Bali: Warung Lesehan Merta Sari


“Its signature Sate Lilit combines traditional Balinese spices such as chilli, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic, along with its minced tuna. This mixture results in a potpourri of spicy and savoury flavours that would suit those who have a penchant for food with a strong and striking taste.

Besides Babi Guling, another of Bali’s most popular local dishes is Sate Lilit (satay with minced fish wrapped in lemongrass or bamboo stick). In order to try out the best Sate Lilit on the island, you will have to drive all the way to the small regency of Klungkung, which is where you’ll find Warung Lesehan Merta Sari – an establishment that has been serving the delicacy for 30 years.

The story behind
Warung Lesehan Merta Sari’s story began in 1985, when Wayan and her late husband Nengah Sada had a light-bulb moment to create a number of tuna-based dishes – their hometown is one of the biggest tuna producers in Bali – with home-made condiments. They then opened a shop offering food such as Sate Tusuk (grilled fish satay) and Pepes Ikan (fish wrapped in banana leaf), which captivated many, including former president Megawati. The warung is now run by Wayan with the help of her children after her husband passed away.

The tuna galore
To maintain and deliver a first-class culinary experience, Wayan herself ensures that they use only the freshest of tuna. Despite featuring menu that consists solely of tuna-based dishes, each has its own unique characteristic. Its signature Sate Lilit combines traditional Balinese spices such as chilli, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic, along with its minced tuna. This mixture results in a potpourri of spicy and savoury flavours that would suit those who have a penchant for food with a strong and striking taste. The Sate Tusuk, on the other hand, is made from chopped tuna marinated with sweet soy sauce. It gives off a sweet tang that is milder in taste compared to the Sate Lilit. Its Pepes Ikan – basically steamed minced tuna wrapped in a banana leaf – is rich in spices, while its steam-cooked method makes it run smoothly on your palate. If you can’t decide which to order, the eatery has a package that provides all three dishes.

The verdict
Its location – one-and-a-half hours away from Denpasar by car – requires quite an effort to undertake, but you won’t be able to sample such fresh tuna anywhere else

Desa Pesinggahan, Kecamatan Dawan
Kabupaten Klungkung, Bali
Open daily from 8am-6pm
Rp.1,000/US$0.70 per skewer


Started her career as a food writer in 2012, Jessicha Valentina is the online editor of Good Indonesian Food. Jessicha has loved Sayur Asem since she was a wee kid and spends her free time trying to cook it.

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