Best restaurants in Seminyak: a complete guide to fine dining

So you moved to a tropical island paradise away from the city life. You happily slipped your feet into a pair of Havaianas, tucked your makeup bag in the farthest corner of your wardrobe, and planned to enjoy wearing a torn t-shirt, eating street food and drinking Bintangs for the rest of eternity. But to your surprise, you started to miss all that glam and champagne much faster than you expected.

Luckily, Bali is the island of contrasts, and the posh part of island life is as well developed as the budget one. So put on those high heels and red lipstick, dress up your date in a nice collared shirt and go dine in style!

Welcome to part two of our guide to the best restaurants in Seminyak.

Teatro Gastroteque – a gastronomic experience for a special occasion

It is quite challenging to write about Teatro Gastroteque  it’s a case of the Chinese proverb “when hearing about it 100 times is not as good as seeing (or tasting) it once”.

A purely Indonesian venture, Teatro is headed by Chef Mandif M. Warokka who has an impressive collection of work experience under his belt, as well as several gold and silver awards from prestigious competitions through Indonesia and the Middle East.

This is a very small restaurant, sitting only 25 guests – making it all the more possible to enjoy the gastronomic theatre, where the open kitchen is the stage, the chef and cooks are the actors and the main star of the show is, of course, the cuisine.

The decor is modest but tasteful: dark wood, granite and velvet, red and dark grey tones and dim lighting with flickering candles. Teatro Gastroteque’s warm atmosphere allows diners to easily focus on the exquisite dining experience.

Teatro food
An artful presentation of food in Teatro

Chef Mandif is very passionate about fine dining cuisine; in all of his dishes he is addressing your taste buds rather than your stomach, choosing a flavour adventure over the feeling of fullness.

The menu is an Asian-European fusion that some consider worthy of Michelin stars. Teatro’s signature experience is the degustation menu involving a minimum of 3 courses, which actually gets served up as 6 to 7 dishes including the aperitif. The other options are a substantial 5 or 7 course Discovery Menu and Chef’s Degustation Menu, which include up to 15 dishes.

The food is prepared with about 90% local produce and served beautifully in fancy plates made here on the island.

The menu changes regularly depending on the availability of ingredients  – Teatro always serves what is in season and at its best. Being a fine dining restaurant of such quality and passion, Teatro Gastroteque is heavily focused on wine pairing, so the wine selection is very broad here, showcasing both old and new world. They also have a variety of Martinis for the aperitif.

Tetro Gastroteque is a restaurant to dine at on very special occasions and heaven for adventurous foodies.

Get ready for an exquisite experience – your dinner might last up to 3 hours, leading to the feeling of gourmet satisfaction without the ghastly food coma.

Address: Jalan Kayu Aya, Blok C No. 1-2, Seminyak, Bali,80361, Indonesia.
Phone: +62361 8700078
Operating hours: Tue-Sun 6pm – 11pm.

Bambu – authentically Indonesian

Bambu is a new kid on Petitenget’s fine dining block, located right next to Hu’u Bar and opposite Salty Seagull. The way Bambu tells it, there is no main mastermind behind this lovely restaurant, it is a group accomplishment and they don’t believe in singling out any one individual – even the owners prefer to remain out of the spotlight.

 Bambu was created in homage to all things we love about Indonesia.

The idea was to create something respectful to the place that Bambu’s creators have chosen to call home for the last 20 years; an idea that has been executed without fault. The architecture, the textiles, the graciousness of the people, the superbly handcrafted materials, and of course, the varied cuisines all hailing from various islands within the archipelago.

The receptionists, all dressed in crisp white outfits, will greet you at the entrance and show you to your table. You will take a few steps across the koi pond, immediately finding yourself in a tranquil environment, very different from the busy world outside on the street. The design of the venue is reminiscent of a traditional joglo pavilion, with modern touches such as eggshell coloured floors and carved wooden screens.


Bambu’s menu was created based on extensive travel and research throughout various parts of Indonesia. Whilst the presentation of the food is more on the exquisite side, the recipes and history of each dish remains true to their roots. The owners like to think of the food here as ‘inspired village cuisine’ or ‘upscale warung’. If the cuisine is supposed to be spicy, it is SPICY – no ‘bule’ discounts here. If you can’t take sambal like a local, be sure to inform your waiter.

The team of staff are immensely knowledgeable on the origins of each dish on the menu, guiding diners through the selections if they need some help. We especially love their dessert menu boasting dishes like green pandan crepes wrapped around coconut and palm sugar and black rice pudding balls.

Bambu’s chefs are currently putting together some sharing menus that will be suitable for larger groups. At the moment, the table sizes are limited to a maximum of 8 people to ensure the best quality service and food for everyone.

Just like the food, the drinks here are also inspired by herbs, spices and tradition. Many of the classic elements found in the bumbu (spice pastes) are used to enhance the flavour of the cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages made in-house.

With rotating menu items to keep things fresh, this is one restaurant to keep coming back to again and again.

Address: Jl. Petitenget no. 198, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone number: +62 361 8469797
Operating hours: 6pm – Midnight.

Urchin Grill & Raw Bar – one for the seafood lovers.

Located in a boutique colonial hotel, this place is minimalistic, unpretentious and brilliant in its simplicity. Urchin Grill & Raw Bar is about seafood, gin and good times.

The centrepiece of the dining room is an open plan kitchen, where you can witness the freshest ingredients turning into a savoury dish that will please your senses. Culinary maestro chef Steven Skelly has an impressive twenty years of professional experience and is renowned for his great talents in the kitchen.

Open plan kitchen at Urchin
Open plan kitchen at Urchin

Surprisingly enough, Urchin’s customers have been raving about the bread. A small but important detail that so many restaurants fail to pay attention to, this meticulous point of difference sets the standard for the rest of the menu and the level of service.

The “raw” section of the menu does not consist of any superfood magic grass, as the word might suggest in Ubud. Rather, you can expect the likes of Tartar and Carpaccio or Sashimi and Urchin Maki – a gleefully fancy affair.

There are also various dishes to choose from involving grilled and roasted fish. For the incorrigible carnivores there is suckling pig, oxtail soup and of course, steak. All the classics for the meat aficionados.

Individual cones of tartar
Individual cones of tartar

Try a small morsel of everything by ordering a tasting menu, which you can also pair with beverages or wine. The specialty of Urchin’s bar is gin; there are nine different blends presented on the menu and almost as many gin-based cocktails. And to top it all off they make their own tonic water! This idea goes straight into the “attention to details” folder, filed neatly alongside the incredible bread.

Digestives are dotted near the desserts menu, right after tea and coffee. After all, strawberry and guava soufflé might taste better accompanied with a cognac rather than a cappuccino.

When it comes to the vibe, the owners themselves refer to it as fun dining rather than fine dining. No candlelit rooms, fancy views or chandeliers. Just top quality seafood cooked in various imaginative ways.

Address: Jl. Laksmana no. 22, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia
Phone number: +62 361 736 319/+62 361 732 413/+62 361 904 2000
Operating hours: 3pm – Midnight.

Sardine – from Bali with love

Fresh seafood, organic produce, open spaces, a beautiful view and good service. If we had to give you a brief description of what Sardine is all about, that would pretty much sum it up. Or perhaps in a more poetic way, “Cuisine Du Soleil”.

Sardine is hidden behind a stonewall adorned with rice farmer hats, right before Lio Square on one of the most traffic dense spots in Seminyak.

Entering through the gates and stepping through an unassuming partition feels like walking through a wormhole; the peaceful countryside style view is quite contradictory to the hustle and bustle that is left behind. What you find is a little oasis with a tasteful layout and carefully detailed décor. The entire restaurant, right down to the colour scheme, is designed for rest and relaxation.

The feature material, bamboo, has been used to create a unique and contemporary yet warm and inviting architecture with “Bali soul”. The corners of the premises are surrounded by thriving bamboo overlooking stunning rice fields and a large barong head honours the wall next to the entrance.

Stunning rice fields view infront of sardine
Stunning rice fields view infront of sardine

Sardine works mainly with local produce such as organic vegetables from Batu Riti gardens or fresh fish and seafood from the markets, avoiding imported produce as much as possible.

Although the menu is predominantly seafood, some meat and poultry dishes are also present. The dinner menu changes daily due to the availability of produce or what is in season and the lunch menu changes weekly.

The must tries of the house? Start with the Banyuwangi scallops on the half shell with Asian salsa, or the smoked sardines with Bedugul potato salad, crème fraiche, lemon and chives. For the main affair, devour the barramundi steamed in banana leaf with ginger, the grilled whole fish “Jimbaran style” with sambal matah or the pan seared diver scallops with mushroom ravioli and parsley-truffle emulsion. Whichever dessert you choose, consume it at the table next to the rice paddy – this will add an extra sweet taste to your experience.

Grilled Sardines
Grilled Sardines

A cozy bar offers a small selection of tasty dishes as well as a choice of exotic drinks like coconut martinis, raspberry mojitos, passion fruit daiquiris and bloody marys with a celery stalk and a king prawn.

Sardine is the perfect environment for cozy drinks or a romantic dinner as behind it all, there is a love story, which extends into a passionate and gastronomic affair with the Island of the Gods. Everything here really is made with love.

Address: Jl. Petitenget no. 21, Kerobokan, Bali 80361 Indonesia
Phone number: +628113978111 / +628113978333.
Operating hours: 11.30 am – 1 am.

So, there you go. You know where to turn your footsteps for Bali’s food best. When you feel like having that classy dressed up outing, sipping wine and enjoying gourmet dining. Fill up your Bali “to-do” list with our hints and recommendations and get your stomach ready for some serious gluttony and overeating.

You have been informed. You have been warned.

Still craving more culinary creations? Check out part one of our guide to the best fine dining restaurants in Seminyak.

Tenganan: home of Bali’s rarest textiles

How many visitors leave Bali without picking up at least one piece of locally crafted textile, usually a sarong? Even if you are a first time visitor, you can pick up one of Bali’s rarest textiles if you know where to look.

Most people are familiar with batik, a method of painting a design onto cloth with wax before dying it. The dye colours everything but the part under the wax, creating a unique, handcrafted print. And most people have probably seen an ikat sarong, produced by tie dying the warp threads that run the length of the cloth, before weaving them with weft threads of a single colour.

Unique hand crafted textiles made nowhere else in Indonesia

Double ikat weaving is much more difficult, making it one of Bali’s rarest textiles. The weaver tie dyes both the warp and weft threads before weaving them together. This requires exquisite tension control. If you want to see – and buy – double ikat, then you need to visit the people in a small village in south east Bali called Tenganan. This is the only place in Indonesia where double ikat is made.

A very traditional Tenganan house

Getting to Tenganan

Tenganan is one of very few villages in Bali that has never submitted to Hindu rulers from Java. Described by a 1930s writer as “rabidly conservative”, the Tengananis have never become part of the Hindu caste system, and continue to follow their own centuries-old aboriginal customs.

To get to Tenganan, you pass through Candidasa and head north along a 4km dirt road. Travelling mostly through jungle, you come to a village with a curious entrance, like a box office in an outdoor cinema, blocking off part of the quiet street behind it. Outside the box office you will see two or three men sitting on chairs, each waiting for his turn to greet a visitor.

He has just picked the cotton from an overhead branch.

A courteous, softly-spoken man in traditional dress immediately offers to take you to his home, but there is no hurry. In near perfect English, Nengah Dika invites you to turn right and stroll slowly past the house at the end of the street. The building looks very old, with walls made of stones cemented together with mud rather than mortar. He stops beneath a cotton tree and picks a little cotton to show you how easy it is to spin the long fibres into a short thread.

The main street – almost overgrown with grass

There is none of the hustle and bustle common to other tourist destinations. Past the next house, you turn left again into what he tells you is Tenganan’s main street. Hardly anyone is in sight, and it is party overgrown with grass. An open shed on the corner has two wood-and-bamboo bins labelled “leaf litter” and “plastic waste” in Indonesian.

There are several temples further down the street, where it is almost covered by grass.

He takes you past several temples, and tells you how the Australian government sent engineers to repair one of the temples after a recent earthquake (with concrete, not mud). They also supplied a deep underground bore and a water tower to provide a reliable water supply. If you are Australian, he thanks you for this.

If you are an Australian “in the know” you may also see the recycling bins as a condition of the aid, like the anti-smoking signs displayed at events sponsored by tobacco taxes.

Bamboo recycling bins.

Despite these occasional modern touches, the place has a timeless feel. He explains how the village grew so large they decided to divide it into two banjars, or wards, “only two or three hundred years ago”.

The Bali Agas – fiercely independent

Nengah Dika tells a little more about his people, the Bali Agas. These were the first people to settle in Bali, more than a thousand years ago, and the island still has a few Bali Aga villages that remain fiercely independent. “We have never been in conflict with each other,” he says, although clearly they were ready to defend themselves against the Majapahit soldiers who took over most of the island in the 14th Century.

Visiting a Tenganan weaver at home

After this leisurely history lesson, you arrive at his house. He takes you straight through the outer compound, hung with brightly coloured banners, to the main building where you meet his young wife, Ni Luh Suryati. And of course, her double ikat weavings, which are continuous loops of cloth in three or four colours: unbleached cotton, yellow, dark blue and red.

A traditional Bali Aga home.

Making Bali’s rarest textile treasures takes about a year

Ni Luh explains the double ikat process – without, of course, giving away any of the trade secrets needed to produce Bali’s rarest textiles. First, the cotton has to be picked and impurities such as seeds and husk fragments combed out before spinning. She then begins tie dyeing the warp and weft threads in a secret practice using home-made plant dyes and lots of prescribed rituals. The trick to achieving a perfect double ikat is not only in tie dying the vertical and horizontal threads to a matching design, but in making sure they weave together perfectly.

Very few women now make double ikat.

Ni Luh achieves this by controlling the tension on the warp threads with a special loom. Sitting on the floor, she passes the shuttle between the long threads in front of her. These long warp threads are also attached to a device on her back, allowing her to control the tension by leaning backwards with more or less pressure. She controls the tension on the sideways or “weft” threads by pulling more or less firmly on the shuttle after weaving each row.

The whole process, they tell you, takes about a year from start to finish.

Buying a double ikat – or two

Of course, you have come all this way – you don’t want to leave without at least one double ikat. Nengah tells you he recently sold an antique piece, in a design no longer made, to a German collector for seven million rupiah.

This piece is very old and has been darned in several places.

The haggling begins. Ni Luh mentions the price of two million rupiah, which of course, you can’t quite afford. Your companions offer to lend you the US and Australian dollars stashed at the backs of their wallets, and you end up settling for two pieces at three million for the pair. She has reduced the price of one single colour piece because it is not a continuous loop, the threads having been cut. They even throw in two carved wooden display hangers. Everyone is happy.

Lontars – traditional palm leaf pictures and documents

On the way out Nengah shows you the lontars he makes. These are traditional Balinese and Indian documents made by carving letters and images on to long strips of palm leaf with a stylus or knife, rubbing in lamp black afterwards. The original Hindu scriptures, such as the Upanishads, were first written on lontars, as were messages from Bali’s kings.

Lamp black is rubbed into the grooves to produce black lines.

As you came to buy a double ikat, and have blown your weekly budget, you find yourself declining.

Why the village is so quiet

Taking your leave of the lady of the house, you follow the host outside and he offers to show you more of the village. It is getting late, and if you are staying in Ubud or Denpasar, it’s an hour’s drive home. Tenganan has no hotels and no shops. Only local villagers are allowed to stay overnight. You politely decline, and quietly head around the block and up the side street towards the “box office”, which you are still wondering about. Apart from the occasional scooter, the most noise comes from a dozen or so fighting cocks in cages, placed to catch the afternoon sun.

Taking the afternoon sun

The annual pandanus fighting

Once a year, Nengah tells you, crowds descend on the village for the annual pandanus fighting. Protected only by thick turbans and double sarongs, pairs of men square off with the spiny butts of pandanus palm leaves as weapons. Each man attempts to wound his opponent’s naked torso, and they frequently go into clinches, flailing at each other’s backs with the primitive weapons. This looks a lot like a drill from previous centuries, to ready the men for hand-to-hand encounters with their enemies. He describes it in such a gentle voice that it sounds incongruous.

He asks how we found out about his village, as most visitors he meets have been to Bali perhaps five or ten times before they hear of it. You smile. If you go looking for treasure, you don’t follow the crowd, do you?

With so little human traffic, grass covers this side street.

Why these treasures are so rare

Back home, your friends admire your new double ikat wall hangings with just a touch of jealousy. They have been to Bali many times. But you, the novice, have been somewhere they have never heard of and picked up something rare.

Double ikat’s future is uncertain. Some traditional designs are no longer made. Only a few women in Tenganan village now practice the art. You find yourself wondering why. In today’s cash economy, other families may have decided not to welcome curious strangers into their homes to buy Bali’s rarest textiles. Perhaps their privacy is just too precious.

Apart from Tengannan, double ikat weaving is made in just three other locations – two in India (Gujarat and Telangana) and one in Japan (Okinawa). If you can’t make a trip to Tenganan, double-ikats are currently for sale on Ebay for between AUD$750 and $3,500.

Island ink: Getting tattooed in Bali

To most people, the thought of getting tattooed in Bali is synonymous with ten too many Bintangs and a lifetime of regret. Tell a friend you got inked on your recent trip to Kuta and their first response will most likely be “have you had your Hepatitis vaccinations?” But while we’ve all seen one too many Schoolies coming back from Bali with ‘YOLO’ or misspelt names eternally etched into their butts, it’s the drunken spontaneity and poor decision making of some that help give the idea of getting tattooed in Bali a bad reputation.

Too many booze buckets, lax regulations and cheap prices contribute to the bad name of the Bali tattoo industry, with Kuta’s main nightlife areas lined with tattoo shops attracting the young and drunken crowds. Stiff competition means artists will often tattoo patrons who are visibly drunk or drug effected, or without verifying their age first. It’s practices like these that led to a tattoo related HIV infection in 2013, along with several reported hepatitis cases. The last thing any tourists wants to return from a fabulous tropical holiday with is a blood borne infection to go with their suntan.

Sick of the bad wrap, many internationally owned tattoo shops have opened in Bali, following strict hygiene and operational regulations to ensure tourists can enjoy a safe tattoo from a talented artist to memorialise their time on this awe inspiring island. Leading Bali tattoo artists have also banded together to reclaim the good name of this age-old tradition and are opening award winning shops, starting collaborations all around the island.

In reality, Bali can be a fabulous place to get a tattoo, but the standard of tattoo studios in Bali varies dramatically. Just as you should anywhere in the world, always do your research before letting a stranger permanently needle ink into your skin. Of course, scoping out cleaning equipment and quizzing tattoo artists on their qualifications is the last thing you want to do between cocktails during your Balinese adventure, so we’ve done the hard work for you. These impressive and creative tattooists are raising the bar on Bali’s tattoo reputation and giving leading international artists a run for their money.

Here’s a handful of Bali’s best tattoo studios and leading tattoo artists.

Suku Suku Tatau

Artist Albar Tikam and an example of his favourite artwork, done using the traditional Balinese stick and poke method.
Artist Albar Tikam and an example of his favourite artwork, done using the traditional Balinese stick and poke method.

STUDIO OVERVIEW: Saku Saku is a tattoo studio of a different kind, specialising in traditional Balinese tattooing and securing a reputation as the only tattoo studio in Bali to offer traditional Indonesian tribal hand tapping tattoos. If you’re not a fan of the traditional, that won’t be an issue, as Saku Saky Tatau also offers modern tattooing and other body modification services like piercing, scarification and even tongue-splitting (although the latter should definitely be given some deeper thought as a forked tongue is probably the last thing you want to wake up with when teamed with sunstroke and a hangover). Following strict safety standards, Saku Saku is considered the place to go if you want a truly unique, high quality tattoo done in Bali by genuine artists. This studio has received countless accolades for their traditional and modern methods. Booking ahead is highly recommended as appointments fill up fast.

STYLE: Everything from traditional tattooing, to modern tattooing, piercing and body modification. Specialising in manual, traditional hand tapping and hand poking tattoos.

PRICE: Depending on the design, traditional tattoos start around 1.5M IDR.

EXPERIENCE: Resident artist Albar Tikam hails from Jakarta and has been honing his craft since 2007. In 2011 he decided to shift his focus to the manual traditional tattoo style that the studio is now renowned for.

CLEANING STANDARDS: High international hygiene standard using autoclave, medical sterilizer, ultrasonic cleaner, sterilizer sealed single-use needle and an ultra-clean environment.

ARTIST’S FAVOURITE TATTOO: Albar’s favourite tattoo he has done is a free hand Mentawai style done by traditional hand poking, without the use of a machine.

Address: JL Nakula No 99 x, Seminyak, Bali
Phone: +62 815 9691475
Website: http://www.sukusukutatau.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sukusukutatau 

Altar Tattoo

Grey, detailed ink at Altar
Grey, detailed ink at Altar Tattoo

STUDIO OVERVIEW: Altar Tattoo is a custom tattoo artist in Bali who has been producing the kind of detailed, grey scale, dot point body art that’s expanding in popularity throughout the world. Combining a love for illustration and design work with a passion for tattooing, Altar has built up an impressive portfolio of high quality work. As of May 2015, Altar will be joining forces with a fellow reputable tattoo artist to open Katarsis Tattoo Collective in Denpasar, a cooperative studio for high quality tattoo and art work. Tattoos are currently done by appointment only, helping to break the mould of spontaneous walk-ins that tourists are notorious for. Email Altar Tattoo to discuss your customised design and book an appointment.

STYLE: Specialising in custom tattoos, especially dot work, line work and black/grey techniques.

PRICE: Prices vary depending on the customer’s request and the complexity of the design. Each tattoo is fully customised and charged on a one-off basis. No design is ever used twice, ensuring each customer has a unique, one of a kind piece.

EXPERIENCE: Altar hails from Bandung, West Java, and has spent the last five years in Bali perfecting his unique tattoo style. He has been tattooing since 2009, where he underwent a year long apprenticeship.

CLEANING STANDARDS: Hospital grade hygiene standards utilised at all times, with seminar experience in medical cleaning.

ARTIST’S FAVOURITE TATTOO: While every tattoo Altar does is of the highest quality possible, his favourite tattoos are ones where he can truly take his time, working session by session to reach the final product.

Email: altaraltarus@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sukusukutatau
Instagram: @altaraltaraltar

Tattoo Hut Bali

The team and the tats at Tattoo Hut Bali
The team and the tats at Tattoo Hut Bali

STUDIO OVERVIEW: Tattoo Hut is one of Bali’s newest Aussie run tattoo studios, opening its doors in December 2014. The studio has already built quite a name for itself thanks to the revered reputation of resident artist, Jony, an award winning tattooist who has received several accolades for his work with colour ink. Tattoo Hut follows international standards, producing high quality work, strict hygiene practices and professional, friendly service.

STYLE: All styles and designs, specialising in Oriental and Balinese themed tattoos, well known for producing vibrant, detailed, colour work.

PRICE: Cost depends on the size, detail and colour involved, with a minimum price of $600,000 IDR. As an estimate, prices range from about $6-8M IDR for a half sleeve and $10-15M IDR for a full sleeve.

EXPERIENCE: Head artist Jony has been tattooing since 2004 and hails from the Canggu Villages in Bali, where he operated a successful tattoo studio from 2008 to 2014 before joining the team at Tattoo Hut.

CLEANING STANDARDS: The studio keeps extremely high hygiene standards, on par with any Western run studio. Single use needles are strictly used along with high quality American ink. All chairs and stands are wrapped with disposable protectants and changed for each customer.

ARTIST’S FAVOURITE TATTOO: Loves doing freehand work with some of his best work coming from a simple pen sketch.

Address: JL Benesari, Kuta, Bali
Phone: +62 822-3707-1957
Email: tattoohut@outlook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tattoo-Hut/904560336229087
Instagram: @tattoo_hut

Still not sure where to start? Watch this video from New York Ink’s Megan Massacre about how to pick a tattoo studio for extra tips http://youtu.be/848tF9vTS58