When you meet Juliana Mitry, or Jules as she prefers to go by, the owner of Balinese Spice Magic, you are instantly struck by her kind heart and immense generosity. She has a way of making you feel at ease, and sharing a meal with her is like getting a warm hug from your favourite Aunty on your birthday. Jules is sharing all the best bits of Balinese culture with everyone she can in the Wollongong area.

Traditional Balinese Food in Wollongong

Balinese Spice Magic serves all the traditional Balinese street food that we know and love, Nasi Goreng or Gado Gado with a cheeky Bintang, anyone? These feature alongside traditional village fare that Jules has to invent her own names for on the menu, because although they are made in little Balinese villages, there isn’t always a name for them…yet. A weekly specials menu brings new dishes that are seasonal or that she’s trying out, and many are so popular that they make their way onto the permanent menu. Most of the menu is gluten free and they also have a great range of vegetarian and vegan options available. As a self-confessed carnivore, I was blown away with the Tempeh Mendoan made from BSM’s homemade Tempeh. I had no idea it was possible to pack so much flavour into a vegetarian dish. To be honest, I can’t wait to make my way through the entire menu, vegan options included!

Balinese restaurant in Wollongong

The restaurant was established in 2014 after a short stint as a market stall that Jules set up to share the excess produce from her over-abundant home garden. Balinese Spice Magic has been transporting Illawarra locals to our favourite Indonesian holiday destination via our tastebuds for 9 years now. Anyone who has been on a holiday to Bali fondly remembers the flavours, smells and tastes of the local cuisine, and eating at BSM can take you back there in an instant. BSM is particularly popular with the Illawarra Dutch community due to their historical ties to Bali. The single most important ingredient that Jules and her close team of 22 use in preparing their delicious food is included in every dish…  a little sprinkling of love, and I promise, you can taste it in every bite!

Paying it forward: From Bali to the Illawarra

Nurturing and generous to her core, Jules was the very worthy recipient of the 2023 Wollongong Local Woman of the Year Award. After growing up in a small village in Bali, where she developed her strong work ethic, she met an Aussie family when she was 13 who would later sponsor her permanent move to Australia. This opportunity to further her education arrived when she was 17. Jules had just 2 pairs of jeans when she moved here, and she credits her foster parents with providing a full wardrobe as well as a lifetime of new opportunities for her.

This experience has led her to share her success and love with as many people and organisations as she can, and she has a soft spot for refugee support group SCARF. She can especially relate to the children who might be suffering because of what they think they have lost, but she would like to help change their mindset to see an opportunity to empower themselves;

“I keep moving forward, there’s always hardship everywhere, but then again, some people can’t move forward, they can’t take that step. I’m very blessed in that sense in my culture. I love that about SCARF”.

Jules loves that SCARF can provide opportunities such as swimming lessons and driving lessons to help refugees be safe in the water and provide independence behind the wheel.

Balinese Spice Magic supporting Illawarra charities

Balinese Spice Magic supporting local Illawarra charities

Jules is a big supporter of the Illawarra Homeless Hub, and believes everyone’s situation can be made just a little bit better with some food in their tummies. She wants to help everyone she can, no matter their circumstances, backgrounds or their past.

She also supports charities such as;

  • Southern Youth and Family Services, who provide aid to homeless individuals and families.
  • Kind Hearts Illawarra. These local legends provide meals, essentials, and support to those in need, including those affected by mental health, addiction, poverty, or domestic violence.
  • SAHSSI assists vulnerable women and families facing homelessness or domestic violence, and;
  • Women Illawarra, who offer support for women experiencing domestic and family violence.

These organisations and Jules make a positive impact, providing vital help to those in need.

Local produce and building connections through bartering:

Bartering is a big part of Balinese culture, and Jules happily trades local producers for meals or knowledge. She tries to source as much local produce as she can, and works regularly with local high schools. A keen gardener herself, she loves to propagate seedlings and gift them to individuals, kids or retirees who then tend to the plants. They come away with a sense of achievement and friendship, as Jules spends time with them, and sees the joy that watering and even spending time tending to their new plants in the sun can bring.

Another charity, which holds a place in her heart is Project Nasi Bali. This group of special humans provide meals to vulnerable people in small villages in Bali. They are also working on providing free skills training for young Balinese such as making coffee, bar training etc. Many families cannot afford to send their children to college, so this training is an amazing opportunity for them.

Balinese food Wollongong

Bringing the community together for a good cause:

Keep your eye out on the Balinese Spice Magic socials for information on their next Mesangkepan Balinese for “get together” a soup kitchen style cook-up. These events are a fundraiser for local charities or organisations, but also provide a chance for community engagement with volunteers providing ingredients, getting involved with the food prep and even the cooking. People who attend can make a donation, or pay what they think the meal is worth. Bringing all parts of the community together like this is what Jules is all about.

Getting involved in community runs in the family with her husband Will, being a big part of the team pushing for the development of the Port Kembla Skate Park. Providing a safe space for local kids to foster that sense of belonging is important to the Mitry family.

Balinese Spice Magic make their own brand of spice mixes, Jamu, their signature “Tempeh Temple” tempeh, and ready-made meals which are available to purchase at the Flame Tree Coop in Thirroul. They are also available to cater for your next event.

Jules is a shining example of kindness and generosity. Her restaurant not only offers the delicious flavours of Bali but also brings the vibrant culture to the Wollongong community. With its traditional Balinese cuisine, Balinese Spice Magic has become a beloved local establishment, evoking cherished memories of Bali for its patrons.

However, Jules’s passion for nurturing others extends far beyond her culinary endeavours. She actively supports various charities and organisations, believing in the transformative power of community engagement. She gives her time and effort to others freely, and it is Jules’s warm-hearted nature, culinary expertise, and dedication to making a positive impact in her community truly set her apart as an extraordinary individual.

Balinese restaurant Illawarra