Sunday, February 22, 2015

Zula Vegetarian Paradise - Seminyak, Bali

I told myself to post this..about 10000x since the last trip to Bali. It's been 3 months since. Time flew by. What a cliche phrase but one so true. How often do you hear yourself or others say this? I'm a victim of myself, a procrastinator. A forgetful one at that. Better pen my thoughts or rather my food sharing before my memories disappear. Zula - a vegetarian paradise as they called themselves, is pretty much that to me. I'm not a vegetarian, don't even like a big variety of veggies but I believe in veg for health. Within my limited repertoire, I love my broccoli, baby spinach, arugula and eggplants. Not a fan of tomatoes ('cept those in Europe) and raw carrots ('cept in carrot cakes) but I add them to my usual bowl for the colours. All time favourite is mushrooms. That's about it for my vegetable story. 

So, when I arrived in Bali on my yoga holiday, the wannabe side of me wanted to strive to engage in clean-eating as much as I can. There are quite a number of vegan cafes in Bali and a good number of them that does amazing smoothies (Luv them @Sisterfields). Search on instagram and all the hip places showing the same dishes appeared. Zula was a total accidental find. 

It sits in a row of shops in a small road off the main street of Jl. Raya Seminyak, and the shop front is shrouded in so many hanging leaves I walked past initially, thinking it's some mystic cafe that does tarot card reading. It's on my route out and back to Bali Ginger Suite and one of the hungry nights found me peeking into the cafe, finally seeing it for what it is. A cafe that has a large variety of cooked food, a few chillers of raw desserts and many shelves of packaged organic/raw food/body items. My wannabe self was piqued and it was the start of 4 trips there in my 6 days in Bali.

In my 4 meals plus a couple of takeaways, I've tried their burger, cooked veg, soup, salad, raw desserts, smoothies, juices, wrap and carted back bottles of nut butters, coconut oils, raw chocolates and even cute message cards. It's not just the food but also the warm service. On my first night there where I simply asked for directions back to my hotel, the staff offered to send me back on his motorbike. Where to find such kind people? Bali and Taiwan have lots of them! *Love*
This chickpea burger is my favourite dish from Zula. It's a huge wholemeal roll that sandwiches a crispy chickpea patty and crunchy coleslaw, then loaded with sweet, creamy tofu mayo and a tangy tomato relish. It was a myriad of flavors and textures. The sweet potato fries dipped in their homemade chilli was addictive and I dig the crunchy raw coleslaw with sesame seeds. (I don't even usually like sesame). So Good I had this burger twice.
My 2nd dinner there was a platter of 3 dishes and a hot mushroom soup. Highlight of the meal was the green pea salad. I usually pick out and remove all green peas from my pies but this green pea salad was sweet and almost creamy, finished it all. I could still remember the lingering taste and wishing for it now. Mushroom soup was interesting, it's from a miso base and filled with a uber generous serving of sliced mushrooms. Looks heavy but surprising light in taste.  

Wholemeal wrap that packs probably a full day's worth of vegetables, this is also a huge roll that was a little too raw for me but still nonetheless enjoyable. Anything there just taste even better with their homemade chilli, that small saucer of it at the side. 

The many types of butters available. I bought the peanut butter and tahini sauce. Very little oil in the bottles, taste quite good but not particularly fragrant. Probably wins in the health quotient only. 

This is only one part of the display; there are many other shelves of other products. Zula is somewhere I would recommend everyone to try, regardless if you are a vegetarian or not. Their hot dishes are really yummy and good for you. The raw desserts were ordinary though and smoothies fared better at Sisterfields. Go for the main dishes there!

Zula Vegetarian Paradise
Jl. Camplung Tanduk 
Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Revolver Cafe, Seminyak, Bali

Coffee is my life. I think there are probably only a few days in my life since I've had memories that I did not drink coffee, with the longest period probably being the last yoga retreat. I make it a mission to always do some research on where to find good coffee wherever I travel to. After all, I could probably only drink at most 2 cups a day so I subscribe to the belief that I cannot waste my coffee intake on bad cuppas. 

My last trip to Bali more than 3 years ago did not leave any lasting impressions of any good coffee and in fact I remembered that I did not really like Bali coffee, kind of burnt and usually too sour for my palette. Fast forward to the present and my desktop research showed several cafes that boast good quality caffeine and glow with mostly positive reviews. Revolver is one of them. Many titles of reviews and blog posts crowned Revolver as the "Best Coffee in Bali". I cannot not try. 

Off I went after the yoga class at Prana Yoga. Looked at my google map directions and it says 2.4km away - I would assume to walk around half an hour for that. Double-checked directions from the Prana staff and they looked at me with surprise, checking again that I want to walk there. 2.4km did not seem far to me..Guess I did not factor in the power of the sun, at noon no less. I did not get lost but I walked for one hour. I reached the door, drenched in perspiration. I felt like I just finished hot yoga, with beads of sweat dribbling down the forehead and feeling utterly sticky. Euks. I sure hope the coffee is worth this really hot 1 hour. 
The cafe is rather small and thankfully I arrived at noon, before it fills up shortly after. It's slightly dark environment creates a cosy atmosphere but guess the lack of wifi and very quick clearing of plates do help empty the tables rather efficiently. My piccolo arrived and wow oh wow, it's worth the walk indeed. It smells really good, taste strong, the way I like it and has a smooth finish. Wishing for another one now already! 

I could not decide between the "Smith and Wesson" or the "Revolver" breakfast so the staff recommended me to take the first option and add a poached egg to it. Yay, solved my dilemma; got the smashed avocado and fresh tomatoes but also a gooey lava egg that's just the way I like, flowing but without it being too raw. The long strips of basil leaves gave a hint of herbs that matched well with the tomatoes and if I've any complaints at all, it would be that I need a sharper knife to cut through the crunchy crust of the yummy sourdough. I'm not a food critic in any way but this is just a hearty breakfast that had me, a person who read or watch TVwhenever I eat alone, put down the ebook I was reading and concentrated on the meal. That good. 

It's a little hard to find, but situated just off a small road at the main stretch of Jln Laksmana which is also called the Eat Street of Seminyak as many top-rated restaurants are situated along this road. It's near to Seminyak Square and if you enter Jl Raya Seminyak (the other famous street), it's quite a long walk, be prepared to walk around 10 to 15 minutes, past CornerHouse, Earth Cafe, Rumors, Ultimo and you will be nearing. Look out for Bali Clinic or ask where it is; it's on a side road just opposite Bali Clinic. There's a small signboard that says Revolver on the main street but so easily missed. Turn into the side road just next to the shop "Love Song"/"Home". Look out for below signs:


Revolver Bali
No. 3 Jl Kayu Aya 
Gang 51

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bali, Seminyak - Land of Taxi touts and a mini vegetarian paradise for me.

It's day 2 of my first 3 lone days in Bali before the hub joins me over the weekend. Great so far, the meals have been fantastic, coffee aromatic and people generally warm and kind, except the tout drivers who are kind of a nuisance and give a really not-so-great first impression to tourist who just land at the airport.

It was still a relatively smooth and quick journey from the airport to the hotel, Bali Ginger Suites, in Seminyak. Bali Ginger is located in a small road very near to the main street of Jl. Raya Seminyak where the line of shops/eateries seem never-ending. It's not easy to find initially but the taxi driver got out to ask neighbouring shops (first show of kindness in many to come!) and waited for me while I verified with the teeny arrival area of the hotel.

Cannot say enough of the good service in Bali Ginger and their helpfulness. Checking in was easy and the lady helped answered many of my questions; one of the staff drove me out on their motorbikes and accompanied me to a shop to purchase a sim card, ensuring that I got the right one. The honest kind-hearted man even refused my tip to him! My room was the standard room on the 2nd level which is a basic but big room; has a huge and comfortable bed, a balcony and a big tank of Aqua water. The rooms on the first level opens up right to the small pool which is really cosy. Nice for a few days where you will probably spend most of the days out.

Started my first meal at Warung Ocha, just 5 min away from the hotel, where you can also get the Sim card at a shop on the same row, but behind the warung. (Refer to below for more notes.) It was a Mediterranean salad with pesto sauce and a Orange/Apple/Carrot/Ginger Juice. It was a good start but after trying out a few more places, I would now consider Ocha a mediocre place, but has a wide variety of both Western and Indonesian meals.

Found myself at Jl. Raya Seminyak and thinking that I've plenty of time before the 5.30pm yoga class on the same road, I roamed around a fair bit. Left side after leaving Ocha leads to the Bintang Supermarket and right side leads to Made Warung, a very famous warung in the vicinity. Seminyak Yoga Shala was where I was headed and oh man, it was the start of my 45min walk whereby it was only probably 15 min from Ocha. I guess most people already knew that my sense of direction is quite bad! On the positive side of things, I now recognise and know most of the small roads that breaks away from this road and can identify where a lot of the trip advisor recommended restaurants are. Anyhow, I will compile on another post the yoga places and their directions, as well as my experiences. 

Dinner was at this vegetarian restaurant that's very near Bali Ginger, called Zula Vegetarian. Its the first time I had a vegan burger and I was blown away. 2 days later now, I'm still thinking about that burger. It's the chickpea burger, with the oven-baked chickpea patty on a really soft whole-meal bun, and filled with a huge serve of crunchy raw veggies, avocado and a sweet yummy tomato relish. The best thing about this burger - the smashed tofu dressing. I thought it was cashew butter initially but I read the menu again and indeed tofu it was. I've never had tofu that has that smooth creaminess, made more addictive with the incorporation of fresh herbs. Wish I know how to make that!

It's a cafe owned by the same owner of Earth Cafe, and besides boasting a big variety of vegetarian / organic / gluten-free items, they sell a lot of packaged items too, like honeys/nuts/flour/chocolate etc. Got myself a bottle of organic tahini (RP 70K) and organic peanut butter (RP 30K) to go. Oh, and a raw oatmeal, cashew and date cookie - not bad but not something I would repeat. Did also pass by Earth cafe on the 2nd day and got their Raw Pumpkin Pie to go; not sure if it was due to the immense heat but it melted really fast and at room temperature, it was like a simple pumpkin puree on a dates/nuts/coconut oil crust. Guess my memory of superb vegan cakes in Austria didn't help the impression one bit. On a side note, special mention to the excellent service and warmth of the staff. When I asked for directions, one of the staff offered to take me on his motorbike to where I want to go. So sweet, reminded me of all the nice and helpful people I met in Taiwan too!

I am rather surprised by the number of vegan/vegetarian places in Seminyak. Besides Zulu, Earth Cafe, there's also a Divine Earth (which I later read to be a collaboration with the owner of Zulu). Had their smoothie for a breakfast meal and it was really good. Was a blend of banana, dates, strawberries, maca, chia and tahini. Not as good as those in Chiangmai but much better than what I do on my own at home. Enjoyed it fully! 

More in the next post!


Prepaid Internet:
Total cost was 174K - Sim card cost 50K, Internet 120K for 30 days, 7mbps, 3.5G and 4K for some phone call credit. Cheaper than the deal at the airport which was offering a $200K as a minimum package. Wifi is available at most places too so always ask for the passwords.

Getting out from the airport:
Go to the taxi counter on the front left when you exit the immigration, a very small area right in front of a small take-away coffee place. Easily missed so look out for it. Get a receipt, follow the assigned driver and pay upon arrival, took me 135K RP to Seminyak, Drupadi area.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Beetroot, Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup

I brought this to a potluck party, sprinkled lots of black pepper, stuck some freshly pluck basil leaves and asked my friends to guess the vegetables that goes into it. No one got beetroot, which I supposed is a good thing, as even I am not a fan of the red root. Most stared suspiciously at it; they didn't really believed that its soup anyway. Oh well, I guess I did get a little carried away with the amount of sweet potato and it's a little more puree than soup but I do love the thickness so! 

The little toddler boy of our party resolutely said "No!" to the spoonfuls that we tried to feed him unsuccessfully and there I was thinking that it looks just like baby food, or so I thought. Couple of spoons into the soup and thankfully most round the table had good comments for it. Lest you think they were just being polite!?!, most of them finished their share, though some more grudgingly than the rest. Me, I love this soup! This is my 2nd try at this soup recipe, my last was a lot more orange as I used way too little beetroot. Did I mention that I don't like beets already? This time, I used 2 big beets since I was cooking a far bigger portion. The colour came through, so prettily, and the taste was nicely covered by the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potato. Texture was really thick, can be watered down by adding more water but.. I really like the almost-puree style of soup. So hearty, so warming. 

Ingredients: (Scaled down to make a small pot, around 5 soup bowls portion) 
- 1 big beetroot, peeled
- 3 large carrots, peeled
- 3 mid sized sweet potato, peeled
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 bulb garlic, peeled and smashed (or leave it whole if you like)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 30 - 50ml coconut milk, depending on preference
- 2 cups of water, more if you like the soup more liquid than thick
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Basil to garnish 

My first try at the soup was done by roasting all the vegetables for 30 minutes first before bringing them to the stove (I love crockpots, from the oven to the store so easily!) and adding the rest of the ingredients. In my second try, I cut and toss the vegetables into a pot and boil them directly with water. I find that roasting the vegetables first makes for a more fragrant soup and it's also faster as the vegetables already broke down from roasting. Both methods work perfectly but guess I would still go with roasting more than boiling directly so here goes:

1.  Clean, wash, peel and cut all the vegetables into smaller cubes
2. Roast the beets, carrots, sweet potato, onions and garlic in the oven at 200C for half hour
3. Transfer into a pot on the stove, add the water, cumin, coriander and continue to cook for 10 minutes
4. Add coconut milk, cook a short while more to have the coconut milk absorbed into the soup
5. Blend, season and garnish
6. Serve hot, pink and sweet!

This has officially overtaken the position of pumpkin as the top soup recipe in my household. Yum!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spiced Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

The soup journey continues.. today I made my 3rd soup since back from Pai. My 2nd soup making adventure was on Pumpkin and.. so is my 3rd! Guess I really love the thick like a puree soup, served with some toasted whole wheat tortilla and pumpkin seeds here. 

I've posted a Pumpkin and Sweet Potato soup before and that was really yummy too. Today's recipe is filled with the orange goodness of Pumpkin and Carrots! Carrots added a natural sweetness which is brought out by roasting them in the oven prior to cooking. Some spice, in the form of cumin and curry powder provided a savoury kick to the meal. This is seriously addictive. 

1 large pumpkin (I mean really huge!)
4 large carrots
4 big onions, skinned + 1/2 big onion, sliced
2 bulbs of garlic, skinned
4 cups water
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fish curry powder
sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Wash, peel and chop carrots into big pieces.
2. Wash, core and chop pumpkin into big pieces. (I left the skin on)
3. Roast carrots, pumpkins, onions and garlic at 200C for 30min until very soft. (I used Top Bottom Fan mode)
4. 10 minutes before the roots are soft enough, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pot and add the sliced onions. Sauteed until brown and fragrant. Add the coriander and cumin and stir into the onions.
4. Place all the roasted roots into the pot (the pumpkin flesh should tear away from the skin easily), add the water and curry powder, salt and black pepper. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, blend and serve. 

Above makes around 10 portions of soups. I kept half in the chiller for this week of breakfast and froze the rest. Easy. Wholesome. Healthy. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Roasted Eggplant Soup

After spending a week in Chiangmai and Pai, where fresh fruits, delicious smoothies and flavourful sandwiches are more the norm than green curry, tom yam goon and pad thai, I'm inspired to try and have more healthy meals at home. The meals at Xhale showed me that my stomach is really happy with the dose of fruits/veg and my usual bloating was minimised. Importantly,  it dawned on me that I should not just rely on bread for breakfast. The soup breakfast served fills up our tummies and gives us sufficient energy to get through a morning of hatha yoga, very well.

There are no pictures of meals in the morning as mornings are silent where we are advised to stay with our own thoughts; no talking, no social media and no usage of electronics. Frequently, we will ask Peach, the chef, on the recipe combinations later in the afternoon. For our own trials, below is the yummy combinations that I can recall :

Juice/Smoothie Recipes:
- Pineapple, Toasted Sesame, Celery, Banana
- Papaya, Parsley, Mulberry, Toasted Sesame, Coconut
- Avocado, Parsley, Coconut, Cashews
- Kale and Morning Glory
- Lemon grass and ginger
- Carrot and Ginger

Soup Combi (Onions, Garlic, some herbs and black pepper is the backbone of each recipe):
- Beetroot, Carrots and Sweet Potato (1Beetroot to 3 carrots and 3 sweet potato)
- Pumpkin, Carrots
- Roasted Tomato, Carrots

There were others but alas, my memory don't serve me altogether very well. Thankfully for Pinterest and many generous bloggers who share their recipe, I did bookmark many and started on 1 which feature one of our favourite ingredients immediately when back. This is a really easy and yummy recipe. Cooked and served in 30 minutes, it is going to be a frequent meal on our tables from now on.

Ta Da! Roasted Eggplant Soup, served with toasted walnuts, wholemeal tortilla shreds and coriander.

Ingredients: (adapted from
4 small eggplants (I bought the Sakura Brinjal from FairPrice)
1 big onion, sliced
Half bulb Garlic, skin removed
1 can of Cannelloni beans, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup water

1. Roast Eggplants at 200C for 30 minutes until eggplant is very soft. I kept the skin on.
2. Sautee onions and garlic in a small amount of olive oil for 15 minutes, until they are very small and lightly browned.
3. Add the beans, water and roasted eggplants, simmer for around 15 minutes.
4. Add lemon juice to taste and blend. I used a Philips handheld blender.
5. Serve with a small portion of toasted bread of choice (it was always 4 teeny weeny shreds of french toast at Xhale which added a satisfying crunch!) and I like to add some self-roasted nuts and coriander.

The above serves 3 portions of around 5 spatula scoops, which is good for breakfast portion. If served for lunch or dinner mains, it probably serves 2 portions only.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Xhale Yoga Retreat aka Boot Camp, Pai, Chiangmai

So, it’s 1 week later as we’re sitting at the Chiangmai airport that I finally whip out the mac to detail our experience at Xhale Yoga Retreat in Pai. It’s not that we have no time in the last week but being surrounded by fresh air, lush greenery, beautiful flowers and peaceful quiet just does not do ourselves and the natural surroundings any justice to spend much time on the laptop. I did try to watch one video but quickly lost interest. I find it much more fulfilling to read by the benches while occasionally lifting my head to take in the mountains and clouds in the distance and listen to the low drum of insects and barks of the wild dogs.

The last week flew past, albeit on hindsight as our aching bodies and the afternoon heat did make us count down to the end at times. However, it was a glorious 1-week that we spent with Bhud, the lady of Xhale. She’s the yogi, advisor, nutritionist, teacher all-in-one. She shared the stories of her life, using them as examples of how we can overcome certain hurdles, detach ourselves, find contentment and show compassion, of how we can be aware, mindful and share our love. Yet she revealed that there are sides of her that are just like us, a human, who has tendencies of indulgence, and who sometimes need to just slip from being an all-good person. From her, I found hope. Hope that I may one day be able to achieve some of what she has taught. I learned that nothing is forever. I learned that emotions are flitting. We may be happy one minute, miserable the next; seek to see beyond the current and the suffering will pass. This is of course, very easy to say but hard to do. It is a state that I do not think I will ever be able to achieve; I’m not thaaat zen. However, this is a reminder I should tell myself from time to time.

Being a yoga retreat (I would really call this a Yoga Boot Camp!), apart from the philosophies, there are the daily yoga asana sessions. The typical day starts like this:
730am : A cup of warm lime water and hot herbal tea to start the day, followed by nasal cleaning. When we first saw the pot that we are to use for the cleaning, most of us went euks! I totally could not see how that should be used. Bhud showed us and it was interestingly easy. Fill the pot with warm Himalayan sea salt water, put it up into 1 nostril, tilt your head and let the water channel itself, dribbling out from the other nostril. Took a little practice and some choking but get the hang of it and the nose will be very clean, preparing our bodies for the upcoming cleansing breathe session.

Pranayama time : We will do a few types of breathing exercises which are meant to train our bodies to breathe in different ways and to open up the spaces inside us to hold more air. 

845am : Breakfast, usually a small glass of juice and a really modest portion of soup. This is to allow our stomach to be energized yet not overly full for the following physical practice.

1000am: Hatha yoga. Bhud is fantastic with the teaching. The first day was spent teaching the basic moves so it’s good for all levels. Most of us are beginners with some not having done any yoga before. She set the foundation and showed and guided us through. On a daily basis, we always start the asana session with Sun Salutations and lunge/warrior poses. Each day, she will then focus on different areas of the body which is a good strategy as our body parts of the day (at least mine did) will totally ache the next day!

Every session is 2 hours where Bhud will show how to get into each move correctly and this helped us to get into the poses, some of which I’ve never been able to do before. My hub who has only done 1 yoga session previously also found it easy to get into the poses with the clear instructions. As she strongly advocate, you don’t have to possess great strength to be able to hold yourself up; it’s all about techniques. Having said that, there are of course still some moves that I cannot achieve and need to build up. The headstand continues to be elusive; homework for me!

12noon: Lunch! Fantastic food with every meal carefully crafted to provide a wholesome meal of many vegetable types, some protein like tofu/nuts, and a little carb. Herbal tea is provided all day and I simply love the lemongrass/ginger/berry/chrysanthemum teas. Fruits are also on the table all day long and the number of bananas/mangosteens we go through is unbelievable. Bananas as we need the extra energy and mangosteens because they are so sweet!


Break for us to rest, chill and digest the food. This is when we usually take the time to do some reading or simply nap and laze away the really hot afternoons.

3pm : Start the afternoon with a daily shake. Another daily dose of goodness, this is usually a mix of fruits/veggie/herbs and usually thickened to help fill our stomachs again to tide through to dinner.

Yoga Philosophy and Q&A : This is the time for sharing where Bhud generously shared her life experiences and teaches about the Eight Limbs of yoga. It’s also the time where we ask any questions at all, not just pertaining to yoga but just really anything.

445pm : Another session of yoga begins, this time of the day is dedicated to yin yoga where we practiced stretching in poses for 5 minutes each time. This is a session of much groaning and mental endurance as even simple stretches can become a strain as the time goes past slowly. Furthermore, the poses are usually more difficult than easy for me as I am extremely inflexible! However, I find these sessions necessary; they really helped in stretching muscles that you never would think to do in your daily life. It also got easier with time, I observed that by day 5, some of the poses were less difficult already. It is a journey I tell myself that I have to trudge on when back in SG.

645pm: Vegetables, smoothies and fruits with up to 4 hours of yoga make for hungry stomachs by this time. Fantastic food every night again! In the 5 days, we had vegetables in various curries with brown rice (my fav!), roasted vegetables with pasta in pesto/tomato, or paired with bread and avocado. We even had a vegetable dish in lasagna style sans cheese and pasta though, never knew kalian, eggplants, beetroot, carrots, and potato could pair with freshly roasted tomato sauce so deliciously. The chef, Peach, and Bhud have endless imagination when it comes to tasty vegetarian cuisine!

715pm : Meditation / Chanting. This is a first for me, both in meditation and chanting. Not sure if this part of yoga is for me, ha ha. The first meditation exercise was really difficult as the body struggled to stay upright and still and time passed really slowly. It did get better as we practiced more. Chanting was more fun, as we sat in a big circle and kind of sing/chant together. Interesting.  
Then it’s off to shower and sleep!

That, is a typical day for the 5 days we were there. Yet, Bhud managed to keep things interesting and the experiences varied. Every night was a different type of meditation or chanting and 1 of the nights was a visit to a hot spring pool that soothed our tired muscles.

The 5 days came to an end and while our bodies feel a relief from the physical exercise and the hot air circulating from the fans; our minds and hearts don’t really wish to leave the peace, the slow trot of life and the wondrous air in Pai.