Before Twalen Warong, there was Sedapur Setungku, a pandemic project by husband-and-wife, Wena Wahyudi and Meta, who transformed their back garden into a traditional Balinese kitchen slash private restaurant. Seating twelve, the outdoor space came with a compact menu featuring two standouts amongst other traditional Balinese fares, the Ayam Betutu (spiced chicken) and the aromatic 12-hour roasted Bebek Betutu Sekam.
Following a few months of word-of-mouth reservations and home deliveries, the Bali native decidedly repackaged the concept into Twalen Warong, which he put forward during M Bloc Market’s tenant hunt in 2020. The vision was clear: to manifest the rich culture and traditions of Bali and offer a generous slice of that through Twalen Warong.
It quickly made an impression, as soon after, a petite stall docked at the back corner of the market was propped with a sign that read its name. Amplifying the same community spirit present in Sedapur Setungku, the humble stall greets customers with friendly exchanges and familiar delights one would go out of their way to enjoy when visiting the island.
Earlier this year, Twalen announced it was relocating to the compound’s front area, where it now takes up two floors, set with an outdoor bar, as well as a music corner. The interior is kept simple, but the cooking is anything but. Spotlighting a core clutch of the island’s favourites, dishes are prepared in a manner that is honest to tradition, relying on slow-cooking methods and a fine blend of local spices.
For starters, the Bubur Bebek Tanjong Benoa takes a page out of the popular 150-year old family recipe from the same district, offering a generously-portioned bowl of Tiongkok-inspired soft porridge and duck meat topped with green onion and crunchy fried shallots, while the Sop Ikan Sanurian pays tribute to the legendary warung Mak Beng in Sanur that was established in 1941. Serving two separate fish in one dish, one fried and the other served in a clear broth of ginger, turmeric and lemongrass along with cut cucumbers, the meal makes way for the contrast of textures to shine.
Its relocation also coincided with the official launch of Twalen Arakbica, the brand’s line of spirits, which fuses single-origin arabica coffee with the island’s traditional fermented spirit, arrack. As with everything you’ll find here, the product was crafted using ingredients carefully sourced across the island, with a process that is traceable to both its makers and original goal. Ultimately, at Twalen, it’s all about reigniting the island spirit.