Category Archives: Food

Everybody has to eat, and every country, city, town, and people has it’s own culinary delights. Explore food around the world.

What We Ate: Food in Bali

We were mostly working (at a slow pace due to the turtle internet speed) during the week we were there so we didn’t get out and try a ton of food in Bali but we still tried some! Much of what we ate we cooked at our place but we also tried a few different places. If you’re interested in other food we ate in Indonesia, I also wrote posts on restaurants and desserts we tried in Yogyakarta proper. We haven’t written much yet about the food we ate in the countryside of Java but we may get to that as well (that will include a couple more authentic/local dishes which there aren’t a ton of in this post 🙈)

I do believe all the food in Bali we ate was vegetarian though (except two of Kyle’s meals) and a decent amount of it was vegan as well. While I don’t find it too difficult to be vegetarian most places, Bali is somewhat known for being pretty veg-friendly. Overall nothing we ate here was bad, but nothing we ate out was truly exceptional either (except maybe some of what Kyle made).

Note: exchange rate conversions are based on the time we made these purchases (May 2016).

Desserts

Paleta’s Way

Paleta’s Way Bali

The first bit of food in Bali we ate was actually Mexican ice cream (ice pops called paletas). We got into our Airbnb in the evening and, as per usual, were hungry and ready to get out exploring. We wandered down the road to towards the grocery store and ran into this place on the way. The ice cream sounded appealing to us at the time and it was! The place has some fun decor and they use natural ingredients without artificial flavoring or tons of sugar making it a healthier snack/dessert. We passed it often in the week we were there and the people there were quite friendly to us.

Location:

There are allegedly few different locations on Bali. We were staying in Kuta so we went to the location there though none of these actually appear to be the one we went to! It was right across from the Sunset Point Shopping Centre. Here is their website.

What they offer/what we ate:

There are many different flavors including both creamy and icy options. I chose watermelon and Kyle got dragonfruit. I liked Kyle’s a little better but they were both quite good. In addition to what we ordered, you can get flavors like durian (not us!), avocado, kiwi, and banana Nutella (next time)! Here is their menu.

Cost:

In general, an ice cream bar (palette) ranges from 20,000 – 35,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($1.50-$2.75). It cost us 45,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($3.31) for two ice creams. Here is a photo we took of the menu as well.

Decor at Paleta's WayWatermelon paletteDragonfruit Palette

BreadTalk Bakery

Briana-14

Just across from Paleta’s Way is the Sunset Point Shopping Centre which contains (or contained depending on how quickly things change here) a grocery store, a few other stores, and this bakery. As has seemingly been the case in many bakeries we’ve visited, they didn’t want us to take pictures inside the bakery so can’t provide anything there. It was a nice place with lots of options (and air-conditioning – lol) and we picked up snacks there a few times.

Location:

There are locations throughout Bali. We went to the Kuta Sunset Point location. And here is their website.

What they offer/what we ate:

Bread, muffins, cakes, donuts, chocolate croissant, etc. I  couldn’t find a pic of our chocolate covered croissant, so here’s a link to a pic for you. Those are pretty yummy (we found everything to be good).

Cost

We made three visits here and spent a total of 69,500 Indonesian Rupiah ($5.08). I can’t remember how much the individual items cost but I do have recorded that on one visit we chose three items which totaled to $2.05 (I did not record the number of items we bought on the other two visits).

Sprinkle donutFilled donut

 Gelato Factory

Gelato Factory Kuta Bali

We stopped here after dinner one night and shared a cone. We enjoyed it.

Location:  

There are several locations. We went to one in Kuta not far from the beach (since we walked from the beach). 

What they offer/what we ate:

I believe we got Biscottino (though it might have been stracciatella)! There are some flavors listed on the website (there is ice cream and sorbet) but if you don’t feel like looking here are some of their more interesting options: cinnamon, raspberry, lemon basil, durian, passionfruit, and meringue (but they also have normal stuff too like oreo and mint chocolate). Learn more on their website.

Cost:

30,000 IR ($2.20)

Our gelato

Extra: Gas Station Boba Tea

Boba tea

Just gonna throw this one in here too because we did get this while out and I’m a big boba fan. I mean it wasn’t a special boba place – but now you know some gas stations carry it!

Location:

Gas station somewhere on the island between Ubud and Kuta (we were lost and looking for a place to charge our dead phones).

What they offer/what we ate:

They had some different flavor options. We can’t remember what we got but something pretty standard.

Cost:

5,700 IR ($0.41)

Restaurants

Zula Vegetarian Paradise

Lemon Drink and Coconut

Since we read that food in Bali is more vegetarian-friendly we opted to check out a couple of their specifically vegetarian restaurants. Overall we would not say rate the food as amazing but we did think it was quite good and it had some unique options.

Location:

There is a list of locations on their website. Based on the pics, neither looks like the location we visited, but this one (Jl. Dhyana Pura No.5, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia) seems like where we would have gone location-wise.

What they offer/what we ate:

I had buckwheat pancakes (which came with raisin applesauce) and a lemonada and Kyle had a falafel sandwich (which came with fries) and a coconut (to drink). The menuf includes many vegetarian options like tofu cheese sandwich, nasi goreng (local), or even avocado toast! Drink options include coffee, various teas, milkshakes, a ginger float, etc. The menu is available online if you’d like to see more.

Cost:

The total cost for both of our meals and drinks was 176,000 IR ($12.93).

Other info:

They had some motorbike parking out front (good, since that’s how we got there).

Briana-23
Pancakes and raisin stuff

Earth Cafe

Earth Cafe

We thought this would be another good vegetarian place to go but it turns out it was basically the exact same place with a different name! Well, pretty much the same menu at least (though it is an extensive menu). We sat upstairs outside on the little balcony area and that was nice, it had a Bali kind of vibe.

Location:

There is a location in Seminyak and one in Ubud (you can find this information on their website.)

What they offer/what we ate:

I got a portobello burger and Kyle got a falafel sandwich again. Both came with fries, sauce, and coleslaw. I think we shared a lemonada for a drink here. It came with a lemongrass straw this time which we thought was neat.

Cost:

165,000 IR ($12.07)

Portobello burger
Kyle at Earth CafeLemonada

Cafe Bali 

Cafe Bali

We stopped here on our way back to our place after an afternoon at the beach. A lot of the food in the area was slightly more expensive than we preferred so it took looking around a little to find something that looked appetizing and affordable. This was actually kind of a fancy-looking place with nice decor so I felt a tad bit like we didn’t quite belong there but it was all good. At the end, they gave us the check in this box with candy which was neat/different.

Location:

Here is the Google Maps location.

What they offer/what we ate:

I debated a couple things and ultimately got a quesadilla because it’s what I wanted and it was cheaper. It was good but not very filling. Albeit it was an appetizer so I knew I was taking a risk that it could be small or large or anywhere in between but I may have chosen something else had I known. Cue us going to Gelato Factory afterward! We don’t remember what Kyle got but it was some kind of meat kebab, rice puffs, and rice. We did not get any drinks.

Cost:

Our food cost 110,000 ($8.08)

Quesdilla
Rice and kebab
Briana-50

Sun Shoot Food’N Drinks

We called this ‘Shooters’ (as our hosts did I think) and went here one of our first nights in Bali because it was just down the road. We passed by it other times and It appeared to be frequented by our Airbnb hosts who would go and sit out there and drink. Seating was mostly outdoors and was nice. The food was decent. We were also offered a free shot (probably to entice us to order more – we were on quite a budget so it did not work!) The seating is mostly outdoors and it’s in a more quiet area which may appeal to some (but the restaurant itself sometimes has live music).

Unfortunately, we do not have any pics of the area and it does not seem to have much of an internet presence.

Location:

Here is the Google Maps link

What they offer/what we ate:

I had pesto pasta (I love pesto) and we can’t remember what Kyle ate but I believe it was a local Indonesian dish.

Cost:

Together our meals cost 143,000 IR ($10.52)

Cooking/Eating at our Place

Grocery Store 

Grocery store

We tend to enjoy checking out the grocery stores wherever we go. It’s fun to see what unique items any given place will stock. Here we found some of the typical fruits you’ll see in various parts of southeast Asia that we enjoy like passionfruit and dragonfruit. They even had red dragonfruit which we did not realize was a little more expensive until we were at the check out (because we thought the labeled price was for both), but it was all fine because we got to try something new and it was very good!

In our 7 days there, we visited the grocery store 7 times! Though according to my records, one visit was just for laundry detergent, another was solely for tater tots, and another time we just got beer and chocolate. It was also not a far walk and on the way to/from most other things. We spent a total of $70.12 on groceries during that week, including the little bit of dog food we got for a sad stray dog that stayed outside of the store.

Grocery store spices

Meals

Dishes at home Tempeh stir fry

We made some of our standard for meals at the time like noodles or rice with variations of vegetables, sauces, and usually tofu but Kyle is also always trying slightly new creative takes on what we already eat by incorporating what all we have available and what we feel like eating. We had potatoes and pineapple in a couple of our stir-fry meals (we don’t normally) and also incorporated tempeh into our meals as an alternative to tofu sometimes. Tempeh actually originates in Indonesia so it’s a good local addition.

Vegetables, noodles, tofu, etc.

I also had a couple sort of variations of what some might call “Bali bowls”. We intended to get one out (like at a restaurant there) but the place we wanted to go closed early and we didn’t realize that until it was too late. For me, it was just a mix of fruit and oats/granola (though I also added yogurt to one) but other people add things like

Bali bowl

Snacks and desserts

We primarily snacked on fresh fruit, fried potatoes and plantains, candy, and baked goods from BreadTalk. We recognized the silver queen brand from Java and thought it was a good local brand so over our time in Indonesia we tried many of their different candy bars.

Tater totsFries and plantains
PassionfruitRed dragonfruit

Alcohol (Beer)

Kyle tried a couple regional beers here (Bintang Pilsner and Bali Hai) which you can read a little more about in his South and Southeast Asian beer review post.

Bali beer anker stout

~B~

View of Silicon Valley from Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple San Jose California

Visit Sikh Gurdwara Sahib Temple in San Jose

The city of San Jose, California has many hidden gems within the valley. Often overshadowed by it’s neighbor San Francisco, some of the great places can become ignored. What this really means though, is that you can have a more intimate experience where you won’t be beleaguered by tourists. We recently stumbled upon the Sikh Gurdwara Sahib Temple, and it is fantastic.

A Sikh Temple Overlooking the Silicon Valley

First and foremost, one should note that Gurdwara Sahib is an active Sikh temple. It was founded in 1985 by the then growing Sikh community. In 1995, leaders bought land outside of the city to begin construction of what would become the largest Gurdwara in North America at 90,000 sq ft.

Kyle and Briana in front of Gurdwara Sahib

Visiting Gurdwara Sahib

We really had no idea about the temple. Briana managed to stumble upon it as a picture on the internet, and instantly our thoughts were, “We have to go there.” With a little research, we soon knew what we needed to know.

The temple stands above the valley, about halfway up a mountain at 3636 Murillo Ave San Jose , CA 95148.

The drive is simple enough to make, and the temple is so prominent that you cannot miss it when you pass by.

Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple

There is plenty of parking, and unless you are visiting during a morning prayer, you should have no difficulty finding a spot.

Enter Gurdwara Sahib, a Place of Worship

At first, we weren’t really sure how to go about visiting. We enjoyed the front fountain and the views of Silicon Valley before us. This spot is a great selfie-spot, and attracts many people. Luckily, the friendliness of the families and worshippers quickly made us feel comfortable enough to proceed in.

Briana posing by the fountain
Fountain view of Silicon Valley

The front building is where you should enter. In here you will find a place to store your shoes, divided into men’s and women’s areas. I wasn’t aware of this, and actually stored my shoes in the women’s section – luckily it didn’t seem to be a big deal.

Shoe locker in Gurdwara Sahib

Then, we took the fresh linens called rumaals provided to cover our hair. Both men and women are expected to cover their heads. Men wear a turban, while women wear it as a shawl. But as a visitor, the only important thing here, is to do your best and cover it. If you aren’t sure, there should be an attendant or someone who will help you.

Covering up for Gurdwara Sahib

As well, there is a poster on the walls that will instruct you on exactly what you need to know.

Gurdwara Sahib Instructional Poster

Be aware that you should dress conservatively here. Wearing pants, and covering up your shoulders and knees should be fine though. We saw a few people who were wearing shorts, but you should err on the side of respect.

Interior of the entry hall at Gurdwara Sahib San Jose

Chants and Songs of Praise

We then proceeded through the back doors of the front building, leading to a covered walkway lined with flowers, that brought us to the main prayer hall. The prayer hall is huge. Upon opening the doors, you are greeted to the welcoming, yet completely foreign sound of Punjabi singing.

Flowers at Gurdwara Sahib
Prayer Hall of Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple San Jose

Sitting down, you find that the floor provides you with the softest carpet. It’s very easy to simply sit and listen here. On the wall opposite the entrance, there are large projection screens that show what is being sung with English translation. It is a nice touch that provides context to visitors such as us who have no clue to what is going on.

Who are Sikhs?

Sikhs are followers of the Sikh faith based on the teachings of Guru Nanak. The faith is a relatively recent religion that developed out of persecution in the Punjab region of what is today northwestern India and northeastern Pakistan around 1520 CE.

The Travels of Guru Nanak

Sikhs believe in one God, who is omnipresent. They are very tolerant of other religions, with a basic belief that all religions are worshipping the same God, just through different interpretations. The important emphasis is to have a union with God, to provide service to the community, and to promote justice and equality.

The Three Pillars of Sikhism

Of course, this is only an incredibly brief summation.For the curious, check out a far more in depth explanation here. Or, ask a Sikh! San Jose is home to a very large Sikh population, many of whom will be glad to provide further insight.

Quick Facts:

  • 5th largest religion in the world
  • Sikhs have been in the United States for 100 years
  • 99% of all people wearing turbans are Sikh
  • 700K Sikhs live in the United States
  • 25 million Sikhs practice world wide

View through the arch

Familial Hospitality and Delicious Food at the Langar Hall

Now I must admit, that a significant reason why I wanted to visit Gurdwara Sahib was the Langar Hall. What is the Langar Hall? It’s the food hall. Present at all Gurdwaras, Langar Halls provide food to anyone who visits, free of charge.

We exited the prayer room after listening for about twenty minutes. In the back right of the complex is another large room – the Langar Hall. You grab a metal tray, get in line, and get served absolutely delicious food.

Interior of Langar Hall Gurdwara Sahib

As per the religion, the food is vegetarian. It is also traditionally Punjabi. For those unfamiliar with what that means, it’s simply Indian food that you are most likely familiar with – with the exception of chicken tikka, that is actually British. We were served a thali set of Aloo Matar, curried beans, roti, rice pudding, and a sour yogurt curry I can’t identify. It was incredibly delicious and filling.

Thali Plate in the Langar Hall

Now, while the food is free – we suggest that you leave a donation in the donation box as we did. We feel that the Sikh community is very humble, and expected nothing of us, while offering us extraordinary hospitality – the least we could do was donate. Another option, is that you can volunteer to serve there as well.

We sat on carpets on the floor to eat. Ultimately, we were welcomed to the temple and we truly enjoyed the experience and the food. The food does change day to day, so we cannot tell you what you will get when you visit. Just be sure not to take more than you can eat.

Langar Hall Dining Carpet

Closing Sunset

We made our way out of the temple just as the sun was beginning to set. This was Briana’s primary desire for visiting. As we had seen before when we arrived, the fountain overlook provided for excellent views.

Sikhs watching the sunset
Looking towards home
Briana Looking over Silicon Valley
View of Silicon Valley and Spider

After the sun disappeared behind the Santa Cruz mountains, we made our way to the car and drove home. The Gurdwara Sahib temple is a wonderful place to visit in San Jose.

Check their website for hours and day to day events.

~K~

Kyle wearing a bandana

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Guarded by a giant golden statue, with the cacophonous yells of monkeys, you’ll find the Batu Caves looking down upon Kuala Lumpur. Weathered and rugged limestone hills steeply climb upwards, adorned with festoons of jungle foliage, giving way to one of the most popular Hindu shrines in the world outside of India.

Upon coming to Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves was one of – if not the – top thing that we wanted to see. The caves are very easy to access. You can take the metro directly to the town of Gombak where the shrine resides for RM 4.40 (~$1.50) from KL Sentral Station. However, we had to take an Uber to the caves, as we were in Petaling Jaya which did not have rail access. This was not an issue though – it was cheap, quick, and efficient.

Consecrated Gold Statue of Lord Mudrugan

Upon arriving to the caves, you will first notice the golden statue of Lord Murugan. It towers above you at the entrance to the long staircase. Which brings me to the second thing you’ll notice immediately – the stairs. There are 272 concrete steps bringing you to the cave complex within the hill.

Batu Caves Stair Entry

The Batu Caves are an active religious site, and you should come dressed appropriately. This means wearing shirt sleeves and covered knees for me, and to covering shoulders and legs for women. If you don’t meet these requirement, you cannot enter – however there are usually attendants at the base of the stairs renting out sarongs for only a few RM each. Actually entering the cave complex itself is free.

We began our climb in the late morning under the surprisingly warm January sun. We took our time climbing the stairs, but it only took ten or fifteen minutes to reach the first landing. Along the way, we took time to admire the jungle and local inhabitants of the caves – namely monkeys.

Climbing the Stairs
Monkeys Just Hanging Out
Mischievous Monkey

The monkeys keep their distance mostly, but as we’ve learned in other locations, they are wildly unpredictable, curious, and will take a swipe at any opportunity. On the way up, we saw a baby monkey had managed to swipe an entire ice cream cone.

Monkey With Ice Cream
Monkey Stealing a Waterbottle

Dark Cave

We took our first stop at the landing of Dark Cave. The Dark Cave is an undeveloped part of the cave complex, which offers tours. There is a 45 minute guided tour for RM 35 (~$10) running every 20 minutes. For larger groups and advanced notice, you can book a 3 – 4 hour tour, further exploring the cave complex for around RM 80 (~$22) a person.

Dark Cave Entrance

We didn’t take the tour, because we didn’t have closed-toe shoes. If you have the time and opportunity it is a great tour though. The caves are home to the rarest spider in the world, endemic geckos, and other fauna found only here. The 2 km complex exhibits a wide range of geological formations with stalagmites, stalactites, cave curtains, flow stones, cave pearls and scallops, and other features. Instead of taking of the tour, we read the informative plaques at the entrance to the cave, and watched the antics of the monkeys – very entertaining.

Cave Map
Batu Caves Flow Stone
Plaque at Batu Caves

Temple Cave

After a half hour, we continued up the last third of the stairs to the shrine. When you arrive at the top of the stairs you will find a large landing opening to a large cave atrium. You will actually need to descend more steps into the main “room” which houses several small shrines.

Kyle and Bri on the Steps
Inside the main room
Shrine within Batu Caves

Various vendors will sell you trinkets, drinks, and other items while up here. Keep in mind that the drinks in the shrine are more expensive than at the base because everything must be carried up by hand – no elevator or wheel-chair access here.

Proceed further into the cave and you find another shrine in the back. Here the roof gives way and light enters the cave. This allows the cave to feel more open and inviting than many other cave complexes you may encounter.

Staircase to Interior Shrine
Shrine Within Batu Caves

Batu Caves is actually a rather recent development. The caves are estimated to be 400 million years old, and has been used by the indigenous Temuan people for centuries. Modern day usage of the caves began in 1860 with Chinese settlers  excavating guano for fertilizer. The caves then became famous after being recorded by colonial authorities and the American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878.

An Indian trader named Pillai was inspired by the ‘vel’-shaped entrance to the cave. In 1890 he founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple within the cave. Wooden steps to the temple were originally put in, but concrete steps were placed in 1920 to accommodate the heavy number of visitors.

Thaipusam

The Batu Caves serves as the premier place to be outside of India for the Hindu holiday of Thaipusam. We are still kicking ourselves for not visiting the temple during the holiday (we were in Kuala Lumpur during it).

The festival begins in the early morning hours and features devotees walking several kilometers from the the city. During their march, kavadi bearers pierce themselves will metal skewers, and elaborate shoulder carriers (Kavadi), as a display of their devotion. Priests tend to the devotees sprinkling consecrated ash over the flesh of the participants.

Thaipusam

This display is made to offer milk to Lord Murugan, the god of war within Hinduism – though he also features prominently within some sects of Buddhism in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India as well.

Thaipusam

Photo courtesy of: nina.bruja

While the display can come off as extreme and macabre, the surreal experience is viewed as a purifying bringing good luck in the coming year.

The festival is extremely crowded, attracting over a million visitors on the day (which takes place in late January or early February.

Thaipusam

Other Attractions In Batu Caves

At the base of the stairs, there are two other cave temples: the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave. Both feature Hindu statues and paintings. For those interested in the history and lore of Murugan and other Hindu teachings, these are excellent places to check out – though not free like the cave temple.

Art Museum Cave

There are numerous shops and stalls surrounding the entrance to the complex selling souvenirs, clothes, food, and drink.

I enjoyed my first of many coconuts on our travels here. Briana also managed to grab some vegetarian food easily and for a very reasonable price.

Kyle with Coconut
Veg food at nearby stall

We really enjoyed the Batu caves and recommend it for anyone visiting Kuala Lumpur. It’s a great activity for most anyone, especially families and active adults.

Things To Keep In Mind At Batu Caves

  • This is an active religious site, and as such you should dress and act respectful and modest
  • The complex is large and will take several hours to properly explore
  • The temple requires strenuous physical activity as there is no elevator or wheelchair access
  • Pay attention to the monkeys, we recommend not carrying food, and keeping water out of site when not actively drinking.
  • Keep all loose items on you or in a bag, don’t let the monkeys grab your stuff
  • Monkeys have personalities, some are far more bold and aggressive than others
  • Once a monkey has an item, it is no longer yours – don’t get bit by fighting a monkey 

~B & K

Briana Descending Stairs
Angry Monkey