Karangasem Side Trip Part 1
Off the beaten path in a sleepy village in the shadows of a volcano, a restaurant serves traditional Balinese cuisine in exotic surroundings. But where does the Chef source ingredients in such an isolated spot?
The Bali Asli Restaurant and Cooking School is located in a sleepy village at the foot of Mount Agung in Eastern Bali. Every morning, the Executive Chef and a Helper shop for fresh produce at the nearest market town.
Amlapura is a cosmopolitan town with Balinese, Chinese, and European influences in its architecture.
Muslims and Hindus co-exist in the town, which is home to several royal palaces. The streets are tidy and lined with trees.
Amlapura is the largest town and the main transport hub in Eastern Bali. It is also the capital of Karangasem, which is Bali’s smallest regency, or district, comprising the island’s eastern-most tip.
Every morning there is a colourful market, where spices, meats, palm sugar, fruit, vegetables, seafood, and other goods are sold.
This is where housewives shop for the day’s food. It is also where restaurateurs and chefs source ingredients for the dishes they will serve at their eateries later in the day.
Bali Asli Restaurant and Cooking School
After spending the night sleeping on a sofa in the Bali Asli Restaurant and Cooking School in Gelumpang Village, I accompanied Penelope Williams, the restaurant’s Executive Chef and Director, and one of her Helpers to the market in Amlapura, where we shopped for the ingredients that would be used at the restaurant in the preparation of lunch that day.
Penny and I had met at a capoeira class at Capoeira Bali in Seminyak the week before. I can’t remember how it all came about, but – as we chatted – at some point she suggested I accompany her home after class one night and return with her 2 days later to the following class.
She said I could accompany her to the market in the morning. Since it was the off season and business was slow, she could also take me sightseeing in the vicinity, which had temples, palaces, and one of Bali's oldest and most traditional villages.
The original idea was for me to spend 2 nights at a hotel or guest house near the restaurant. There were 2 problems. First, the hotel room would have cost more than I wanted to spend. Second, the nearest guest house wouldn’t have anyone on duty at the time of my arrival.
Amlapura is a 90 minute to 2 hour drive from Seminyak depending on traffic. Since the class ended at 9.30 pm, we would not be arriving until after 11 pm. The guest house was a small operation and didn’t have a 24 hour front desk
Finally, Penny asked if I’d mind sleeping on a sofa in the restaurant, and I said, “Why not? I fall asleep on my own sofa all the time.”
Look over my shoulder as I accompany Penny Williams on her rounds through Amlapura Market in Karangasem, Bali. She proved quite the celebrity.
Everyone knew her, she never had to bargain, and everyone was willing to pose for pix. When she suggested I pose with some of the vendors, the other vendors in the vicinity all stood up and cheered.
Bali Asli Restaurant and Cooking School, Gelumpang Village, Amlapura, Karangasem, Bali. Telephone: 0828 9703 0098.
The restaurant is a 35 minute drive from Amed or Candidasa and 90 minutes to 2 hours from Seminyak.
Open for lunch and afternoon tea. Cooking classes and dinner parties can be arranged.
Owing to the restaurant's location, advanced reservations are highly advised.