An intriguing plate comes to a table at Locavore on Jl. Dewi Sita in Ubud, Bali. At first glance, it’s a bright yellow egg yolk adorned with little wild flowers. But when Chef Eelke Plasmeijer mentions the name of the dish, Into the Sawah, Prestige begins to wonder.
“We’re inspired by the sawah, which means rice field in English,” Dutch-born Plasmeijer explains. “This dish consists of elements that you can find in a rice field here. So as well as rice, there are snails, duck and even some frog.”
Into the Sawah is a savoury rice porridge made of Jatiluwih rice with snails. It’s cooked in garlic stock, topped with a slow-cooked duck egg yolk at 64 degrees, frog abon, fern tips and wild flowers. This intriguing dish is one of the many reasons why Locavore is ranked 22nd in “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017”. It’s the only Indonesian restaurant to have made the list.
This casual 36-seater eatery with its recycled wood front door has gained a solid reputation among discerning foodies for its refreshing concept. The restaurant’s owners see its mission as providing “a catalyst between local producers and diners”. The local ingredient-driven menus created each month by Plasmeijer and his partner Chef Ray Adriansyah “celebrate the farmers, fishers and food artisans of Indonesia”.
“Ray and I learned the term locavore from a Canadian journalist when we were working at
Alila Ubud,” recalls Plasmeijer. He and Adriansyah first met in Jakarta, when they worked together at Shy Bar in Kemang. Two years later, they moved to Alila Ubud, where they were introduced to the concept of using local ingredients whenever possible. After two years, they decided to start their own restaurant. Also in the team at Locavore is Adi Karmayasa, as Restaurant Manager. He previously worked at Alila Ubud as well.
“When we started Locavore in 2013, we thought: ‘Let’s try to be as local as possible and to do it with modern European cuisine’,” says Plasmeijer. “We decided to put a lot of effort into finding our sources of ingredients. There are a lot of beautiful things out there that most people don’t know about. Many of our vegetables come from an organic farmer in Baturiti, Pak Komang. We supplied him with the seeds to grow more interesting produce. We use chemical-free pigs from Pak Karsa, who raises free-range pork. As for our ducks, these are supplied from a free-range farm located at the base of a volcano. By working closely with local farmers, we support sustainability within the community.
“We believe imported ingredients are unnecessary. Indonesia has a lot to offer in terms of interesting, delicious produce. We serve Kintamani coffee and use hand-crafted sea salt from north Bali. We also have a zero-waste policy. We use every single bit of the animals we cook, and we don’t throw anything away. We keep 11 black Balinese pigs that eat our kitchen waste. What they don’t eat is composted for the vegetable garden. Other waste is recycled.”
Locavore has an open kitchen so that diners can see Plasmeijer and Adriansyah work their magic. As for the interior, they use recycled wood and sage green paint as a reflection of their commitment to environmental sustainability.
There are two menus: Locavore for non-vegetarians and Herbivore for vegetarians. Each is five to seven dishes long and influenced by European and Indonesian cuisines. “As the name would suggest, Locavore is all about local, from the raw Balinese abalone to the Sumbawa Island oyster, and even through to the plates, silverware and cocktail glasses, which are made in nearby workshops,” says the “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants” website.
“Locavore’s menu lists the origins of all its ingredients, so diners can see the kohlrabi comes from the restaurant’s vegetable garden in Payangan, the pickled seaweed from Lombok and the beef short ribs from Malang, Java. Vegetable sources include ‘Owen’s garden’ – the nearby farm of an Englishman in Plaga, central Bali.”
Less than a year after opening the founders realised they needed a larger kitchen and an outlet for their in-house charcuterie. Locavore to Go has become the little sister of the main restaurant, a free-standing outlet serving up to 100 people a day. Located 100 metres from Locavore and covered in passive solar panels that reduce electricity consumption by at least 50 percent, Locavore to Go is a popular destination for breakfast, lunch and snacks. The menu features deli products and unusual sandwiches. For those preferring a less formal dining experience, a three-course dinner is offered twice a week.
10 Jl. Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali | +62(0) 361 977733 | locavore.co.id
Open: Lunch: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 12pm – 2.30pm | Dinner: Mondays to Saturdays, 6.30pm – 10pm