Watermelon steak… lunch at Locavore

In Food
7 August 2023
5 min read

Locavore is touted as one of the 50 best restaurants in Asia.

Thanks to an amazing wedding gift from some friends, we had the pleasure of dining there while in Bali on our honeymoon.

When we went to book, we discovered it was Locavore’s last week of service – Locavore was about to close its doors in Ubud, to move and transform into something new. By some wonderful kismet we managed to get a table. We booked the ‘animal protein’ degustation with the drinks pairing.

Over the last ten years chef partners, Ray Adriansyah (Indonesian) and Eelke Plasmeijer (Dutch), focused on sustainable, local produce.

“Our culinary research and development kitchen is designed to explore the diversity of ingredients and techniques used to create new food ideas. Driven by a desire to use all that nature provides.”

The Locavore way –
A sustainable approach to sourcing ingredients.
It’s not easy but it makes sense.
No imports, no dairy or wheat,
Gluten free, utilize everything,
Less animal protein.

Several male chefs hard at work in the restaurant kitchen


The dining experience crafted to wrap up their ‘first decade’ was called Artefacts – A history of Locavore in fifty edible ideas.

They asked 50 local artists to create an artwork of one of their top 50 dishes (as voted by customers). The prints were available for purchase should you feel the need to put one on your wall.

“The first ‘exhibition menu’ of its kind, Artefacts revives each of our best edible ideas one last time… preserved for prosperity with inspired artworks by local creatives. Dig into a unique ensemble of our top culinary memories while immersed in a curated display of each dishes artistic representation. A final supper, if you will, before we see you again in the NXT life.”

And so began a dining experience like no other. We were served Indonesia on a plate, 18 courses, mind-bending creations that made us question everything…

Canang sari, a Balinese offering

Wild flowers and leaves, torch ginger emulsion and hibiscus vinegar

Chopsticks picking up bright coloured flowers in a yellow bowl

A small colourful offering was placed on our table. Like the ones you see in every little nook in Bali. What a lovely way to start our meal, an offering for our table I thought. But low and behold it was actually for eating. All surprisingly edible and refreshing.

“A canang is such an integral part of any Balinese scene. When you are here you see them everywhere, to the point where you don’t even notice them anymore. This is part of the inspiration for this dish, along with all the edible leaves and flowers we’ve discovered over the years. Even though it’s brought out after guests have sat down, they usually only realise that their first snack of the day has been sitting on the table when we come back ten minutes later to spritz it with infused vinegar and sprinkle some salt.”

Bayam tempura

Amaranth leaf tempura, bumbu Bali powder

A green leaf on a yellow plate that is blistered with a coating of spices

Better than any chips you’ve eaten, crunchy, with loads of spicey flavour.

“We once had a guest who liked them so much that we sent a whole bagful of bayam fritters to their hotel room.”

Roasted watermelon

Slowly roasted watermelon, brined cherry tomatoes, tomato dashi, savoury watermelon caramel

Watermelon that looks like a juicy bbq steak served in a bowl of broth

When my husband tried this course I could see his brain trying to figure out how to file this morsel in his mental archives. It tasted like barbecued meat, like a succulent, juicy steak, but it was watermelon. Mind blown.

“We roast the whole watermelon overnight, which makes it really complex and gives it a meat-like texture. The roasting juices we collect and reduce even further, which become a savoury caramel to season it with.”

Into the sawah

Heritage Guluh rice, rice field snails, fern tips, 64 degrees duck egg, frog leg floss

Bright yellow duck egg served on top of a rice dish decorated with little white flowers

This course was a visual showstopper, the delicate egg yolk glowed on its mound of risotto-y rice. When cycling through the rice fields the day before our guide told us that since farmers started using chemicals in the fields, there were no longer any eels, a tasty favourite he remembered from his childhood. Also, the beautiful frogs that frequented our rooms at the villa made this course a bit hard to stomach. Snails, frogs, rice and ducks, a rice paddy on a plate.

“Everything that lives, grows and swims in the sawah… a rice field in a bowl. One of our favourite symbolic dishes at Locavore and a perfect embodiment of our culinary philosophy.”

Juwet chococlate tart

Javanese plum tart, egg white coconut crème raw cacao srust, coconut plum sorbet

A hot pink quenelle of Javanese plum dessert

Tangy, and sweet. Fruit, chocolate and creamy coconut flavors, the perfect end to one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. This is food that challenges you in all sorts of ways.

“We made this dessert with various seasonal fruits but this turned out to be our favourite version, using juwet (Javanese plums). They are only in season for six weeks of the year, and quite sour and astringent that is why we paired it with a crème made with egg-whites and coconut.”

Each beverage served as part of the drinks pairing was as unique and flavoursome as the dish it accompanied.

The new Locavore

Building is underway for the reincarnation of the next Locavore at a new site in Bali. Read about LVR NXT.

If you ever get the chance to visit, do yourself a flavour and book a mind-expanding lunch.

Locavore Restaurant (was in Ubud, new location tbc)
Rp 1,400,000

shannon the travel blogger

Hi, I’m Shannon, a travel and food blogger living on the Gold Coast in Australia.

My favourite things are long lunches, bike rides and food tours.

Read about my adventures

Follow me on Instagram @_eatwelltraveloften_ or sign up for my (more personal) newsletter on the home page.

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