One of my most surprising discoveries about Bali, many years ago, was its almost total lack of quality Indonesian restaurants. Small Warungs by the thousand, each selling the specialties of their area and restaurants serving an Indonesian version of Chinese food abounded, along with whatever local owners thought western cuisine was supposed to look and taste like. But no high quality good value Indonesian, served in clean premises that a tourist would visit, the food having been prepared in a modern hygienic kitchen!
Stop looking! Warung Enak has arrived. It is housed in a most imposing building, one that could only have evolved from a Made Wijaya dream. Wantilans and courtyards of Bali are combined with the pastel colours and mild erotica found adorning many Hindu temples outside of Indonesia. Enak is in Pengosekan, south of Ubud, overlooking verdant rice paddies.
As Enak also has an attractive bar it is only fitting that the bar snacks are also tantalizing. They also make great entrees. The Panada [from Manado] is deep fried rillettes of tuna that have been wrapped in egg dough, on the side a tangy green papaya salad. Semar Mendem [Solo] is steamed sticky rice that has been filled with dried beef and wrapped in an egg crepe, very special.
There are no entrees and mains at Enak, just small and large plates from which you can choose your spread of the day. Enjoy them progressively or all together. Amongst the small plates the Asinan Jakarta [Batavia] stands out! It is a mixture of yam bean, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts and tofu, tossed with a Carambola vinaigrette and served in a crunchy little bird's nest of fried egg noodles. I am certainly no vegetarian but I cannot visit Enak without ordering this dish!
The Otak-Otak is from Kalimantan. From Bali comes that old favourite, Sate Lilit, grilled minced fish that has been blended with lemongrass, galangal, shallot, chilli, palm sugar, Kaffir lime and coconut milk. Accompanying is a real Balinese seaweed salad, guaranteed to warm you on a cold day!
Lumpia Semarang [Central Java] is a vegetarian spring roll but with a thin crisp coating, the dippimg sauce made from fermented soya beans. Sate Kakul is pure Balinese, snails that have been marinated in sweet soy, ginger, chilli and Kaffir lime leaf, served with a rice cake. The Rawon Soup is from East Java, beef in a broth made from the black rawon nut, combined with lemongrass and the leaf of Kaffir lime. Empek-Empek Palembang is almost a soup, and one of my favourite dishes here. Deep-fried fish dumplings filled with egg float in a broth made from palm sugar blended with dried shrimps. Coming from South Sumatra there is quite a bit of fire in those last spoons of broth.
There are noodle and rice dishes, perfect for those mid afternoon snack attacks!
A separate Vegetarian menu includes Bergedel Jagung [corn fritters, I love them] and a Tempe Menduan from East Java, bean cake fritters with a hot sambal and many other choices.
The Sates are also anytime food, for snacking or with the meal. The Balinese Sate Languan is juicy chunks of fish with spices that bite! It is in two sets of three, with different styles and spices. Traditional Sate Kambing is Central Javanese style with side dips of peanut and soy sauces for you to mix or use separately.
)verall, the large plates confound you with a myriad of choices, particularly if spice is your way of life! Sumatran Pangek Sapi is a beef dish cooked with sweet basil. It sits on a serve of rice, crunchy wing beans on the side. Ayam Panggang Bumbu Rujak is an East Javan chicken dish, the half spring chicken having been marinated before grilling. The resultant flesh is so soft and tasty.
Woku Blanka Cakai, Putri is a perfectly poached fillet of Trevally that sits in a spicy herbed broth of lemongrass, ginger, chilli and pandan and Kaffir lime leaves, all the way from Manado. Udang Goreng Sambal Kemangi is deep-fried prawns, prepared Bali style, having been tossed in a tomato sambal with sweet basil added.
The great value Vegetarian menu has an amazing top price of Rp.25,000! Some of the previously mentioned dishes are combined in a Vegetarian Nasi Campur, five small serves around steamed rice. There is even a Vegetarian Laksa [not something that fits my tastes] from Sumatra [bean cake and bean curd with vermicelli].
Asian sweets I usually avoid but the Kue Lumpur from Kalimantan is interesting. A pancake of sultanas and young coconut is served with a sauce of vanilla and chocolate. Aga-Agar Karang is an unusual Balinese seaweed jelly.
But the real highlight at Warung Enak is their Rijsttafel [a rice table, from the days of the Dutch occupation]. Many places offer their version but none are quite like this one! 19 small tastes, plus rice of course. 4 starters and a soup followed by 8 mains and a taste of 6 desserts. All this for just Rp. 150,000++, per person. This is the most sensible order for your initial visit! Order your favourites from the Rijsttafel upon your return.
A better than average wine list, even by International standards, is another bonus at this high quality, great value, Indonesian eatery!
Warung Enak offers a very hands-on Cooking Class, three days a week. They only accept small groups so an early booking is essential. Start at the markets with the chef, chop and cook, sit down to eat and enjoy the results of your labours. Take away all the recipes and a certificate with you and then surprise your friends back home with your new skills.
Warung Enak is a great addition to the Bali dining scene, and now also offers a very professional Indonesian Cooking Class, start at the markets early in the morning to make the purchases, then chop, prepare and cook under the supervision of the Executive Chef. After eating the spoils of your labours you go home with all the recipes and a certificate of attendance.