Saturday, November 06, 2010


Dinner at Jimbaran beach and its' numerous seafood restaurants are a must for tourists and locals who want a simple seafood meal Balinese-style.  The last time we had dinner here was on our last visit to Bali in the summer of 2003.  Since we moved here half a year ago, we haven't been back yet but when my dad and brother came over for a long weekend, we ended up having dinner there twice in four days.

Arriving in Jimbaran on a Friday evening is hectic, with bumper to bumper weekend traffic starting right at sundown.  We left Sanur at around 6:00 just after sunset and didn't get to Kedonganan beach until about 7:00p.m.  The restaurants are lined up one after another between the beaches of the Four Seasons and Intercontinental hotels.  Choosing which one to go to, especially when they all serve the same selection of grilled fish and seafood, is difficult.  You can walk up and down the beach and sit wherever you fancy but remember that each area's tables correspond to a particular restaurant. Generally, the ones where tables are filled are good.  We ended up at Menega Cafe (closer to the Four Seasons beach) as it was recommended by a longtime Bali resident (who is also a chef).
After choosing a table a bit further from the shore, we ordered drinks then went back to the entry area where the aquariums and seafood are displayed to choose our dinner.  Here's how it works, you pick what you want to eat (fish or seafood), tell them your table number (which is clearly displayed on a card at your table) then have them grilled over coconut husks.  Then you head back to the table, order a few salads and drinks and wait.

Generally, the food arrives pretty quick and while you wait, they offer a plate of peanuts to munch on.  There are also carts that offer grilled corn (drizzled with margarine and sprinkled with a bit of chili powder) right by the shore.  We had a few cobs of corn and then our dinner was served.  We had grilled calamari on a stick which turned out like squid satay - smoky and not chewy at all, grilled red snapper which they conveniently slice open and serve deboned and ready-to-eat, grilled tiger prawns which were sweet and meaty and some grilled shrimps.  All the dishes come with sauteed water spinach, an all-you-can-eat basket of steamed rice and a few sauces: onion and chili salsa, spicy sambal and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).  The food was simply prepared but the fish and seafood were so fresh that all they really needed was a quick squirt of lime juice.
As we ate our dinner, more and more people started to arrive and pretty soon, most of the tables were taken with large groups enjoying the casual atmosphere.  Dining on Jimbaran beach was so delicious and fun that we went back two nights later for another seafood meal and that time, we sat a little closer to the water's edge and ate with our toes buried in the sand.
Menega Cafe
Jl. Four Seasons Hotel
Muaya beach, Jimbaran
Tel: +62 361 705888
*Open for dinner daily from sunset till late, credit cards accepted.


Anonymous said...

If you found this review via Google like I did, stay away from this place! That is, unless you like overcooked fish served cold. And, the "service" was basically nonexistent. I'd go back if they'd let me cook my own dinner. Too bad, the fish seemed fresh and would have been great if cooked properly and served in a timely manner. Great view though, but you can get that by just walking around.

Gourmet Traveller said...

I agree that on my recent visits to Menega, the service has been spotty and the food not that good. In the low season when Bali isn't that busy, the food is better and the service appropriate but when it's busy, it's chaos. We have also decided not to go to Menega until the islan quiets down in October when the busloads of tourists are gone.

LoveBites said...

I just happened onto your blog whilst reading up on the Wolseley, and was so happy to find a nice review on Manega! I disagree with the negative remark - I have been going to Bali every summer for several years and never miss a trip to Manega, and it was recommended to me by a local too. I've been to so many of the crap Jimbaran restaurants (concierge recommedations) until finding this one. The restaurant has always been busy, and the coconut husks smoke up like the restaurant's on fire, so it's better to sit as close to the beach as possible. It's cheaper than others, the food has always been amazing (if you haven't tried their clams yet, you are missing out!!) - and it has always taken AGES to be served. But when it finally is, it is hot and super tasty. Good things are worth waiting for!

Loving your blog, will be back! Check out mine if you'd like :-)

Gourmet Traveller said...

Hi hklovebites,

Thanks for checking in and for agreeing with me that Menega serves the best grilled seafood on Jimbaran beach. Now that we've moved to Puerto Rico, I'm missing the smoky dinners we used to enjoy there.
Love your blog! Beautiful photos - I'll definitely use it for my next Hong Kong visit.

Gouremt Traveller