Ben Cross

Ben Cross might have come up in prestigious Sydney kitchens Rockpool and MG Garage, but it’s in Bali where the Byron Bay native has found his groove and made his home. A former executive chef at Seminyak beach club Ku De Ta, he now spends his time running three restaurants across the Indonesian island: Hank’s Pizzeria, specialist seafood restaurant Fishbone Local, and barbecue hotspot, Mason.

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Where To Eat at Jimbaran Bay

Menega is where I always take visitors, but it’s also a restaurant that I go to quite a lot with my family. It’s one of the seafood barbecue restaurants on the beach at Jimbaran Bay. There are a lot of restaurants by the ocean there, but this one seems to attract the most locals. It’s the freshness, it’s the price, and it’s the consistency of the food. I’ve been eating here for 12 years now, and it’s always good. It’s definitely the go-to. If we’re celebrating a special occasion, we might go to restaurant Cuca in Jimbaran Bay. 

Modern Indonesian In Seminyak

Sangsaka is a lovely, little intimate restaurant hidden down a small street in Seminyak. My wife and I really like going there for a date. The menu is modern Indonesian, it’s really good. Bambu is another nice restaurant in Seminyak. They’re serving polished Indonesian in a really nice setting and have great cocktails too.

Satisfying A Craving For Italian

Mauri is a really nice place and beautifully designed restaurant. The Italian chef Maurizio Bombini is cooking a tasting menu of food from his home town, but it’s quite refined. La Lucciola is a stunning restaurant. It’s right on the beach at Ku De Ta in Seminyak, so it’s a beautiful spot to sit down and have lunch with a bottle of wine.

Honey baked pumpkin salad at Cuca. Photography: Courtesy of Cuca

Balinese Street Food 101

When friends or chefs visit, I always take them to eat babi guling. I mean, you can’t come to Bali and not eat babi guling. I still like the classic one in Ubud, Ibu Oka. Then there’s another one called Babi Bagus which is good. They’re both quite mainstream and already popular, but their product is good. Bakso is the main street food that you’ll see in Bali. It’s a broth with meatballs that are quite bouncy in texture, and you can get it with fried wontons too. We usually go to Bakso Gerobak Biru. Warung Wardani is a great local spot in Denpasar. They do a nasi campur set, which is amazing. Like, really, really beautiful.

Somewhere To Watch The Sunset

The warungs along the beachfront at Berawa is probably one of the best places to go and watch the sunset with a couple of beers. They’re literally just little beach shacks, there would be about 15 of them, and they’re all selling beer, cocktails and coconuts. Loads of people go there to see the sunset, it can get pretty busy. It’s just a really nice spot to hangout, walk along the beach and watch people surf. At Sunset Point you’re sitting right on the cliff’s edge. It’s a great little bar in Uluwatu and it’s a great spot to watch the sunset. It’s off the beaten track so not too many people know about it. And it’s very makeshift. Not fancy at all. Just a few bean bags and some wooden chairs. It’s a really great, hidden spot. I’m not a big fan of beach clubs, but I love going to Sundara at the Four Seasons in Jimbaran. They’ve got a beautiful pool there right on the beach, it’s just a beautiful spot. It’s a great place to go with a group of friends.

Cocktails and Chill

We opened The Back Room at Mason because the bar scene in Bali was really lacking. We have plenty of beach clubs, but there’s not a great deal of good little bars serving great cocktails. We’ve really tried to create a space where people can just sit, talk and enjoy themselves. It has a kind of underground feel to it, with low lighting, low sofas and a pool table. We created a solid cocktail menu, and also offer bottle service. And it’s air-conditioned which is really nice for Bali. 40 Thieves is a great little late-night bar.

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