Plate of the Gods: A Gado-Gado Review


 Life has been deliciously full, it has been a bit challenging to find time to write. 🙂 In honor of the bounty of Bali bliss and this being post number 101,  I will switch up the posting style and just share about the glorious local dish called gado-gado. The name of the plate speaks wonders alone; it is the Balinese version of salad for they don’t eat much lettuce here, a typical dish found everywhere from street markets to classy eateries. Basic recipe includes blanched vegetables with peanut sauce. Sometimes there is tofu, sometimes there is tempe, often it is topped with a fried egg and garnished with rice and/or prawn crackers. I lean towards the vegan, no egg, no shrimp crisps. Let’s eat!

1. Atman Cafe: New eco-conscious restaurant that bans plastic straws and plays Krishna Das among many other popular kirtan musicians. High points for the ambiance and the hot beverages served with complimentary heart shaped shortbread cookies. The owner is often present, a kind sister who prays often to the altar in the center of the room. As for the gado-gado the blanched vegetables are fresher than most, a wide mix of water spinach, long beans, snap peas, sprouts, carrots, and cabbage, the tofu chunks lightly steamed are moist and the peanut sauce perfectly smooth. The portion is a bit small for the price of the plate, which is around $3.25.

2. Bali Buddha: Organic popular yogi/yuppy hangout with the best plush purple cushions to chill (although no wifi to discourage the lounging) and homemade kombucha tea. The plating of this dish is fun with individual piles of veggies and the sticky rice squares quite filling but the peanut sauce is most bland, this version is healthy but boring. It could use some more color, no? Perhaps a tomato garnish or a slice of chili. Cost is $3.00. We travel on to the next…

3. Warung Ijo: Tiny local warung (restaurant) on the main road with no windows and little draft. Loud tv noise is complimented by the most adorable young Muslim girl cooking traditional food only. No tourists in site and beverages for $0.30 make this place worthwhile for quick, cheap nutrition. The gado-gado is mostly pressed rice circles and potatoes sprinkled with a few fried tempe pieces, cabbage shreds, long beans, and diced carrots. Could use more legumes than carbs but the fluid peanut sauce has strong notes of coconut milk and the chili sambal served alongside is divine. Spicy love. $1.00 per plate.

4. Warung Taman Curry: Also a local joint on the main road but with better ventilation. Outdoor seating with loud motorbike traffic noise and pesky mosquitoes but attentive staff. Blanched veggies are a decent assortment and the dish includes both toasted tempe and tofu (hail to the protein gods!) although they are both a bit dry. Many crackers, which I personally don’t enjoy for they taste like cardboard (Balinese rice cakes I opine), make the plate pretty along with the splash of black rojak sauce (similar to Chinese hoisen) and the price fits the quality at $2.00. MSG additive a strong possibility. (Burp). Continue the gorge…

5. Warung Igelanca: Local yet with a strong promise of no MSG. Super friendly waitresses and a mixed crowd of diners. Raw cucumber and lettuce mixed with steamed cabbage makes an interesting texture combination. Lots of juicy tempe and mediocre peanut sauce that could use another round in the blender. China is cute as is the complimentary jasmine tea. $2.25. Ehh. Moving on…

6. Shekinah: Ok. So this isn’t really gado-gado but for all intensive purposes is the same concept. Here we share another Balinese “salad” called lotek. The ingredients seem to be the same, the sauce simply a bit thinner (due to the addition of coconut milk) and is mixed in with the steamed vegetables instead of gracefully poured on the top. Tons of bean sprouts and crushed peanuts make this dish crunchy and fun. The tofu is overcooked and the annoying crackers merely picturesque but the price is perfect at $2.00.

7. Gado-gado a la Malaysia: I had this my one evening in Kuala Lumpur, I can’t recall the local name of the dish but it was one of the more memorable. The portion was huge, the pressed rice tabs uniquely smooth, the water spinach filled with needed iron. No silly crackers and plenty of prostitutes offering services on the street outside the eatery. The peanut sauce wins the prize of being a perfect balance of spice and creaminess, one can drink it solo (which I did happily). $2.00. I am stuffed!


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: 30 Delicious Indonesian Dishes You Need To Try |

  2. Pingback: 30 Delicious Indonesian Dishes You Need To Try | Upmarket World

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