Vegan Food Quest – Veggin’ Out and About In Southeast Asia!

 

 

 

A VEGAN ADVENTURE IN BALI!

 

by VeganMush Caryl

 

As our taxi left the airport in Denpasar, I said hello to Bali and an even bigger hello to a bit of luxury as we checked into the 5 star Conrad Hotel in Nusa Dua. Its nice to have a break from traveling around and this was just what we needed, an amazing suite in this beautiful resort in the south of Bali. It was top end luxury but this doesn’t always mean great vegan food as sometimes bigger hotels can struggle to treat their vegan guests to the same level of luxury as their non-vegan guests. Not so at the Conrad. I was spoiled with vegan food at every opportunity from exquisite Japanese inspired breakfasts, to Indonesian dessert treats like ‘Burbur Sum Sum’ at afternoon tea and delicate canapes in the evening. The Vegan Food Quest really struck gold finding this place but deep down I was itching to get out and see the real Bali.

 

Breakfast At The Conrad

Breakfast At The Conrad

It turns out the real Bali is amazing and the opportunities to eat vegan food were easy to find. From  restaurants to street food, I never seemed to go hungry. Luckily, English is widely spoken in Bali and we seemed to have very few communication problems regarding food. Traditional dishes such as ‘Nasi Goreng’ can be veganized by asking for a vegetarian version with no egg. This should basically get you a dish of fried rice with chopped vegetables (and tempe if you are lucky) flavored with sweet soy sauce, garlic and chili.

 

Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng

 

Some places offered a vegan version of satay made with tempe which is a treat not to be missed. Small wooden skewers with cubes of tempe threaded on, grilled over hot coals until the tempe goes crispy and caramelized and served with a rich peanut satay sauce.

 

Tempe Satay

Tempe Satay

 

As we travelled around we managed to find a few snacks on the street too with my favourite being ‘Tahu Tipat’ which is sold from little carts. The ‘tahu’ (tofu) is fried and chopped up with scissors, along with rice that has been steamed in banana leaves until it forms a kind of solid ‘cake’. The rice is snipped up like the tofu and then both are mixed with bean sprouts and freshly chopped green chills (one for mild, two for medium, three for very, very hot!). The dish is finished by ladling peanut sauce over the top and splashing on some sweet and salty ‘kecap manis’ (sweet, syrupy soy sauce).

 

Tahu Tipat Cart

Tahu Tipat Cart

 

Eating Tahu Tipat

Eating Tahu Tipat

 

The food in Bali isn’t all about peanut sauce though, there are also delicious coconut curries to be found (I always like mine with tempe and tofu too). They are really mild here, flavored very subtly with galangal, candlenut, turmeric, garlic and ginger and topped with deep fried sweet onions.

 

Tempe Vegetable Curry

Tempe Vegetable Curry

 

‘Nasi Campur’ is also widely available and consists of rice with a variety of other dishes. Its easy to ask for a vegan version which often comes with tempe and tofu. Sometimes you just get noodles, rice and tempe but the best version we found was in a small vegetarian ‘warung’ (restaurant) south of Ubud, called ‘9 Warung’ where a whole selection of dishes were heaped on our plates, along with a small bowl of soup. The owner had two lovely rescue dogs too.  We visited several times to eat the lovely food and play with the dogs!

 

Nasi Campur

Nasi Campur

 

One of my favourite stops of the Balinese leg of the Vegan Food Quest was visiting Ubud. Although there was lots of things that I found hard about this popular destination on the tourist trail (like the traffic, the hassle from taxi drivers, the begging and the over inflated prices) I learned to love it because the chances to eat vegan food were plentiful. There were so many places to try out new ways of eating and the discovery of ‘Alchemy’, a raw food restaurant was a real bonus. I never knew salads could taste this good and the raw banoffee pie was heavenly. This place made me fall back in love with Ubud after a brief spell of visiting similar restaurants that failed to deliver. It reminded me how exciting, healthy and energizing a raw food vegan diet can be.

 

Alchemy Raw Food Vegan Restaurant

Alchemy Raw Food Vegan Restaurant

 

Raw Vegan Banoffee Pie

Raw Vegan Banoffee Pie

 

We took our Vegan Food Quest all over the beautiful island of Bali visiting the stunning and famous surf beaches of the Bukit peninsula, the lush rice terraces and imposing volcanoes in the north and even underwater where we swam with tropical fish in the warm, clear water.

 

Bali Scenery

Bali Scenery

 

Everywhere we went, sometimes with a bit of searching, we managed to find tasty vegan food. The only mishap came from discovering that most bread in Bali (unless its made from a western bakery) contains eggs and butter, which might explain why it doesn’t taste very good! Luckily I only ate it once before realising and then managed to find a few really good bakeries to cure me of my bread cravings! Other than the lack of good bread, Bali is a great place to visit for the vegan food and a vegan traveller should never go hungry here (with a little bit of effort of course). This has to be a good thing because other than the memorable snorkeling, the breathtaking landscapes and the postcard perfect beaches, Balinese culture is to be found everywhere. We were lucky enough to see a cremation ceremony, Nyepi (the Baliniese New Year) and also a lot of the day to day rituals that people here follow. Everywhere we went, people were making offerings to ward of evil spirits. Streets are littered with the pretty ‘canangs’  which are placed in doorways and entrances and replenished twice a day. Bali has so much to offer that I can imagine staying here forever, but there is exploring to do and vegan food to be found so the Vegan Food Quest continues!

 

Cremation Ceremony

Cremation Ceremony

 

Canang Spiritual Offerings

Canang Spiritual Offerings

 

Our next stop takes us back to Malaysia with no real plan other than to enjoy the freedom of traveling and discover new foods to eat…

 

VeganMush Caryl has recently left her beloved home in England to brave new worlds in search of adventure and exotic vegan foods throughout Southeast Asia. Join Caryl as she goes Veggin’ Out and About through Southeast Asia! Check out Caryl’s blog!

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