Bali posed a conundrum for us. We wanted to explore as much as we could during our short stay but we also wanted to laze in the pool and enjoy a drink or two under the hot sun. First world problems, right? We spent our fifth day in Ubud finding a happy medium. After breakfast we headed into town and explored Monkey Forest road and the surrounding areas before stopping for lunch at Warung Sopa.
Warung Sopa is a casual vegan-centric cafe but it’s the fresh-squeezed juices that really stood out here. Or maybe that’s the sweltering heat speaking.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Ubud’s handicraft shops before heading back to our hotel for a sunset dip in the pool. I mean, COME ON. With this view, we couldn’t resist.
We ended our evening with a meal at Locavore on Jalan Dewisita. Our set dinner was beautifully presented and my favorite points were the beginning (piquant pickled fruits) and the end (a dessert set which included a creamy, luscious mangosteen). Just give me the Indonesian fruit, please. Locavore’s innovative and bracing cocktails were terrific, too. A note about privilege: Locavore was well above the price point of the average meal in Ubud, making it a special occasion meal but sadly beyond the reach of most people who actually live in Ubud.
Since our one trip to the beach had been a dud, we spent our next day happily sticking it out in Ubud and walking around town, exploring each side street, each rice field, each impromptu festival.
We were soon hungry and stopped at Kafe Batan Waru, our favorite restaurant in Ubud.
Soda gembira is one of Indonesia’s most popular drinks and it translates to “happy soda.” It’s sweet, strawberry-flavored, fizzy, and creamy — and faintly reminiscent of the South Asian Rooh Afza.
Next up: ayam goreng tepung, or flour-battered fried chicken served with a sweet chili sauce. This. Was. SO. GOOD. I could eat this juicy, crispy chicken every day, but I won’t, because you know, arteries.
We also had a plate of kangung tumis, or stir-fried water spinach. This was one of my favorite things to eat when I visited Vietnam, and the Indonesian rendition was just as good.
Indonesian food shares some similarities with South Asian cuisine, and murtabak is no exception. Murtabak are thin pan-fried breads stuffed with spiced meat and while it originated in Yemen, it made its way back to India, and eventually, Southeast Asia. The Indonesian version includes pickled condiments on the side, which cut perfectly through the murtabak’s richness.
We capped off our meal with Balinese urap pakis, or steamed wild fern tips served with roasted shredded coconut. Afterwards, we walked off the calories with an excursion at Ubud Palace and returned to Komaneka at Bisma for another dip in the pool.
I’ve mentioned previously how wonderful the hotel’s team was. They’re so wonderful that they knew that I really love Indonesian fruit. They invited me to go pick some rambutan with them, so off we went through the rice paddies for some fresh rambutan. It doesn’t get any fresher than this. Twenty minutes later and I was snacking on rambutan (and salak, another uniquely Southeast Asian fruit), alongside Indonesian sweets. What an experience.