours of Bali, the flavours of Bali exactly what it is, it's not even the flavours of Indonesia, it's so indigenous to here" Rob says.

To cap off the dining experience - Charlie is a cocktail bar/ restaurant that's just recently opened and has already picked up a gong as Bali's best bar... it's a place where ice is carved off the block for whisky lovers - and the food has a distinctive French feel.

Doing the Bali Food circuit is the new catch-cry being used by visitors - as West Aussies lap up world class dining delivered on a bintang budget.

"I think Bali is definitely a food destination i think Bali is some where you don't just come and sit on the beach now you come and sit in a restaurant and drink great cocktails and eat great food"

The restaurants featured by Rob Broadfield were.

www.sarongbali.com

www.mamasanbali.com

www.gingermoonbali.com

www.charliebali.com