Locavore Makes It Into Asia’s 50 Best List

Locavore’s impeccable prepared food using sustainably sourced ingredients has garnered it a spot at this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

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Locavore’s impeccable prepared food using sustainably sourced ingredients has garnered it a spot at this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

I’VE MADE many trips to Ubud throughout the years but never really stayed much longer than a day.  The spiritual and cultural epicenter of Bali has many charms, sights, and points of interest but until a few years ago, wasn’t really attractive from a foodie point of view.

I remember the first time I ate at Locavore.  It was the night before my birthday two years ago.  I was on the island with some uni friends, a reunion of sorts. We were in Ubud for the day, and I had planned to be back in Seminyak for dinner. But even if I had laid out plans and timings, the heavens intervened (literally) and massive rain showers got us stuck, my plans to leave Ubud on time to catch our dinner reservations slowly disappeared. I was left with four hungry friends, and no restaurant reservation.

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Now I had heard a few friends talk about this new restaurant in Ubud, opened a few months before which used local ingredients.  And at that particular moment, I quickly remembered the name, Locavore. A quick Google search and I was on the phone, begging the lady on the other end for a table. She said that if I didn’t mind sharing a long table with another party, she would book me in, and voila!

We walked in, and I immediately found the warm interiors and glow of the lighting very welcoming.  The slow procession of dishes and cocktails ensued, punctuated by oohs and ahhs of approval. The ingredients we were told, were all sourced locally. Dishes were plated beautifully and tasted fresh, new and interesting. My friends were united in saying that it was one of the best meals they had ever had. I had chosen well! But there was very little credit I could claim, the food and drink spoke for itself.  Little did I know that two years later, Locavore would be named one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, landing at number 49. And I feel a little proud to have ‘discovered’ them soon after they opened.

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Locavore is the brainchild of chefs-owners Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer. Ray is from Jakarta and attended business school in New Zealand, but eventually shifted to culinary school. Eelke is from The Netherlands and trained at various restaurants including the Michelin-starred Vermeer in Amsterdam. They met when Eelke moved to Jakarta in 2008. The pair soon moved to Bali where they ran the kitchens at Alila Ubud. There they already started to cook with local and artisanal ingredients. In 2013, the two left and together with restaurant manager Adi Karmayasa opened Locavore in November of that year.

It puzzles me why the trend of using locally sourced, sustainable ingredients has not caught on in Bali. Many of the restaurants and hotels on the Island serve food using expensively imported ingredients. Some even touting on their menus and websites that they import most of their ingredients from France, Australia and Japan.

Locavore, is a word which was coined in 2005 in San Francisco to refer to a person who eats only food grown or harvested within a 100 mile radius. And true to their name, Restaurant Locavore does champion local Bali ingredients and tries its best to keep a low carbon foot print when sourcing their ingredients. It doesn’t just stop at where they source their ingredients, their plates, glasses and silverware are also sourced from local artisans.

It is very interesting to note that when you scan through their menu, they meticulously explain where the ingredients are sourced. During my last meal there, (which coincidentally was on the same day as my first visit) showcased a number of hyper local ingredients: hamachi from Amed, North Bali, duck from Baluriti, Central Bali and hi-grade rice sourced from Jatih luwih, Central Bali.  The lamb served on the menu even has a story of its own. They buy whole free-range lambs from Wonosobo, Central Java and break them down themselves. Each day, they have a different cut available and cook and serve this in a way to best showcase the cut. The Saturday I was there, the lamb was served two ways in natural lamb jus with lavage salt, caramelized jicama puree, pickled lettuce sauce, shaved jicama and dehydrated sea grapes.

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One of my favorite dishes is the Watermelon. Watermelon is compressed and flavored to resemble the texture of steak tartare, it is served with wasabi leaf mayonnaise, pickled and fried shallots and is hidden under an elegantly arranged cage of thinly sliced watermelon radishes. It is visually stunning and at the same time wondrous on the palate. The play of textures is truly amazing.

Diners can chose between the herbivore menu or the locavore menu, both of which have seven courses. The meals are started off by a series of amuse bouches and snacks and end with a series of friandises or petit fours. In all, expect a minimum three hour meal. So just sit back and relax, and let the team pamper you with their faultless service and attention to detail.

During my last meal there, barely a week after they claimed their Asia’s 50 Best and Indonesia’s Best restaurant awards, I got a chance to sit briefly with the chef duo and pick their brains about what makes Restaurant Locavore click. “Nothing has changed,” they both say in unison, as I ask what the response has been after they were named to the list. “We still work as hard as ever, and try to churn out new dishes every Monday,” says Ray.

“It was an incredible feeling to be amongst the best chefs in the region, people we admire and respect,” Eelke shares of their experience of being at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony.

“Now the challenge is to stay on the list and even climb higher,” Eelke ends, as they leave me to start lunch service. With this level of passion and dedication for their craft, and the growing list of fans Locavore has, I am sure that is a foregone conclusion.

LOCAVORE
Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali
T: +62 361 977 733
IG: @restaurantlocavore
www.locavore.co.id


Written by Jed Doble July 25, 2016.

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