The bartender at La Ramona turned to me amid a plume of kretek smoke:
"You like chinese style noodles?"
"Ok, tomorrow go to Fu Shou Noodle Club and try their chicken noodles!".
No prizes for guessing what I did. Woke up, took a refreshing cold shower and headed down to my scooter which thankfully hadn't been shat on by the pigeons nesting in the shed above. I had saved the directions on my phone and pulled the accelerator to a patient speed which allowed forward movement and time for appreciation of ones surroundings. The local dogs chomped at my ankles, the sun shed it's torment, the wind stood no chance in balancing the temperature. It was another steaming day in Ubud.
I happened to drive past it twice. Yes, twice. After successfully completing two u-turns without dying or killing a Chinese tourist, I finally found the small noodle shop and parked.
Since it was an odd time of day (I usually do this on purpose) there were no other customers. The owner greeted me with a big smile, and was equally happy when I told him the La Ramona guys had recommended his spot. I ordered the organic chicken noodles and took a walk around.
After poking around upstairs and pausing to look at the old movie posters, I took a spot at the noodle bar and waited. Usually when it takes a bit of time you know things were not made hours ago and re-heated. What felt like an anxiety-hour in food terms, the chef re-appeared from the kitchen holding 2 distinct bowls. One smaller containing the broth, the other slightly larger topped high with delicately curled noodles and pieces of chicken and spring onions.
Out with the camera first to document this dedication to the noodle-cult. Sheepishly place chopsticks in hand and raise first string of glory to mouth. Try hard to quell the instant shock of perfection. Chef pops his head up almost on queue: "Good?". "Oh, yes... very good". I chew away (the perfect noodle texture chew) while he works shyly in the back, plonking around with gusto.
Having spent plenty of time living in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, i've had my fair share of noodles. This leapt immediately into the upper tier of even those countries offerings. Whoever this chef was, he had lavished time and money on repetition and practice to attain near perfection. I scarfed the bowl down in a few minutes flat, sipped the soup, drank my cold water and rose to shower my praise on him. He leapt out of the kitchen and asked if he could take a photo of me for his instagram page, and there we parted, new friends after the basic act of eating his food.
Since then I must have recommended this spot to a hundred people, and I hope some of them actually went. It's a tiny gem hidden away from the main tourist traps of Ubud, and one that food-interested people would be rewarded in hunting it down.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"