JamBali is Bali's first traditional Jamaican restaurant. It is a small intimate place up on the ridge above Ubud at Penestenan, the management is Jamaican and the fare is 100% traditional. Downstairs is air-conditioned, upstairs the very popular alternative for evening dining on the covered roof top.
Jerk is a cooking method common to the Caribbean, each island having its own special recipe. Jerk is a mix of spices that are either dry rubbed into the surface of the meat or fish or used as a wet marinade.
Jamaican Jerk most commonly includes allspice (called "pimento" in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers. Other ingredients may include cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg. gartlic, ginger and salt. At JamBali the exact ingredients used, as with most of the recipes, are family secrets, as it is common to add their own special ingredients to the basic ones.
Jamaican Jerk is usually done with chicken or pork, For special festive occasions goat is used and seafood is also sometimes prepared that way. The meat, so prepared, is then cooked over a flame.
My first dish at JamBali was a pleasant surprise. Fish Cakes are available on so many different menus and different cuisines in Bali that my expectations were not high. What arrived were three paper-thin very crisp 'Salt Fish Fritters'. With a dollop of the tangy well-spiced pineapple ginger relish that accompanied the dish spread on top, they were excellent, and whetted my appetite for what was to follow.
Crab Cakes are served with a cucumber pickle. All the pickles and sauces are made in-house. The Chicken Wings get the jerk treatment prior to cooking and if that is not spicy enough for you then dare try the Hot & Spicy Bolt Wings!
Callaloo Fritters are water spinach prepared the Jamaican way, served with a sweet and tangy sauce. There is a Fruit & Vegetable Salad, and a Green Salad that is served as a side dish to every main course, refreshingly good with its lime vinaigrette.
Mains centre around jerk dishes. Chicken is at the top of the list and as is the norm it has been dry rubbed then cooked on the bone. The meat retains quite a firm texture, yet it is still tender, with a powerful after taste [you can request how strong or weak you want this to be]. As with the pork version the dish comes with a fried rice & beans mix, what is termed Caribbean Slaw and a papaya relish.
Goat is a Jamaican special. At JamBali it is in a slow cooked curry, one that is totally different from Indian curries. There is also a Shrimp Curry, prepared the same way. OxTail & Butterbeans is a rich stew. Pork Chops are grilled with a ginger glaze.
Escovitch is the Jamaican version of the South American Ceviche. The fish has been seasoned, browned, and marinated in a spicy vinegar marinade. JamBali uses Red Snapper and it is deep fried till crisp, served with a pickled onion and pepper sauce. Whole Red Snapper can also be ordered steamed, this is done in a vegetable broth.
For the vegetarians there are also many choices here. The Coconut Curry Stew is labeled 'Ital', something akin to Vegan. Also a Jamaican Red Bean Stew or Pineapple Tofu in which the tofu has been battered and fried, served in a pineapple sauce.
Then there is the Veggie Burger, a vegetable patty with lettuce, tomato and pickles, served in a hamburger bun, with sweet potato chips.
Desserts are traditional too. There is a Rum & Raisin Bread Pudding and the very special Sweet Potato Pudding [another secret family recipe]. If you are seeking something to contrast with the spiced after taste of the food then ask for their special Sorrel Ice [spiced rosella with crushed ice], not on the menu but it is always available.
JamBali serves very interesting food in a congenial setting. If you are into exploring tastes then this is the place for you? It is totally different, and so enjoyable.