Relaxed afternoon at Cous Cous.
Sandwiched in between permanently Construction-dust-covered Petitenget, and once sleepy but now too-cool-for-school Canggu, Umalas seems to be a hip place to be again! We’ve made a list of new delicious places that won’t let you leave hungry. Words: Masha Larkin
It’s the chilled residential vibe, traffic-free roads and an overall feel that life is good that makes Umalas special. Just a few years ago it was the true Golden Mile of modern Bali: home to the most luxurious villas and most successful entrepreneurs on the island. Then Canggu took over, and now, when everyone seems to be living and hanging out in Berawa and Batu Bolong, Umalas has got some extra fresh air – but it’s fame apparently is taking a second wind again.
Some of the food outlets of Umalas have been there for few years and are well-known and loved by the local residents – like the tiny juice bar The Pulp Art, with the extensive menu of healthy elixirs and delicious vegetarian wraps. Another well-established venue, with a faithful army of followers, is Kayu Api bakery, run by a flamboyant French pastry chef – they open almost at dawn and the majority of crunchy baguettes and delicate brioches are gone by 10am.
Habitual gets packed to the gills at lunch time.
There is a new wave of cafes and restaurants that have popped up around Jalan Bumbak and Jalan Umalas I last year. Habitual, as its name suggests, quickly became a habit, or even addiction thanks to the NYC-style hearty cooking; think juicy burger with blue cheese and hand cut ‘shoe strings” fries, huge crispy hashbrowns topped with smoked salmon and a perfectly poached egg, spicy baked-egg casserole, bagels and all things bacon and cream. Vietnamese sandwich bahn mi with roasted pork belly is a special treat – a must try! There is not the slightest touch of a ‘healthy eating’ trend in sight at Habitual, yet this neat little spot works as a magnet for Seminyak’s fashion crowd, Jakarta hipsters and all the rest. The secret of success is chef Sandy, an Indonesian raised in the US, who travelled the world, commanded some fancy kitchens and supplied Bali’s cafes and restaurants with some decent muffins and quiches before he opened his own cafe. This smiley chubby chap is always there, ready for a chat – a nice bonus to his finger-licking food.
The breezy terrace of Cous Cous is quiet as there is almost no traffic on the street.
Tiflis is another neighborhood restaurant, that’s new – and one of a kind. Georgian cuisine is definitely something exotic for Bali, not to say for the whole of Southeast Asia. Juicy meat stews and hearty soups like kharcho, eggplant rolls with garlicky creamy stuffing, chicken satstivi wrapped in a thick cream of ground walnuts and special spices, hot, just-out-of-the-tandoor flatbread lavash, and it’s cheesy version, hatchapuri, all served with thyme tea in a very traditional Georgian way – this kind of feast calls for a big company of friends.
Brightly-coloured La Casetta makes you wish it was Rome outside.
Habitual, as its name suggests, quickly became a habit, or even AN addiction thanks to the NYC-style hearty cooking that includes juicy blue cheese burgers and hand-cut fries.
Cous Cous is another ‘exotic’ destination: lovingly done with attention to every detail, from the wall decor to artsy coasters, this little jewel is home to all the famous Middle Eastern treats, but you have to be early for lunch if you don’t want to miss their falafel. And trust us – you don’t!
La Casetta and Bumbak Coffee are happy eighbours
There is an array of other breakfast, lunch and dinner venues, all cozy and homey. Bumbak Coffee does proper cappuccinos, next door La Casetta serves genuine parmigana and humble Pho Warung specialises in Vietnamese pho soup with the most fragrant broth and tender petals of beef – almost as perfect as one in Saigon! And the brand-new Thai Garden has been the word of mouth in the expat community since its opening – check their green curry and you’ll become a regular. It’s highly addictive; just like Umalas’ good living itself. FRV