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

 

JAVA, INDONESIA

FROM LUXURY HOTEL MEALS TO FANTASTIC STREET FOOD ON THE CHEAP!

by Caryl Eyers

 

This month’s Vegan Food Quest has seen us discovering fabulous vegan food in Java, Indonesia. We’ve eaten everything from amazing fine dining vegan food in restaurants in 5 star hotels to cheap and tasty street food prepared on a cart at the side of the street.

 

Amazing vegan beetroot gnocchi from ‘Rosso’ in the Shangri-La Jakarta

Amazing vegan beetroot gnocchi from ‘Rosso’ in the Shangri-La Jakarta

 

This spicy tofu salad with a sweet peanut sauce was so cheap but so delicious

This spicy tofu salad with a sweet peanut sauce was so cheap but so delicious

 

We’ve stayed in a lot of luxury resorts and hotels this month and with a bit of guidance about the vegan lifestyle, they have all provided us with amazing vegan food including local treats as well as dishes from around the world. It’s really shown us that a plant based diet is possible regardless of budget. It’s just as possible to be vegan whilst being pampered in a luxury hotel as it is to find great local food for hardly any money on the side of the street.

 

It’s easy to get tasty vegan food on the side of the street in Java

It’s easy to get tasty vegan food on the side of the street in Java

Javanese food is similar to the food we ate in Bali; lots of tempeh, tofu and dishes with peanut sauce but there is a lot more choice in Java and the levels of spiciness and sweetness of the food change as you travel through different regions.

We have spent most of our time in Central Java where they definitely have a sweet tooth with dishes like tempeh and tofu ‘bacem’ making a deliciously sweet and spiced addition to our meals. These dishes are prepared by braising the tofu or tempeh in palm sugar and spices before frying it lightly – delicious.

We are totally in love with tempeh and can’t believe that the rest of the world hasn’t switched onto it in the same way as Indonesia. There are so many different ways of eating it and all are good in our book; our days definitely aren’t complete unless we’ve gotten to eat our daily tempeh fix.

There are lots of great local delicacies that are vegan here too, like ‘gudeg’, a stewed jackfruit dish that is normally an accompaniment to the other meat based parts of the dish but goes well with all the other vegan things we can forage from the local ‘warungs’. A warung is a small local restaurant where there will be a selection of dishes cooked and displayed in a window, cabinet or food cart depending on the size of the place. It’s great to queue up with the locals picking up their lunch or dinner and try a little bit of everything from cassava leaves to sweet, sticky tempeh cooked with peanuts that could pass as candy because it’s so sweet. The great thing about these places is the variety and the fact that all this tasty vegan food rarely costs more than $1.50, for two people!

 

Paul picking lovely vegan dishes with the locals

Paul picking lovely vegan dishes with the locals

 

So many vegan options including ‘gudeg’, which is the brown coloured dish on the left side of the bowl

So many vegan options including ‘gudeg’, which is the brown coloured dish on the left side of the bowl

We’ve also discovered the wonders of ‘Jamu’, traditional Indonesian herbal medicines taken as a drink. They are made by boiling up herbs like turmeric, ginger, galangal, cardamom, cloves and chili as well as roots and leaves of various trees and then adding palm sugar, salt and rice water. Each concoction has a different combination of ingredients and is used for different ailments. Some of them taste lovely, and some taste absolutely horrible!

 

We loved trying the different traditional Jamu recipes

We loved trying the different traditional Jamu recipes

It’s not only the food that is good in this part of the world though, the scenery in Java is pretty impressive with huge volcanoes, rice fields and rivers never far away. We took the plunge and learned to ride scooters so we could explore the countryside, stopping at warungs to sample their vegan delights (yes more tempeh was involved).

 

A local Javanese feast overlooking the rice fields

A local Javanese feast overlooking the rice fields

There are some man-made wonders too with Borobodhur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple being worth the battle with the crowds to see in person.

 

Caryl explores the beauty of Borobodhur

Caryl explores the beauty of Borobodhur

Just down the road from Borobohur is a great place to sample ‘Jamur tonseng’, a spicy turmeric laden curry packed full of oyster mushrooms. This humble little roadside warung is famous locally for its excellent mushroom curry but you would never imagine it from the look of the place. With a wok heated from a gas bottle, a makeshift kitchen and hardly any light they whipped up 2 delicious dishes crammed full of locally grown oyster mushrooms.

 

Amazing vegan food from this little restaurant

Amazing vegan food from this little restaurant

 

Our tasty vegan mushroom dishes, packed full of local oyster mushrooms”

Our tasty vegan mushroom dishes, packed full of local oyster mushrooms”

And of course, after all these grand adventures we treated ourselves with some of the sweet vegan treats at our fingertips. There are so many Indonesian desserts that are naturally vegan with our favourite being the ‘Solo Srabi’ pancakes (although you do have to check for eggs) and the very moreish ‘Bubur sum sum’ which is a heavenly rice flour and coconut milk pudding that is slightly salted and sweetened by the addition of coconut palm sugar syrup and then topped off with a ladleful of coconut cream.

 

Bubur sum sum is a seriously good local dessert and vegan too!

Bubur sum sum is a seriously good local dessert and vegan too!

 

The more we travel, the more people we meet who seem very interested in veganism and our Vegan Food Quest. We were really lucky to meet up with the people that run The Traveler’s Rest in Jogjakarta, a cool new hangout for travelers in the Prawirotaman neighborhood. As we were talking about our mission to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world, we came up with the idea of a Vegan Food Quest pop-up restaurant for one night only, where we could invite people to come and eat the some of the amazing vegan Javanese food we’ve discovered.

A vegan feast prepared by our new friends at The Traveler’s Rest for our Vgean Food Quest pop up restaurant

A vegan feast prepared by our new friends at The Traveler’s Rest for our Vgean Food Quest pop up restaurant

Not only did we have a great time collecting ingredients from the garden and the local market but we also got to show people who came along just how tasty vegan food can be. We’d definitely love to take over any other cafés or restaurants for a Vegan Food Quest pop-up night as we travel around so watch this space!

Next month we’re exploring Singapore where we’ll be testing out the world’s first vegan burger chain, eating our way around the border town of Johor Baru in Malaysia and then flying to Vietnam in search of a vegan version of their famous ‘pho’.

Caryl Eyers 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive weekly news and updates from VegginOutAndAbout.

You have Successfully Subscribed!