Ubud, in the uplands of Bali, is best known for its rainforest, rice paddies, temples, Monkey Forest and many yoga and wellness venues and experts.
Long beloved by Australian and international travellers, Ubud is far from the party-centric, discount shopping haven of Kuta. It’s considered the artistic heart of Bali, where music, dance, art and performance find a natural home. It has also hosted the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival since 2004, and the Ubud Food Festival. Every year in March, the BaliSpirit Festival is an annual celebration of yoga, dance, music and multimedia performance.
Thankfully, as well as yoga classes (my pick is The Yoga Barn), massage, facials and every other spa and body treatment you can dream up, there’s also an abundance of organic, plant-based eateries. For vegans and vegetarians, the food options are endless. Thankfully, from one cafe to the next, the variety makes choice difficult. There’s no boring, predictable green salad and tofu as your sole option here. Rather, at many venues the menu changes weekly – sometimes daily – depending on seasonality and what’s available.
Here’s your guide to Tempat paling enak untuk makan, or The most delicious places to eat.
This venue is new to the vegan food scene in Ubud. You’ll be the first of your friends and family to venture in and recommend it (well, after me, of course). Not only is there a mouth-watering vegan menu in the cafe, but the tattoo studio uses vegan ink so, if you’re inclined, this is the destination for permanent and impermanent memories to be made. There’s also ecstatic dance and yoga, art and wellbeing classes, and a promise of “spirituality without the fluff”. Founder of Karma House, Aren Bahia has committed to donating a percentage of the tattoo studio profits towards local charities; so far, they have supported local kids to attend school and also donated towards the Lombok disaster funds. This multi-disciplinary community centre epitomises the spirit of Ubud – spirituality, wellness, creativity and eccentric, wild, colourful people. Or just come for the dhal. The Indian Barbie Dahl combines radish spaghetti, crispy shallots and edamame beans with spicy yellow dhal. Or Mushroom Magic is grilled mushrooms, sweet corn, bok choy, quinoa and a chunky dollop of guacamole. Mmm.
For unrivalled views over the rice paddies, peaceful distance from the hubbub of central Ubud, and the opportunity to see the chef and his kitchen at work, Moksa takes the (vegan) cake.
Try the starter of Zucchini Hummus with grilled veggies, or the Raw Bruschetta with tomato, avocado and corn salsa. There’s so many raw food options for those who are both vegan and raw foodies. This means you primarily eat food that hasn’t been heated above 40 degrees. The menu indicates which meals are raw, including Masala Pumpkin Uttapam (avocado, onion, tomatoes in a pumpkin pancake with jackfruit salsa) and Asian Spring Pasta (linguini made from white turnips, kale, shiitake mushrooms, cashes and tamari-chilli sauce).
For those who aren’t averse to cooked food, the Eggplant Marengo is rich stew of baked eggplant and tomato sauce with black rice. Otherwise try the Shiva Bowl, which combines quinoa with wakame, edamame beans, avocado, crispy tofu and tahini dressing.
Makanannya enak. The meals are delicious.
At La Pacha Mama, you’ll find plant-based Mexican food worth getting a small group together for. Why? Because there are so many delicious offerings that to not sample everything would feel like a crime against the Gods Of Good Taste. Start with the Sopa Tarazca (roasted tomatoes with refried beans, tortilla slices and avocado mousse), then share the Jackfruit Medallion, which combines sweet potato with a creamy coconut sauce and quinoa chips, the Burrito with grilled tofu and tempeh as a tasty, nutritious meat-alternative and – obviously – don’t scrimp on the Nachos (avocado mole, caramelised onions, jalapeno and – if you’re vegetarian and not vegan – cheese).
If you’re there for dinner, go for the Ginger Lemongrass Margarita – lezat (“delicious” in Indonesian).
Sayuri is not only an eat-in and takeaway raw, vegan foodies’ delight, but also hosts raw food courses and even chef training. There’s the quinoa porridge (with chocolate granola if you’re so inclined) through to a fruit-topped smoothie bowl for breakfast. The raw burger for lunch takes buns made from spirulina, packed with avocado, lettuce and ketchup with a raw vegan burger and a side of sweet potato chips. Not your average burger, nor your average vegan meal. If the adage “let food be thy medicine” appeals, this has to be the least painful medicine you’ll ever take. Finally, try the enchilada (soft corn tortilla full of mushroom, corn, spinach and nut-based cream and vegan cheese). You’re welcome.
I never fail to trek to Bali Buda post-yoga class when I’m in Ubud. It doesn’t matter how many new and fancy vegan diners pop up, Bali Buda is a reliable and much-beloved part of the scenery in central Ubud. The menu is long and if you’re indecisive (like me) it’s a tough one. You’ll need to go back a few times, or share a whole lot of the items with family and friends. The nori wrap with sunflower seeds is highly recommended, as is the macrobiotic plate. This is the only place that convinces me tofu is amazing.
As much as I’ve loved walking the central area of Ubud, scanning menus and adventuring into places I’ve never been before, there’s so much to be said for simply talking to other visitors and locals. I never would have found Moksa by myself. It came recommended by a few people who I met through classes at The Yoga Barn or at communal dining tables.
Ubud is a colourful, bold, joyful hotpot of international visitors and expats. The locals are so friendly too. Don’t miss out on the priceless opportunity to talk to strangers in yoga class, walking the streets, in the shops or in the cafes. Word of mouth, after all, is the best referral.
Eat all the things in Ubud on a small group adventure through Bali with Intrepid now.