FROM FARM TO TABLE
NESTLED ACROSS A RICE FIELD IN BANJAR KULUH SAYAN IN UBUD, MOKSA IS THE NEW HAVEN FOR HEALTHY DELIGHTS…
Plant-based cuisine at Moksa
It has only been a year and a half since Moksa Plant-Based Restaurant & Permaculture Garden opened its doors, yet the restaurant has become one of the top five Ubud destinations on TripAdvisor. And among all the vegan restaurants that are booming in Ubud, Moksa still has the element of surprise. The location is quite hidden, but the restaurant is not that difficult to find. Guests coming from Denpasar will need to look for “Puskesmas II Ubud” signage on the right side of the road after passing the Sayan Market. Turn right on that signage, follow the road and veer to the right where a school and a clinic stand. Then, follow the road and make a right turn or simply park the car near the clinic and walk to the restaurant. On my visit to the restaurant together with a friend, I prefer the latter as it was really refreshing to walk by the rice field. And as soon as I arrived at the restaurant, I could see why Moksa has become a favorite among Ubudians and tourists alike.
Moksa is born from a collaboration between Mr. Made Janur Yasa and Chef Made Runatha, both of whom have worked together at a retreat in Ubud that focuses on the balance of body, mind and soul and serves raw food. “Then we thought, why can’t we build one ourselves?” stated Mr. Yasa as my friend and I took a seat at their alfresco restaurant designed with wooden floor and furniture. “We thought, as local Balinese, we have to dare to dream big. We considered all the points that make us happy. Our business should involve community, sustainability, sharing a recycling concept and quality.”
Those are the basic ideas that shaped Moksa to what it is today. “We offer plant-based food. We also have a permaculture garden where we grow as many plants as we can. We use these plants as our ingredients and serve them to our guests,” Mr. Janur Yasa added. “But there are some parts of the plant that we can’t use for food, like the stems or the roots. We don’t put them to waste. We use them to make compost for our garden. So, our concept is from farm to table
and back to farm again.”
Mr. Yasa then helped us with our order – we decided to start our culinary journey with refreshing juices. Moksa has a lot of healthy concoctions, from fresh juices to pharmacy shots and jamu to mocktails, and each one offers a different benefit to our health. I opted for the Anti-Oxidant Booster made of pineapple, apple, alfalfa sprouts, kale and wheat grass, while my friend ordered the Flu Fighter & Immunity Booster that contains tangerine, carrot, spinach, apple and celery.
When our drinks were served, we had a little bit of doubt as the juices had a bold green color. But one sip of the juice, then our doubts went out of the window as the juices tasted nothing like vegetables – the pineapple and apple gave a kick to the Anti-Oxidant Booster while the tangerine and apple gave a tangy flavor to the Flu Fighter & Immunity Booster. And with a view of the restaurant’s permaculture garden, I think we’re off to a good start!
THE FOOD STORY
Created by Chef Made Runatha, who spent years in the USA to learn all about raw food and unbaked desserts and is claimed to be the world’s first Indonesian plant-based cuisine chef, each Moksa’s dish has its own story with elements that are made from scratch. “We want to present dishes that are not just tasty and fulfilling but also nutritious,” stated Chef Made when he went to our table. Our first dish was The Humus for appetizer. Served with Kalamata olives, avocado-corn salsa and baby tomato salad, the zucchini humus has a bold savory flavor due to a pinch of Kusamba traditional sea salt and a twist of sweetness from slices of dragon fruit.
The Jack Fruit Taco is also a unique starter. The young jack fruit replaces meat, and is served together with red onions and bell peppers as well as oregano, tomato salsa, green salad and coconut sour cream. But what makes this dish stand out is the taco shells. Moksa creates them from scratch with blended corn that is dried for about six hours, then shaped into taco shells. And the tacos still have a twist of spicy flavor with a slice of jalapeno on top. Another appetizer worth a try is the Coconut Mushroom that is rich with flavor as three kinds of mushrooms are cooked with galangal, carrot, baby tomatoes and lemongrass coconut milk.
Moksa’s main courses are just as interesting with the Tempeh Ribs as one of the stars of the menu. The tempeh are cut in big sizes and marinated with homemade barbeque sauce before they are grilled to perfection. This dish is even more fulfilling with mashed sweet potatoes, mixed greens and grilled tomato on the side. The Chef’s Bowl is another surprise. The dish is rich with flavor as the curry rice, tofu, mixed greens and mushrooms are perfectly blend with eggplant rendang, kimchi and thinly sliced tempeh resembling bacon.
The Farmer’s Triple Decker is also a unique choice as it presents Moksa’s interpretation of simple club sandwich. Using similar methods to making their taco shells, Moksa dries carrot dregs – which they collect from carrot juice – for about six hours and turn them into “bread” with a soft texture, much like wheat bread. The “bread” is then filled with tomatoes, avocadoes and grilled eggplant and served with slices of jicama on the side to replace French fries.
Still, we had some room for dessert. The Sweet Symphony was truly a sweet closure to our culinary journey, comprised of a lemon pie, a mango tart, a jack berry cake and a chocolate coffee ice cream. Each component in their dessert is also homemade using natural sweets like honey and palm nectar without any use of dairy products, flour, or preservatives.
GROW THE GARDEN
After having an excellent culinary journey, we took a tour around the restaurant. Moksa has two gardens,
the first one is on the same level with the dining venue, while the other one sits below the alfresco restaurant, making wonderful scenery to look at.
“Below this floor,” Mr. Janur Yasa stomped on the restaurant’s wooden floor, “is a water catchment. It collects rain water that flows to the restroom to flush the toilet.” He then guided us to the garden next to the restaurant where another water catchment stood to recycle water from the restroom. “All the plants in this garden lean on this recycled water.”
Next to the second water catchment was a big box where the team make their own compost for the plants. A construction project is also underway at the garden. “We are building a multi-purpose building for a yoga class and cooking class,” explained Mr. Janur Yasa as he led us to the next garden below the restaurant; the permaculture garden. Here, Moksa team plants corn, green salad, cassava, tomatoes, celery and more. Water for the permaculture garden flows from a nearby river. The restaurant also has a special place where they grow the seeds.
Clearly, Moksa leaves almost nothing to waste. The restaurant is not just a place to indulge in some homemade plant-based dishes, but also a simple getaway to ease our mind, body and soul.
Moksa Plant-Based Restaurant & Permaculture Garden Banjar Kutuh Sayan (turn right on “Puskesmas II Ubud” signage), Ubud 0813-3977-4787 www.moksaubud.com
The Tempeh Ribs with homemade barbecue sauce.
The alfresco dining venue surrounded by greenery.