“It’s an Institution.”
Okay, okay, okay. On a recent trip to Bali, I decided that I finally had to visit these famous seafood restaurants in Jimbaran. Jimbaran is just south of Denpensar near Uluwatu and some of the more mainstream resorts. The cabby even commented to me on the popularity of this fish restaurants, apparently they are even a big deal with the locals. You just have to try something like that right???
So, I arrived before the dinner hour, but like any good sleuth I had to get over to the beach to check these places out. Not open for lunch, the seventeen beachfront restaurants didn’t even have their tables set up on the beach yet. The beach by the way is white sand and beautiful. It is extremely close to the airport, but you don’t hear the planes over the waves. Not too crowded that you can’t enjoy yourself there during the day, just make sure you clear out by 4:30pm so the fish shacks can get their tables set up.
Dinner starts around 5:30pm. Starving, I made my way down around 6pm. The buildings looked like they were on fire.
The amount of smoke billowing out of these restaurants looked like a setting for firefighter training back home. The grills were kept alive by using coconut husks as the fuel. With all seventeen of these huts grilling prawns, crab, lobster, snapper, whole fish of different varieties, and clams, I was starting to understand what all the fuss was about. It just had to be good.
I walked into the busiest restaurant using that as my signal for quality food in Asia, and was promptly asked if I was on the waiting list. Since I wasn’t and my stomach wasn’t going to allow me to wait, i moved on to another shop. Intan Sari. Inside was mostly empty and they had one massive banquet table on the beach empty, but all of the other tables were full. I soon learned that my timing was impeccable. Each restaurant had these banquet tables set up for tour buses. Mostly Chinese tourists touted down from Seminyak or Legian, but also locals coming down for a night out as well. The restaurant I had chosen was still waiting for their bus to arrive.
Dinner was Bintang, whole red snapper, steamed rice, wilted greens and fruit for dessert. I was stuffed.
People watching (my favorite pastime) was great here, if you can sort though the 1000 people that converge onto the beach to eat. A few touts on the wet sand – not many. Servers bouncing from kitchen to beach carrying truckloads of steamed rice and beers.
Was it the most fantastic fish spread I’ve ever seen? No. That was less than 200 miles away on Gili T years ago. Was it the most romantic setting? Not really. Very family oriented. Live music? There was on group moving through the tables playing for tips. Was it worth it? YES. Compared to the local restaurants and hotel pricing in this area – this is affordable. Not cheap, but affordable.