In Bali, all the restaurants redefine fine dining. I've struggled with the concept of paying up to S$100 per pax for Balinese or Indonesian food at Mozaic and Bumbu (both of which I dislike). It could be more expensive than the modern European or Australian fare in Seminyak and Nusa Dua.
It's probably because we've never had the fine dining concept for Malay or Indonesian food in Singapore and only grew up with cheap eats in town and across the causeway. Straits Kitchen and The House of Sundanese Food just don't cut it. In Bali, there're plenty of fine dining fusion-Balinese restaurants that are either stand-alone or housed in resorts.
On this trip, I've come to terms with it. Remember that out of this world ayam betutu I've had in Gilimanuk? I'm sure it cost no more than RP50,000 per pax. I'd pay S$30++ for that. I've learnt to differentiate between rough roadside Balinese/Padang food and the delicate dishes the restaurants churn out. Sure, you pay a premium for certain ingredients. But hey, this is Bali. Make no mistake, this island, like ours, isn't a cheap travel destination. I can spend the same amount here as I would, in Maldives or Seychelles. Every luxury and comfort is charged accordingly. Only Antigua, Santorini and Saint Tropez a couple of years back inflated my usual travel budget by 60% because I wanted the same level of privacy in the West Indies and European resorts.
In the restaurants, they call it 'gindara', I call it 'cod'. Marinated in Balinese spices, their grilled fish is always done to perfection. The curries, gravies and all were lightly spiced and nothing was overdosed on the coconut milk. The man fell in love with the tender sweet soy pork which he said reminded him of a similar style in his grandmother's cooking once upon a time. We also had duck smoked to a peaty rich taste which made the meat taste un-gamey.
The chefs seem to understand the spices available in the region and how it'd mesh with imported ones in the food. There's something exquisite in how the chefs flavor their dishes. That takes skill.