Continuing his search for good Balinese food, DonQui heads to the Denpasar night market.
The delightfully enthusiastic Micheal Sega is DonQui’s guide for the evening. He takes DonQui to the best food stalls, explains the different foods as well as giving insight into Balinese culture, beliefs and legends.
The onde and pisang snacks are very moreish.
Pisang (right) are bits of banana (sometimes also with chocolate) wrapped in a light batter and deep fried while the onde sesame coated balls (left) are filled with mung bean paste. Both are very good but DonQui adores the latter. They also keep well until the next day.
The highlight of DonQui’s taste journey is soto ayam. DonQui’s guide assures him that the soto ayam at this stall is the best one can find anywhere. In many other places he says that it can be lacklustre as they do not know how to cook it properly.
Soto ayam is a hearty chicken soup flavoured with turmeric and coriander and including hard boiled egg, cabbage, glass noodles and potato. It is eaten by scooping out some of the solid ingredients onto the accompanying rice, rather than adding the rice to the soup which would change the taste and constituency. A chilli sambal adds a bit of spice to the rice, meat, egg and veg combination. A spoonful of crushed crackers adds body to the soup.
It is washed down with a deliciously refreshing bottle of temulawak — a non-fizzy soft drink made with turmeric.
Another of DonQui’s favourites is tender goat satay, freshly grilled over hot coals and served doused with kecap manis (sweet soy).
The babi guling (various parts of a spit-roasted suckling pig) at the night market is a bit of a disappointment. It is lukewarm and bits of it are quite chewy rather than crispy.
He had a far better one at Babi Guling Men Lari on his lunch stop coming back from Tanah Lot (see Canggu Explorations).
There are so many other delectable treats that DonQui begins to loose count of them as his capacity for more food is stretched to bursting.
The choice of exotic fruits to finish off with are simply astounding. He is slightly relieved to hear that the rank-smelling durian fruit is out of season as pride and curiosity would have made him try it.
Instead he opts for a delicious (and apparently very healthy) mangosteen which he enjoys very much, taking a bag back with him to his abode.
At other times during his stay on Bali ,DonQui is able to try a variety of other dishes. Of course at some point he has a nasi goreng (fried rice) which is a bit of a staple and not unknown to him.
Beef rendang is a favourite which he has also had before — deliciously slow cooked in coconut milk, turmeric, lemon grass and ginger.
DonQui is quite surprised that, although living on an island, the Balinese do not seem to eat much fish. Eventually he comes across gulan ikan. This is a curry, made with barramundi fish and tomatoes. DonQui has never heard of barramundi before but it is apparently quite common in S.E. Asia. The flesh is flaky, a bit like cod, but the taste is milder — more like sea bass. This means that it takes the spicy coconut curry sauce very well.