The Amazing Warung Culture of Bali

You have seen it all over Bali; this type of small family-owned business, often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or café – warung.

It is simply an essential part of daily life in Indonesia because it is a celebration of culture, where traditional foods meet a relaxing, unpretentious ambiance that reflects the lives of people in the neighborhood. It is a place where the community gathers, people that even don’t know each other can sit together around a table, enjoy food, the cup of coffee or ice tea. And not spend a fortune! Great place to just watch people pass by and life buzzing in front of you.

Delicious fresh foods are available at an affordable price, and ready in just a short period of time. Plus – warungs are everywhere! Together with a drive to your nearest warung, you can have your meal in less than 15 minutes. The concept you can’t find so often in other parts of the world. And what to eat in a warung? There are so many choices, but here are some categories of warungs:


Ayam bakar/ikan bakar

Grilled chicken and grilled fish that locals like to eat seated on the floor. You can add a plate of tofu, tempeh and eggplant. The food is completed by steaming hot nasi putih (white rice) and lalapan (raw cabbage, green beans, mint leave and sliced cucumber).
Roadside Balinese snack places

Offering mostly lontong or compacted rolled rice with bean sprouts, ground peanuts, lime juice and hot chilis. This type of snack is served cold and costs only a few thousand rupiahs
Padang food

Padang food places are also called Rumah Makan (house eat), and are originating from Sumatra. You will be served a plate of nasi putih (white rice) and then asked to choose from the pyramids of food in the shop window. Simple vegetable items are free, the valuable items being fish, meat, tofu, tempeh and potato cakes (perkedel).

Javanese warungs

At these places, they will ask you if you prefer nasi putih (white rice), nasi merah (brown rice) or nasi kuning (yellow rice) and then to choose from items in the display cabinet. From grilled shrimps, tofu skewers, eggplant in a spicy sauce, shredded chicken, jackfruit in a coconut milk. It is also called campur and it means mix in Indonesian. So basically you take some rice and just campur it all together for a yummy meal.

And the most important thing when choosing warung is this – watch the locals! If locals go there, you know it is a good place to eat.■

Bali Pocket Magazine