Jimbaran seafood cafes must already be on your must-visit places for your Bali holiday, especially if you’re a seafood lover. Not only is Jimbaran Bay one of Bali’s best places for memorable sunsets, but it is also the most popular coast to enjoy grilled seafood. Seventeen seafood cafes line the white-sand beach locally known as ‘Pantai Muaya’.
Mostly open afternoon until late, each of the venues within the row of Jimbaran seafood cafes in the bay offer fresh-grilled seafood served at candlelit tables on the sand. As the sun goes down, the horizon features faint lights from the Ngurah Rai airport and traditional fishing boat lanterns at sea.
You’ll notice similar setups as you approach the Jimbaran seafood cafes from the beach; wooden tables with parasols down to the tide’s edge and some adorned with attractive palm leaf decorations. Drop-off from the main entrance and you’ll see grills and live seafood displays under signboards of each cafe that show different stock and ‘catches of the day’.
From several dinners we had at different cafes, we noticed slight variations in the homemade sambal (traditional chili sauce) in form and spiciness. Menega and Intan Sari are quite consistent in terms of stock and taste (usually getting most of the crowds); while others, Bela for instance, boast gimmicks such as torches and attractive table setups. Mild competition among these venues means good service; staff and waiters are attentive and speak simple English.
The Restaurants along the beach:
Ease into a chair as a small dish of salted nuts and/or kerupuk shrimp crackers comes served as intro to accompany your beer or drink of choice. Birthplace of ikan bakar Jimbaran or ‘grilled snapper à la Jimbaran’ with the essential sambal, these cafes offer selections of red snapper, crab, calamari, prawns and lobster served with steamed rice, and traditional side dishes of spicy plecing kangkung (stir-fried water spinach) and fresh fruit platters for dessert. Use your fingers as part of the experience; a bowl with water and slice of lime comes as standard ‘rinse’.
Look out for two sambal varieties, the famed red paste and another pungent version called sambal matah (comprising fresh chopped chili, shallots and lemongrass). Try out both if you can handle, or simply ask for a modified, milder version in advance. Some of the Jimbaran seafood cafes even have French Fries, fried rice, chop suey and other western and Asian cuisine on their menus for variety, and even expand their seafood selections to barracuda, grouper, mahi-mahi and king-fish.
‘Meals on wheels’ dot the beach with street vendor-style grilled sweet corn as snacks. Some peddlers also offer handicraft items. On the entertainment side, occasional strolling musicians roam throughout the Jimbaran seafood cafes, and help set the mood, playing songs by request for diners.
Getting in and out
Southward from the InterContinental Bali Resort, an intersection at the new Jimbaran Corner leads you to Jalan Bukit Permai, also named ‘Jalan Four Seasons’ after the resort. Pantai Muaya spans a kilometer along the bay, positioned between these two five-star hotels. The large parking space under an arching signboard and billowing smoke from the burning coconut husks are hard to miss. All local drivers know the way to the Jimbaran seafood cafes. If you stay at the above hotels, simply take an easy stroll along the sand and pick an unreserved table. Although its ‘first-come, first-served’ most of the time, reservations are necessary during the holiday seasons when it is usually packed.
A local taxi cooperative holds a monopoly in the area. You can come in by any public transport, but going out leaves you no other option. In case of no meter, negotiate your destination and rates beforehand.
Source: Bali Magazine