Cafe Wayan @ Ubud, Bali

Cafe Wayan is an institution in Ubud, Bali. We had dinner there to end a fruitful day commencing with a cooking class in the morning, Babi Guling for lunch, Tegalalang rice terraces in the afternoon and watching the sunset at Tanah Lot before finally settling down for dinner.

Bali is an island that is full of festivities. There are two dishes that are traditional festive dishes, Babi Guling (Balinese Roast Pig) and Bebek Betutu (Balinese Roast Duck with Spices in a Betel Nut Leaf). If you wish to try these dishes in a restaurant, you are required to place an order and pay a deposit 24 hours in advance. Unless of course you happen to be lucky and someone cancels their order at the last minute. This was probably what happened when we went to Cafe Wayan because we managed to get a serving of Bebek Betutu, which serves 2 people. The moist flesh of the duck was so soft that it was falling off the bones. The spices in which the duck was seasoned were fragrant but did not have a high heat factor. The dish would have tasted better if it was served hot. The fact that it was served almost cold made the fattiness of the duck taste unpleasant. There was also not enough salt in the dish. The satay sticks (meat grilled skewers) fared better but the dish was nonetheless a disappointment especially at the price of IDR 220,000 (about USD 24.00) which was slightly higher than that charged at most other restaurants. We wished we had taken the trouble to order the dish ahead at Bebek Bengil instead.

We also ordered a Rijstaffel, a dish whose name was derived from the Dutch term for Rice Table. During the Dutch colonial times, diners enjoyed a variety of as many as 30 different dishes with steamed white rice. The version that we had in Cafe Wayan consisted of Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) with a variety of dishes such as Bebek Betutu, chicken curry, chicken satay, Balinese vegetables lawar, hard boiled eggs topped with sambal, Beef Rendang, sauteed prawns and keropok (fried prawn crackers). We enjoyed the beef rendang immensely as the tender, spice-infused pieces of beef smothered in rendang sauce was a perfect complement with the warm rice which is lightly scented with turmeric. The vegetable lawar was delicious as the long beans were well-seasoned with coconut milk and spices. We enjoyed munching on the crunchy beans. Though I love vegetables, I'm not a huge fan of long beans but the long beans in Bali are making a convert out of me.

We washed down the meal with Hot Toddy (my favourite drink at Cafe Wayan which consists of rum, honey, ginger, cinnamon and lemon). I enjoyed sipping the warm infusion of honey and lemon, spiced up with the warmth of ginger, the fragrance of cinnamon and the slight kick provided by the rum. Overall, the meal at Cafe Wayan was disappointing as the standard of the food served has dropped considerably. We did not order any dessert as we feared that it would be similarly disappointing and a waste of calorie intake.

Our driver later told us that the restaurant has lost its popularity since a change in management about a year ago. Ok, I guess this explains alot. Maybe the other dishes might have done better. This restaurant is worth a visit, especially during the day because the garden setting is pretty and the sound of running water from the fountains is most relaxing.

Cafe Wayan
Monkey Forest Road
Ubud, Bali
(+62) (361) 975447

Ambience: 3.5 out of 5
Food: 3 out of 5