Indulge: A Review of Ulekan Indonesian Food in Canggu Bali
Ulekan is an Indonesian restaurant located in Canggu; you can reach this restaurant easily from Seminyak as you do not need to cross the infamous Canggu Shortcut. Ulekan is part of The Good Brotherhood which includes the following restaurants: Watercress, Milk & Madu, The Common, Bangkok Hustle, Shmurger Burger.
During our travels to Bali, we have had some of our best meals at Ulekan and in this post, we share more information about the restaurant and the food they serve.
Let’s start from the start…WE LOVE INDONESIAN FOOD! Compared to other cuisines, like Thai, Indian, or Mexican, Indonesian food is not ubiquitous in the world, unless you’re in South East Asia, and even then, you are not likely to come across Indonesian restaurants outside of the country. Similar to Malaysian food, Indonesian food is spicy, tangy, and has bold flavours made from fresh ingredients. On our 5th visit to Bali, our driver to The Purist Villas got us really excited about eating Indonesian food when we discovered we both loved sambal matah. He also exclaimed that, if it’s not spicy, it’s not good, a sentiment we share, even if we can’t handle as much spice as local people.
Ulekan is actually “the traditional stone mortar and pestle used to make a wide variety of chili sambals”. To get all those flavours, you need a mortar and pestle to create marinades and sambals (spicy sauces to accentuate the food). We might be getting ahead of ourselves here but yes the sambals are amazing at Ulekan!!! Some are spicy and some aren’t but each one is so unique and adds a new level of flavour to your food.
Bali is Hindu and Indonesia is Muslim; in Bali, you will find halal food but you will also find Balinese food which includes pork, and the especially delicious babi guling (suckling pig). Ulekan is an Indonesian restaurant and doesn’t serve pork, as an FYI.
We love everything about Ulekan; the food, the ambiance, the decor, and the prices. Upon arrival, you are greeted and shown to a table and shortly after, they bring you a cold towel and their signature lemongrass, ginger, pandan iced tea with the menus.
Everything we have ordered has always been delicious too. Yes, it is more expensive than some of the local warungs but Ulekan is meant to be a mid-priced more upscale restaurant very easy for anyone to visit. We have eaten Indonesian food at: Hujan Locale (Ubud), Nusantara (Ubud), Kaum (Seminyak), Ijen (Seminyak), Tiger Palm (Seminyak and now closed), Warung Dandelion (Canggu), Three Monkeys (Sanur), Bali Asli (Karangeseam), and Biku (Seminyak). The value, quality of the food and ambiance at Ulekan is probably one of the best.
Sometimes, the food takes longer to be served but it is because they are making it to order. They have a satay grill outside the restaurant and they are grilled to order.
Their nasi campur is not only a great deal but it is delicious and something would like to eat for lunch everyday if we could. “Nasi” is rice and “campur” refers to the mixed small dishes that surround the scoop of the rice. At Ulekan, you can get a vegetarian nasi campur too and as good as the vegetarian components are, we can’t miss out on the delectable beef rendang in the non-vegeterian nasi campur.
As for drinks, we love the Arak Madu served at Ulekan; arak alcohol is mixed with lime juice and honey. They also local beers, craft beers, and a selection of wines.
We don’t usually save room for dessert but the Es Teller Ulekan is one that we always order due to how unique and refreshing it is. Es Teller Ulekan is their version of es teller; it’s a medley of of nata de coco, grass jelly, fruit, and coconut milk with shaved ice. The version at Ulekan also has avocado!
We do not have photos of dinner but everything we had was delicious; the Igi Sapi (ribs) were especially memorable.
We are not sure if we would recommend making a long trek here because traffic in Bali is insane if you are let’s say in Ubud or Sanur but if you are in the area, it is a good choice and a must try if you are looking for good Indonesian food in a casual but more upscale open air setting. They also have Balinese dance demonstrations during dinner some evenings. Ulekan tends to be quieter during lunch but it gets very busy for dinner so make a reservation in advance.
Hujan Locale and Ulekan have been our top meals in Bali and we would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite but as of late and due to their nasi campur, Ulekan might have a slight edge. If we could get on an airplane right now and go eat anywhere in the world, Ulekan would be in the top 5 for sure!
Have you ever tried Indonesian food? If so, did you like it?
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