For anyone unaware of its meaning, spotting a Slow Food sign on a restaurant wall could be a touch unsettling. If they’ve turned up ravenous, it may even be enough to send them packing, heading back onto the street to source a “quicker” alternative. But for those who are familiar with the Slow Food movement, the sign is a welcomed assurance that they are standing in a damn good establishment; one that stands as the antithesis of the fast food epidemic and understands the labour of love required for a truly good meal.
Understanding the philosophy of Slow Food
Although it might sound like a new-age concept, the Slow Food organisation first formed in Italy in the 1980s in response to the proposal of a McDonald’s being built on the Spanish Steps in Rome.
…a comprehensive philosophical approach to food, highlighting the link between our eating habits, the planet, politics and people.
What initially started as an intent to “defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life,” has evolved into a comprehensive philosophical approach to food, highlighting the link between our eating habits, the planet, politics and people.
On an international scale, Slow Food stands for three interconnected principles: good, clean and fair. Good meaning quality, flavoursome and healthy food; clean meaning food produced in a way that does not harm the environment; and fair meaning food that is sold at accessible prices for consumers and food that allows fair conditions and pay for producers.
About the Slow food snail in Bali
Slow Food Bali’s snail of approval is a way to encourage food service establishments to act ethically and responsibly. The snail is awarded to those who adhere to Slow Food Bali’s guidelines; ensuring at least 75% of their menu uses ingredients produced in Indonesia, sustainably managing their waste and paying fair wages to their employees.
Where to find Slow Food in Bali
Here are a few of the island’s greatest snail approved eating destinations – show your support by paying them a visit.
The Slow, Canggu
The aptly named modern eatery with menu influenced by South American and Asian flavours, we all know fusion is all the rage these days. Head chef Shannon Moran has focused on seasonal and sustainable products. Supporting local business wherever possible. Everything on the menu is made from scratch; Infused, fermented, dehydrated, cured and cooked. Even the cocktails are pre-batched and bottled in house and worth sampling the innovative menu.
Standout menu items: Breakfast- The drunkard noodles. Lunch- Lamb kofta, eggplant relish, tabouli, zaatar yogurt & whole wheat pita. Dinner – Slow cooked octopus, charred on bed of endamame and olives.
Address: Located in the heart of Canggu,
300 meters from Batu Bolong surf spot (Old Mans)
Jalan Batu Bolong 97, Canggu
Bali Buda: Kerobokan, Ubud and Badung
Bali Buda was established in 1994 on the premise of creating real food by real people. Before the sun rises, their kitchens across the island have churned out over 500 loaves of bread with pure people power. The farms that they buy their produce from are listed on their website for the world to discern, and each one has been under the direct supervision of the Bali Organic Association for over ten years. The result is homely, wholesome meals that ooze love. A hotspot for the Bali expat crowd, the Bali Buda stores are also a great place to pick up a few trustworthy and ethical organic groceries and supplies.
Standout menu items: The live food platter of jicama, dried tomatoes, cucumber, raw flaxseed crackers, and raw food spreads; the pumpkin gnocchi; and the eggplant and almond enchiladas.
Phone number: +62 361 8445936
Address: Jalab Banjar Anyar #24, Kerobokan, 80361, Bali
Phone number: +62 361 976324
Address: Jalan Jembawan #1 (across from the Ubud Post Office) Ubud, Mas, Gianyar 80571, Bali
Address: Jalan Raya Uluwatu, Br Wanagiri Nusa Dua, Badung, Bali
Locavore: Ubud, central Bali
Locavore stole our hearts and tastebuds long before we knew about their snail of approval. This culinary masterpiece in the heart of Ubud has built up quite a reputation, not just as a place of ethical practises and dedication to local seasonal products, but as a five-star dining experience. Take in the depths of Locavore’s capabilities over a 9 course tasting menu dinner, opting for either the herbivore or the carnivore – either one will have you squealing.
Standout menu items: Avocado and oyster sorbet. And the butternut pumpkin cooked with vanilla and topped with toasted local seeds and nuts, fresh ginger, tarragon and thick yoghurt.
Address: no 80571, Jl. Dewisita No.1, Ubud, Kab. Gianyar, Bali 80571
Bali Silent Retreat: Penatahan, central Bali
In the highlands of central Bali, a self-sustaining off-the-grid retreat offers an intensely dedicated slow food experience. Fruits and vegetables are harvested several times per day and eaten within 3 hours; served in bowls and plates made of all natural materials. Dishes are sweetened by sugar from the retreat’s own palm trees and delicacies like smoked coconut surmount any cravings for meat. Although there is probably no better time to truly savour the tastes of food than during a weeklong bout of silence, those unsure about the whole concept can enjoy the food phenomenon of Bali Silence Retreat without committing to a stay. Food & Program Day Passes are available for US $30 inclusive of meals, yoga, meditation, guided rice terrace hike and plenty more.
Standout menu items: The homegrown banana pancakes and the red rice salad with raisins, mango, chilli and mint.
Phone number: +6281353486517
Address: Penatahan, Penebel, Tabanan Regency, Bali
Batan Waru: Ubud, central Bali
Batan Waru is the Indonesian offering of the Bali Good Food collective. Working directly with fisherman on Bali’s East Nusamba coast and harvesting vegetables and herbs from their own four-hectare organic garden in Kintamani, this slow food approved menu embraces the freshest forms of local cuisine. Above and beyond the Slow Food requisite for fair, Bali Good Food encourage their team to develop their own cottage industries, with many of the waitresses and chefs now acting as suppliers as well as workers. Venture to the homely original in Ubud or check out their new location at Lippo Mall in Kuta.
Standout menu items: Tempeh hash with poached eggs and tempeh fries; bubur sumsum of sticky black rice with coconut and palm sugar; and otak-otak banana leaf roasted fish cakes.
Phone number: +62 361 977 528
Address: Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Kab. Gianyar, Bali 80571
Cuca: Jimbaran, south Bali
Tapas, cocktails, and desserts: the holy trinity of dining out. Cuca is a casual affair of food sharing and palette delighting. Chose to sit at the food bar overlooking the “kitchen theatre”, the intimate dining room or the garden lounge. Once you’re head over heels for the Cuca concept, sign up for one of their certified classes that dissect the perception of flavors, delve into the world of cocktails and encourage creative, recipe free cooking. A 3 and a half hour class will set you back 500,000 Rp, or you can top it off with a dinner for just 850,000.
Standout menu items: Lombok scallops with mashed cauliflower, claypot mushroom rice, and ceviche with chilli lime dressing and watermelon.
Phone number: +62 361 708066
Address: Jalan Yoga Perkanthi, Jimbaran, Bali 80364
Dapoer at Bambu Indah: Sayan, central Bali
Bambu Indah is an eco-luxury boutique hotel overlooking rice paddy fields and the Ayung River. 14 Javanese houses are available for booking at very reasonable prices, each one lovingly decorated with artworks and traditional textiles. Bambu Indah’s restaurant, Dapoer, doesn’t fail to live up to the standard of the hotel. Breads, granola, jams and teas are all made on site and their garden – which uses natural fertilizers including compost made from organic waste – provides much of the goodness served up throughout the day.
Phone number: +62 361 977922
Address: Jalan Banjar Baung, Desa Sayan, Ubud, Bali 80571
Green Ginger Noodle House: Canggu, south Bali
Green Ginger Noodle House is a humble little restaurant with garden ambience and endearing décor that offers exquisite vegetarian food reflecting the vast tastes of South East Asia. The restaurant seems to go about its ethical and sustainable policies without much of a song and dance. Their staff hand make bags from old newspapers for takeaway and deliveries; they harvest and filter rainwater to use in their kitchen; and all of their organic waste gets eaten by pigs. Things they haven’t done – such as swap to energy efficient light bulbs in their dining areas – they fess up to on their website with a promise to make changes as soon as they can. Ten points for honesty, one hundred points for incredible food.
Standout menu items: Tofu wontons with ginger and shitake; and miso ramen Japanese egg noodle soup.
Phone number: +62 878 6211 2729
Address: Jalan Raya Pantai Berawa, Pelambingan, Bali
Juice Ja: Ubud, central Bali
With a handy little menu denoting vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten-free dishes, Juice Ja Café is far more than just a juice bar. Stroll in for an all day breakfast of scrambled tofu with a “liver loving” juice, or head in later for sate tempeh skewers and a grilled tuna steak. Simple, clean, organic Slow Food in the heart of Ubud.
Standout menu items: Vegetarian quesadillas and coconut macaroons.
Phone number: +62 361 971 056
Address: Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Kab. Gianyar, Bali 80571
Mantra Nature Retreat: Kerambitan, Tabanan
Good things come to those who venture west past Canggu – good things like Mantra Nature Retreat. It just makes sense that this boutique accommodation offering – complete with wooden garden paths, antique furnishings and a jungle outlook – offers authentic, wholesome food. Expect a variety of locally sourced and organically grown salads, fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood straight from the ocean, and only the finest in locally sourced meats.
Phone number: +62 361 7802769
Address: Jalan Raya Pantai Pasut, Tibubiu Kelod Kerambitan, Kec. Tabanan, Bali 82161
Plantation at Alila: Ubud, central Bali
Don’t go to Plantation on an empty stomach – you’re going to need at least an hour to sort through the extensive menu. But then again, don’t go too full, you’re likely to get over excited and order far too much food. Traditional and authentic meals from the banjars (neighbourhoods) of Ubud are offered up alongside French inspired culinary magic and modern dining dishes. Overlooking the Ayung River and 15 minutes from the mayhem of Ubud, this is one to go back to time and time again.
Standout menu items: A seasonal tasting menu should do the trick.
Phone number: +62 361 975 963
Address: Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar, Bali 80572
Puri Ganesha: Pemuteran Bay, north Bali
Puri Ganesha is an authentic, homely retreat in the north of Bali offering a purely living food menu. The food on offer changes daily, evidence they are utilising fresh, local produce with plenty of imagination. Have it served on the beachfront over candlelight, packed into a picnic, or if you’re staying overnight enjoy the Rupiah millionaire’s champagne breakfast in bed – the joy!
Phone number: +62 362 94766
Address: Pantai Pemuteran, Gerokgak, North Bali , Singaraja 81155, Bali
Samadi: Canggu, south Bali
Samadi Bali is a whole life concept. From yoga classes, to organic farmer’s markets, to happiness workshops and of course, their incredible café. A blend of inspiring raw dishes (think lasagne of thin sliced zucchini, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, basil sauce and nut-seed paste) compliment a substantial list of Indian delights (think chickpea curry with organic red rice). They name it “gourmetarian” sunny world-cuisine. Open for breakfast lunch and dinner most days of the week, this hideaway in Canggu is guilt free and goodness guaranteed.
Standout menu items: Samadi veggie naked burger (no bread involved)
served with tzatziki, caramelised onions and your choice of sautéed vegetable or potato wedges; the red rice salad of apricot, raisins, nuts, coriander, cherry tomatoes and cucumber; and don’t forget the vegan chocolate cake.
Phone number: +62 812 3831 2505
Address: Jl. Padang Linjong, Kuta Utara, Kab. Badung, Bali 80351
The Elephant, Ubud, central Bali
A vegetarian and vegan restaurant cum wine bar cum juice and smoothie bar – what more could any Slow Food seeker ask for? The Elephant has all the ingredients for a perfect restaurant – jungle views, a gorgeous vintage fit-out and plenty of incredible meals to boot. If all that isn’t enough, they even have great coffee (gasp!) and a phenomenal dessert menu (go for the Thai sticky rice with mango and lemon ricotta almond cake).
Standout menu items: The spicy coconut laksa with vegetables and tofu; polenta chips a la martini with Himalayan pink salt and pesto aioli; and mojitos made with fresh sugar cane juice
Phone number: +62 851 0016 1907
Address: Hotel Taman Indrakila, Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Campuhan, Ubud
Warung Schnitzel, Ubud, central Bali
Despite Warung Schnitzel being established by passionate raw food connoisseur, Mara Dowling, it is actually a place for hearty, meaty home-style cooking. Fusing European and Asian cuisines, it’s a crowd pleasing Slow Food restaurant that you can take anyone along to without hearing any complaints or seeing any looks of confusion when the menu gets assessed.
Standout menu items: The cashew, fresh coconut, banana and cinnamon smoothie; seared tuna with lemon, garlic and butter sauce; and the pumpkin and spinach curry.
Phone number: +62 361 970744
Address: Jalan Sriwedari No. 2, Ubud, Bali 80571
Do you know a food producer, market, food store, restaurant, or other food service establishment that deserves the Slow Food Snail of Approval? Submit a nomination on the Slow Food Bali website here.