I have found that Indonesia is a deliciously easy country to be vegetarian in, with an abundance of soybean products like tofu and tempeh, interesting vegetable dishes, and exotic fruits. My adventures over Christmas only confirmed this fact, and in case any potential visitors to Indonesia are worried about finding some good food, here are the five best meals I ate during a week of traveling around Java.
1. Nicho’s Healthy Kitchen
Josh and I spent part of Christmas afternoon trying to track down several vegetarian restaurants that supposedly exist in Bandung. Not only did we strike out each time, but we also ended up lost in a seedy alley, which we later realized was the city’s hidden red-light district. Finally, we found a strip of restaurants that included this place. With “healthy” in the title, I was sold. The menu was interesting, the atmosphere was quiet and clean, and our food was delicious. Josh and I each enjoyed a hearty soup and salad for our Christmas dinner.
You can visit their website for their menu and location.
2. Stone Cafe
After a busy day of seeing the sights surrounding Bandung, Josh and I were looking forward to another interesting view of the city. Our driver recommended the Stone Cafe as a place with good and reasonably-priced food, and we had already heard about the restaurant’s scenic location; perched atop a hill, it looks over the city and the surrounding mountains.
Our view was sensational, as promised. The open-air restaurant boasted a unique atmosphere–we took off our shoes as we entered the section of the restaurant that had large, low wooden tables, and we sat on floor cushions that were embroidered with the cafe’s logo. The menu was fairly diverse, and we both gorged ourselves with some nice tofu dishes and fruit juice.
Though our meal was good, I don’t think the food alone is enough to recommend itself; the experience of dining high above the city is what makes the Stone Cafe stand out as a favorite meal. For more information, you can visit their website.
3. Renzo’s Cafe
This greasy and otherwise unremarkable little pub caught my attention when I saw the sign in front that advertised several vegetarian dishes. One of Indonesia’s most well-known dishes is sate ayam–grilled chicken skewers slathered in spicy peanut sauce. I was delighted to find a restaurant that sold sate tempe, a vegetarian version of the national favorite. It more than lived up to all of the hype, and I found myself enjoying their sate several more times during our stay in Yogya.
If you find yourself in the tourist area of Yogyakarta, there is plenty of delicious pub food to be had here at Jl. Prawirotoman no. 27.
4. Ministry of Coffee
I liked that the Ministry of Coffee had so many vegetarian options on their menu, but out of all the times we ate here, it was the breakfast that got me hooked. With a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, an extensive menu of coffee drinks and cake, the option of eating in the library, and the most delicious French toast I have ever eaten, this place is already on the itinerary for the next time I find myself in Yogyakarta.
I highly recommend stopping here, whether to read a book, play a game of chess, enjoy a hot or cold drink, spend the night in one of their rooms, or just for a nice meal. You can read my review or check out their website.
5. Dieng Plateau morning snack
My last amazing meal might not count as a proper dining experience, but it definitely stands out as a wonderful moment. After a morning of hiking through the hilly terrain of the Dieng Plateau region, we stopped at the top of an incline and snacked on the most delicious mango I’ve ever eaten as we looked down on the colorful crater lake.
As we refueled on the sunny hilltop, our guide told Josh and me about the hidden cave on the lake’s island, which is only unlocked for the people who still follow the ancient practices of Javanese mysticism so that they may meditate within its auspicious stone walls.
Indonesia is full of culinary delights, and I hope everyone who visits will be able to find something to suit their tastes!
*All photos were taken by Josh.