Served with rice, sambal belacan (shrimp paste with chilli) or sambal kecap (chilli and shallot in sweet soy sauce) ikan bakar is one of the classic Indonesian dishes enjoyed at roadside cafes, beach grills and fine restaurants throughout the nation. With such an abundance of fish species and numerous distinct ethnic influences, various regional styles have emerged such as Sundanese ikan bakar Cianjur using carp and gourami, and from the beach town with some of the most famous grilled fish restaurants in Indonesia, ikan bakar Jimbaran.
Whilst the species differ, the techniques used to prepare and cook the fish remain fairly constant. Fresh-caught fish is usually brushed with a mixture of sweet soy sauce and coconut oil before and during grilling. Sometimes the fish will be marinated with a spicy mixture of ground shallot, garlic, chilli, coriander, tamarind, turmeric, galangal and salt before grilling over an open charcoal fire.
In Java, the taste is sweet because of the liberal use of sweet soy sauce, whilst the Sumatran ikan bakar is spicy. In Manado and Maluku ikan bakar is often topped with the deliciously hot dabu-dabu.
Moringa has been designed to be a convivial meeting place, bringing people together to enjoy their time in an attractive setting. The casual bistro-style restaurant has a colourful interior, with Asian murals and plush seating that entice guests to relax and post shots of the cosy interior on their social media feeds.
Of course, it also serves delectable treats whatever your mood, from snacks to filling meals. One of our favourites is the ikan bakar bumbu rujak, grilled marinated fish served with a spicy young papaya salad and rice. The skin is divinely crispy and the scent of the rujak salad is so mouth-wateringly incredible that you will be drooling before it even gets to your table.
This deceptively simple meal was inspired by Asian street food and grilled fish’s global popularity. The fish is purchased fresh every day from Jimbaran fish market, while the rujak salad ingredients are also sourced fresh in Bali.
The combination of the succulent meaty fish and the spicy, acid-sour, crunchy young papaya in the salad put this dish firmly among Moringa’s favourites. It is comfort food for everyone, proving that good food is not just for connoisseurs.
Located in the heart of the Kuta-Legian area on Jalan Dewi Sri, Moringa is easily accessible and has rapidly become a popular hang-out for friends to meet up.
Bandar Djakarta Ancol
A highly popular indoor-outdoor restaurant overlooking Jakarta Bay, Bandar Djakarta opened in Ancol in 2001 and proved so popular that other outlets have popped up across the city, as well as in Surabaya.
Bandar Djakarta’s vision is for all its guests to go home with a smile and we certainly do when we indulge in one of our many favourite dishes here: the grilled ikan sukang in the signature Jali sauce. This is a simple dish – grilled fish in a deep red sauce. The mouth-watering spicy sauce, which has just a hint of sweetness, is smothered over the densely textured white fish while it is grilled ensuring every mouthful is an explosion of satiating perfection.
Bubu Seafood and Chinese Restaurant
Another editor’s pick in Bali for ikan bakar is Bubu Seafood and Chinese Restaurant in Nusa Dua. A bamboo, wood and thatch venue with an outdoor pond, water features and dangling greenery, Bubu offers you the chance to pick your fish – or lobster, crab or prawns – as you walk in, decide how you want it cooked and what sauce you want with it. We love the grouper simply grilled with butter and garlic, served with white rice and spicy sweet soy sauce, tomato chilli sambal, Balinese shallots, chilli and coconut oil sambal and extra butter-garlic sauce. The meaty white flesh is delightful and the condiments offset this deeply satisfying meal perfectly.