Whether you are growing weary of the same diminutive diners down south or simply want to get away the hustle and bustle of the city and feel at one with nature, Wana feeds both your tummy and soul with a unique jungle experience. Burrowed on the fringes of Bali Zoo’s lush environ, its in-house restaurant proves to be a gastronomic destination on its own where diners enjoy a close encounter with jungle dwellers. “Wana” itself means forest, and this aptly named two-story tree house brings together the rustic magic of exposed wooden beams—crafted by the locals from reclaimed traditional Indonesian Phinisi ships—and walls made of a compelling combination of stones and salvaged iron wood and lychee tree timber. Its unique chandelier, created from discarded deer antlers, adds an essence of wilderness to the unpretentious yet elegant ambience. From the main dining room, you may also catch a glimpse of cassowary birds peeking from their compound next door or prepare to be up close and personal with glass-encased crawling reptiles such as snakes and iguanas. But the real draw is without a doubt, dining to the panoramic view of lions in their open-air habitat separated by a clear glass wall.
If you can tear yourself away from the view long enough to enjoy your meals, you will come to admit that the only thing more impressive than the scenery is definitely the food. Lately there has been a flowering of Thai-inspired menus across the island, but not many hit the right note the way Chef Gusti Wiriadi does. I started with the mouthwatering—literally—Seared Tuna Salad (Rp.60,000++). The fresh lime juice serves the perfect amount of tanginess to balance out the sweet watermelon. Another popular seafood salivation-inducing starter was the Tongkol and Squid Salad (Rp.65,000++) which combined juicy longan and moist Balinese staple ‘pindang’ or fish brine. However, the Salt & Pepper Squid (Rp.65,000++) with its flavorful chili jam and ginger flower torch remains my standout salty foreplay—sour, sweet, and savory, it is a reflection of fusion Thai cuisine at its best. More options are available for main courses. You can enjoy anything from the Stir-Fried Sambal Goreng Prawn (Rp. 90,000++) with the must-try stinky petay beans or the harmoniously spiced Duck in Galangal Curry (Rp.110,000++).—each dish is served in a generous portion perfect for sharing. And from the minute it was brought to the table, the Chocolate Lava Cake (RP.40,000++) was a real treat to the eyes and the taste buds—the heavenly union of a chocolate cake and soufflé with gooey center topped with ice cream and fresh strawberries is simply irresistible.
There is a little bit everything for everybody. While children will appreciate the yummy and decadent Mango & Coconut Smoothie (Rp.35,000) after a tiring walk around the zoo, you can head to the bar for their signature Nightfall at the Zoo (Rp.85,000)—the patrons’ favorite cocktail combo of fresh strawberry, black coconut liqueur, vodka, and red wine.
in a nutshell
So why not bask in the ambience of nature and wildlife while digging into scrumptious Asian cuisine? If this notion sparks an interest in you, then Wana is a definite must-try. The child-friendly restaurant is always ready to open its doors to a sanctuary where a foodie can be one with delicious bites and nature.
Wana Restaurant at Bali Zoo
Jl. Raya Singapadu,
Banjar Seseh, Sukawati
T: +62 361 294357
Opens 9am-7pm daily
As published in Hello Bali Magazine Feb 16 Issue
Text by Fitri Maharani
Photography by Hastosa