Vegan Food in Ubud, Bali

I ummed and ahhed about this post, and it’s sister post about vegan food in Seminyak (coming soon!). I mean, realistically how many people will it help? But, I found myself on a Sunday night when we got back needing to write this. To share the highs, the lows and difficulties we faced. What we loved, what we learned, from our ten days in beautiful Bali.

Our stay in Ubud was actually a 20 minute shuttle drive outside of Bali amongst some stunning rice paddies and nestled right next to what I can only describe as a rainforest valley that felt like a scene out of Jurassic Park. In fact, we have a video of Adam waiting for a T-Rex to appear while I “sing” the theme tune! However, all of our dining for lunch and dinner was within Ubud itself pretty much, as our hotel as both expensive and limited for our dietary requirements.

So, where should you eat vegan food in Ubud? Well, starting with my favourite, here we go!

Moksa

At the time of our visit, and at the time of this write up, Moksa is sitting pretty in the number one spot on tripadvisor for restaurants in the Ubud area! That wasn’t something even we knew as we made our way up what I fondly call “Death Trap Road” (pitch dark, twisty, no street lights and no pavement) and through rice paddies to the plant-based restaurant. I loved the food here – it was the first place we ate and it remained my favourite 10 nights later! Despite them leaving us in a flooding section of the outdoors restaurant, with no brolly and no way out. Yeah… that happened.

What we ate

We tried the Moksa Dhal (starter), Jacky Mignon (main), Purple Scaloppini (main), White Chocolate Tutti Fruity (dessert), Seasonal Sweet Potato Tropical Pie (dessert). I would without a doubt recommend the Moksa Dhal, Jacky Mignon and Purple Scaloppini. The desserts we had were lovely but… not as mind blowing as the previous two courses.

Things to note

  • Call in advance and book a table – we nearly didn’t get a seat when we turned up unannounced. They said they were fully booked but at least 40% of the tables were empty.
  • Honey is classed as vegan, so check on the desserts especially
  • Nearly all of the desserts are served cold, including the pie
Moksa Dhal at Moksa
Moksa Dhal at Moksa
Purple Scaloppini from Moksa
Purple Scaloppini from Moksa

Seeds of Life

My OH and I differ in our opinion on this one but he does admit that he “ordered wrong”. Ordering wrong is a term we use when we think the menu probably had a better option for ourselves, but we didn’t realise it. I ordered bang on correct, however, so I was happier than a dog with freakin’ six tails. Adam ordered twice and still didn’t get that second tail.

What we ate

I had the SOL bowl – a giant wooden bowl filled to the brim with raw salad deliciousness. Adam ordered the Falafel and Hummus . To drin, I had the “Beauty” juice, which is a very refreshing green juice.

Things to note

  • This is a raw food place, so all of the food is well, raw and usually cold or room temperature, unless otherwise noted
  • You must take your shoes off at the door
  • There are no chairs of the Western sense (on the ground floor at least) – so those with a bad back may struggle
SOL Bowl at Seeds of Change
SOL Bowl at Seeds of Change
Falafel & Hummus from Seeds of Life
‘Spot the Falafel’ from Seeds of Life

Sharaswaty

What can I say, I love Indian food and even though we were in Bali, I couldn’t be dissuaded from trying out this Indian restaurant! All the reviews pointed to an excellent dinner spot, and taste wise we really weren’t disappointed. I love that you can choose the spice level of each dish too, depending on your taste! Although I was a bit confused with how it works, because our ‘medium’ starter was several levels spicer that my ‘hot’ main dish of bengan tamatar. Unfortunately I’ve got no photos from here because we were so hungry by the time our food arrived that we inhaled it all in less than five minutes!

What we ate

To start, we shared a vegetable khatiroll and then for mains we had mushroom & pea pulao rice, chapati, a vegan mixed vegetables curry and a vegan bengan tamatar. I also had an iced ginger-lemongrass drink, which comes with a bottle of sugar syrup so you can sweeten to taste. I went sugar free for the full ginger hit!

Things to note

  • Everything is cooked from scratch. We had to wait over 1.5 hours for our main course!
  • There are no chairs of the Western sense on the first floor at least – so those with a bad back may struggle. There are chairs & tables on the ground floor, however
  • Despite the wait, this was probably the best curry I ever ate

Sage

This is a gorgeous restaurant – it’s been designed and set up very well. The only thing that’s missing is air conditioning and it’d be seriously stand out from that point of view – as it was, thankfully we were sat near a window and cracked it open to get a breeze going! Our waiter was lovely but really quite forgetful, as he forgot to bring back our water and to put our dessert order into the kitchen.

What we ate

I’ve already forgotten the exact name, but I know we ordered a starter and I’m pretty sure they were nori spring rolls – they were demolished very quickly! Adam had the burger from the specials menu, which was essentially a spicer twist of the Kitcbari burger from the menu. I had Jackfruit asada tacos, since everybody online recommends them. They’re not wrong! For dessert, we shared some caramel apple cake.

Things to note

  • The food comes extremely quickly
  • The staff are very forgetful but very nice
Jackfruit Tacos at Sage
Jackfruit Tacos at Sage
Caramel Apple Cake at Sage
Caramel Apple Cake at Sage

Nine Heaven

We visited Nine Heaven for lunch, rather than dinner but the menu (I believe) is the same. There’s again, no air conditioning but order yourself a cold coconut and some cold water and you’ll be fine!

What we ate

They do young coconuts – so Adam ordered what we soon referred to as his “daily coconut”. To eat, I had the Nasi Campur, which was delicious – you get a variety of different things so to me it felt almost like a version of a Thali, whilst Adam ordered a Soy Rendang, which I sneaked a bit of and it was very similar to meat!

Nasi Campur from Nine Heaven
Nasi Campur from Nine Heaven
Soy Rendang from Nine Heaven
Soy Rendang from Nine Heaven

Clear Cafe

Another ‘shoes off at the entrance’ kind of place, but you do get a ticket for your shoes to… help locate them after, I guess. The cafe is up a couple of small flights of stairs, so I don’t know how accessible it would be to those unable to climb them. It’s a really brightly decorated cafe with a great laid back vibe. There was a choice of chairs & tables or floor tables, depending on availability and preference. We visited for lunch and found it one of the busiest places we’d been to.

What we ate

To drink, we ordered a vanilla cashew mylk shake and a cucumber infused water. The mylk shake wasn’t mine but, as usual, I sneaked some and wow. Very good. I wanted one of my own but see the ‘Things to note’ below. To eat, I ordered the Super Salad with a cashew lemon dill dressing (I think!) and a ‘small plate’ of Suki Sushi with the same dressing. Adam had the vegan TLT with sweet potato fries.

Things to note

  • The kitchen vs drinks timings are very odd. We waited ten minutes, received our food, then ten minutes later got our drinks (which put me in a bad mood, as I was very thirsty!)
  • Staff are very knowledgeable about vegans – they came and told me when my order contained dressings made with honey, and offered an alternative
  • Compared to other places in the area, the portions are smaller, but this seems consistent with anywhere slightly “trendy”
Raw Sushi at Clear Cafe
Raw Sushi at Clear Cafe
Super Salad at Clear Cafe
Super Salad at Clear Cafe

Veggie Table

I’m going to come out and say it: I didn’t like Veggie Table. It was a tired looking restaurant, very small and very quiet, subdued atmosphere despite having quite a few customers – bt it could be because I didn’t like my food that it left a negative impression on me. The photos for here are particularly bad because it was night and the restaurant was pretty dark, but hopefully you can get a rough idea for the dishes!

What we ate

We shared some spinach crackers – which aren’t crackers, but actually battered and fried spinach leaves and so not really my thing, but unfortunately just a poor translation probably. Adam ordered the Tofu Curry and I had the Gado-Gado – which everyone recommends online for this place, but personally I really didn’t like! Adam, however, very much enjoyed his curry.

Things to note

  • One of the only places with air conditioning
  • Children are allowed to come in and ask for money
Tofu Curry from Veggie Table
Tofu Curry from Veggie Table
Gado-Gado from Veggie Table
Gado-Gado from Veggie Table

Mama and Ashai Ice Cream

Not a cafe, or a restaurant but a brilliant tiny ice-cream parlour not too far from Seeds of Change. When we went (twice in two days!) they had a choice of vanilla or chocolate soy based ice-creams. I had them both! The first time, I had plain chocolate with a couple of their homemade smiley cookies, the second time I had a combination of chocolate and vanilla, with their recommend mix of ‘berry-berry’, which is frozen berries, cornflakes and strawberry compote sauce. Absolutely brilliant. Whoever thought of adding cereal to ice-cream deserves a medal!

Soy Chocolate Ice-Cream from Mama and Ashai
Soy Chocolate Ice-Cream from Mama and Ashai

 

Alila Ubud and The Plantation Restaurant

This is the hotel we stayed at, rather than a restaurant we sought out but we ate their everyday for breakfast, and had a set lunch and a set dinner as part of our honeymoon. As with the rest of Bali it seems ‘Vegan’ is a strange and unusual requirement that the staff didn’t really seem to understand, but did their best to accommodate. Unfortunately, since their breakfast menu changes every single day it meant we had to explain our requirements every single day. It got tiring for everyone, I think. However props to their jams because hands down the best jams ever!

Breakfast

The menu changes every day, but there’s always a few things that can be customised. Here are the items we ordered (when they were on the menu!) during our 5 night stay:

  • Wholemeal or white baguette slices, or ciabatta (depending on the day) with jam
  • Oatmeal made with water, no honey
  • Rice porridge with no chicken or egg
  • Seasonal fruit salads
  • Muesli with soy milk
  • Granola with soy milk
  • Jamu (a local drink)
  • Daily fresh juice blend

Lunch/Dinner Set Menu

They offer an Indonesian tasting menu that can be customised to be vegan – we had a set lunch and a set dinner, and both times had some truly delicious dishes for the main course, including some gado-gado, a coconut Thai-style curry, tofu satay, bean cake and sauteed water spinach. The starter was bread, which was a little lack lustre, but the dessert was sorbet in a strawberry and pineapple flavours, which was lovely.

Where we didn’t eat, but did visit:

Bridges

This is probably better known for its restaurant offerings, however we just went down to the attached bar (Divine, I think it’s called) and enjoyed a bottle of wine looking out on to the amazing view of the forest and river below. The staff are very attentive and amusingly, when you buy a bottle of wine and are sat at what I like to call “the view bar”, they keep your wine in a cooler behind you, and refill your class as they see it empty.

The view from Divine at Bridges
The view from Divine at Bridges

Legends Bar

This was probably my favourite bar in terms of atmosphere – it was busy and bustling, but not overcrowded. We sat on stools that viewed the street and people-watched whilst making friends with the people sat next to us: a Dutch couple also on their honeymoon. The staff aren’t all that great however, and couldn’t even tell us what the difference between a caprioska and a caipirinha was. I’ve Googled since then!

Tukies

Cold, fresh young coconuts! They’re everywhere in Bali but I’m calling out Tukies as they seem to be the Coconut Central Hub of Ubud. Coconuts with a straw, coconut ice-cream, coconut butter… if it can be made with a coconut, they probably have it! We came in for Adam’s “Daily Coconut” and I had a lime juice, which disappeared in seconds because it was that refreshing! After you’re done drinking the water from your coconut, you can take the shell back to the counter and the staff will split it open and give you a spoon, at no extra cost.

What we learned being vegan in Bali:

  • There’s no concept of “dairy” – you must explain cheese, milk, yogurt etc separately
  • Honey is considered vegan, even in vegan restaurants/cafes
  • There’s no wide understanding of the word “vegan”
  • Having the “Vegan Passport” app on a phone is very helpful – you can select “Indonesian” as the language and give it to your waiter/ess
  • Customer service is different: staff are always friendly and lovely, but service is at the very least slow and often slightly scattered
  • It’s easiest if you eat somewhere that is vegan or has vegan options labelled on the menu

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