Top 8 Vegetarian Food to Eat in Bali and Indonesia

Indonesia is not often thought of as a vegetarian’s paradise, which is a shame because one may find lots of choices here, especially in Bali. It may be true that Indonesians like meat, and especially fish, but it is also true that meat in Indonesia can be quite expensive. As such, an Indonesian’s everyday diet is most likely to be rice with meat used sparingly as an accompaniment, as well as a range of vegetable dishes that not only deliver punchy flavours but also boost the nutritional value.

Moreover, with the popularity of tourism in Bali, there are also more international vegetarian dishes to choose from here. But I would suggest giving local vegetarian food a try and you will definitely be delighted. You’ll be surprised by the vegetarian choices you can find here in Bali or anywhere in Indonesia. Here are some of the best Indonesian vegetarian dishes that I recommend:

Gado-gado

Indonesian food is (sadly) not a very well-known cuisine, but if people can name any dishes found here then they usually mention Indonesia’s most famous salad, Gado-gado. Put simply, gado-gado is a dish of vegetables that usually includes lettuce, cabbage leaves, steamed carrots and potatoes, and often tofu and bean sprouts. The whole thing is then drenched in a thick and delicious peanut sauce and is often topped with extras like egg or prawn crackers. If you avoid these crackers however then the entire dish is vegetarian, and in the heat of Indonesia this salad is a welcome break from yet another plate of steaming rice. This can be found in just about any local restaurants or warungs in Bali.

Gado-gado, a vegetarian's favourite in Bali and rest of Indonesia. Fried Tempe on the bottom right

Gado-gado, a vegetarian’s favourite in Bali and rest of Indonesia. Fried Tempe on the bottom right. Photo by eltpics

Tempe Goreng/Sambal

Tempeh is probably the grande dame of vegan and vegetarian food in Bali and Indonesia, evolved as a cheap way of adding protein to a meal. Tempeh is essentially soy beans that have been compressed into the shape of a bar which is then sliced into strips and fried until it darkens and the flavour becomes deliciously nutty. Tempeh is so tasty that it is sometimes simply fried until crisp and then served that way (tempe goreng) or it is often fried with chilli paste to give it some kick (tempe balado or tempe sambal).

Nasi Padang

Nasi Padang basically means ‘Padang rice’ as it originated in the Padang area of West Sumatra. You will spot a Padang restaurant (all over Bali and Indonesia) due to the distinct stacked plates in the window. Once inside, you will be served a plate of white rice and a selection of smaller dishes (sometimes as many as 20) will be brought to your table. You simply choose what you want to eat and ignore the rest. For vegetarians, therefore, this is a dream scenario as you can easily spot and avoid meat and stick to the wide range of vegetarian options available. Some of the veggie highlights of a Padang restaurant are dishes such as daun singkong which are cooked cassava leaves as well as other items like telur balado, hard boiled eggs that have been coated with fried chilli paste. Other favourites are eggplant (terong) cooked until it is falling apart and also mixed with chilli paste, or potato cakes called perkedel. Tahu (tofu) is also common and is served in large blocks and is usually fried.

A plate full of Nasi Padang, Bali, Indonesia

A plate full of Nasi Padang. Photo by Kai Hendry

Sayur Asem

Sayur asem translates as ‘Sour Vegetables’ and in this way this dish is slightly reminiscent of something like Tom Yam soup in Thailand. The sourness in this soup comes from tamarind, and you will usually find veggies like snake beans, corn, and melinjo (a local plant). The soup is served over rice and is entirely meat free so is a safe one for both vegetarians and vegans alike. This can also easily be found in Bali restaurants, especially those where you order dishes to go with your rice.

Sayur Lodeh

A firm favourite in Indonesia is sayur lodeh, a coconut milk based soup that uses gourd and carrot to add some heartiness and is served with rice. Other additions can be things like tofu depending on who is making it, or sometimes other vegetables will be added into the mix as well. In some varieties of sayur lodeh (like in Sumatra) small shrimps are usually used to enhance the flavour, but the Javanese and Balinese version usually makes it without which means that it will be vegetarian.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Bali with Booking.com*

Nasi Goreng

Perhaps Bali’s and even so Indonesia’s best-known dish would be nasi goreng. This dish is simply a plate of fried rice with various things added to it to make it more exciting. You can, in theory, cook nasi goreng with pretty much anything and you will find it with meat, fish, and seafood in it, although in its purest form it is simply made of fried rice with some vegetables like carrots added to it and topped with a fried egg. If you ask for it to be made ‘tanpa daging’ (without meat) then this is usually what you will get and it will be safe for vegetarians. Just watch out for the toppings as it is often sprinkled with peanuts and small salted anchovies (ikan teri). If you don’t eat fish or seafood then ask for it to be ‘tanpa daging dan tanpa ikan’ (without meat OR fish).

Indonesian Nasi Goreng, Bali, Indonesia

Indonesian Nasi Goreng, Bali. Photo by RStacker

Mie Goreng

Indonesian Mie Goreng, Bali, Indonesia

Indonesian Mie Goreng, Bali. Photo by suhseal, cropped to Mie Goreng

Mie goreng is the partner of nasi goreng but where ‘nasi’ means rice and ‘goreng’ means fried, ‘mie’ refers to the noodles in this dish. It is the next most popular one dish meal in Bali and Indonesia. Mie goreng or fried noodles is a vague name because the dish itself is also rather vague and it can be made with a variety of different noodles and with a range of things mixed in depending on what the cook has to hand. In its purest form again, however, it will be meat and seafood free, so ‘tanpa daging dan ikan’ should ensure that you get a plate of steaming fried noodles with fresh crunchy veggies and sometimes an egg scrambled in.

Rujak

If you are not used to it then rujak can be a strange concept. Basically, it is a fruit and vegetable salad that is served with a thick sauce made of chilli and peanuts and it can be something of an acquired taste. Each part of Indonesia appears to make rujak differently, but some things that you might find in it include water apple, raw unripe mango, pineapple, cucumber, or sweet potato. In Bali, the rujak is sweet and sour with a mix of fruits. This mix is then doused with a savoury sauce which is often cooked down to a glutinous consistency that can be almost like toffee. Sometimes the sauce will use small amounts of terasi which is a shrimp paste, so if you want to check you can ask ‘Pakai terasi?’ (‘Does it have terasi in it?’). If you get a ‘no’ then you are good to go and it will be vegetarian and vegan. Rujak is often eaten more as a snack than as part of the main meal and you will find it sold from many a cart or small stall at the side of the road.

Rujak in Bali, Indonesia Food

Rujak in Bali, Indonesia Food. Photo by Sue

Indonesian food should be better known than it is, as there is a huge amount of variety on offer here, and much of it features diverse, complex flavours that are simply delicious. Indonesians unashamedly love meat, fish, and seafood, and vegetarianism is uncommon here, but if you pick and choose, you will find a great range of fresh, tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes in between the meat curries and barbecued seafood anywhere in Indonesia and more so in Bali. Do let us know if you know more vegetarian food in Bali and Indonesia!

Related articles:
Top 10 Indonesian Food You Must Eat
Top 10 Restaurants in Bali
Top 6 Local Warungs to Eat in Sanur, Bali

Top 6 Local Restaurants (Warungs) To Eat In Sanur, Bali

Sanur may not be on everyone’s hit-list to visit in Bali but when it comes to cuisine, it has one of the best local restaurants (warungs) around. While you can get toasted sandwiches and burgers aplenty here, if you scratch beneath the surface you will find a world of hidden culinary gems. Many of the best places to eat in Sanur are local restaurants call warungs, which can range from basic restaurants to more of a cafe type atmosphere, or even just a buffet style glass case with a few chairs and tables set up in front of it. Often the food at a warung is simple local fare so if you are looking to try some traditional Indonesian local cuisine then this is the place to find them.

Sari Bundo

Open 24 hours a day so you can satisfy a craving at any time of the day or night, Sari Bundo is a traditional Nasi Padang joint on Jalan Danau Poso that can be spotted a mile away thanks to its iconic stacked plates in the window. The food is traditionally from Padang in Sumatra so you will find favorites like beef rendang, a spicy beef dish, and sayur nangka or jackfruit curry. You can either just go up to the window and choose the dishes you want atop a plate of rice, or you can sit at a table and let them bring the food to you which can be quite the experience. Tiny dishes, sometimes up to twenty, will be placed in front of you along with a plate of white rice, and you can then choose which ones you want to pour over your plate. You only pay for the dishes you touch and you are absolutely not expected to eat everything in front of you!

Address and Telephone: Jalan Danau Poso 95, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan; +62 361-281389.

Warung Jawa Moro Seneng

Located directly next to Sari Bundo, and also open 24 hours a day, Warung Jawa is a hit amongst locals in the know thanks to its rock-bottom prices but heaps of local flavors. Warung Jawa serves Javanese style Nasi Campur or mixed rice and you can choose from local favorites like chicken curry, slices of omelet, and vegetable dishes, all piled high onto of a plate of rice. The food is served buffet style so just point to what you want and pay for the number of dishes you have selected. The food here is perfect washed down with a cooling glass of teh manis dingin (iced sweet tea) and this is definitely the place to come if you want some local food on a budget.

Address: Jalan Danau Poso No.78, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan.

Warung Jawa at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Jawa at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Balifan

Warung Krishna

For some of the best Balinese food in Sanur head to Warung Krishna, a little out-of-the-way place on Jalan Kutat Lestari. It may be a little outside of the main tourist hub of Sanur but it is definitely worth it and you can expect Balinese staples like fish satay and lawar, a dish of mixed vegetables, shredded coconut and herbs. Service takes place at the buffet bar next to the tills in the restaurant, so just go and have a look and pick whatever you fancy. They also do a delicious sauce made from pickled chillies which are not to be missed, although be warned that this is a pretty spicy choice so it’s not for those who can’t take a little heat. To get here you need to cross over the bypass and then head down Jalan Tirta Nadi II and turn left onto Jalan Kutat Lestari.

Address and Telephone: Jalan Kutat Lestari No.04, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan; +62 361 281661.

Warung Krishna at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Krishna at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Good Food Bali

Warung Dapur Sanur

Another place to eat along Jalan Danau Poso, but this time at the far end towards the bypass, is Warung Dapur Sanur, which is noted for its healthier take on Indonesian food. To that end, Warung Dapur Sanur serves a range of healthy choices such as brown or red rice instead of the usual starchy white, and then adds to this with a choice of nasi campur dishes like fried tempe or tempeh (compressed soybean cake) and both vegetarian and meat curry options. Aside from the toothsome Nasi Campur buffet bar at the front of the restaurant, you can also order Javanese and Manado dishes like bakso (meatball soup) and bubur Manado, a kind of rice porridge from Sulawesi.

Address: Jalan Danau Poso No.15, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan.

Warung Dapur at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Dapur at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Balikutours

Warung Pantai Indah

If you like your dinner to come with a view then this is definitely the place to come. Warung Pantai Indah is a little beachfront cafe located on Pantai Indah and alongside selling the coldest beer on the beach (they claim), they also serve a range of Indonesian and Western dishes. One of the best choices here is the beef or chicken satay or meat on skewers, which comes served atop its own miniature grill over charcoal for a deliciously smoky flavor. They also do delicious curries infused with coconut milk, all with a gorgeous sea view. Drinks come in the form of the aforementioned cold beer or you can go for a freshly picked coconut opened in front of you. The entrance to the beach and Warung Pantai Indah is opposite Bali Deli on Jalan Tamblingan.

Address: Pantai Indah, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan.

Warung Blajong

Warung Blajong at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Blajong at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Let’s makan

For another hit of Balinese cuisine, try Warung Blajong on Jalan Danau Poso. This restaurant is more upscale than the local warungs or cafes in the area but the food is fantastic and the prices reasonable. Come to Warung Blajong for local Balinese classic dishes like siap betutu or roasted chicken, as well as pepes (food wrapped in Banana leaves) such as be pasih (fish grilled in banana leaves). If you are new to Bali then this is a great place to come to try a range of Balinese food in a less hectic setting than a local warung and friendly staff are on hand if you need some help choosing what to order or want some of the dishes and cooking methods explained.

Address and Telephone: Jl. Danau Poso No.78, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan; +62 361 285613.

Sanur is indeed not the best-known stop in Bali for its food but all you need is a little local knowledge and a hunger for finding the best dishes around, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Even just a few days here will take you on a whistle-stop culinary tour of some of the best places to eat in Bali that include Sumatran, Javanese, Sulawesi and Balinese cuisines. Tuck in!

Related articles:
Top 10 Best Restaurants in Bali
Top 10 Indonesian Food You Must Eat
Top 8 Vegetarian Food to Eat in Bali and Indonesia

Top 10 Best Restaurants in Bali

Being a top tourist destination in Indonesia, Bali has a wide range of restaurants that serves from local Balinese cuisine to international flavours to suit everyone. Since usually time is limited with so many places to visit in Bali and so many things to do in Bali too, it can be daunting to think whether you have the time to sample all the best restaurants as well!

Balinese cuisine is top notch among the Indonesian various cuisines. It is a blend of Indonesian, Chinese and Indian, making it a unique yet delicious combination. Rice is the staple here but you can be sure to find other types of main meals as it has customize to the influx of tourists. Famous Balinese food includes lawar (chopped coconut, garlic, chili with pork/chicken blood), Bebek betutu (duck stuffed with spices wrapped in coconut leaves and then cooked inside embers), Balinese sate (spiced mince meat on stick) and Babi guling (spit roasted pig stuffed with spices). Just with these few mentions had salivate our appetite. You can find these Balinese good food from warungs (stalls), markets and also nice restaurants.

Babi Guling at Bali, Indonesia

Babi Guling at Bali, Indonesia

Besides that, Bali is also dotted with a wide selection of international restaurants that are notable for delicious food and well mixed drinks. Therefore you may take a respite once in a while from the local cuisine and indulge in these if your stay in Bali is long enough for you to get bored.

Since there are so many restaurants to choose from in Bali, we have come out with our take on what is the Top 10 Best Restaurants in Bali for you to enjoy before the time runs out during your visit.

Fair Warung Bale, Ubud

All travelers who came to this restaurant rave about it’s delicious food and that is the most important for a restaurant. Here you will find local Balinese fare with a mix of a few other Asian selections. The owner and staff is known for their friendliness while the food is known for quality and freshness. You just have to head over to this restaurant to try for yourself and it is a must as it could be the best restaurant in Bali for being rated number 1 in tripadvisor!

Bebek Bengil at Bali, Indonesia

Bebek Bengil at Bali, Indonesia

Bebek Bengil, Ubud

Known as the dirty duck diner, this place is famous for of course the duck. Bebek is the Indonesian name for duck and here they cook it in few ways. You can order smoked duck or crispy duck to suit your palate. The duck also comes with accompaniments to complement your food and they are a tasty bunch Indonesian style, especially the sambal (chili condiment).

Naughty Nuri Warung and Grill, Ubud

Here is where you get your grill fix, everything from racks of ribs to burgers to grilled pork. A place for pork lovers while being reasonably priced. Not exactly a fancy restaurant but the warung (stall) style eating can lend to a kind of setting too. Another bonus is that the Margarita here is surprisingly good as well.

Indonesia Must Eat: Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)

Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)

Dulang Cafe, Kuta

Most travelers come here for their authentic and delicious Indonesian food. Food that people enjoyed here are the nasi campur (rice with various dishes), sate (meat on stick), nasi goreng (fried rice), mi goreng (fried noodles), spring rolls, sop buntot (oxtail soup) and curry chicken. That said, their international offerings are also up to standard, such as their greek salad or the club sandwich. On top of it, the ambiance is good for cooling down and relaxation.

Jimbaran Seafood Dinner

This is not exactly one restaurant per say but head down to Jimbaran anyway before sunset to get a table at one of the many restaurants that line up by the beach. The ambiance here is amazing as you dine and watch the sun set over the horizon in spectacular hues of orange and purple. Seafood here are generally delicious albeit a bit pricey, take your time strolling and peeking at the menu before deciding on which restaurant to eat.

Sunset seafood dinner at Jimbaran, Bali

Sunset seafood dinner at Jimbaran, Bali

Melting Wok Warung, Ubud

One of the best restaurants that serve authentic Indonesian Balinese food, you can be sure to satiate your appetite from them here. The menu may be limited to 10 Balinese dishes but the selection is well chosen and the food is freshly cooked.

Ultimo, Seminyak

Here is when you decide to take a break from Indonesian food, the answer would be Italian food at Ultimo in Seminyak. Many tourists attest to the authenticity and quality of the food here and the ambiance is set just right for casual dining. Service is known to be good, quantity of the food generous and prices affordable. Come early as it is normally full house by 6pm!

Nasi Babi Guling at Bali

Nasi Babi Guling at Bali

Warung Sibuni, Uluwatu

Despite the name, you would actually find European and fusion food here. A cozy place that is meant for people to come for quick bites, healthy food and drinks while also surfing the internet (wifi is provided). You will find food like fish and chips, pineapple fried rice, pork loins and sate, not your usual mix but still refreshingly delicious. The service is friendly too and the internet connection is apparently fast.

Potato Head Club, Seminyak

One of the most famous club and restaurant in Bali, this is one place that many travelers say you must go. The service is friendly, food is good while the lounge and ambiance is set beautifully against ocean view. Making a booking here is advisable as it is very popular and line outside can go to very long. Good food, good music and good view, what more can one ask for?

Rock Bar at Ayana Resort, Bali

Rock Bar at Ayana Resort, Bali

Rock Bar, Ayana Resort

Perched on the cliff overlooking the roaring sea, Rock Bar is one to reckon with during your visit here in Bali. There is always a long line of people trying to get in and it is well worth the wait. The drinks and small bites here are good but the best is because you can have them while overlooking the waves crashing sea that stretches into infinity. Come here for the complete experience though not exactly for the food.

There you have it, the best restaurants of Bali. If you are living in Bali or have been to Bali and found that we have not mentioned your favourite restaurant do let us know!

Photo credits from top: Zenubud from bali, Naotake Murayama, Monica Arellano-Ongpin, Kevin Poh, momo and Jeda Villa Bali

Related articles:
Top 10 Indonesian Food You Must Eat
Top 6 Warungs to Eat in Sanur, Bali
Top 8 Vegetarian Food to Eat in Bali and Indonesia
Top 10 Things to Do in Bali