3 of the best restaurants in Ubud, Bali, where art’s spread from studio to plate
Gorgeous new dining spots and bars have sprouted up in the art hub in heart of holiday island that paying homage to the varied local produce. We find out about three of the finest
Locavore in the Bali artists’ town of Ubud was a hit months after it opened in 2013, and became even more popular when it came in at number 49 on the annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It’s an example of how much the dining scene in Bali has evolved over the past decade or so, with beautiful new dining spots and watering holes that pay homage to the wonderful and diverse local produce that grows lavishly in Indonesia thanks to the country’s favourable climate.
As its name suggests, Locavore’s food is prepared using local, seasonal produce wherever possible;
98 per cent of the ingredients locally grown and sourced.
The chefs even raise their own pigs, which roam free not far from the restaurant, and feed the animals a diet of sweet potatoes, porridge made from rice husks, and leftover fruits and vegetables from the kitchen.
It is the first restaurant in Indonesia to receive the Slow Food Movement’s seal of approval, says Locavore’s Dutch chef, Eelke Plasmeijer, who runs the kitchen alongside Indonesian chef-partner Ray Adriansyah.
There are two degustation menus of five or seven courses, with an option for beverage pairings.
Locavore does only one seating per service, so reservations are necessary, and you’ll need to book two weeks in advance via the website. The restaurant serves modern European food.
“The whole idea is that guests can come back in a month or so and enjoy an 80 per cent new menu,” says Plasmeijer. “We do make changes based on what is good, new and available. Often we change dishes slightly during the week. There are seasons here but they’re not as strong as in Europe, mostly fruit and seafood are seasonal. Often we get new ingredients and those are the ideas and inspirations for a new dish.”
The dishes served at Locavore include a wonderful Sawah porridge that has practically a whole ecosystem on the plate – rice from the paddy fields, snails that live in the fields, egg yolks from the ducks that roam the fields as well as tasty biah biah flowers that the ducks feed on.
“We are a very casual restaurant were we want our guests to be super comfortable but on the other hand we want to challenge them with our food. Our cuisine is European but I want people to [realise] that they are in Bali, Indonesia, as well by using as much local produce as possible,” Plasmeijer says of their cooking philosophy.
Those familiar with Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak and the Mama San branch in Hong Kong will enjoy Ubud’s Hujan Locale, which opened last year. Scotsman Will Meyrick is the mastermind behind the food, and shares Plasmeijer’s principles of cooking with local produce.
The chef, who grew up on a farm in northern England, loves the markets in Bali. “They are inspiring, inclusive, and they are the great melting pot of the cultures that settled here. Long before the days of tourism, Arabs and Chinese, Malay and Peranakan cultivated their customs, for the most part, harmoniously, to blend with that of their Hindu hosts, adding yet more flavour to the rich cultural spice of the island,” he says.
If you’re looking for something a little off tourist spots, he says, “The three best markets to see in Bali are the livestock market of Mengwi, which is right out in the countryside and offers that real Bali everyone likes to think is lost; Jimbaran’s Pasar Ikan, the wet fish market; and the grand bazaar, literally the Denpasar of Pasar Badung in the centre of Bali’s overlooked capital city.”
Hujan Locale has a large menu that serves up traditional Indonesian dishes as well as recipes inspired by Malaysia and Singapore. There’s also a vegan and gluten-free menu. The focus is on fresh ideas, with everything created in-house wherever possible. The restaurant’s garden and farm provide a majority of ingredients.
The latest gastronomic spot in Ubud is Blanco par Mandif in the Kompleks Museum Blanco, offering natural views of the Tjampuhan River. The award-winning Indonesian chef Mandif Warokka runs a chef’s table of 10 for dinner only, serving seven, nine and 13 courses of modern Indonesian food. Like the other chefs, Mandif takes the farm-to-table approach, working with the seasons in Indonesia to create dishes from the bountiful harvest of Jimbaran Bay to the lush greenery of the Kintamani Hills. With produce this good, the chef doesn’t want to mask the flavours. “I’m mostly attracted to freshness,” he says. “[I want to let the] natural flavours shine through.”
Bali has plenty of wonderful dining options and a variety of delicious fresh produce. If you’re in Ubud, pencil these restaurants in and make your reservations in advance. Other recommended options from the locals include Pica South American Kitchen, and Room 4 Dessert.
Jalan Dewi Sita No.1, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 977 733
Jalan Sri Wedari No. 5, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 813 3972 0306
Blanco par Mandif
Kompleks Museum Blanco, Jalan Raya Tjampuhan, Ubud-Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 479 2284