Indonesia: Warung Kemba
I'm baaaaaaaaack! And strangely not jet lagged. (Go, me!) It's been a whirlwind two and a half weeks and I have so much to share about my trip.
My sister and I landed in Bali a day earlier than CL and T. It took a two hour drive from the airport, but we finally arrived at our bungalow in Karangasem in the late afternoon. We learned quickly that Karangasem is a small village with not many tourists. As a matter of fact, we didn't see any other tourists at all.
We also learned that just about everyone in the village is related to everyone else. Including the manager of our bungalow. When we asked him what was a good place to get dinner, he pointed us in the direction of his brother's warung just down the street:
A warung is slightly different from a restaurant. It's usually small, much more casual, and often family owned.
My sister and I actually originally walked past Warung Kemba to see if there were any other food options down the main road. When we found nothing but more road, we turned back only to see our bungalow manager (whose name sounds like "Alec" so that's what I'm going to call him here) at Warung Kemba on his motorbike, checking to see if we'd found the place alright.
We sheepishly entered the warung and were warmly greeted by Alec's brother.
We asked Alec's brother what was good and he told us there were basically two options: chicken and fish. He added that the fish was just freshly caught that morning. My sister and I looked at each other, shrugged, and ordered one of each.
Apparently both the chicken and the fish come either grilled or fried. Feeling like going a bit more healthy (heh), we got the grilled chicken:
And the grilled fish:
What we didn't expect was for both to come as a set meal:
There was a red bowl of water meant for washing hands (luckily Alec's brother showed us what to do with it because I thought it was for drinking), rice, some kind of baked or fried peas, and a dish of homemade sambal.
Ah, sambal. Let me tell you about the beauty of sambal. Sambal is a chili sauce typically made with tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and other magical stuff. We told Alec's brother that we couldn't really handle spiciness, so he brought us a sambal with less chili. SO MAGICAL. We cleaned off all the sambal. Forget the fish and chicken, just sambal and rice is enough.
Though the fish and chicken were great too. There was just so much greatness in that seemingly simple spread. The chicken was slightly sweet and oh, so juicy. But while the chicken was finger licking good, the fish was two times more delicious. So tender and you can taste the freshness.
Our entire meal cost 50,000 rupiah or about $4. Wut.
The next night, when CL and T finally joined us, we brought them to Warung Kemba as there really weren't any other options in the area. Plus we wanted them to try the awesome food.
We learned from CL, whose parents are from Indonesia, that "ayam" means chicken and "ikan" means fish. If you add "bakar" to it, it's grilled. If you add "goreng," it's fried.
My sister and I basically only wanted the ikan bakar. CL and T decided to try the ayam bakar and the ikan goreng. Here's the ikan goreng:
Nice and crispy. But not as delicious as the ikan bakar.
This time, instead of the fried peas (or whatever they were), we were brought fish soup:
Very light, but also quite spicy. At least to a weakling like me.
Besides the amazingness of the food, eating at Warung Kemba was an enjoyable experience because of the friendliness of Alec's brother and the other family members running the warung. He was super helpful and gave us lots of tips regarding the area.
When T asked about a fruit market, he offered to take us at three in the morning since he was also heading there. When we looked indecisive about the early hour, he grabbed a pineapple off his shelf and handed it to us. T tried to refuse it, but he kept insisting. When the back and forth got kind of awkward, I grabbed the damn thing and thanked him.
On our way back to our bungalows, we stopped by a convenience store and bought some beer (and lemon water for me). We then dropped by Alec's hut to ask him for a knife for the pineapple. He did us one better by taking the fruit, cutting it, and bringing it to us:
So much love.