• Mek Juwel, Restaurant in Bali, Indonesia
Mek Juwel, Bali

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    Mek Juwel is another absolute go-to in my books. It’s a warung, which is best described as a small local eatery that’s usually family-run and specialises in a specific regional dish. Mek Juwel serves nasi or rice, with ayam or chicken, braised in a secret formula of spices and aromatics until it’s fork tender and simultaneously bright and earthy on the palate. It’s displayed behind a glass counter alongside a spread of equally-as-delicious condiments – torch ginger flower sambal and stir-fried noodles, among them. Head there in the morning when the birds are still warm. Over the past few decades, meat has become the star of the Balinese diet – but this hasn’t always been so. As recently as 35 years ago, our cuisine was mostly made-up of native plants. We’d cook whatever nature provided – whether that’s fern tips, mango leaves, young papaya, banana-tree trunks or young bamboo shoots. Proteins from larger animals (pigs, ducks) were reserved for ceremonies or special occasions, and smaller animals (dragonflies, frogs, small eels known as belut) would be foraged in the rice fields and eaten on more of a daily basis.