A Must-Do in Bangkok: Street Food Tour

As a total self-confessed foodie, doing street food tours in local areas of places I travel to is one of my favourite things to do. It's especially a great idea for when you've just arrived in a new place, to be shown and get great insight to the local food as well as the lay of the land, as most food tours tend to be walking.

Thai food is one of my top favourite cuisines in the world and sadly I haven't been able to have much of it since my last trip four and a half years ago, as compared to what you get in Thailand, it's always just been so disappointing to me!
Excited to be back in Bangkok, I immediately did some research and found the highly rated Bangkok Food Tours. They offer a range of different tours, including a Historic Bangrak Food Tour, Offbeat Floating Markets Food Tour, Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk, a Yaowarat Street Food Tour and many more.
I decided to go for the latter, as I had never been to the Chinatown area before and I had heard it was a most excellent place for street food.

Read on to hear all about the Yaowarat Street Food Tour with each dish we tried, what I thought of them and why you should do this tour too if you're coming to Bangkok!

Our group and guide all met outside Bangkok Centre Hotel next to the Hua Lamphong MRT station, where we first introduced ourselves before walking to nearby Yaowarat (Chinatown).
Our first dish from the cart pictured above was called Yen Ta Fo, a beloved pink noodle dish with some interesting ingredients in there! We were told this particular cart ranked in the top five for this dish in the whole of Bangkok.

It was really delicious and so full of flavour. Thai food prides itself on being sweet, sour, spicy and salty all at the same time and this was no exception.
We also had an incredible view, sitting right in front of Wat Trimit which holds the famous Golden Buddha.

We continued into the heart of Chinatown, passing a big Paifang (Chinese arch) and went into a restaurant called The Canton House.

Here we tried two different dishes, first a big spicy crispy duck salad that we all shared. Every mouthful was so fresh and zingy!

The next dish was steamed dim sum which came with a spicy Thai 'killer' sauce (it wasn't that spicy for me!). They were absolutely delicious, I devoured them.

We walked further down the bustling street, all lit up and colourful at night towards a cart that was serving my all-time favourite Thai food. Can you guess what it is?

Mango sticky rice! I am so addicted to this delicious sweet dessert. We each got our own portion of it and it was so good some of the boys went back for seconds (I wish I could have fit more in but there were still many more dishes to try!).

We passed by a durian cart and as most of us had never tried it before, we asked if we could. Durian is known to be the 'King of fruit' in Thailand and it is one of the fruits that you either absolutely love or hate with a passion.

I was very interested to try this smelly fruit, that most hotels ban and have a hefty fine for bringing in. And... I did not like it! Which is surprising because I do like most things.
I found the texture just so odd, wrongly odd and the taste was not pleasant at all. But I was glad to have tried it finally!

Our next stop was at a busy local road-side restaurant sitting on little rickety stools at a popup table.

We had a super spicy stir-fry prawn dish with rice and a sauce and Morning Glory, a popular green vegetable dish stir-fried with oyster sauce.

The flavour combinations of everything were so delicious, I absolutely loved it. I was starting to get quite full by now though! It was so great sitting outside among the locals, really getting the feel of the  lively neighbourhood.

Our final stop was at a very popular street cart, famous for this particular best noodles found only in Chinatown, Bangkok.
We had a spicy noodle soup with crispy pork belly - which was heavenly! I'm not normally a fan of pork belly, but I enjoyed this so much I ate every last morsel. The flavours of the broth and crispiness of the pork were absolute food goals!
There was nowhere to sit, we just ate it standing up along with everyone else, the place was packed with people.

Finally, for dessert we squeezed in one more tasting, which actually I think was my favourite of the night! It was called Sala Bao, a steamed bun and it was lava custard! You bit into it and the warm custard oozed out, it was so yum! It was the absolute perfect way to finish an epic night of street food tasting.

This tour was one of the highlights of my time in Bangkok, I really enjoyed trying such a variety of dishes from popular local spots. The food was high quality, fresh and delicious, I have no doubt we were taken to try the very best the city has to offer. I honestly loved every single thing we tried except for the durian!
Our guide was so lovely and informative, we all learnt a lot about the history of each dish and where it came from.
Yaowarat is a famous area in Bangkok for street food and I've heard it's where the locals tend to go when they want to treat themselves.

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I highly recommend this tour and any of their others if you are coming to Bangkok yourself, it was a fantastic foodie experience and a cultural one as well. One of the couples on my tour said they had done Bangkok Food Tour's Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk the last time they were in Bangkok and they absolutely loved it, so decided to do another of theirs this time.
I can tell you, I will absolutely be doing more of their tours when I am next in Bangkok again too!

The Details

Tour Company: Bangkok Food Tours

Specific tour I did: Yaowarat Street Food Tour

Reviews: 5/5 stars from 1548 reviews on Trip Advisor

Cost: 1350 THB (Thai Baht) for an adult

Times: Tues - Sun 6 pm - 9 pm

If you would like to see a bit more I highlight the tour in the second half of my Bangkok travel vlog for YouTube. Start at 3:07.

Happy Travels,

Disclaimer: This tour was discounted in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are as always my own.

Best Places To Eat: Hanoi, Vietnam

Oh, how I miss delightfully fresh and flavoursome Vietnamese cuisine from its homeland.
I don't have to wait too long to have it again, as I have recently booked returning in July at the end of my Southeast Asian adventure. This time, I will have the pleasure of visiting Danang and Hoi An -  I can't wait!

This is my second Vietnamese food post, with my first one focusing on Ho Chi Minh City.
It was about time to write up my favourite particular cuisines and where to get them from the capital city, Hanoi. Here are my top recommendations that I thoroughly enjoyed if you're heading there yourself:

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Hanoi Street Food Tour

Again I will begin with an excellent street food tour, which was, as usual, one of the highlights of our time there. Being total foodies my husband and I love nothing more than being introduced to the best local cuisines, so on our first night we booked the highly rated Hanoi Street Food Tour. It is currently the number one tour in Hanoi on Trip Advisor.

We booked the walking tour which was only $20 USD each, an amazing price for what we got. In a small group, we were taken by our friendly and knowledgeable guide through the old quarter, bustling markets and hidden alleyways and tried a huge variety of top-notch Hanoi specialities.

We tried Bun Cha (grilled pork and noodles), Nom Bo (dried beef salad), Banh Cuon (rice-paper filled 'pancakes') which we got to each have a go at trying to flip as they were being made, Banh Tieu (fried savoury doughnuts), Kem Xoi - my favourite! (sticky rice ice cream), Banh Mi (Baguette), Ca Phe Trung (egg coffee) and to cap it all off we finished with some Vietnamese rice wine.

In true local Hanoi-style, we sat at tiny tables and chairs on the street, at the backs of cafes or up flights and flights of stairs at family restaurants. We were so very full and satisfied afterwards! I highly recommended this tour, even if you're only in town for a short time.
As well as the food, it's a great way to be introduced to the city and the guides are more than happy to answer any questions or recommend places.

The best Banh Mi

This famous Vietnamese baguette sandwich is packed with a choice of fillings including a selection of meats, paté and greens. The perfect Banh Mi should have slightly warmed and crunchy bread and fresh and flavourful fillings.
Recommended by several sources (including our food tour guide), was Banh Mi 25.

As you can see in the above photo, you can get a delicious Pate Banh Mi for only 15,000 VND, (.80 cents AUD!) it's unbelievable. There was a long line when we arrived but it moved quickly. Next to the ordering booth which is outside on the street, they have a full cafe area where you can sit to eat.
It was a very tasty and filling lunch, which we washed down with a Hanoi beer.

The best Bun Cha

A Hanoi speciality, you can find Bun Cha at food stalls and street kitchens across the city.
We tried Ban Cha several times as it's such an amazing feast and a budget one at around 60K VND each ($3.50 AUD).
You are served a selection of several dishes, including charcoal barbequed meat patties, crispy spring rolls, noodle broth, assorted foliage, dipping sauce and fresh chilis.
Although it is typically good everywhere you find it (much like Pho), our favourite place had to be Bun Cha Huong Lien, and that may or may not have been because even the former President Barack Obama had been there!

The best Pho

Okay, I don't actually have a best place to eat Pho in Hanoi. As mentioned in my Ho Chi Minh City post, I ate Pho literally every morning (as it is commonly served for breakfast) at the hotels in which we were staying in. But I couldn't have a Vietnamese food post and not mention Pho!
It's Vietnam's national dish, consisting of a light chicken or beef broth flavoured with ginger and coriander, with flat rice noodles, spring onions and slices of beef, pork or chicken. Every bowl of Pho was delicious and full of flavour, no matter where it was from - so I don't think you'll go wrong wherever you get it from.

The best place for dinner

Our favourite place we went to for dinner in Hanoi was an absolute gem that we would have gladly gone back to again and again. Countryside was recommended to us by the lovely staff at our hotel. We later saw (as they should) that they have excellent Trip Advisor reviews.
The food, service and prices all made for a delightful dining experience. They also offer cooking classes which I wish I had of had the time for!
My husband and I ordered a few dishes to share including fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese savoury pancakes and a pork meatball vermicelli soup. Everything was perfection and we ate to our heart's content.

We even ordered a rare dessert even though we were full - the mango crepes and all of this including four beers cost a total sum of 360K VND ($20 AUD). They got a very good tip from us!

The best Cu Lao

In Vietnam, a hot pot is called Lau or Cu Lao. A hot pot is common throughout East Asia, which is a simmering metal pot of stock at the centre of the table. While the hot pot is simmering, you add the ingredients and it is cooked at the table.
Typical hot pot dishes can include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu and seafood and it is very warming and delicious.

We had a delightful Cu Lao at Little Hanoi which is in the Bia Hoi Corner. You can sit on the street at tiny tables with the locals and enjoy the busy and bustling atmosphere of bars and people walking by.
We ordered a beef and chicken hot pot which cost 200K VND ($11 AUD) and it was so good but so much food we couldn't eat it all!

The best lunch/snack

One of our favourite places we frequented almost daily was the French bakery Anh Hoa. The French Influence is still strong in Vietnam today after a century of past French rule. 
At Anh Hoa, they barely spoke a word of English but the bakery goods, including fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, filled sandwiches, cakes and coffee were all divine. Just point and pay and you're all good to go!

The best coffee

I saved my favourite for last - Egg Coffee, or Ca Phe Trung, originating in Hanoi is a delicious Vietnamese drink traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee.
There is an interesting history of how this seemingly odd coffee drink was created. Due to there being a shortage of fresh milk in Vietnam during the French War, most Vietnamese would line the bottom of the cup with condensed milk and pour the coffee on top, and that's exactly how Vietnamese coffee is served today. But lacking milk, Nguyen Giang whisked in an egg as a substitute.

He founded Café Giang and that is where you can find the best Ca Phe Trung in Hanoi, where it originated from. It is so unbelievably delicious, like a liquid tiramisu. I loved having it as either a late-afternoon pick-me-up or as a dessert.
I must say though, I had egg coffee at a variety of places, and although Cafe Giang was the very best - they were all delicious!

There we have my top recommended places to eat and foods to try in Hanoi. I can't wait to write my next Vietnamese post on Hoi An, coming in July! Do you have any other places to add to this list or recommendations for me in Hoi An? I'd love to read them!

I also made a short video of the highlights of Hanoi from my time there if you're interested - it unsurprisingly showcases a lot of the food!

Happy Travels,

Top 10 German Foods to try!

German food is rich, hearty and delicious and many top German dishes make great comfort food. After first visiting Germany in 2014 and then living there in 2015, I fell in love with a lot (all) of the delicious food on offer.
Each region has its own specialty dishes and variations, and although it is very popular, German cuisine is so much more than just sausage and meat.
If you are heading there for the first time here are 10 top German foods you have to try:

1. Currywurst 

Currywurst is probably at the top of everyone's list of German foods to try first, and I assure you it will not disappoint! Originating in Berlin, this popular fast food snack is a sliced Wurst (sausage) covered in a mix of ketchup and some curry powder.
It is traditionally accompanied by Pommes Frites (french fries) or a plain white bread roll. It's finger-licking good!

2. Brezel

Brezel are delicious soft, white pretzels and sprinkled with salt. It's great to eat as a side dish or snack, especially with a good German beer. You can find them in every bakery and on street stands, sold plain, sliced and buttered (Butterbrezel) or with slices of cold meats or cheese. My favourite are the Käze-Brezel (cheese pretzel).

3. Döner kebab

After beer, probably the one thing I miss the most about Germany are the döner kebabs.
Yes they are Turkish, but brought to Germany four decades ago - the döner is to Berlin what pizza is to New York: a transplanted food that has taken on a new life in its adopted land. Now, there is nothing more German than a big, fat juicy döner kebab. Perfect for a filling lunch or dinner, or commonly had as a street snack at 3 am after a big night out.

4. Schnitzel

Technically a national dish of Austria, Schnitzel has also been adopted into German cuisine.
The most famous version of Schnitzel is definitely the Wiener Schnitzel, which is a thinly sliced piece of veal-meat, crumbed and deep-fried until golden on the outside.
Also very tasty is the Schnitzel Wiener Art, which is basically the same but with pork meat. It usually comes served with a good portion of Pommes Frites and it is quite often the size of an entire plate itself!

5. Käsespatzle

One of the most famous German dishes, Spätzle, is completely vegetarian. These soft egg noodles are Germany's answer to pasta. It is especially popular in the south of Germany and considered a Swabian specialty associated with Baden-Württemberg (the state I lived in).
It is usually topped with a huge amount of cheese (Käse) with roasted onions for a little more flavour - it's truly delicious!

6. Schweinshaxe

Schweinshaxe is one of my favourite German meals to have - but if you're going to try it be sure to be very hungry first! This Bavarian specialty is a roasted ham hock or 'pork knuckle'. You can find it served in many traditional German pubs and it is a very hearty meal, usually served with Kartoffelkloesse (potato dumplings) and sauerkraut.

My very first Schweinshaxe in Berlin 2014 is still the best meal of my life!

7. Käsekuchen (and all bakery goods!)

You will find a lot of cakes and tarts to tempt you in Germany - the bakeries are just heavenly! Few can resist a huge slice of the most famous of German cakes: the delicious Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cherry cake).
Along with sweet treats you can find amazing fresh bread, made filled sandwiches and coffee, all for very reasonable prices.
My ultimate favourite German bakery treat which I highly recommend trying is Käsekuchen (baked cheesecake). I swear it will be the best cheesecake you'll ever have in your life!

Typical German bakery

The delightful Käsekuchen

8. Bratwurst

There are more than 1500 different types of Wurst (sausage) made in Germany and you’ll find street stalls selling them everywhere. The most popular along with Currywurst is Bratwurst (fried sausage) made of ground pork and spices. Commonly served in a bun with sauce and mustard, it's a great option for lunch while you're out and about exploring.

9. Brathendl

Brathendel is a roasted rotisserie style chicken and I swear it is the best chicken I have ever had in my life! It is very common to find at festivals, outdoor beer gardens and markets.
At Oktoberfest, you can order Halbes Hendl, meaning half a roasted chicken. It might appear to be a lot at first, but after a Mass Bier (a litre of beer) you’ll have it down in no time!

10. Beer! 

Speaking of beer, I know it's not technically a food - but German beer is so filling it should be considered a food group itself in my opinion. Anyone that knows me, will know that I love my beer (and miss German beer oh so dearly), so shouldn't be too surprised to find it has a whole point to itself!
Germany is well known for its delicious beer, or as I call it, liquid gold. Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Oktoberfest in Munich, just to savour the taste of a true German brew. From Weissbier to Pils, to Starkbier to Helles and Dunkles, Germany offers a rich variety to choose from, and it's certainly one to not miss trying! If you're not a fan of beer, try a refreshing Radler, which is beer mixed with lemonade.

An armful of Mass at Oktoberfest
My favourite kind - Weissbier (wheat beer) served with Currywurst and Brezen

There are so many more incredible German foods, these are just my top 10 ultimate favourites!
Do you have another favourite German food you love to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below - I'd love to read them.

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Best Places To Eat: Ho Chi Minh City

I spent a wonderful two weeks in Vietnam in December, and as always I learned as much as I could and very much enjoyed the delights of the local cuisine. Vietnamese pride their food on being fresh, healthy and bursting with flavour.
I am in no way an expert just from my short stay there, but I have some great recommendations for gems that I did find.

Here in part one of this mini food series, I share specific places for where to eat in Ho Chi Minh City and include a selection of my favourite Vietnamese food that are absolute must-tries. Part Two will share more dishes and recommendations for Hanoi.

Saigon Street Eats

I'll start by highly recommending an excellent street food tour my husband and I did on our first night: Saigon Street Eats. We discovered it from its excellent reviews on Trip Advisor as we love to do food tours when we first arrive in a new place, to scope out and be introduced to the very best food the city has to offer! We did the Street Food 101 tour, and they also have a Pho Trail and a Seafood Trail if that tickles your fancy.

We were picked up by friendly guides from our hotel on the back of motorbikes and joined a small group in the well-known food area District 3. The entire evening was jam-packed with so many delicious dishes - we were so full after over three hours of nonstop eating.

We started with Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) which was one of my absolute favourites. These enormous, cheap and filling savoury pancakes are filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg, which is fried and wrapped in rice paper. You are also given a plate of fresh greens which you wrap a piece in and then dunk into a spicy sauce.
It's so fresh and the flavours are amazing.

Next up we tried Com Tam (broken rice), which is a street-stand favourite. Recipes vary, but you can often find it served with barbecued pork or beef and a fried egg. It was the most delicious rice I've ever tried and the succulent meat accompanying it was divine.

Also on the street food tour, we tried frog legs (tasted like chicken), barbecued duck, hot pots and a selection of Vietnamese desserts.
Everything was fantastic and we picked up some great information such as where to get the best Banh Mi in the city (shared below!).
At $45 USD per person, it is of course, pricier than you could find eating on the streets yourself, but you are paying for a local-guided tour, awesome food, drinks at every stop, transportation and you get a wonderful insight into the local food - it's really worth it.

The best Banh Mi

This delectable baguette sandwich is packed with a choice of fillings including paté and greens and it's so good it has been imitated all over the world. The perfect Banh Mi should have slightly warmed and crunchy bread, and fresh and flavourful fillings.

As mentioned we were recommended this place by our food tour guide and I am not kidding you - I tried a lot of Banh Mi over our two weeks in Vietnam and Banh Mi Huyn Hoa was the king of the kings.
We knew it would be good even before we tried it, as there was a long line of locals waiting outside. For 33K VND (less than $2 AUD) it was the best dang sandwich period!

The best Pho

Vietnam’s national dish and the country’s great staple is Pho (pronounced “fur”).
A light and flavourful noodle soup, it is eaten at any time of the day, but most commonly at breakfast. A basic bowl of Pho consists of a light beef or chicken broth flavoured with ginger and coriander, with flat rice noodles, spring onions and slivers of chicken, pork or beef.

I ate Pho for breakfast every morning as it was served at all of the hotels we were staying at, so I didn't actively search for a 'best place' to eat it.

For the times that I did have it outside of the hotel, I went to Big Bowl, a popular Pho chain. You can customise your soup exactly how you like and it's very reasonably priced. Even at an airport, I had a Pho, a bottle of water and a coke all for 100K VND ($5 AUD).
Every single bowl I had no matter where it was from was delicious - so I'm pretty sure you won't go wrong wherever you go!

The best place for dinner

An absolute must if you can - go to Cyclo Resto for their incredible five-course set menu.
It is honestly one of the best foodie experiences I've ever had in my life.
We again found it by their excellent Trip Advisor reviews and it was conveniently only a ten-minute walk away from where we were staying.
The restaurant aims to give you a real experience of a Vietnamese family meal. The service was perfect, each of the five courses were like they were sent from heaven and the price for all of it was gob-smacking.
It cost us a grand total of $16 AUD for two people including a beer and water each... needless to say we gave them a very good tip at the end because we could not believe we just had one of the best meals of our lives for so little.

Every dish was lovingly prepared and was an explosion of flavour. Below are each of the courses:

Course #1: Prawn crispy spring rolls which had the most impressive presentation!

Course #2: A clear green melon soup with shrimp which was incredibly hydrating, it was like drinking an elixir of life.

Course #3: Stir fried green beans and pork with a black bean flavour. They were perfectly sauteed and crunchy.

Courses #4 and #5 came out together as the mains - a delicious fish clay pot and a fragrant lemongrass chicken curry, served with steamed rice.

As a surprise at the end, we were presented with an Egg Coffee which I had heard so much about but knew it was a speciality in Hanoi. I was very excited to try it and it exceeded my expectations - it tasted like a liquid tiramisu! It was the perfect way to finish the most delightful evening.

Cyclo Resto gets an 11/10 from me, even if it's not close to where you are staying I would go out of your way for this one! They also do cooking classes which I would have loved to do if I had the time.

The best place for lunch

There were two great spots we found that I would recommend for lunch. The first being a popular food court Cocochin. They have a variety of Asian food stalls where you can choose from literally a hundred dishes, so there's something for everyone.
The food court is in a central location (not far from the statue of Ho Chi Minh), it is clean and very well priced.

I ordered a BBQ pork wonton soup and it was the perfect lunch. The price of both of our dishes and a drink each cost 55,000K VND ($3 AUD!).

The second top spot for lunch (or even a snack) is a delightful French bakery Tous les Joures. They can be found all over the city and have amazing fresh pastries, sandwiches and coffee. The store we frequented was located inside the shopping mall Vincom Center (also close to Ho Chi Minh's statue).

The best coffee

Vietnamese love their coffee and you can find a coffee shop on practically every corner.
I had a decent coffee practically everywhere I went, but one place I kept going back to was the giant chain Highlands. They make great coffee, both hot and cold, have free wifi, serve food and refreshing fruity beverages which are perfect to beat the heat.

(I would however not recommend the Banh Mi here, which we found to be a tad dry and tasteless)

The best dessert

Last but not least, I thought I should mention a dessert. To be fair, we didn't try many as we were usually too full, but we did try some amazing sweet dessert rice. You can find it all over the city in street carts and there is a selection of different types and flavours. We got a mixture of everything to share and really enjoyed it. A bunch of salt was added on top which made it almost taste like popcorn - so yum!

There we have my top recommended places to eat some very delicious Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh City. Stay tuned for my next food post for Hanoi coming early next week.
Do you have any other places you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments - I'd love to read them.

Happy Travels,
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Top Places to Eat & Drink near Seminyak, Bali

One of my absolute favourite things about exploring a new country and culture is trying the local cuisine. I've had the pleasure of visiting Indonesia's most popular island twice (and will be going back for the third time in May) and I can't get enough of the rich and bold flavours of Indonesian food.
I've previously written a Bali Travel Guide & Tips post if you're heading there for the first time yourself and would like more information on Bali.
This post is specific to places near Seminyak as that is where I have spent the most time and where the majority of my favourites happen to be. I have only spent two full days in Ubud and less than that in the Canggu, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua areas.

About Balinese food

For visitors, finding Balinese food that's done well isn't always easy. The heavily Westernised southern parts of the island have swapped most of their local eateries for Australian-owned beach bars and fast-food chains. You can be sure to not miss out on your smashed avocado toast or flat white if that's what you're after.
There is also a large influence from all across Asia so you can easily find really good Indian, Vietnamese and Thai food for example, as well as plenty of other options such as Italian and Mexican.
While there are a few restaurants bringing traditional Balinese flavours into a fine-dining setting, for true authenticity you need to venture beyond the popular tourist haunts and into the traditional warungs (small family-owned restaurants) to explore the local delicacies.

Bali is Indonesia's last remaining Hindu island and its cuisine is unique and laden with ceremonial significance. The spice pastes that form the base of most Balinese dishes- loaded with coriander seed, galangal, turmeric and candlenut- are echoes of India and Java, remnants of the Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit kingdom that ruled the island from the 13th - 16th century.

Pork, chicken, duck and fish take the centre stage, cooked over wood fires, grilled over coconut husks or slow-braised. Being Hindus beef is never or rarely consumed.
Fruit and vegetables are usually raw, chopped with coconut in dishes such as lawar, or pan-tossed in coconut milk and stirred through broths and light curries. Rice is almost always the centre of the meal, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a Balinese person who doesn't fire up their plate with some form of sambal (spicy chilli sauce) or fresh chillis.

As I have only visited twice, I am no expert and I am sure there are a hundred delicious places I haven't yet tried. Below, however, are a few places that are absolute gems and I would highly recommend to others, as I have thoroughly enjoyed the food there and each place I have gone back to at least twice.
Starting with suggestions of traditional dishes that are a must-try that I personally love, followed by top places to eat and then places to drink- as there are some fabulous spots to enjoy a cocktail or two as well.

Must try foods:

Nasi Goreng

One of the most popular Indonesian dishes- Nasi goreng, literally meaning "fried rice" in Indonesian and Malay, is simply a meal including stir fried rice. But it's so much more than a typical rice dish- the flavours are so bold and tasty. I particularly love mine with freshly chopped chillis added. Usually, you can choose it to be stir fried with seafood, chicken or just vegetables. A typical Indonesia meal comes with all sorts of extra accompaniments, as below- prawn crackers and a side of vegetables are very common. 

Sate skewers

Sate or “satay” are marinated, skewered and grilled meat and served with a spicy or peanut sauce. Bali’s own speciality is sate lilit, made from minced beef, chicken, fish, or pork which is mixed with coconut, coconut milk and a strong blend of vegetables and spices.
It is wrapped rather than skewered around bamboo, sugar cane or lemongrass sticks, then grilled. It is so incredibly delicious and one of my absolute favourites.

Babi Guling

Babi guling is a local favourite- a spit-roast pig stuffed with rich traditional spices and vegetable mixes and slowly rolled over a coal fire. Once a communal treat served only during special celebrations and ceremonies, it can now be found widely served at many local warungs specialising in this dish. Served on top of rice, the meat is juicy and tender and the crispy brown skins are prized.

Pepes and Tum

Pepes is an Indonesian Sundanese cooking method using banana leaves as food wrappings. The small package is sewed with thin bamboo sticks at both ends, and either steam-cooked, boiled or grilled. It is most commonly used to prepare fish, chicken, tofu and vegetables. Tum takes on a different form, with the wrapping folded and stitched at one top end, and usually steam-cooked. The banana-leaf wrapping provides a special flavour which is incredibly aromatic and tasty.
Below to the right is a grilled Pepes of fish from a Balinese cooking class I did.

As mentioned, there are so many other delicious Balinese and Indonesian dishes, these are just my particular favourites that I would highly suggest others try while in Bali!

Top places to eat

Warung Padmasari

Technically in Legian- the area between Seminyak and Kuta, Warung Padmasari is still very close to Seminyak, being only two kilometres away. Friendly and fast service together with all local and traditional Balinese food is the emphasis of this little warung and the prices are unbeatable. There are some great selections on the menu including traditionally fried and grilled chicken with sambal varieties to go with them, as well as spring rolls, samosas and curries.
My partner and I ate here three times in a week, it was that good- and the average price for a two-course meal and two beers and water each was literally around $12 AUD all up... we gave them a very good tip!

Made's Warung

Another excellent warung we loved was Made's Warung which is located in both Seminyak and Kuta (although in my opinion, the Seminyak location is much bigger and better).
We also ate here three or four times over the two trips we've done so far and I'll certainly be going back for the next trip!
It's one of the most established warungs on the island and is frequented by the prime minister as well as a global range of clients. The kitchen is enormous and when you see the menu you'll see why- it covers every single taste from traditional Indonesian to Thai, Malaysian and Western and they have dedicated chefs for each.
We only went during the day for lunches, but in the evenings they have free shows of Indonesian dance for you to enjoy.
In particular, I recommend trying babi guling here, the red and green Thai curries are the best I've had outside of Thailand and a freshly squeezed watermelon juice always goes down a treat on a typical sweltering hot day.

Babi guling
Thai red curry

Kopi Pot

Again in Legian, but still near Seminyak, Kopi Pot "coffee pot" is one worth dining at.
Set in lush Balinese gardens, it offers a retreat from the bustling Legian main road.
On the menu you can find a selection of tasty dishes from around the country together with international selections if you prefer. Besides having delicious food for a good price, it's also a great place to sip some Balinese coffee or an ice cold Bintang.
In particular, I highly recommend the deep-fried spring rolls, the sate lilit (charcoal lemongrass fish skewers) and the tongseng kambing (spicy lamb stew originating from Java). Prepare for flavour explosions in your mouth!

For a special occasion or those wanting a more upscale dining experience, there are plenty of highly impressive restaurants, especially found around the Seminyak area.
The following listed below I especially enjoyed the experience of each. The menus offer traditional Indonesian dishes in a fine-dining context as well as fusions of other Asian cuisines.
There is a dress code and you have to usually book in advance by at least a couple of days. Each place has a fantastic atmosphere and stunning surroundings, so it is of course, a lot more expensive than you would find at a local warung (but still cheaper than you would find in the likes of Australia and New Zealand). However, for the great service, cleanliness, top quality food and experience, it's worth it and it's always nice to treat yourself if you're away on holiday and to have at least one fancy meal out in my opinion.
If you're after that the following are all fantastic options:

Ku De Ta
(Also a great cocktail, sunset and nightlife venue).

Ginger Moon

(One of the top rated restaurants on the whole island).


(Amazing food and service with an incredible ambient setting).

(You have got to try the ginger espresso martini- it's to die for).

Delicious feast at Sarong

Top places to drink

Potato Head Beach Club 

One of the most popular spots to catch the sunset with a cool cocktail- the Potato Head Beach Club has fast gained popularity as one of the most happening venues in Seminyak. The signature main venue resembles a stadium, it's home to three restaurants, two bars, an infinity pool and an enormous lawn perfect to view the infamous sunset overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Get in early to bag a lounger or beanbag by the pool or head to the second floor with plenty of table and chairs available. Sip on unique cocktails from a coconut husk or a giant shell and sit back, relax and enjoy the tranquil views.

Frankenstein's Laboratory

The latest addition to the ‘most unique’ bars in Bali is Frankenstein’s Laboratory, where you can experience the Halloween atmosphere throughout the year- not only in the month of October. Zombies, vampires, monsters, mummies… and humans, all mingle together in this ghoulishly themed spot for fun. It's decorated like a freaky lab and has nightly entertainment by the Dancing Dead Cabaret which is always amusing.
It's a whole lot of fun where you can enjoy 'eyeball' martinis, cocktails that come in IV bags, and shots in the form of injections.

Motel Mexicola

Motel Mexicola is a colourful and quirky Mexican bar and restaurant which hosts regular house parties with live Latin music that will transport you ‘south of the border’.
There’s a laid-back upstairs area where you can take a cosy seat, sit back, and enjoy the view over the courtyard below. If you're craving a margarita, a lively atmosphere and even a taco or two before (or after) some tequila shots- this place is for you.

Mirror Bali Lounge & Club

This place is especially cool as the venue’s interiors and overall design is like a Gothic cathedral, but with glittery mosaic-like wall decor. Mirror Bali Lounge and Club is a hip place to party on Seminyak’s main Petitenget route. The stained glass windows and towering ceilings along with the laser lighting all add to a fun party vibe to dance the late evenings away to industrial, deep bass, house and hip-hop music.
Recommended for party-goers and night owls.

There we have my top places to eat and drink near Seminyak in Bali, and particular foods to try while you're there. I hope you found this post helpful and do let me know in the comments if you have any top places of your own to add- I'd love to read them!
Writing this has got me so excited for my next trip to Bali, which I have no doubt will be filled with more new excellent places and delicious dishes to try.

Happy travels,
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Best Places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga

I'm back fresh from my week in Rarotonga and I couldn't wait to start writing. As well as a travel diary and hotel review - one thing I particularly wanted to write about was the food!
I am starting 'Food'/ 'Best Places to Eat' as a new category on my blog as I am such a big foodie and I always love reading other people's suggestions of where to eat too.

As I was so busy with wedding stuff most of the time I only ate around Muri which is the area I was staying in, but I was more than happy with that. Every single meal was so good it surprised me! Food is a big part of Cook Island culture and that was reflected everywhere by being readily available, fresh, tasty and lovingly prepared.

Muri is one of the top places to stay in Rarotonga - with a stunning crystal clear aqua lagoon hugging the white sandy beach, many great accommodation options, activities and of course a fantastic selection of restaurant and cafe choices!
Here are my top picks around Muri, Rarotonga for the best places to eat:

The Pacific Resort

I'll start with The Pacific Resort, where I was staying at as I ate there quite a lot.
I have to also quickly mention their cocktails which were so good and always beautifully presented, giving that ultra tropical holiday vibe.

'Barefoot Bar' is located right on the beach and you can enjoy a range of different drinks with a superb view.
They have two happy hours a day which is well worth using to cut down those costs.
They go from 4 - 5 pm and 8:30 - 9:30 pm. Certain cocktails go for $10 and beers come down to $5 (both almost half price).
I must also mention they did the best flat whites (coffee) we could find and had one there every day.

A mai tai and pineapple mojito at the Pacific Resort

'Sandals' is their restaurant and like the bar, you don't have to be a guest to eat there, but bookings are recommended.
My very first dinner there I ordered the 'Fish of the Day'- and I think that was the best fish I've ever had in my life! (I'm going to mention fish quite a lot in this post because it's their top local food and OH so good!).
It was Yellow Fin Tuna which I had grilled and it was per-fec-tion. It came with a nice fresh salad and you could choose any other side you wanted with it, I had the roasted vegetables. Everything was fantastic - I devoured it! For $28 NZD it was really great. (I didn't take a picture of it as I was eating with my family and forgot).
Sandals is an open-aired restaurant overlooking a stream, lit with candles and has a live musician every night which all made for a beautiful setting and a very pleasant evening.

Later in the week, we decided to have dinner there again as it was pouring with rain and we didn't want to venture too far. We hadn't booked and they were full up, but they let us eat at the bar which was fine as it was still a nice table but with a view overlooking the beach.
Three of us shared a main sized Ika Mata for our entree.
By then we had tried Ika Mata a few times before (Rarotongan raw fish salad) and loved it - but we discovered the Pacific Resort was the absolute master of it. It was so incredibly zingy, tasty and fresh - we were fighting over it at the end! It also came with a side of crispy taro chips - another local fave.

Ika Mata
As my main, I had the 'Chef's Special' which was a sizzling hot plate of fish and vegetables. Again, it was cooked so well and the coconuty sauce on top was so creamy and delicious.
The fish changes daily depending on their catch of the day - this one was Parrot Fish.
This was their most expensive dish at $35 NZD, and I was more than happy with it.

Chef's special
The Pacific Resort also catered for our wedding reception and everyone told us they loved the food.
We chose to have a gourmet buffet and selected from a range of food options which all were perfectly cooked, delicious and there was also a very large amount of it.
The staff at the Pacific Resort always went out of their way for any minor request, their service was impeccable and I have now written a glowing review of my stay and wedding there if you're interested. Their genuine friendliness and kindness made our week there all the more better.

Vili's Burgers

Just down the road from the Pacific Resort in the heart of Muri is Vili's!
We heard numerous times from locals that this place has the best burgers on the island and is "the McDonalds of Rarotonga"- quoted by my wedding coordinator!
I didn't get a chance to eat there until Friday, the day after the wedding and we went there for breakfast/brunch. (Gareth - now husband - ate there three days in a row).

There is a good range of burger choices available - I chose the 'Tamatoa' for $13 NZD which had a beef patty, bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot, tomato, lettuce and their special secret sauce.

It was absolutely massive! Definitely the biggest burger I've ever had (I've never been to America) and it was also the best! It was so juicy it was literally dripping down my arm (so attractive). I ate almost the whole thing and it certainly kept me full until dinner time - it was just incredible.
I had the same thing again the next day for lunch - except I went halves with my bestie cause I definitely couldn't eat a whole one again.
Highly recommended if you're in Muri and you like your burgers. They are open from 11:30 am - 9 pm every day except Mondays.

Tamatoa burger at Vili's

Muri Night Markets

The night markets in Muri originally started out on Thursday nights to cater for tourists and became so popular it has expanded to now every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening.
They have a great selection of local food stalls with main dishes, snacks, desserts, drinks and there is something for everyone.

Gareth and I ate there twice, the first time we shared Ika Mata, a fish curry and crispy spring rolls.
The second time we shared a chicken rukau with rice (a local dish - leaves of taro - similar to spinach) and finished with a crunchie cheesecake. Everything was so good!
The portions tend to be enormous so I would recommend sharing if you can.
The markets are always brimming with people but there are plenty of tables and chairs in the centre under a shelter to sit down and for if and when it rains.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually quieter with fewer stalls, and Thursdays and Sundays offer a greater selection with live music playing to add to the great atmosphere.
The markets start from 5:30 pm so get in quick if you want something in particular - the most popular foods get sold out pretty quick!

Chicken rukau
Crunchie cheesecake
The Mooring

Another place we had heard from two different locals for the "best fish sandwiches on the island" was The Mooring Fish Cafe. We saw it was only a 15-minute walk from the Pacific Resort so we ventured there for lunch on our final day.
It's an outdoor cafe where you sit at picnic tables and enjoy the lagoon view. As it was a Sunday it was full of local people all dressed up in their Sunday-best, they had clearly just come for lunch after church.
The shop itself is within a converted shipping container and decorated and painted in vibrant colours.
There were some great choices on the menu - too many so we asked what they would recommend. The lady said the most popular was the 'FOB' or the Hot & Spicy if you liked spicy food - which we did, so we got one of each to share and also a fresh baby coconut.

Even though they were so busy our order came out super fast. The FOB sandwich was crumbed Mahi with lime mayo and the Hot & Spicy was seared tuna with pickle. Both came on delicious Turkish style bread and were enormous!
They were so fresh and tasty and I really enjoyed both - but I think my favourite was the FOB. The batter on the Mahi was so crispy and the lime mayo with it topped it all off.
We both left feeling very full and satisfied we had found the best fish sammies on the island. For $13 each, it was fantastic value as well. They also do salads, desserts and main fish dishes and are open every day for lunch except Saturdays.

Walking home with my coconut!

LBV Cafe

LBV Bakery & Cafe (Le Bon Vivant) offers freshly baked goods, deli pastas and salads, hot meals, coffee, wine and sweets.
We had lunch there on our first day - we both just felt like a sandwich and we saw a tomato and cheese baguette in their cabinet. We ordered one each and it came served to us cut in half with a nice bowl of chutney on the side. The sandwiches were huge and very fresh and tasty - which we were glad for at $9 each.
We sat to the side in their garden which was very pleasant. My friends and family also ate there regularly and always said their food was good.
I had also pre-arranged catering through them for my 'Hens Day' and they did a fantastic job for that. I ordered a cheese and deli platter, a bakery/sweets platter and a fresh fruit one. There was so much food that arrived (they delivered it free of charge) and it came in a small portable fridge for it to stay cold and fresh.
The bakery sweets were amazing, the cheese platter came with plenty of fresh bread and crackers, there were prawns wrapped in prosciutto - I totally over ordered for 11 people but everyone enjoyed as much as they could. (The photo below was only half the amount!).

There is also an LBV cafe in Avarua if you happen to be around town. Highly recommended for a bite to eat or for catering if you need it.
They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.


Sails Restaurant & Bar is located on Muri beach where you can enjoy excellent views of the lagoon. The first time I went there for lunch I didn't even bother looking at the menu - because right outside was a line of locals and tourists alike lining up for a spit roast pork roll. The roasted pig was right there with the guy carving for each person and rows and rows of hot dog sized rolls pre-filled with butter and coleslaw - I thought it was like a Rarotongan styled sausage sizzle!
They went for $10 each and had a decent amount of pork on top and came with gravy and apple sauce if you wanted it. It was the perfect lunch for me.
I knew Gareth would have loved it too (he was with his friends), so the next day we went back hoping for another one. I'm not sure if it was a Tuesday only or just a random thing because it wasn't there again.
No matter - I got to actually look at their menu this time and I ordered pulled pork soft tacos and Gareth got crispy calamari and a side of chips.

We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful sea view. My tacos came in two so we had one each and just shared everything like we normally do. They were very tasty and the calamari came with a really nice dipping sauce which we also dunked the chips in.
We saw they have regular live sports on their big screen TV and there was an All Blacks game playing the next morning - but we were a bit too busy to go.
The total was $38 including a soft drink each - so a bit pricey, but not too bad for $19 each for a good lunch. The service was great and the food too.

The sweet view from Sails

That brings us to the end of my best places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga! I hope you found this post helpful if you are heading there yourself in the near future.
I really enjoyed the food in Rarotonga - it was always fresh, delicious, decent prices and huge portions, and the people are so friendly which means great service.
Coming up next is my Travel Diary from my week there which I'll be posting before I'm off again to Vietnam which is in four days.

I also made a video for Youtube of the highlights from my week in Rarotonga:

Hope to catch you at my next post!
Thanks for reading,

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