It goes without saying that Ubud has its fair share of authentic Indonesian spots, but it’s hard to beat Warung Pulau Kelapa for its garden setting and top-notch dishes from around the Indonesian archipelago, all made with high-quality ingredients minus the preservatives that seem to be de rigueur in so many other warungs around town.
Set in a lush garden just off Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Warung Pulau Kelapa is the brainchild of Hadi Sunyoto, an avid antique collector and creator of the Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets. His passion for history and culture can be seen in the design and decor of the restaurant, which features an original 20th century East Java teak house, vintage photographs and paintings, and antique knick-knacks.
Visiting at lunchtime on a weekday during the slow season, the place was pretty empty, all the better for us to score a primo seat at a long wooden table in one of the gazebos in the garden. The huge wooden beams surrounding the table and thatched roof kept the space cool and shady, which is always a good thing on a hot day in Bali.
Pulau Kelapa’s menu consists of authentic fare from around Indonesia with dishes from Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi and Bali. You can expect all the Indo classics like Nasi Goreng (IDR 55,000), Chicken Satay (IDR 45,000) and Rendeng (IDR 60,000), as well as some unique dishes that might not be so familiar like Sayur Turi (IDR 35,000) (sauteed vegetables with turi flower, shrimp, lettuce and sweet potato leaves) and Ikan Sambal Woku (IDR 65,000) (steamed and lightly fried mahi-mahi in a Manadonese green chili sambal sauce).
One of the definite selling points of this place is that they have their own organic garden out back where they harvest vegetables, herbs and spices, which brings an element of fresh farm-to-table flair to the dishes. In addition, they refuse to use MSG or other artificial preservatives in their food.
I have to admit that I always come here with great intentions of trying something new but always end up ordering the Nasi Kuning (IDR 55,000) because it’s just so damn good. How can you not love a dish that allows you to sample an array of crunchy, spicy and meaty creations? The plate comes piled high with a mound of aromatic saffron infused rice and a variety of sides like crispy fried chicken, perkedel kentang (potato patty), tempe manis (tempe in a sweet tangy sauce), sambal goreng kentang (paper thin potato slices fried until crispy and seasoned with chilli ribbons and a slightly sweet sauce), water spinach with shredded coconut, and a dollop of fiery sambal.
For the vegetarians, the Tahu Telur (IDR 45,000) is a good bet. The recipe hails from East Java and includes an ample portion of fried tofu and eggs seasoned with sweet soya sauce and sprinkled lavishly with crunchy peanuts, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage and vibrant red chilies. It works well on its own as a starter or side dish, or you can add a side of rice to make it a main.
With a specialty cafe on site, Pulau Kelapa also makes for a chill spot to grab a cup of java, smoothie or sweet treat. The cafe offers a variety of Indonesian beans like the rich and heavy Gayo Aceh, bright and vibrant Toraja Kalosi, and the aromatic Bali Kintamani brewed with your choice of French press, pour-over or syphon style. You can also have your coffee or tea straight up, frothed and foamy, or served over ice.
From the cafe we went for the Cookies and Cream Frappe (IDR 35,000), which was a cool and creamy mix of homemade chocolate ice cream, crushed cookies, fresh milk and whipped cream. We also went for the Pisang Salju (IDR 35,000), which was overloaded with so much sickly sweet sauce and brown sugar syrup that you could barely see the pan-fried bananas underneath. This was way too saccharine for my tastes, but hey—if you’ve got a raging sweet tooth or an affliction for supremely sugary Indonesian desserts, this may be up your alley.
Unlike many other Indonesian ‘warungs’, Pulau Kelapa manages to pull off a classy yet casual vibe, as well as a wide range of dishes that stay faithful to their island origins with native spices, dynamic flavours and fresh ingredients. It also doesn’t hurt that the dishes are very reasonably priced compared to other eateries of the same caliber. We highly recommend Pulau Kelapa as a chill spot to get some decent local fare, or a go-to place to bring visiting family and friends so that they can sample a true taste of the region.
Jl. Raya Sanggingan
T: +62 361 971872
H: Daily 10am – 11pm
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