It’s been a long time in the making but the Eden Cafe is finally open! I had hoped it would be open last year but the earthquake put a kibosh on all my plans for expansion, including the opening of our cafe.
I am a foodie, so it is really important to me that the food we serve is high quality and tasty which can be a challenging endeavour on a island where everything is imported, usually unrefrigerated, from neighbouring Lombok and Bali
The decision to make the cafe vegetarian, even though I am not, was twofold. Firstly, Indonesia produces some of the best tofu and tempe, two great sources of protein, in the world. The tofu and tempe available in the west is, well, dreadful. And if that’s all you have ever tasted, it’s no wonder you hate it.
The tofu made in Lombok is purchased fresh, and is soft and pillowy with a smooth and delicate flavour. It’s sold in local markets, from large plastic buckets filled with water, and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is nothing like the processed rubbery blocks of pap being sold at Whole Foods.
Tempe is quintessentially Indonesian. It originated here and, like tofu, is made from soy but whole beans are pressed into a cake and fermented. It is eaten cooked, usually fried, and has a nutty, earthy flavour. Its rich in protein, fiber and vitamins making a staple in Indonesian cooking.
It’s gorgeous stuff.
In addition to tofu and tempe, Indonesia also grows vast amounts of jackfruit. Jackfruit is all the rage in America and Europe, or so I am told, as a meat substitute. In Europe and the Americas it mostly available in tins, which can be mushy. Fresh jackfruit is a beast of a thing, a great big spiky fruit that needs a machete to chop it into manageable pieces.
When jackfruit is ripe, the fruit has a pungent and floral taste. When it’s young it can be cooked and used in place of meat. Young jackfruit has been used in Asian cooking for centuries.
In short, I wanted to share, and expose our guests to these great ingredients but prepare them with flavours that seem familiar and are packed full of flavour.
The second reason for a vegetarian cafe is my belief that the damage to our planet by the production of animals for meat cannot be underestimated. And while I don’t eat a strictly plant based diet, I do believe that cutting back on meat consumption is an important way to do my part as an environmentally conscientious human.
Here’s a glimpse of what’s currently on offer in the cafe. We are slowly adding new items, and will have chalkboard specials on offer throughout the year.
Our Larb bowl is refreshing yet satisfying. Rice is topped with tofu “larb” which is packed with fresh herbs, a few chilis and red onions. It’s served with a tangy Asian dressing and topped with toasted rice.
Try tempe the local way; fried in light batter and served with sambal hijau (spicy green sauce) and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
The Mexican bowl is one our most popular dishes. Rice topped with jackfruit carnitas, black beans, corn, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce. Served with our chipotle honey dressing.