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.
Jl. Four Seasons Hotel
Muaya beach, Jimbaran
Tel: +62 361 705888
*Open for dinner daily from sunset till late, credit cards accepted.