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Xa On The Go: A gem hidden in plain sight. Bentang Bali will satisfy every craving.

Bentang, a type of market in Indonesia with many different vendors, is the perfect description for the mix of culinary offerings at Bentang Bali.

Don’t let the name fool you, though. Yes, you will eat some deliciously authentic Indonesian food here, but Bentang Bali is so much more. From Aruban specialties to International cuisine, I left this place rolling. But let me slow down before I get to the tasty part.


First impression

I was welcomed by owner and chef Martin, who showed me around before telling me about his restaurant. First impressions? The restaurant is clean. While it is a casual restaurant, it doesn’t feel entirely casual because of the cloth napkins, table setup, and table decor. It all feels warm and welcoming—an “everyone is welcome” feeling. The sound of the little waterfall on the bar was soothing and fit the atmosphere. The rest of the restaurant decor also fits the Indo vibe. 

Martin joked that I came on a good day because he was fully booked the day before and would have had to turn me down, as he had a few others waiting in line. It's a good problem to have, nonetheless. Interestingly, he gets many Indonesian repeaters who dine at the restaurant every time their cruise ships dock. These cruise workers, looking for authentic food, have given Bentang Bali their stamp of approval. 

Fun fact: Bentang Bali is a short walk from the cruise terminal and main street. 

Previously located on the island's north side, Bentang Bali moved to its current location in Oranjestad right before the pandemic hit. After closing for eight months, it reopened to good reviews. Martin’s wife, of Indonesian descent, grew up with authentic Indonesian food. Martin’s love grew as he got to know his wife and her family—not just his love for her but for the cuisine, too. 


Let’s talk menu

When glancing at the menu, I first noticed that there are many vegetarian and vegan options. Not only that, but it also has steaks, seafood, local classics, and more. The main thing I had my eyes set on was the chicken tikka masala. My foodie buddy photographer says it’s his favorite on the island. The great thing about the menu options is that it’s an easy place to take a big group of people. There’s something for everyone. Martin ordered a selection for me to try, and we continued our conversation. 

Many Indonesian and other Asian restaurants have a rice table, where different dishes and snacks are served, and everyone can pick and choose what to eat from the table. Martin recommended I try the mini version of this called the nasi rames. It’s one big plate with a little bit of everything—a taste of Bali. The Gulai Kambling, a curried goat stew, is also a favorite amongst repeaters. Martin prides himself on using only fresh herbs and spices. That’s one of the reasons his food tastes so good, he says. His pasta (all homemade) is made in his mini "pasta factory" in the kitchen, where he also makes pasta for other restaurants. 


Time for a feast

Our server, Marlon, warned us to clear the table because the feast was ready. The table was filled with sooo many plates and the aroma was out of this world. So now you might be thinking, wow, Xa, you have the best job in the world. I want to be you. Yes, it is. But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. You see when the food arrives, I don’t get to just “dig in.” I have to wait. The photographer needs to get good shots for YOU. I need to get some good video shots for myself. And theeeeen I get to try some. One by one. While taking notes. Do you see how hard my life is? But anyway, let's get the party finally started, shall we? 


Indonesian food and more

We Arubans love good Asian food. The first dish I tried was kroepoek (prawn crackers) with peanut sauce. Typically, an appetizer or snack to share before the meal, crunchy kroepoek is always a crowd favorite. But this peanut sauce…  can win awards... It's so good! My friend Sherry, who joined me for this experience, would bathe in this sauce if she could. 

Next was the “Shrimps Coconut.” I usually avoid ordering shrimp because I never know if it will be too “fishy,” not filling, or bland. I am so glad Martin included this on the list and even happier that I started with it. First of all, it was jumbo shrimp, and it was the opposite of boring—super flavorful! The coconut flavor was not overwhelming, and the shrimp were just delicious. The side of broccolini didn’t disappoint either. Crunchy and tasty. 

The samosas were definitely in my top three of the day. A samosa can easily be dry and unpleasant to eat—trust me, I’ve had a few—but this one was crunchy on the outside and perfect in filling—a very good balance. The dipping sauce was a spicy sweet curry and an excellent addition to the samosa’s flavor. 

Next up was a vegan dish. You know the popular sweet ’ n' sour chicken? Well, this is a vegan version made with tofu. It’s satisfying, like the sweet ’ n' sour chicken, but without the overly full, bloaty feeling afterward. 

Another one I was looking forward to tasting is one of Martin’s homemade pasta dishes. This one even looked cool! Made with semolina flour and squid ink, this black pasta was good, even without the seafood. This dish included more jumbo shrimp, fish, clams, and squid rings. It was super flavorful!

The beef rendang, a beef stew, was moist and flavorful. Before my brother became a vegetarian, he always talked about beef rendang, and I understand why. With a side of white rice, this is comfort food at its best. 

I haven’t even written about this yet; my mouth is watering. Since we’re talking about comfort food, the chicken tikka masala with white rice and naan was the bomb! I hate to say this, but my photographer was right… Best tikka masala ever! (He’s going to love being right…). Did my eyes roll back? Yes. Did I leave room for the rest of the food still to come? Barely. Did I share? Yes, but against my will. 


The lamb and chicken skewers with a side of that heavenly peanut sauce were great. I appreciate it when foods are simple yet satisfying. 

Lastly, the nasi rames. At this point, I’m not gonna lie… I’m sure it was super delicious, but as I said above, I lost control with the tikka masala. The noodles were good, and the tiny bites I took of everything else were tasty. I must admit that I skipped the tempeh, though. 

As for desserts, everyone knows we have a separate dessert stomach, right? The homemade ice creams and ube cake were interesting. All ice creams are homemade and have unique flavors. My favorites were the dragonfruit, coconut, and ube. Sherry loved the avocado ice cream! My tip here would be not to order nine menu items before dessert. Anything above 6 is too much, no?

Bentang Bali is most definitely a hidden gem in plain sight. It is in the heart of Oranjestad and is loved by both locals and visitors. The staff is friendly, and Martin and his wife are kind-hearted, hardworking people. The food is excellent and has something for everyone in the family, from comfort food to classics. My mouth is watering just thinking about my next visit to Bentang Bali

Watch the Bentang Bali Reel

Make a reservation

* Bentang Bali also does catering! From classic comfort to exotic delights, they cater to all.

Corporate Events, Birthday Parties, Communions, and much more.

📷 Photos: Ayrton Tromp


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Xa On The Go is a series in which I explore, taste, and experience all Aruba has to offer, one spot at a time. Join me as I try some of the most hyped restaurants on the island, experience fun activities, and explore Aruba’s wonders. 

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