Bali is not Vietnam when it comes to street food. It has other things to recommend it.
Like the smiling faces of the locals. Not just those who can say "G'day mate" like an Aussie and shunt a beer lodged in a stubbie holder down the bar or those who can speak strine better than the bogans who taught them. It's also the locals driving the noodle carts on Bali's notorious south-west coast, those not regularly trading their threads in English, but instead in a sequence of shy gestures and broad smiles.
And me, I'm pointing and smiling, too. That is, when I haven't got my nose angling into this local's cart cabinet, checking on his mise en place. All the ingredients and apparatus required to put this bowl of noodles together is sitting astride the back portion of the vendor's motorbike seat, a design arrangement that streetfood vendors in Hanoi would envy.
A sliding glass door reveals two storeys; on the bottom, the vegetable and carb elements of the dish are prepped, some into containers, others into simple piles. Shredded cabbage, finely chopped spring onions and crunchy fried shallots reside alongside some kind of rice noodles, strangely blue in hue. On the top, there is mystery in meat. Golf ball sized orbs of grey are nicked with a cross at top before being stacked into an aluminium steamer alongside triangles of tofu. This steamer also contains the broth which wets the noodles and is ladled over all once assembly is complete. Further crunch exists in the wings of deep fried wontons, also containing a little wad of mystery protein.
My vendor layers the noodles, vegetables and wonton into each bowl while the tofu and and the balls take some heat in the steamer. Two sauce options, both in the brighter spectrums of red, get offered. One is tomato, the other a fiery chili.
The piping-hot balls roll into the bowl from tongs, then the tofu, then the ladle of broth. A spoon and another shy smile from the vendor finalise matters. More grinning and what I suspect is gentle ribbing from the vendor's mates nearby suggests that he doesn't serve his noodles to foreigners very often.
So, in Bali, where streetfood does not seem to be a strong point, I found a motorcycle cart on the coast and I sampled a bowl of noodles.
Then I went to the beach.