Without sounding too far up my own you-know-what, I can honestly say I’m really good at finding hidden gems when it comes to food. I tend to avoid trip advisor, turning instead to instagram and travel blogs to see where similar folk are eating in the places I visit.
It feels like a lifetime ago since we were in Bali but I still have so much stuff to share with you from that trip. Starting with this place: Sweet Orange Warung. A peaceful dining spot just 20 minutes walk outside of Ubud.
What is a Warung?
Wikipedia tells me its “a type of small family-owned business — often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or café — in Indonesia, and to a lesser extent, Malaysia. A warung is an essential part of daily life in Indonesia.”
From my experience that’s a very accurate description. Travelling through Bali, you’ll see them everywhere, some full blown restaurants, some not much more than huts selling food to locals. If you’re looking for authentic Indonesian food they are probably a good place to start too.
Our trip to Ubud was a mixed bag thanks to me succumbing to the dreaded Bali Belly. Fortunately we did still manage to get out and explore beyond the main town and monkey forest. Ubud is a frenetic place, full of locals and tourists tearing around on mopeds and endless shops selling souvenirs, yoga mats and local jewellery. Walking out of the town and across the fields to the peace and tranquility of Sweet Orange Warung was a definite highlight.
Sweet Orange Warung is around 20 minutes walk out of Ubud. We went after a rain shower so the ground was pretty muddy. With some off-roading and uneven paths to tread, I’d say this is a trainers not a flip flops kind of walk. It was easy enough to find though, basically north away from the Ubud Palace.
The food was tasty and made from scratch whilst we waited. To start we shared Lumpia (spring rolls) and Tempe Goreng (fried tempeh). The Tempeh was our favourite. Crispy on the outside but soft in the centre. The dipping sauce was the same for both dishes. A salty and lightly spiced take on sweet chilli.
For our mains we had Mie Goreng (fried noodles with chicken, vegetables and a fried egg) and Indonesian Chicken Curry with Red Rice. The curry was the winner of the two dishes. A light and spicy broth which was surprisingly refreshing thanks to cucumber being one of the vegetables. The red rice was nutty and quite al dente, a perfect accompaniment to the soft chicken and sauce.
Dave’s Mie Goreng was nice but a bit like our experience at Sjaki-Tari-Us, the noodles were almost certainly from a packet. Perhaps it’s quite common to serve noodles like this? Either way, the dish was enjoyable and packed with veggies too.
After our meal we stayed for a while and enjoyed the peaceful space around us. Ubud can be a bit full on and given that this was one of the first days in almost a week that I felt hungry enough to eat a full meal, I wanted to make the most of the fresh air.
We spent some time talking to the owner, Putu. She had arrived on a moped during our meal, precariously balancing a box of offerings to place around the restaurant. She was in a great mood because it was Purnama, a celebration of the full moon. Putu told us that she and her family would be heading to a large temple that night to celebrate and give prayers.
We were so lucky to have had the chance to hear more about Balinese Hinduism from Putu and also understand what the offerings we’d seen so much of actually mean. Earlier in the day we’d seen hundreds of women making offerings at a temple near to our homestay so, Putu’s explanation suddenly made sense!
She also showed us her coffee equipment which Dave loved (as a coffee obsessive). For a relatively primitive restaurant set up she had it all going on and we enjoyed a delicious Vietnamese coffee before we left.
If you’re heading to Ubud, do take the time to head out of the town and find Sweet Orange Warung. It’s an interesting walk through alleys and out into rice fields full of ducks. There are sign posts directing the way if you get lost. That day we got a chance to see Ubud as it might have been before all the yogis and backpackers arrived. Bliss.