Features May 30, 2002

Restaurants for vegetarians in town

Wahyuni Kamah, Contributor, Denpasar

Strolling down Denpasar's streets, most of the food vendors are offering seafood, Balinese food, Muslim delicacies or Javanese food mainly made with meat, either fish, chicken or beef. It is also the same in fast food outlets or franchise restaurants.

Vegetarians have very few options to spoil their appetite in this tourist city. Some upper class restaurants do cater to the needs of vegetarians, but their prices often exclude those who are on lower budgets.

There are some medium budget vegetarian restaurants, each with its own characteristics, dotted in and around Denpasar. Here is a look at some of these restaurants.

* Govinda Prasadam.

Location: Jalan Tukad Yeh Aya No. 24, Denpasar, Tel. (0361) 256342. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

What's it got: It is the place to find pure vegetarian food. Run by a group of Hare Krishna devotees, the menu is generally an Indian style but one can also find Balinese food.

You can find, for instance, satay, vegetarian curry and Balinese pepes (spicy steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf), which are not made with meat at all, but with meat substitutes. The variety is limited but it is worth a try.

Taste factor: None of the food contains shallots, garlic, artificial taste enhancer, or shrimp paste. Taste comes from excellent combinations of spices like kencur root, pepper and chilies. The food is very tasty (its satay is excellent) and the pudding is worth trying.

One can also find bread, cake, vegetarian shrimp paste, vegetarian noodles and vegetarian "meat" in a small shop corner inside the restaurant. The portions are small but sufficient enough to fill most empty stomachs.

Price points: The price is reasonable, about Rp 30,000 for two. The place is cozy, as customers eat with the paddy fields on the left and right sides.

* Warung Sehat Pak Oles

Location: Jalan Letda Kajeng 21D, Renon, Denpasar. Tel. 081-361-3445-133. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Looks: The interior in this air-conditioned room is naturally set and made of wood. A bar in the corner has many health drinks which include medicinal herbs jamu. The jamu drinks are named according to its benefits, for instance, super power jamu for men and super lady jamu for women.

What's it got: This is the place to find both vegetarian and health food at reasonable prices. Rice, vegetables and fruit used in the menu are grown organically.

The menu selection includes six kinds of soup, 13 main courses and also some Italian and Chinese food.

Try the favorite sup sehat (healthy soup) whose vegetable combination can lower your cholesterol. Though no artificial taste enhancers are added, the food tastes super.

Eggs are included in the menu. Calling itself a health food restaurant, the dishes and drinks in this restaurant were previously experimented on by Pak (Mister) Oles personally and are mostly curative. Try the red teh rempah -- a spicy, oriental tea.

Price points: The price ranges from Rp 3,000 to Rp 10,000 per portion. Occasionally, special packages are offered at Rp 17,500 ++ per person which includes a plate of organic rice, any kind of soup and an omelet.

The price of the jamu drinks vary from Rp 7,000 to Rp 15,000 per glass.

Verdict: This newly opened restaurant is the best to enjoy healthy food. The prices all have a 10 percent service charge but the service is good and efficient.

* Happy Vegetarian Healthy Food

Location: Jalan Raya Kuta 143, Kuta. Tel. 0816 136 2203 Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

What's it got: This vegetarian restaurant calls itself the spiritual and healthy food restaurant. It is the best place to find a wide selection of vegetarian food. Most food is prepared in Chinese style such as the ayam asam manis (sweet and sour chicken), seafood, satay, barbecued pork, barbecued duck, chicken liver and even fried eels. The names -- chicken, eels and pork -- might scare vegetarians away but the food is entirely pure vegetarian, made of gluten, mushrooms, soybeans and vegetables.

Taste factor: Its taste is much like most other Chinese foods. Like in other vegetarian restaurants, no shallots, garlic or artificial taste enhancer are used. Try its tasty kacang merah (red bean) soup and crispy, yummy pangsit (minced "meat" in crisp fried cases).

Price points: The price ranges from Rp 9,500 to Rp 17,000 per portion. There are also special menu packages offered at reasonable prices. The packages cost Rp 25,000, including soup, a main course and soft drinks. The air-conditioned interior of the restaurant is simple in appearance and the service is good.


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