14 Top Ubud Restaurants & Warungs

We’ve just arrived home in Sydney from Ubud after a wonderful 2 weeks there. I thought I’d share our favourite restaurants from this trip, including some old favourites and new finds while it was all fresh in my mind.

When we travel we like eating like the locals do, whilst also trying out the gastronomical stars. This trip to Ubud we did just that, eating at some great local warungs and places like Mozaic, Hujane Local and Spice Gastrocafe. We also tried on this trip to go to a few places that are off the beaten track of the main Ubud streets, so this is quite an eclectic mix!

Here’s an overview of  our favourite places for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Melting Wok
Our absolute favourite place for dinner. There is also always a warm welcome from owner Geraldine and the team at Melting Wok who excel at great service and being hospitable. Geraldine is French and her husband Phillipe is Laotian and these cultural influences are evident in the  delicious main courses and desserts. The menu is small and simple, featuring the legendary stir fries and light coconut based curries with fresh herbs that have a unique fragrant Laotian flavour. Desserts include chocolate fondue, creme caramel and my favourite, the coco crepes with brown sugar and coconut cream. I could not write up Melting Wok without mentioning the stand out Mojitos which at IDR55,00(AUD $5.50) are an absolute steal. Great value for money dining overall with great fresh food and excellent service. Hugely popular restaurant with local expats and tourists so make sure you book ahead to guarantee a table.

Made’s Warung
In the ricefields behind Penestanan, follow the path which starts next to Bubu’s Warung on Jalan Penestanan Kelod and then turn right. Made’s Warung is up some stairs in a beautiful garden setting. The menu features Balinese, Indonesian and International favourites all freshly cooked. The Soto Ayam(chicken soup)!here is an absolute standout and the chicken with honey and chilli is a great take on sweet and sour chicken. Servings are very generous and the food is delicious. Warung prices so you will be pushing to spend more than AUD$15-20 unless you drink a lot of Bintang at $3.50 for a large bottle!

Kafe
Kafe is an Ubud institution, and a focal point for the Yoga Barn set. Serving delicious organic food, Kafe’s menu features soups, sandwiches,   Small plates and main courses. The rice paper sping rolls, kitchri, Indian plate, Ayam Rica Rica, and Soto Ayam are all excellent and the list of drinks includes Indian style lassis as well as fresh juices, coconut water and smoothies. In Jalan Hanoman.

Soma
Relatively new on the Ubud scene, SOMA is in Jalan Gootama in a Balinese courtyard setting, with tables set in the shade of frangipani trees and bamboo plants. The menu has a mixture of raw and cooked, healthy organic goodies. SOMA is all about healthy cooking, so if it’s not raw the food is created using slow cooking techniques. My “live” porridge with fresh fruits was absolutely delicious as are the fresh fruit juices. Good healthy lunch and dinner options and excellent for vegans and vegetarians. Service is a bit slow but worth the wait for the ambience and menu options.

Yellow Flower Cafe
Yellow Flower Cafe is tucked away in the Penestanan ricefields, on the walk between Penestanan and Bintang supermarket. If you are coming from the Campuhan end then follow the path from the stairs next to Bintang and if going from Penstanan, the path starts near the “taxi stand” opposite the real estate office. It is a quintesentially hippie cafe, frequented by the yogis staying in the ricefields. Run by a local Balinese family, the Cafe is great for breakfast with items like – Feta,Avocado and Tomato toast, on crispy baguette, which I suspect comes from the nearby Kue bakery in Penestanan; fantastic pancakes with bananas, coconut and strawberries and excellent egg shasuka which are eggs poached in a tomatoey ratatouille type sauce. Once again great frsh fruit juices, smoothies and Balinese “Jammu” or medicinal drinks.

Kue Bakery and cafe
There are 2 Kue bakeries in Ubud, one on Jalan Raya Ubud just down from Jalan Sugriwa and the other smaller outlet on Jalan Penestanan Kelod. If you need a fix of fresh croissants, crispy baguette or to indulge your sweet tooth with a cake or dessert, then Kue is definitley your answer when visiting Ubud. Everything is organic and freshly baked each morning and both bakeries operate as Cafes as well with sandwiches and organic wraps.

Wayan’s Juice Bar
On Jalan Penestanan Kelod, next to Warung Mendez, this is Boost Juice, Balinese style! The kitchen is more like a storeroom for the fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the juices. There is a huge list of combinations of fruit and vegetable juices, all made to order. My favourites include the banana, pineapple and passionfruit and the Beetroot, carrot, lime and  ginger! Delicious 🤗

Hujan Locale
Will Meryck’s Ubud restaurant offers a smorgasbord of regional Indonesia dishes in an elegantly colonial style restaurant in Jalan Sri Wedari. Using ingredients sourced through their partnership with local farmers and suppliers, the dishes range from tasty appetisers such as crispy pig’s ears through to stir-fries and curries, as well as dedicated vegetarian and gluten free menus.  Quality of food and service is excellent as one would expect from a Will Meryck establishment.
Smorgasbord of Indonesian delights

Mozaic
Mozaic restaurant is one of Ubud’s finest dining experiences and has won numerous awards to attest to this. The restaurant is very elegant and features dining in an tropical garden setting – very romantic at night. Chris Salans and his team use French and European cooking methods to create imaginative and divinely delicious dishes, each inspired by one key Indonesian ingredient. Mozaic offers set course menus of 6 or 8 courses and prices are high by Bali standards, but I recommend at least one visit as a true gastronomical adventure. Mozaic also has a lounge bar for cocktails and snacks.
See the review of our New Year’s Eve dinner.

Spice
Spice is Mozaic’s Chris Salan’s latest Ubud offering which he is calling a gastro-cafe. If you can’t make it to Mozaic, and even if you can, make sure you try out the fabulous more casual dining offer at Spice, on Jlan Raya Ubud. The menu features small plates as well as as more substantial mains and a daily specials menu. We tried gorgeous vegetarian dumplings; crispy pork belly with turmeric sauce, cauliflower and dukka, green salad and a very authentic Malaysian prawn laksa. The wine list is good, and wines are available by the glass. like Mozaic, each of the dishes incorporates local herbs,spices and sambals in a creative and thoughtful manner. The attention to detail in presentation and great fit-out make for a very pleasant casual dining venue as you watch the action of Ubud’s Main Street through the glass frontage. Must visit!

Warung Saya
Always a very eclectic experience at this tiny Warung, with only 4 tables, now relocated from Jalan Gootama to Jalan Sugriwa in the centre of Ubud. The owner Amir is a one man band, for taking reservations, serving the food, cooking it and entertaining guests with his loyal miniature poodle, Princess by his side. As well as being a fabulous cook, Amir designs dog costumes and Princess is usually decked to the nines! Bookings are essential and Amir usually requests food orders are placed ahead of your arrival by email so he can prepare ahead and cut down what can be otherwise a long waiting time while he cooks your dinner from scratch. The food is really delicious, and I always enjoy the Indian inspired dishes such as the Mysore Chicken. The fried tofu is to die for as is the stunning grilled eggplant served with yoghurt and tomato chutney. Amir is not a fan of hot chilli, so the dishes are delicately spiced. I’m not sure how he manages to do it all on his own but it is always feels like you are in his home and he is cooking for special guests.

Warung Mendez
Specialising  in Javanese food, Warung Mendez in addition to tasty appetisers such as their corn and spring onion fritters, battered tempeh, and lumpiah(spring rolls); soups such as Rawon, rice dishes like Nasi Goreng; Warung Mendez also serves special dishes like BBQ leg of goat and Beef ribs marinated with herbs and spices and served with rice and Lawar (green vegetables with coconut and spices). The meat dishes are perfectly slow cooked over coals and are redolent of smoky spicy flavours. The accompanying sambals and the green papaya salad are perfect accompaniments to the bbqed meats. Would highly recommend the special Gado Gado which is topped with fried tofu, a poached egg and delicious peanut sauce. Never tasted a Gado Gado like it before. Located in Jalan Penestanan Kelod. Warung Mendez Lunch Review

Bubu’s Warung
Down the road from Warung Mendez, Bubu’s Warung allot feels like an Australian cafe with chalkboard messages explaining the provenance of the ingredients as being fresh from the markets each day, and a light airy setting which is quite minimalist. This could be the influence of Bubu’s son Kadek who lives and works in Australia. The family run Warung is cheap and cheerful with wholesome, good food prepared by Bubu herself. Menu is a mix of local and international favourites. Balinese special dishes must be ordered 24 hour ahead. The service is excellent.

Warung Ibu Suna
For an authentic Babi Guling experience, outside the famed Ibu Oka which is now filled with bus loads of tourists, I’d recommend you venture up Jalan Sangingan to Ibu Suna, which is on your left hand side as you head out of Ubud, just before the turn to Kedewatan village. Most local warungs serving Babi Guling only open until that day’s pig/s has been finished so I’d recommend you factor in Babi Guling at Ibu Suna for brunch and go before 12.30 or you might find it is closed. The Babi Guling here is served traditionally with crispy crackling, tender white meat, bits of crispy fried innards(which you can skip), a spicy lawar(green ferns and coconut), hot chilli sambal and rice. Ibu Suna’s version gets top marks and is understandably very popular with locals.  A real Babi Guling experience

Review: New Year’s Foodie Nirvana at Mozaic Restaurant Ubud, Bali

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Tray of fresh herbs and spices featured in menu

Our special treat for New Year’s Eve 2015 was to book in to the acclaimed, award-winning Moziac Restaurant in Ubud for their special seven course degustation.

Chef Chris Salans opened Mozaic in 2001 bringing together the indigenous flavours of Indonesian herbs, spices and vegetables with first class imported ingredients such as wagyu beef, black truffles, foie gras all prepared with sophisticated French and European cooking techniques.

The resulting menus and dishes have earned Chris Salans and his team a list of awards as long as your arm, not to mention, calls for a Michelin Star from Mozaic’s international diners.

As you can imagine, our expectations were set very high as we stepped through the beautiful wooden doors into the Mozaic Lounge for a pre-dinner aperitif and complimentary appetiser. We were brought an appetiser of a light as air tiny profiterole filled with a luscious savoury, truffle infused custard.

Our host explained the wine pairing menu with dinner which we decided to go with, and we were very well rewarded , as each of the wines complimented the complex flavours of each of the courses perfectly.

We entered the atmospheric garden pavilion surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and festive new year decorations to be seated for dinner. Divine setting!

One of the best initiatives is the tray of fresh spices that is brought to each table and as each course is presented, the waiters explain which of the spices and herbs are used in each dish. With many of the ingredients unique to Indonesia, this is a great way for diners to touch and smell them and understand more about what they are about to enjoy.

Each course is inspired by a theme of the local flavour featured e.g torch ginger flower or kaffir lime.

Our seven course eating odyssey began with a complimentary amuse Bouche of sweet lobster with a light cucumber and lime foam. It was an delicious introduction to the greater things to come.

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It would be too difficult to try to explain each of the courses in detail so instead all I will do is post my photographs with the menu titles and short descriptions.

I can only recommend that if you are going to Ubud that you visit Mozaic for a truly amazing dining experience. At $170-350 per head depending on your wine choices, it is by no means cheap but it is in comparison to what you would pay in any major city for the same quality of food, ambience and service.

Foodie Nirvana indeed!

For restaurant information visit http://www.mozaic-bali.com

Dabu Dabu (Indonesian sambal)
Fresh chilled oysters with Dabu Dabu Relish and Russian Sturgeon Caviar

Kecicang(Torch Ginger Flower)
Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

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Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

Sereh(Lemongrass)
Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

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Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

Tempe (Fermented soy bean)
Stockyard Wagyu Beef, Fermented soy bean and Fresh Winter Black Truffle Crumble

Kemangi (Lemon Basil)
Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

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Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

Pala(Fresh Nutmeg)

A.O.C. Vacherin Cheese with Fresh nutmeg Pericarp and reduction

Jeruk Purut (Kaffir Lime)
Kaffir Lime Clay with Valrhona Chocolate and Kaffir Lime Sorbet

Review: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak.

Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier.

The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other.

The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food.

We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” to start with. Admittedly, this was probably a wrong combination as both dishes feature deep frying but the tomato chilli sambal, lemon, green chillies and aioli provide fresh,spicy flavours.

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Crispy Pig’s Ears with crackling and sambal aioli

Our favourites were the corn fritters and fried tempeh with bites of fresh green chilli in-between which is as the locals do! The serving size of the starters is very generous and the Gorengan Platter which also features delicious lumpiah (Spring rolls) and average curry puffs could be further refined for a smaller and more focussed offering. I found the Pig’s Ears interesting but rather chewy and flavourless on their own but okay dipped in the aioli.

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Gorengan platter with fresh green chillies and tomato chilli sambal

The mains we ordered, on the other hand, were really delicious! We had the Kari Kambing Aceh – slow cooked Sumatran Lamb Curry (with Australian lamb) with roti canai, the Karangasem Sambal Udang – prawn sambal and Pelecing Kunkung – stir fried water spinach.

The lamb cooked in a rich sauce with star anise, cardamom and  curry leaves was “melt in your mouth” perfect. The roti canai was not of the soft, fluffy variety that we are accustomed to but crispy, still providing a good medium to dip into the curry sauce.

The prawns are cooked with the heads off but shells and tails still on. The shells come off easily and are delicious to chew on, the prawns themselves are perfectly cooked, tender and sweet cooked protected in their shells but still redolent of the spicy sambal sauce.

The Pelecing Kankung, stir fried water spinach features spicy chilli and hints of sambal belacan(shrimp paste) with roasted peanuts scattered on top, is a perfect green accompaniment to the other two dishes.

The overall experience of Hujan Locale was very pleasant and a good way to get a sense of the smorgasbord of tastes available in Indonesian regional specialities. Once again we were too full to try the desserts.

2015 in review

Here’s the completed “Year in Review” post!

Happy New Year!! As we start the new year I thought I’d reflect on the first six months of my Free Spirit Food blog. It’s certainly been very interesting starting this blogging journey and I was amazed to receive my “annual report” from WordPress telling me that there had been almost 5,000 views since June 2015 – apparently almost the equivalent of four full New York subway trains!

My aim when I started was to get to 100 followers by the end of the year and as we enter the new year I would like to say thank you to the 105 people who find my recipes and reviews of interest. Some of you are friends and family, but the majority of you are from around Australia and the world with very informative, interesting and beautiful blogs of your own.

I wanted to say a special thank you to my most loyal supporters and give their great blogs a plug:

From the family table
What’s Bec Cooking
My little space in the sun
Delights of the Algarve
Arpita’s Travelogue

I also thought you might be interested in the top 5 most popular posts from Free Spirit Food in 2015.

  1. Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt
Roasted eggplant
Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt

2. Pulled pork with garlic, thyme and chilli

Pulled pork

3. Lamb and potato curry

Lamb and potato curry with rice and red lentil dhal

4.Durban style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

Durban-style mince and pea Samosas
Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

5.Review: Pau Sat: Satay Street in Singapore

Lau pa Sat Market Building
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

And that’s the wrap of 2015!

Looking forward to another year of great foodie and travel adventures which began with an amazing seven course meal at Mozaic restaurant in Ubud last night.

Bali Review: A real Babi Guling experience at Warung Ibu Suna, Kedewatan

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Campuhan Bridge from the river’s edge

Having set out at 7.30am to do the Campuhan Ridge walk in Ubud before the sun got too hot, we decided we would have breakfast/brunch on the way back to Penestanan. The walk starts from stairs near the Campuhan Bridge that take you down to the river bed where you negotiate crossing over rocks to more stairs that lead up to the impressive temple on the other side, and the actual start of the “trek” up the ridge.

We were lucky to have the aid of a makeshift bamboo “bridge” to get us across. The walk itself up the ridge affords stunning views across valleys on both sides.

After about 3km of rolling hill climbs, you reach the village of Tegallalang with it’s rice fields and then walk another 4kms or so through the village of Kedawatan towards Jalan Sangiangan, the main route into Ubud. This stretch involves very steep hill walks between Tegallalang and Kedwatan and we certainly worked up a sweat and an appetite!

Just as we leaving Kedawatan heading towards Ubud, we noticed a spotless Warung with a freshly delivered Babi Guling pig being chopped up for the day’s servings. We couldn’t resist knowing that most local warungs only serve Babi Guling fresh in the mornings and run out by midday. We were also keen to sample Babi Guling outside the now-world famous and tourist focussed Ibu Oka in Ubud central.

Having been to Ibu Oka many times in the last decade, from it’s original dirt floor premises opposite the Ubud Palace, to the now massive hall-like venue occupied by Ibu Oka 2, the sight of the small and spotlessly clean, local Warung Ibu Suna with locals tucking in, was very appealing. So, in we went and we were not to be disappointed.

The Babi Guling was served with rice, hot chilli sambal, a delicious spicy lawar (mixture of green ferns and finely chopped green/snake beans and porky bits, juicy pieces of pork, crispy innard bits and brilliantly crispy, “glassy” crackling. The soup accompanying the Babi Guling was one of the best we have ever tried and included pork pieces on the bone, cooked in the soup to a melt in your mouth texture. All this, and a bottle of Rasa Temulawak Beruap (see below for info)for only IR65,000 for the 2 of us!

Rasa Temulawak Beruap - sweet and gingery drink at Warung Ibu Suna
Rasa Temulawak Beruap – sweet and gingery drink at Warung Ibu Suna

Literally translated Rasa Temulawak Beruap means “ginger flavour steamy”, but tastewise it’s like a sharper, richer flavoured non-alcoholic ginger beer. According to an article in the Jakarta Post, Temulawak is Javanese turmeric which has excellent cholesterol reducing properties, even better than turmeric. We of course didn’t know all this at the time but the spicy sweetness of the icy cold drink certainly went very well with our Babi Guling. Here’s the link to The Jakarta Post article:
http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/11/25/‘temulawak’-another-wonder-healer.html

There are no menu choices here but they definitley do their speciality very well.

I have googled to find other reviews of Warung Ibu Suna and cannot find any mentions on Trip advisor or anywhere. I doubt very much that we are the first tourists to visit and enjoy Ibu Suna’s hospitality and delicious Babi Guling but I suspect they might not have wanted to share this very tasty secret with the world just as yet.

Ps. We then walked the rest of the 3.5km back to Penestanan energised by our power breakfast/brunch!

Javanese dining in Ubud – Warung Mendez Penestanan

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Display of spices at Warung Mendez

After a wonderful Christmas eating lots of delicious traditional English and Australian food, we are now in Bali for a fortnight of feasting and relaxation up in the hills of Ubud. There won’t be too much cooking but certainly a lot of eating planned.

We have been regulars to Bali over the last ten years and can’t help but feel instantly relaxed when we get here through the combination of the warm Balinese hospitality, heat of the tropical sun and diversity and quality of the food.

This visit we are staying in the village of Penestanan on the edge of the rice fields, once quite a sleepy part of Ubud but which has now been populated with great cafes and restaurants, spas and villas.

We started our first day here lazing by our pool before choosing to lunch at Warung Mendez, a restaurant specialising in Javanese cuisine. From tempting appetisers and soups to specials such as slow cooked goat’s leg and Tempe fried in a special spring onion batter, deciding on what to eat is not an easy task so we immediately ordered Bintang beer to cool us down as we made the tough choices.

Adrian often talks about Rawon soup which he had previously enjoyed in Jakarta. The dark almost black, beef soup is made that colour and given it’s unique earthy flavour from the use of the kelucak seed. It is traditionally served with steamed rice and chilli sambal, which is known as Nasi Rawon. At Warung Mendez, we ordered it just as a soup to shar alongside our individual mains of Nasi Goreng and Rica Rica Mackerel.

Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez
Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez

Whilst the Rawon soup was delicious, it felt like it had been “toned down” to suit the largely tourist palate of the diners that frequent the restaurant. However the nutty taste of the ground kelucak seeds did shine through and with the addition of some of the tasty homemade chilli sambal we had certainly would get Warung Mendez at least 3.5 stars for their version.

Of course it is difficult to pass by a Nasi Goreng or the Balinese version known as Nasi Campur when in Bali. The Warung Mendez version comes with the traditional fried rice, freshly bed chicken satays, pickled carrot, crispy shredded cabbage, a perfectly fried egg and prawn crackers. Adrian’s verdict is that it was “very nice”. We could see, smell and hear the rice being wok tossed and the stays being barbecued!

My Rica Rica Mackerel was not quite as I expected having had the more “tomatoey” Chicken Rica-Rica before. The Warung Mendez Mackerel version omits the tomatoes but features delicious grilled and then shredded fish mixed with the spicy chilli and shallot Rica Rica spice paste. The inclusion of small pieces of tangy Balines lime and the accompaniments of the fern and coconut salad and turmeric rice made for a light and tasty lunch dish.

Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez
Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez

All in all we would recommend Warung Mendez if you’d like to get an authentic taste of Javanese food in Ubud at an extremely good price. Our lunch cost us less than AUD$20. We will definitely be returning for dinner to try the goat’s leg and tempeh, and some desserts.