It’s not a secret that most people think it’s challenging—or at least confusing—to travel as a vegetarian or a vegan in Yogyakarta, or in Indonesia in general. Most Indonesian dishes are very meaty and ricey—not sure if that’s even a word. Indonesian meals usually consist of 55% rice, 30-35% protein meaty stuff (chicken, beef or fish, etc), 5% hot sauce and kerupuk (deep fried crackers), and the rest is vegetables. Please don’t think that we are unhealthy, although we are in some sense. It’s not the most balanced diet.
However as vegetarianism and veganism become trends, also awareness of a balanced diet increases, a lot of Indonesians have started to realise that we ACTUALLY do have some meals that are vegetarian and/or vegan friendly. So in this article, I would like to give you information, in two and a half sections, that I hope is going to be useful!
In the first section, I’ll share some popular Indonesian food that is suitable for vegetarians and/or vegans. And then in the second section, I’ll give you recommendations for restaurants that are good for vegetarians and/or vegans. In section 2,5 (I said a half because it is a short section), I provide some additional recommendations of restaurants that can cater to the needs of vegetarians or vegans. So let’s start!
Popular Indonesian Dishes For Vegetarians
Tempe dan Tahu Bacem
You have heard about Tahu, right? Tahu is tofu. It’s very popular anywhere. However, Tempe, or the sister of tofu, isn’t gaining the same popularity—but I guess it’s going that way slowly. They’re both made of soybeans. My personal favourite is Tempe or Tahu Bacem (you can also find Tempe and Tahu Goreng/fried easily). Bacem means boiling the Tempe or Tahu with brown/palm sugar or soy sauce plus coconut water, together with coriander, galangal, bay leaves and garlic (all the ingredients need to be sauteed first). Wait until it dries, and then fry after that. This is usually served with chopped cayenne, shallot mixed with soy sauce.
Bakwan is one of Indonesia’s most popular fritters. It’s made from flour mixed with vegetables, usually corn. Or it’s called jagung in Bahasa, added with carrots, cabbages, and leek, then mixed with batter, last deep-fried in hot cooking oil. Yum yum!
The famous Indonesian salad. It’s made from a mixture of steamed vegetables (boiled potatoes, cucumber, long beans, spinach, carrot), fried tofu, fried tempeh, and peanut sauce. The boiled eggs can be added by request, so this meal is safe for vegans too. Indonesian crackers (kerupuk) will be added on top as a complement. The sauce is made from fried peanuts which are pounded together with palm sugar, chilies, garlic, tamarind juice, and salt.
Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)
Another famous Indonesian dish, well… some people say it’s a Malaysian or Chinese dish. This is pre-cooked rice that is fried with vegetables and special seasonings. The seasoning consists of shallots, garlic, salt, sweet soy sauce, oyster soy sauce, which can be removed if you are a vegan, and chilies. It usually comes with fried eggs or they scramble the egg with the rice. If you’re a vegan don’t forget to make the change. Some fried rice comes automatically with meatballs and shredded chicken, so make sure to tell them that you don’t want that. Although it looks simple, fried rice is good and absolutely filling.
Gudeg Telur—without Krecek (Cow Skin)
Gudeg is a signature dish of Yogyakarta made from young jackfruit. It’s stewed with palm sugar, coconut milk, and Indonesian typical spices. You can find two types of Gudeg in Yogyakarta, the Dry Gudeg (Gudeg Kering, usually sweeter) and the Wet Gudeg (Gudeg Basah, usually a bit spicier). I prefer Gudeg Basah. Gudeg is usually served with Telur Pindang (hard-boiled eggs boiled with spices, salt and soy sauce), Krecek (cow skin) and sambal or spicy sauce. When you order, please mention that you would like to have it without Krecek and maybe without the egg too.
A lot of foreigners get confused between Nasi Pecel and Gado-Gado. They are different. Well.. the idea is kind of the same, boiled vegetables with peanut sauce. Nasi Pecel of Javanese salad is usually served with rice or rice cake/Lontong (rice wrapped in banana leaves), Tempe, and Rempeyek. Rempeyek or Peyek is a deep-fried savoury cracker made from flour, sometimes with peanut or anchovy. Vegetables in Nasi Pecel usually include water spinach, cassava leaves, papaya leaves, basil, bean sprouts, and long beans. It has a peanut sauce similar to Gado-Gado, but there are additions of kaffir lime leaf which are mashed with the sauce so it has a distinctive aroma. You can find a pre-made peanut sauce for Nasi Pecel in some markets or supermarkets. I love Nasi Pecel so much!
Tumis Jamur / Sauteed Mushrooms
Sautéed mushrooms are usually made from one or several types of edible mushrooms and vegetables. They are seasoned with garlic, shallot, onion, cayenne or red chile, tomato (optional) and salt. If you are a big fan of mushrooms, you should go check out Jejamuran restaurant in the north of Yogyakarta.
Urap is a mixture of vegetables with Serundeng—made from shredded old coconut with a seasoning of shallot, garlic, chili, tamarind juice, galangal, salt, and coconut sugar. The vegetables that are usually used for Urap are spinach, water spinach, papaya leaves, long beans, bean sprouts, cassava leaves, and cabbage. Urap can be eaten as a main dish or side dish. As a side dish, it’s usually served with Nasi Tumpeng (yellow rice in a cone shape).
Pepes Tofu and Mushroom
Pepes is an Indonesian cooking method that uses banana leaf as food wrappings. The main filling can be tofu or mushrooms or fish seasoned with various spices and basil leaves, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Pepes has a tempting aroma coming from cooked banana leaves as a wrapper.
Lupis Sweet Cake
Lupis is a traditional triangle cake made from glutinous rice. There is a sprinkling of shredded coconut and thick sugar palm syrup on it. Lupis was usually served on banana leaves. However, now Lupis is often served on a plate. Some Lupis sellers sell Lupis with other things, such as black sticky rice, and Cenil Singkong/cassava. They call it Lupis Campur.
After knowing the vegetarian and vegan food that you can find in Yogyakarta, let’s move on to restaurant recommendations that have vegetarian and vegan dishes on their menu.
Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Yogyakarta
Some of these restaurants can replace the main ingredients on the menu (which is meat) with mushrooms, tofu, tempe, or other options that are suitable for you.
Fortunate Coffee Jogja
Address: Jogonegaran 49E | Phone: +62 274 564219
This restaurant serves coffee and a variety of options for vegans, from Western-style food to Indonesian and Asian cuisine. It has a small library and sells zero-waste products like reusable straws and bottles. Located close to Malioboro, which is one of the most known tourist spots in Yogyakarta, this restaurant sells ‘bread of happiness’. Its bread is free from milk, eggs, and butter. The process of making bread takes a long time, 18-20 hours, a lot longer than the process of making ordinary bread which is 2-3 hours. This is because the fermentation process is done naturally.
Address: Cendrawasih (Komp. WisKul Pringwulung)| Phone: +62-87839308277
Veganissimo has several menus for vegans. Unfortunately, the information on the menu doesn’t describe the contents and ingredients of the food clearly. I would recommend double-checking with the staff when you order. The restaurant provides noodles and Indonesian food. Food in Veganissimo has its own characteristics because the cooks don’t use onions as ingredients for seasoning the food. Veganissimo’s owner is a Buddhist and comes from the Buddhist community. Veganissimo’s favorite menu is Xiang Chun Fried Rice that uses Chinese spices.
Address: Babarsari No. 102, Yogyakarta
Soma Yoga, which brands itself as 100% vegan, sells traditional Javanese dishes for vegans (and vegetarians too). Its food is reasonably priced and has a good taste. The restaurant is in the form of a Joglo, a traditional Javanese building made of wood material, with a rice paddy field next door. Soma Yoga offers dishes that are free of onions, MSG, eggs, honey, and milk. It also uses fresh ingredients, which makes the taste of the food excellent. Go try their special menu, the Carrot Brownies, which are rarely found in other restaurants.
Tuesday-Friday 3pm-9pm and Saturday-Sunday 12pm-9pm
Address: Prawirotaman 4 No. 127B, Yogyakarta | Phone: +62274 7423399
Milas is one of the pioneer vegetarian restaurants in Yogyakarta. Not only does it serve savory vegetarian meals, it also cooks it with organic ingredients and is MSG-free. You will easily fall in love with Milas restaurant. The restaurant is basically some huts or a gazebo with a pretty garden. At night, it uses candles for lighting. It uses fresh ingredients and sources from local farmers. It also sells various items that are eco-friendly, such as soaps, seeds, tote bags, etc.
Address: Magelang KM. 11 No. 53 RT. 01 / RW. 20 | Phone: +62 274 868170
Whether you’re a mushroom lover or enjoy eating mushrooms once in a while, you shouldn’t miss Jejamuran. The restaurant sells an extensive menu of anything (edible) mushrooms. Jejamuran itself in Bahasa Indonesia means mushrooms. One of its favorite menus is the Mushroom Satay.
Address: Mrican Baru 14 | Phone: +62 822-2532-7773
Letusee’s main menu consists of salads and sandwiches. It also sells coffee. It uses vegetables as the main ingredient and also tries to minimize the cooking process especially frying. Its ingredients come from the Merbabu Organic Vegetable Farm and the Community Organic Market. It also provides a Warteg-style menu, with plenty of options to choose from. Please note that the restaurant also has a regular menu in addition to the vegetarian menu. Try its famous dish, the Veggie Burger made from sweet potatoes and red kidney beans. It also has a tasty milkshake made from raw cashew nuts.
Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine
Address: Moses Gatotkaca No. A18, Depok, Yogyakarta
Loving Hut is a restaurant chain that sells healthy food from Taiwan. There are several branches in Indonesia (and there are two in Yogya!). It sells only vegetarian and vegan food with organic ingredients, ranging from Tomyam, Nasi Lemak to Fried Rice. It uses mushrooms and soybeans as the main ingredients. Its food is eggs and dairy-free, and also non-MSG.
Loving Hut offers 2 options at their outlet, buffet, and menu. For the buffet concept, we can choose whatever is served on the main table. The menu concept is a la carte. Some of Loving Hut’s ‘meat’ dishes really taste like real meat (I’m not a vegetarian but I like vegetables and mushrooms!).
Simple Plant Vegan Kitchen & Artspace
Address: Plataran, Sembungan, Yogya | Address: +62-82133749524
Looking for a vegan restaurant in Yogyakarta that also sells beers? Simple Plant it is. It also has juices and milkshakes made from coconut milk. Some important facts, besides the no added MSG or palm oil, Simple Plant grows its own vegetables. You can find a bunch of lovely cats and dogs strolling around the restaurant. Simple Plant also has a small shop and donation corner for animal welfare organizations in Yogyakarta. You should try their mushroom steak with a black pepper sauce. It is absolutely delicious.
Sunday-Saturday 7:30 am-11 pm
Address: Prawirotaman No. 30, Yogyakarta | Phone: +62 274 386557
In addition to the regular menu, Via via also has options for vegetarians and vegans. It uses organic ingredients, offers food that is non-MSG, and doesn’t use palm oil. All vegetables are washed with boiled water, with cooks using ice cubes from boiled water. It also has gluten-free bread and vegan desserts. ViaVia’s most popular vegetarian menu is the Vegetarian Hot Dog. Make it clear to the staff if you are a vegan. They support the plastic reduction movement, reusable straws are provided on request and your take-away food will come in a small bamboo basket.
Monday-Sunday 8am-9 pm
Address: Komplek Pertokoan Babarsari No. 21, Yogya | Phone: +62 896-7535-0040
If you are on a budget and looking for a quick yummy vegan meal, I would recommend Vegan Lusidus. This simple restaurant that offers various vegetarian and vegan menus also doesn’t use eggs, animal milk, cheese, and honey. Lucidus’ owner is also from the Buddhist Community so the food here is suitable for Buddhists.
Address: Parangtritis No.73, Brontokusuman, Yogya | Phone: +62 899-7019-974
This is another simple vegetarian, vegan restaurant in Yogyakarta, nothing fancy. It is the place to go if you want a tasty vegetarian meal with a reasonable price. It has Soto, Nasi Rawon, Cap Cai, Satay, and some other options.
Other restaurants that have vegetarians menu, and/or able to provide a dish for vegetarians or vegans.
Lupis Mbah Satinem: the famous Lupis lady on Netflix Street Food
Jl. Bumijo No.52-40, Bumijo, Kec. Jetis, Yogyakarta
Mediterranea Restaurant by Kamil: My favourite restaurant in Yogya! It can absolutely cater to vegetarians and vegans.
Tirtodipuran St No.24 A, Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta City
Nanamia Pizzeria: OMG their Quattro Formaggi is so tasty!
Tirtodipuran St No.1, Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta City
Bale Raos Kraton: If you are keen on trying Indonesian, especially Javanese food, try this restaurant. It has various rice dishes, and some of them are vegetarian friendly.
Jl. Magangan Kulon No.1, Panembahan, Kecamatan Kraton, Yogyakarta
Pecel “Cak No”: One of the best places to get Nasi Pecel in Yogya
Jl. Demangan Baru No.8A, Demangan Baru, Yogyakarta
Bumi Langit Institute: A permaculture center and a restaurant with organic food
Jl. Imogiri Mangunan Km. 3, Desa Giriloyo, Wukirsari, Imogiri