Bali is known for its incredible beaches, temples, and terraced rice paddies of Ubud. A huge number of people from various countries visit Bali every year. It is a fantastic part of Indonesia with a nice balance of culture, food, and natural beauty. Indonesian food is a melting pot of Indian, Chinese, and south-east Asian cooking styles. Most of Indonesian food is meat or seafood heavy. Sometimes, foods that are considered vegetarian might have shrimp paste in it. However, with the right knowledge of the local food and some helpful translations, you can enjoy local vegetarian food across Bali. The following guide will help you discover and order delicious local Indonesian food as you relax and wind down in Bali.
1) Learn to say a few vegetarian phrases in the local Indonesian language
To say “I am a vegetarian” in Indonesian, you have to say “saya seorang vegetarian”. If you are vegan then say “saya seorang vegan“.
You can then follow up by pointing out the foods that you do not eat. To say “I do not eat ….” in Indonesian, you have to say “saya tidak makan ….” and then add the following words as per your dietary preferences:
daging, which means meat, ikan which means fish, makanan laut which means seafood, and so on.
A complete checklist is provided below. So, if you want to say “I do not eat meat”, just say “saya tidak makan daging“.
You can end with a simple “thank you” or “terima kasih“.
2) Print the following image and show it to your server while ordering
* if you have trouble printing the image below directly, then you can copy paste the image onto a word document and then print*
Following are phrases that can be used to explain dietary restrictions, and what you can and cannot eat. Tick whatever is applicable. They are written in the local Indonesian language. You can show this to your server while you order or ask the restaurant staff before you get seated. Being a tourist hub, quite a few people in Bali understand English, but this sheet will be helpful when English isn’t spoken.
3) These local Indonesian dishes can be made vegetarian
Nasi Campur -This is like a local version of the thali. It has a serving of rice, vegetables of various kinds, fried tempeh, some sambal, and tofu. Basically a perfect combination of all local preparations which also happen to be vegetarian. The really authentic places might serve Nasi Campur on a banana leaf.
Nasi Goreng – This dish is a famous rice preparation that is popular in Indonesia and neighbouring Malaysia. It is basically fried rice cooked in butter or oil and served with vegetables. Nasi Goreng is normally served with meat, but a vegetarian or vegan version will substitute the meat for veggies. You can even ask for “tahu” which means tofu as a substitute for chicken/meat. Also, make sure that there are no eggs and prawn crackers (krupuk).
Mie Goreng – Similar to Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng is a noodle dish with vegetables. The noodles are stir-fried and cooked with vegetables like carrots, green peppers, baby corn, green beans, etc. These noodles are freshly prepared and quite filling.
Tempeh/Tofu Satay – Satay is a staple street food of Indonesia. You can also eat satay at a restaurant. Satay essentially is grilled or barbecued pieces of meat/tofu/tempeh skewered on bamboo skewers and served with a peanut dipping sauce. The vegetarian version will have tofu or tempeh grilled nicely over wood or charcoal to give it a nice burnt flavor. You are supposed to eat the tempeh/tofu straight off the skewer.
Gado Gado – Gado Gado is one of the most famous vegetarian Indonesian dishes. Gado Gado is like a salad, made up of carrots, green beans, cucumber, cabbage, tofu, and eggs all served with peanut sauce. You can ask for a Gado Gado without eggs if you do not eat them. Also note that Gado Gado is often served with prawn crackers known as krupuk and, at times, with shrimp paste (terasi) as well. Hence, it may be best to say “tanpa telur, tanpa krupuk, tanpa terasi” if you want your Gado Gado without eggs, prawn crackers, and shrimp paste.
4) Eat at these restaurants
Earth Cafe Bali – If you are in Seminyak, then do not miss the chance to visit the Earth Cafe. They have a huge number of items on their menu and everything is vegetarian. Whether you want a breakfast bowl, quinoa pancakes, pizzas, burgers, mid-eastern, or even vegan steaks, this cafe has it all. Vegans will find this place to be a food paradise. Earth Cafe uses innovative ingredients to make popular food items. For example, their mozzarella cheese is made from cashews and their nachos from tofu cream cheese. Even if you are not a vegetarian, go to Earth Cafe to explore what creativity in cooking means.
Zula Vegetarian Paradise – This restaurant is believed to be the first vegan restaurant in Bali. Located in the popular area of Seminyak, Zula has a humongous menu. Mexican, Mediterranean, Seitan Schnitzels, and perhaps any other cuisine that you can think of. Local Balinese dishes include the whole grain nasi goreng, the sate seitan ikan (without real ikan of course), and the exotic tempeh. All their ice-creams are non-dairy and sweetened with honey instead of sugar.
Tasty Vegan – Located in the popular tourist area of Seminyak, Tasty Vegan is an all-vegan restaurant with plenty of tofu, tempeh, and mock meat dishes. More importantly, you can find vegan versions of some popular Indonesian dishes here. So, if you want to try vegan versions of local staples like mie goreng, nasi goreng, nasi care, mie kuah, and more such dishes, then head over to Tasty Vegan.
Giridhari Vegan and Vegetarian – If you are in the Jimbaran area, then Giridhari Vegan and Vegetarian restaurant is highly recommended. This small family-run warung is a bit far from Jimbaran beach in a narrow alley off the main road (Uluwatu Street). However, the restaurant is a fantastic place to eat authentic local dishes in a vegetarian format. The prices are quite reasonable as well with most dishes costing around 20,000 rupiah. There are some western items like burgers on the menu as well. However, you have to go there for the local Balinese food.
The Elephant Ubud – If you want great vegetarian food with a beautiful view of the Ubud greenery, then head over to The Elephant. It is an all-vegetarian cafe, though some breakfast dishes have eggs in them. The menu is quite large, filled with foreign (non-Indonesian) food. South-east Asian staples like pad thai and laksa (in a vegetarian format) are available. Or you can go European with gnocchi and pasta. You can get breakfast items like pancakes and crepes. Desserts items include Thai sticky rice with mango, Gaya gelatos, vegan cheesecakes, and more. The restaurant is highly rated by reviewers across various platforms. If you want vegetarian food in Ubud, then the Elephant is a must-visit for sure.
Siboghana Waroeng – This Balinese vegan warung is located in Ubud’s Pengosekan community of artists. It uses ingredients sourced from the restaurant’s garden, local farmers, and traditional markets of the area where it is located. The prices are very reasonable as well, with the Nasi Campur being the highest priced item at 30,000 rupiah. The crispy mushroom, kare siboghana, and nasi goreng all get rave reviews as well. All the food is freshly made over wood-fire and hence you will have to wait for a while after you order. The restaurant is located in a back garden, so the ambience is quite peaceful.
Wulan Vegetarian Warung – Wulan is one of the best vegan warungs in Ubud. Popular dishes here are the savory tempeh stuffed pancakes, the Wulan 7 Veg (a variation of Nasi Campur), the coconut tofu soup, and the Nasi Goreng. Wulan Vegetarian Warung is small and has a few tables. But the owner is quite social and this place receives very good reviews for vegetarian/vegan food.
Vegan Soul Kitchen – If you are planning to visit Nusa Penida, then Vegan Soul Kitchen is the best vegetarian restaurant on the island. It is a bit of a drive from the main tourist areas and some of the roads are not very good. However, the food will more than make up for the effort to get to this restaurant. The satay tempe and the potato chips here receive very good reviews. There is Balinese as well as western food on the menu.
4) Try Indian food
Spice Mantraa – Centrally located in Kuta bang opposite Discovery Mall, Spice Mantraa is a popular Indian restaurant in Bali. Whether its dal tadka, chaat, or paneer makhani, this place has it all. You can get Indian classics like manchow soup, grilled sandwich, and chole bhature. South Indian dishes like dosa and Indo-Chinese food is also on the menu. Plenty of vegetarian food and you cannot go wrong with this restaurant. They have recently opened a second branch in Seminyak.
Atithi – Another popular Indian food joint in Kuta is Atithi. This restaurant has all the staple vegetables and curries. But the good thing about Atithi is that it also offers bread mode of wheat or atta. Most Indian restaurants serve bread made from maida or all purpose flour. However, wheat flour rotis and parathas are a lot healthier and pleasant to eat. Besides the north Indian dishes, Atithi even has classics like gobi manchurian and chilli paneer. There is a live band which sings Indonesian and Bollywood songs on certain days of the week.
Queens of India – One of the most well-known Indian restaurants in Ubud is Queens of India. Their menu is quite extensive. You can get appetizers, chaat, and vegetarian tikkas to start off. South Indian dishes like idli, dosa, and uttapam are also on the menu. Vegetables, curries, and rice dishes complete the meal. Queens of India also has plenty of rotis and naans on its menu. You can even get a phulka roti (the most traditional form of Indian bread), puri (fried bread), and bhature. Plenty of vegetarian food is available at this restaurant.
The Royal Kitchen – If you are in Nusa Dua, then the Royal Kitchen is a good option for Indian food. The restaurant is slightly expensive, but the food is worth the money. You can even get baingan bharta and koftas. This restaurant has Indo-Chinese dishes on its menu as well if you are up for some hakka noodles. South Indian items round off the wide variety on offer at the Royal Kitchen. This restaurant is pretty well-established as it has a branch in Jakarta as well.
Bali Indian Food – The name might sound odd, but Bali Indian Food is actually a chain of Indian restaurants scattered across Bali. The joint in Sanur goes by the name of Gateway of India, the one in Ubud is called Indian Delites, and the restaurant in Nusa Dua is called Indian Dhaba. Since all these restaurants are under one chain, the menus are similar. You can get the regular north Indian fare, but then there are some interesting items like kathiroll, vegetable martabak (a south-east Asian version of stuffed roti), and navratan biryani. All their restaurants are decent options for vegetarian Indian food.
5) Plan for a few options beforehand
While you cannot always expect to know exactly where and when you will eat, try to keep a list of few vegetarian restaurants in the area that you are going to visit. To create a list, use the following websites:
- https://www.zomato.com/bali/restaurants – Zomato is a popular restaurant search website with menus and reviews
- https://www.tripadvisor.in/Restaurants-g294226-zfz10665-Bali.html – A tripadvisor list of veg friendly restaurants across Bali
6) If nothing works out, then eat at these types of restaurants
Coffee Shops/Cafes – A sandwich, a cake, or muffins can often be found in cafes of small shops in Bali. You might even be tempted to try out local tea and coffee flavours.
Italian Restaurants/Pizza Places – A simple pasta, a spaghetti, or a cheese/veggie pizza is a safe bet anywhere in the world, and Israel is no different. Just make sure the pasta sauce has no meat and the white sauce has no eggs (if you do not eat eggs).
Supermarkets – Do a shopping run at outlets of Bintang Supermarket/Hypermart/Pepito/Carrefour or other neighbourhood supermarkets, as they would stock local produce and western/imported/packaged foods. Look for items that can be identified easily as vegetarian (e.g. fruits, veggies, bread, pasta, snacks, etc).