I am not sure why Balinese food is so underrated. It is about as vibrant as the people, the flora and fauna, the costumes and the culture. Full of flavour, piquant and colourful; what’s not to love? In one word – outstanding!
I’m a foodie anyway, but once we started exploring the food scene in Bali, sightseeing took a back seat and our recent trip became a culinary adventure.
Here are a few vegetarian meals that stood out during our 5D/4N stay in Bali. Hope you enjoy Vegetarian Dining in Bali, Indonesia as much as I did. *Please note that the prices mentioned have been converted from IDR to SGD, and are correct as of September 2017.
Dinner at Merah Putih
By the evening of the day we landed in Bali, we were dead tired given that we had been travelling for what seemed like an eternity (think 5-hour car ride from Chandigarh to Delhi, followed by a 5.5-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, and then a 3 hour flight to Denpasar, excluding lay over time). However, we knew that time was short and we had to pack it in on the first day itself if we really wanted to see it all. No regrets given our gastronomic experience at Merah Putih.
We were shown our table at Merah Putih amidst tall columns and landscaped indoor gardens. An eco-friendly, sustainable and very chic restaurant, it claims to use no groundwater and relies on harvested and purified rain water. What delighted me further was their vegetarian menu – you get to choose from traditional or contemporary Balinese Fare.
I ordered Bak Pao Perkedel (Vegetable fritter steamed bun, rendang aioli, cucumber; S$3) and ‘Pangsit’ Jamur (Open mushroom dumpling, coconut, straw mushrooms; S$4), from the Taste Menu. Both dishes were a scrumptious mix of flavours. To follow these, we ordered Kembang Kol (Chargrilled cauliflower salad, tempe, coconut) and an assortment Sambal (S$4.5) with a portion of Steamed Balinese red & white rice. The Sambal was excellent for I like my food fiery. The highlight, though, were the cocktails – Lychee Hibiscus Martini, Dragonfruit Martini and Kaffir Lime Crush. Not too sweet and so many wonderful flavours – simply delightful.
Merah Putih: Jl. Petitenget No.100x, Kerobokan, Bali, Indonesia 80361. P: (+62 361) 8465950
Lunch at Made’s Warung & Dessert at Made Manis
When in Bali, don’t ignore Made’s Warung, which has branches all over Bali. We visited the Seminyak outlet and loved the Balinese feel and decor. Although it has a separate vegetarian menu, exersice caution as the veg menu includes dishes that use shrimp paste, chicken stock, etc. The good thing is that it is all mentioned in the menu (even dishes that contain dairy are mentioned), so you won’t end up eating something you shouldn’t. You can choose from a variety of Salads, Japanese Tempura, Vegetarian Sushi, Tofu Burger, Vegetarian Sandwiches, Pasta, Ravioli, Stuffed Tofu Vegetables and basic Vegetarian Indonesian Rice and Noodles. Pair it with Bintang (the local beer), and there really isn’t much to complain about. I had the Vegetarian Spring Rolls and they were really yummy and came with a delightful sweet and sour dip. The Glass Noodles, though, were not that great.
Hankering for dessert? Made’s Warung has a dessert parlour in the compound too – Made Manis. A chic gelataria, it offers a variety of gelato, along with cream puffs, macaroons and waffles. After much deliberation, I decided on Strawberry Cheesecake Gelato and a Dark Chocolate Cream Puff. While Made’s Warung might not be a dream destination for vegetarians, Made Manis is indeed a wonderful one for those with a sweet tooth.
Made’s Warung: Jl. Raya Seminyak, Seminyak, Bali. P: (+62 361) 732130
Coffee at Bukit Sari Pecatu Agrotourism
Pegged as the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, may not appeal to the weak-hearterd. Given that it is extracted from beans that have been digested by a civet cat, it is essentially encased in poo to begin with. Yea, get that! After a thorough wash, drying and roasting, it comes to its world class stature. Even then, I had to steel myself and not think about the ‘process’ as I thought it important to experience something so highly rated the world over. I count it as one of my biggest achievements!
At Bukit Sari Pecatu Agrotourism, not only can you drink twelve types of tea, coffee and chocolate but also understand the process of making it, from the plant to the cup. You don’t have to pay anything unless you want to try the Kopi Luwak (S$5). If you can overcome the hesitation, it does taste real good. In fact, a batch that I got home tasted even better once brewed nicely. Apart from the star attraction, the Red Ginger Tea, the Vanilla Coffee and Cocoa Spices were also very good. It makes for a great place to stop by on way to the Uluwatu Temple.
Bukit Sari Pecatu Agrotourism: Jl. Raya Uluwatu, Desa Pecatu, Km 5 Pura Uluwatu, Kab. Badung – Denpasar, Bali 80361. P : +62 82-146-442-745
Drinks & Nibbles at El Kabron
Having mulled over going and not going to the famed Rock Bar, we decided we could use some help from a local. Florence, from our hotel staff said that although the Rock Bar is indeed a great spot to watch the sunset, it is not worth the wait times of at least 1-1.5 hours. She recommended El Kabron – a Spanish restaurant, done up in Mediterranean style – instead, as a nicer and less crowded, but no less impressive place. I can’t thank her enough for that!
On her advise we booked ourselves a spot on the VIP Balcony Lounge at the Cliff Club. Although it calls for S$65 per guest pre-booking charge, it is well-worth it since the booking fee is inclusive of a welcome glass of Moët & Chandon and S$30 credit towards Food & Beverage. You also get an El Kabron Gift, pool/towel service and access to whole venue. The cost is further justified given the view, the awesome food, delightful drinks and cheerful service. Remember that they take the last booking for that area at 4:30 pm. After that, you can try your luck, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to find a spot on the balcony.
We started our evening by ordering some appetisers to go with our champagne and drinks. El Kabron caters to dietary requirements of all kinds, including vegan. I chose the Couscous Vegetal, Setas En Tempura Y Esparragos (S$7.5) which was a super nice vegetarian cous-cous taboulé, tempura battered mushrooms and green asparagus with romesco. We also ordered a Margherita and a Mojito (S$1.2 each, haha) which were good as well, perfectly complementing the sun as it put up a colourful display while setting. As you probably know by now, meal time or not, it is always dessert time for me; so France “Petit Fours” (Cheese cake, Sacher, Triple Chocolate Brownies, Macaroons, Almond Financiers and Coffee-Chocolate Truffle, S$9.5) it was. Each item on the platter was a masterpiece, nothing I could find a fault with.
If gazing into the sunset by the sea with a glass of champagne with your SO, while enjoying delightful treats, is not your idea of an evening well spent, I am not sure what to recommend.
El Kabron: Spanish Restaurant & Cliff Club, Jl. Pantai Cemongkak, Pecatu Bali 80361 – Indonesia. P: +62 85100803416
Lunch at Cafe Pandan
On our trip to Nusa Lembongan (read more about it here), we dined at the Café Pandan on Dream Beach. Although, the food here is good, it isn’t the highlight here, the view is. I recommend going here for that view. Rolling white waves in a brilliant blue sea crash against the rocks are a sight to behold. Still, as our lunch was still not yet ticked off, we ordered a Basic Margherita and a Garlic Bread, with a Fresh Avocado Juice which was to die for. Another delight on the island was the coconut water; fresh, and ample in each coconut – one reason why we lost our appetite for lunch.
Cafe Pandan: Nusa Lembongan, Dream Beach, Bali, Indonesia. P: +62-81338 737344
Dinner at Kaum
Dinner the same day was booked at the legendary Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak. The decor is eclectic and the ambience very relaxed. We had our dinner at Kaum, which serves authentic Indonesian cuisine inspired by tribal cooking. Overlooking the club and the beach, we chose to sit outside. I ordered the hearty Nasi Goreng Sayur (S$12) which was wok-fried rice with assorted vegetables & green chilli paste – yummy.
In a mood to lounge around for a while as the vibe of the place was simply great, we headed to the sitting area overlooking the pool on the lower level. There, you guessed it, I ordered a dessert. The 70% Tabanan Bali Chocolate (Chocolate Marquise, Mousse and Fudge Brownie, S$7.5) was a piece of art to look at and a treat for the chocolate lover in me, sinfully indulgent. Judge me if you want, but I really don’t do portion control when it comes to desserts and am happiest that way.
Kaum: Potato Head Beach Club, Jl. Petitenget No. 51 Seminyak, Bali 83061. P: +62 (361) 473 7979
Quick Lunch at Daily Baguette
Around Ubud Place, we ate a really nice Vegetable Panini (S$7) at the Daily Baguette which is a very popular Italian bakery that delivers breads, croissants and more, all over Bali. And the mandatory gelato (actually three different scoops) at Gelato Secrets. Not a proper sit down lunch but the perfect carry-around meal for window shopping around the arty area.
Daily Baguette: Jalan Raya, Ubud (in front of Puri Lukisan). P: +62-812-3666-2680
High Tea & Dinner at LA View, Followed by Awesome Room Service at Kupu Kupu Barong
At Kupu Kupu Barong, we were in time for high tea where we were served Mango Juice and Hot chocolate at the LA View Restaurant. Also on offer were petit fours which though elaborate, did not do anything for my tastebuds – a big let down. By dinner time, we couldn’t muster enough courage to venture out even to eat at the hotel restaurants and we committed the ultimate sin – room service. But we absolutely did not regret it. The Indian chef rustled up a yummy Paneer Parantha (cottage cheese stuffed shallow fried flatbread). And how could I call it a day without ordering in a Chocolate platter with an assortment of chocolate treats. Good to eat, but not memorable.
LA View Restaurant: Kupu Kupu Barong Villas & Tree Spa by L’Occitane, Kedewatan P.O. Box 7 Ubud, Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia. P: +62 361 975 478
Breakfast at Bird’s Nest
Probably the best meal with a view on our Bali trip was the breakfast at Bird’s Nest, Kupu Kupu Barong (S$20 additional when having at Bird’s Nest, instead of the breakfast included in package), which is counted among the Top 50 World’s Most Amazing Restaurants With Spectacular Views and 32 Restaurants with Spectacular Views. A romantic setting made of twigs that gave the feeling of being perched atop a tree. Overlooking the Ayung River and a vast expanse of trees, the chirping of the birds brought a surreal quality to the entire experience. A romantic cosy setting for two, you need to book it well in advance. They serve all three meals here, so you can take your pick. We thought breakfast would afford us great views which won’t be possible at night and would be too warm during lunch time. A dedicated but inconspicuous server made sure we got what we wanted without intruding on our privacy.
I was served an assortment of Croissants and Breads with varied Spreads (including Chocolate!), Mixed Cut Fruit in Juice, Fresh Juice, Strawberry Yoghurt, a Grilled Sandwich and Fresh Strawberries with Cream & Sugar. The most delightful part of the meal was that everything was very fresh. The strawberry yoghurt did not come out of a box but was fresh strawberries in yoghurt sweetened delicately with honey. The sandwich wasn’t weighed down by mayo but had crunchy, fresh vegetables. The sweet strawberries dipped in cream and sugar was my last morsel in Bali and left a taste I could go back to relive.
Bird’s Nest: Kupu Kupu Barong Villas & Tree Spa by L’Occitane, Kedewatan P.O. Box 7 Ubud, Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia. P: +62 361 975 478
Tip: The most important tip I can leave you with is to remember to feast on a gelato every time you see a gelateria along the way :).
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Aditi Garg is a writer who loves to just write anything and everything; be it magazine cover stories, blogs, website content, trivia cards, copy, or poems & stories for kids of friends and family. Books, desserts & fashion are her guilty pleasures. Mother to two boys, and as the only girl in the house, she expects to be treated like a princess (which she mostly is, unless it is a choice between a cricket match and her). With an opinion about everything under the sun, an insatiable appetite to know and a stickler for detail, she keeps on her toes and is happiest that way.