“Behind its simplicity, however, was a rainbow of flavours that would delight even the most miserable of taste buds.”
Found on the side of Jalan Jurusan Marga-Denpasar, Warung Nasi Belayu “Sambel Bejek” looks more like a tiny rest area for intercity truck drivers. The food that it offers, however, more than make up for its very unassuming appearance. Having first opened its doors to the public in 1978, this warung has single-handedly put Belayu Village’s cuisine on Bali’s culinary map. Men Kasih, the founder of Warung Nasi Belayu “Sambel Bejek”, is credited with creating Sambel Bejek, and it has become the signature dish of the village ever since.
Nearly two hours were spent on the road from Denpasar to Belayu Village. I arrived at around 8.30am to the sight of an empty shop. There were no fancy furniture; just a handful of wooden chairs and tables, and a lesehan (the Javanese word “sit on the floor”) area. Pan Wiwin – Men Kasih’s son– had just finished preparing the food for the day, so I quickly ordered a serving of its Nasi Sambel Bejek and took a seat facing the paddy field that was located right next to the warung.
In a flash, my requested Nasi Sambel Bejek was sitting right in front of me. It consisted of three different items: a plate of plain rice with tum (steamed chicken liver mixed with Balinese spices) on the side, a bowl of soto ayam (Indonesian chicken soup), and a small plate with the joint’s signature sambel bejek. With the dark-coloured tum looking quite unappetising, I kicked off my meal with the soto ayam. Filled with shredded chicken, sawi (mustard green vegetable), and bean sprouts, it tasted quite spicy; something you’d expect from a Balinese dish. Feeling gratified, I carried on my dining experience with a taste of thesambel bejek. Put together using shredded chicken, chilli, red onion, salt, coconut oil, lime, and sliced kecombrang (ginger torch), it may look like a simple dish at first glance. Behind its simplicity, however, was a rainbow of flavours that would delight even the most miserable of taste buds. Thekecombrang was overflowing with citrus notes and a peppery tang that combined impeccably with the rest of the ingredients.
So impressed I was by what I have gobbled up so far, I decided to give the tum a shot. It was very beefy and gave off a slightly greasy feel on my palate, which was then cleansed with the help of the revitalising sambel bejek. I really can’t describe how good the Nasi Sambel Bejek was. What I can do, though, is to suggest you to head there and try it out yourself. Just don’t drop by during lunchtime, as the warung can get a bit packed during that period of time.
By Jessicha Valentina
Jalan Jurusan Marga-Denpasar,
Br. Gunung Siku, Belayu, Marga
T: 0813 3845 6919
Open daily from 9am-1pm
Rp.15,000/US$ 1.05 per portion