We have friends who love Bali and seem to fly there at least once a year for some respite from Sydney. They told us that when we’re in Bali we absolutely must book a driver to take us to Ubud for the day.
Wanting to make a full day of it, we booked at driver for 8am at a price of $60.00. Alas, he didn’t turn up and when we were finally able to make contact with him he said he’d be turning up at 10.30. Well that didn’t suit so we booked a driver through Peppers and while that driver turned up very quickly, the charge through the hotel was $120.00.
And that’s a Bali travelling tip – if you need a driver, it will cost you double if you book through your hotel.
We went to the Monkey Forest and to the Ubud Markets and by then we were ready to sit down somewhere for lunch. Our driver asked if we liked duck and we said we did and off he went, saying he was taking us to Bebek Tepi Sawah.
He drove us out of the main shopping area of Ubud and soon we were in a rural area surrounded with rice paddies so I did wonder where we were headed.
The car slowed down as we went up a long dirt laneway with a rice paddy situated beside it. At the top of the lane the car backed up against an enormous pile of rubbish and the driver announced we’d arrived so out we got. I looked over to the rice paddy and could see a man ploughing the field in knee deep mud and bare feet. I did feel a bit sorry for him not having any shoes and hoped the paddy wasn’t riddled with snakes.
We entered the restaurant and found it is situated amongst a rice paddy. The dining area is a series of pavilions that are dotted around the rice paddy and linked by paths set amongst beautifully landscaped grounds with lots of traditional features.
Entering the restaurant from the dirt road and rubbish pile, is like entering a completely different world. It’s very peaceful, it’s very private, there’s calming water features, traditional music plays and over the top of it you can hear the occasional crow from a rooster making you aware you’re in a rural setting. You definitely feel like you’ve left the crowds, congestion and chaos and stumbled upon a remote oasis.
We were escorted to our table by a waitress wearing traditional dress and thongs. From our table we had a lovely view of the gardens and rice paddy. All tables are well spaced so you almost feel you’re dining alone. It’s a very big restaurant and the wait-staff have to cover huge distances to deliver food and beverages to the tables; they must walk kilometres every day.
The restaurant is frequented by tourists and Indonesians from other places like Jakarta, flying in for holidays.
We started by ordering a drink and Drew chose a local beer and I thought I’d have a glass of wine. All wines sold by the glass come from Hatten Wines that is an Indonesian winery and the first winery in Indonesia. Rather than offering a a selection of whites and reds, there is just one type of each on the menu with no description. I asked if the white was dry and she said, ‘yes’ and out it came in a very small glass but alas, it was very sweet and reminded me of moselle. Never mind, I drank it.
For an entree Drew ordered the Vietnamese Spring Rolls with shrimp and chicken and a sweet, sour dipping sauce. Drew said these were ‘perfect’. Given.
I ordered the Vegetable Tempura that was an enormous serve. However, the vegetables had been quite thickly sliced and the batter was rubbery rather than light and crisp. I found the size of the dish overwhelming and left half of it so I would have room for my main course.
For a main Drew ordered the Bebek Mesuir which is boneless duck with Balinese vegetables and sambal. It also came with a bowl of rice. Drew found the duck to be very tender and loaded with flavour. While the salad was ordinary, the Balinese vegetables were crunchy and well dressed and a good compliment to the duck.
I ordered the Tepi Sawah Crispy Duck that is traditional deep-fried duck with Balinese vegetables and three choices of sambal. Again, this was a very generous serve however I found the duck to be incredibly dry. I asked the waitress if the duck is meant to be served this dry and she said, ‘yes’ but I’m not sure if she understood what I was saying – a bit like the dry white wine that tasted like moselle.
While I found the food to be fairly average, it was quite inexpensive and the position and the setting and the feeling of sitting amongst a rice paddy while roosters crowed and traditional music played, more than made up for the food being a little disappointing.
Dining at Bebek Tepi Sawah was an experience and we were very grateful to our driver for showing us this remote and traditional restaurant, set in a rice paddy.
Verdict: Worth the trip.
Bebek Tepi Sawah: Jl. Raya Goa Gajah, Br Teges Peliatan Ubud 80571 BALI