Although Indonesia is a great place to find vegetarian food with plenty of soya bean options and vegetable side dishes available in a nearby warung, its cities have been lagging behind with their varieties of organic, ethically-sourced food. In Jakarta, most consumers favour cheap, tasty meals without considering the wider impacts of their food on their health and the environment (unsustainable mono-cultural farming methods have had huge impacts across Borneo and Sumatra, resulting in large-scale deforestation). Many restaurants use palm oil, genetically-modified vegetables and that devilish flavour enhancer, MSG. But a growing number of individuals are becoming concerned about their food and are establishing joints which support local, organic farmers, providing homely, vegetarian meals for consumers across Indonesia. Here is a selection of five veggie restaurants from Bali, Jakarta and Jogjakarta.
Jl. Flamboyan No.19, Rempoa, Jakarta
Telephone: +62 8788 200 5070
Opened last year by a young group of environmentally-concerned entrepreneurs, this vegetarian burger joint has blossomed – scoring first place on TripAdvisor for best Jakarta restaurant. The social vibe of the place is further encouraged by the Burgreens team who are actively involved in promoting healthier, sustainable lifestyles by visiting organic fairs and events including the Organic Green and Healthy Expo in Jakarta. They also have plans to start meditation classes with Reza Gunawan, husband of writer Dewi Lestari and are producing a small variety of vegetables in their backyard.
Founded by Max Mandias and Helga Angelina, I recently visited their restaurant and was invited to try a selection of three mini burgers with bean, mushroom and spinach-chickpea fillings. The prices are worth it – this restaurant is changing the way consumers in Jakarta think about their food. Sustainably-focused and locally-sourced, Burgreens offer oat milk, zucchini noodles, raw cacao balls and sweet potato chips and their helpful menu outlines the raw, vegan and gluten-free options.
Jl. Lodtunduh, Ubud, Bali (in front of Tanah Tho Gallery)
Telephone: 0817776768 (Thony)
Facebook: 9 warung
This is one of my favourite places to visit in Bali for vegetarian food – cheap, wholesome, with a large variety. The restaurant was founded by Thony and offers a selection of white rice and three vegetables for only Rp.9,000 – perfect for anyone in Ubud who is looking for a bargain lunch. Thony, a Buddhist from Jakarta and all-round happy person, treats his guests like family, and we began to visit his peaceful restaurant every day – the walls are covered in photos of Thony with his newly-found friends. White, red and yellow rice are served along with a choice of: tempe orek, corn perkedel, bean sprouts, spicy boiled potatoes and many vegetables. My favourite dish included a tofu cake made with cabbage, egg, chilli and onions – the recipe was made by Thony and Komang, who created this restaurant with their bare hands in 2013.
Alongside the food, Thony also hosts workshops, including t-shirt painting and cooking classes and a selection of his ceramic creations are on sale in the restaurant. Aside from taking care of Bali’s street dogs, he also organizes stress management courses in Jakarta.
Jl. Tandakan No.7, Sanur, Bali
Telephone: 0361 286770
Brand-spanking new, Annapurna is doing something bold – the food in their restaurant is paid by donation and the place has a great community feel. After eating, guests are invited to relax and enjoy the music of the restaurant’s founders – Ben and Krishna – who regularly jam with their band, the Mangrooves. The menu includes delicious veggie burgers, including lentil curry, oyster mushroom or tempe fillings and a selection of jamu and tea drinks are served. The food is simple and homely and breakfast includes scrambled tofu on toast with French-pressed coffee.
From the Sanskrit name meaning ‘full of food’ Annapurna was the goddess of nourishment – fitting with this theme, the walls are decorated with paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as murals painted by artistic friends. On the first of November, Annapurna will be hosting the event Art Party Bali, inviting musicians, poets and artists to share their work in an inviting, creative space and all proceeds will go to the Cahaya Mutiara Foundation.
Bumi Langit, Jl. Imogiri-Mangunan km 3, Desa Giriloyo, Wukirsari, Imogiri, Bantul
Telephone: +62 274 85 72 121
Situated up in the rocky forests of the valleys outside of Jogjakarta, Bumi Langit is a permaculture farm which was founded by Pak Iskandar and his family. Permaculture was a science developed in Australia in the 1970s by Bill Morrison, using functional design systems which mimic nature, reducing the impacts on the environment. Bumi Langit produces its own gas from methane generation, composts its waste and uses solar panels and recently they opened a café which overlooks the valley and the city of Jogjakarta. Sitting in the warm energy of the farm, guests can choose from a small selection of organic dishes – the farm only sells locally-produced food, encouraging its visitors to think closely about where their food comes from.
The menu includes kambucha (fermented tea made with microbial culture), nasi goreng, fresh farm-made breads (made with local flour), jams and honeys, and my favourite – markisa syrup – perfect with a glass of ice for a hot day. Ibu Dar once showed me how she prepared the probiotic keffir susu sapi in her kitchen which filled the air with a warm, buttery aroma. Goat and cow milk is also used to produce milk, butter and cheese. Keeping extra healthy, only unpolished, organic rice is served. Warung Bumi also does catering for parties and has four vegetarian packets, all prepared by Ibu Dar.
Jl. Prawirotaman IV No.127B, Jogjakarta
As a community centre with good connections with local organic farmers, Milas also organizes educational programs, has a library and hosts an organic market every Wednesday and Saturday from 10am-1pm with fresh produce from organic farms. This delightful restaurant is very popular, scoring first place on TripAdvisor for listed restaurants in Jogjakarta. Its menu includes my favourite dish (and secret obsession) – tempe burger complete with french fries or stir-fried vegetables and home-made tomato ketchup. Guests sit down on lesehan-style mats surrounded by zodia plants to keep away the mosquitos. Milas also serves deliciously healthy Javanese jamu drinks, including the tasty es smoothie Jawa made from bananas, tamarind, coconut milk and palm sugar.
Main courses include the flavoursome biryani made with onion chutney, cloves, raisins and pineapple, a selection of nasi goreng dishes and other familiar Indonesian meals, as well as western food like pasta, pancakes, tempe steak with onion gravy and salads. Their small shop sells a collection of jewellery, recycled paper books, honey and organic nuts, grains and other food items.