Have you heard rumours about out of this world seafood in Bali? Talk of dinners on the beach at sunset with buckets of crab, crispy calamari, and fish so fresh it’s still kicking? Last year I discovered a restaurant that would forever set the bar for the term “out of this world seafood”. This place is so good it quite literally was the sole reason I returned to Bali a second time just last month! Travelers from all over the world flock to Jimbaran Beach, it’s no secret that it plays host to a nightly smorgasbord of freshly caught seafood. Fisherman quite literally land their boats on the beach in front of the restaurants and carry up the catch of the day so it’s hard to argue about quality of ingredients! There is truly nowhere else in Southeast Asia that you can get such amazing seafood for outrageously low prices, all the while sitting with your toes in the sand looking out over the ocean by moonlight. And while the countless seafood restaurants you’ll see dotting the beaches may start to look the same, none can hold a candle to experiencing the best seafood in Jimbaran, Lia Cafe!
Lia Cafe, unfortunately, is no secret. Although it is quite modest looking it competes head to head with five star restaurants in the area, ranking in the Top 5 Seafood Restaurants on Tripadvisor. It’s directly on the beach, stuck between a few other seafood joints, so don’t get distracted on your walk over! You can actually call the restaurant for a free taxi from your hotel, highly recommend this along with a reservation to dine at sunset!
As it seems to often be with traveling, the process and experience of dining at Lia Cafe is just as memorable as the delicious plate of food in the end. When you walk into the restaurant’s building you will be greeted by a very friendly Indonesian man standing behind 6-8 massive glass tanks full of a variety of freshly caught fish, oysters, prawns, and squid. The board behind the tanks shows prices per kilogram of each, you simply choose what you’d like and he will throw it on the scale right then and there. Let him know how you’d like it cooked (fried or grilled) and go have a seat on the beach! When it comes to seafood, what more could you ask for? 🙂
Lia Cafe has a set menu so once you choose your seafood the rest of the meal begins to come like clockwork. First you will be brought out some roasted peanuts, followed by fish soup a few minutes later. The soup is delicious, a very light taste and a positive sign of what’s to come. After the soup comes a mixed vegetable salad of tomatoes, onions, and lettuce with an excellent vinegar-based dressing, very simple tastes combined in a wonderful way. At this point the sun will have just set, your shoes will be off and you’ll be ankle deep in the sands of one of Bali’s most picturesque beaches, totally relaxed.
The main course, whatever choice you make, is guaranteed to be some of the best seafood you’ve ever had. The fish is served whole, bone in, and has an excellent barbecue marinade. The prawns are massive and bursting with flavor. The fried squid calamari here is simply unmatched and is my personal favorite, I dip it in their garlic and tomato sauces. The last time we grabbed lunch before heading to the airport my girlfriend and I ate 1.5 kilograms in one sitting (don’t judge)! It’s all served with steamed vegetables and endless rice and you can pass it all around family style which makes it fun to order one of everything.
During the prime hours of the night a 4 piece band walks up and down the beach between Lia Cafe and the other restaurants serenading individual tables. It’s very entertaining to watch and they’re excellent musicians, playing dozens of 1-2 minute songs to diners. Make sure to give them a tip if they happen to stop at your table!
After you inhale a few kilograms of fish the waiter will bring you some sliced watermelon to settle your stomach and cleanse your palate. Then there’s one last surprise: the bill! All of this will come out to about $20USD for a dinner for two. Not too bad considering a kilogram of salmon in the United States costs roughly the same!
So the next time you find yourself in Bali, or if you’re looking for an excuse to go, make sure to check out the best seafood in Jimbaran, Lia Cafe!