Jimbaran was the perfect place for me to finish up my time in Bali, to spend some time with sand beneath my toes, reclined on a well shaded sun lounger with an ice cold bottle of beer. I could splash in gently lapping water or a stroll along golden sands if I wished, all I had to concern myself with was what I was going to eat.
My first visit to Jimbaran beach solved my night time dining dilemma, I had gone to the beach to catch the sunset, it was not long before the great haze of smoke wafting over the beach and out to sea caught my attention. I heard no sirens, there didn’t seem to be any panic, my conclusion, and hope, was barbecues, lots of them.
By the time I reached the source of the smoke the sun had set in a subdued fashion and the inky night sky had begun to dominate the last of the days light. Standing barefooted on the sand with the water lapping at my toes the smell wafting across the beach was so enticing, it was a rich, heady aroma laden with a promise of much deliciousness. The very idea that I could soon be eating freshly cooked fish on one of the wonky tables in front of me, with my feet sunk into the sand appealed greatly. The hardest part was where? All I had to do was to choose well from the mash up of lights and restaurants in front of me.
Not knowing where one restaurant ended and the next began made the selection tricky, I undertook the decision by following my gut, I went with a busy place with an unusually small menu. I lucked out with my choice, sure it was poorly lit and dark and so smoky the captivating aroma the embedded in my clothes, but everywhere else was too. I’d much rather sit here listening to the sea, gazing at the moon with my toes in the sand than to sit inside any restaurant. I can squint and pick the occasional fish bone from my mouth because I failed to see it, eventually I can wash the smoke smell out of my clothes, these are sacrifices easy to make.
During my stay in Jimbaran I ate at this same place more than once, the quality of their cooking well worth a return visit. With meals here served with steamed rice and wilted greens the portion size became quite large, and with such enticing smells I excitedly over ordered.
Every night I ate at this barbecued fish haven I was pleased to have the 20 minute stroll along the beach to get back to my hotel, walking along the poorly lit sand was the perfect aid to digestion.
The trickiest dish to eat was a barbecued whole snapper, I did the best I could to remove the bones in the poor light, ordinarily this would have been easy to do, but with the fish butterflied along the spine and slit through the head the bones weren’t in their usual configuration. The sweet flesh with its subtle marinade surrendered a few more bones as I carefully ate it, this nimble eating exposing my mouth to more of the smoky barbeque flavour, it was simple and delicious.
The garlic prawns were awesome, also split along the spine, unlike the whole fish this cut made it easier to extract the meat from the shell, the concave opening the cut created allowed an impressive amount of the delicious garlicky marinate to soak into the sweet juicy flesh.
With plenty of fresh fish available I thought eating a yellow fish curry here was a great idea, I was eager to sample a dish made with the yellow curry base I learnt about in Ubud. The curry’s fragrant and subtle nature complimented the fish brilliantly, with strong lemongrass notes and a gentle chilli hum, the tuna, prawns, squid and mackerel perfectly cooked within the delicious fresh coconut broth.
One of the quintessential Indonesian dishes is satay, so of course I had to try some seafood satay while my feet were in the sand. These satay manifested as individual prawn, fish or squid satay, rather than the combination satay I had expected, they were all pretty good, with the prawns drenched in a sweet garlicky marinade, and both the fish and squid sticks coated with a sticky lemongrass and sambal laden marinade. The satay were accompanied by dips, a mild sambal a simple dish of Indonesian dark sweet soy, Kecap Manis and sadly ketchup, none of which were needed.