Canggu offers a huge array of restaurants, with a particular focus on healthy food, driven by the area’s surfer and yoga set. There’s fun, quirky stuff plus some exceptional dining to experience at very reasonable prices. The only blight in this area really is transport: Particularly in evenings, you may be forced to use local transport at inflated prices to get home.
Old Man’s is a fab spot for a lazy brunch, breezy lunch, relaxed dinner or drinks into the night. The open-air restaurant overlooks Canggu’s Old Man’s break (with a car park in between) making it an easy spot to duck into after a surf — and a good sunset possie. The food is excellent, with a straightforward menu of international hits, all executed well with a focus on simplicity and good produce. A solid kids’ menu helps keep everyone happy. The coffee is super-smooth, the cocktails potent and the vibe relaxed. Plan for a lengthy stay.
Just across the road you’ll find The Lawn, with a pool, beanbags, restaurant and rooftop bar. This is a popular spot, and the service is snazzy and professional—it doesn’t have the laidback, do-it-yourself-vibe of Old Man’s. We loved the Ginger Pepper cocktail, and the pork belly was superb. You could easily spend an afternoon stretching into evening here.
Walk past Finn’s on Berawa Beach and head 200 metres along to the right to find The Naked Coconut, an old-style on-the-beach warung. Expect nothing more than a few bean bags plus some roughly hewn wooden chairs ideal for chilling in with your toes curled into the sand. The beer’s ice-cold, they will order in snacks from warungs nearby for you (try the basic nachos) and you can watch the sun dip behind the waves, the old-school way. Check their FB page for irregular music sessions.
Echo Beach has a cluster of beachside warungs ideal for a no-fuss sundowner with your feet in the sand and your but in a bean bag or on a sun-lounger. When you get to the end of Batu Mejan and hit the sands, just take a right and wander along. There are around a dozen or so shacks to choose from, all associated with the loungers out the front; we like the little Japanese one, where the service is friendly and the food a little bit different from the usual nasi and mie goreng.
Echo Beach warungs: Along Echo Beach.
Naked Coconut: Berawa Beach (200m to the right from Finns Beach Club); T: (0853) 3805 0244; www.facebook.com/thecoconutberawa/.
Old Man’s: Jalan Batu Bolong, Canggu; T: (0361) 846 9158; open daily 07:00-24:00.
The Lawn: Jalan Pura Dalem, off Batu Bolong, Canggu; T: (0361) 335 1055; thelawncanggu.com/; open daily 11:00–late.
Have you got a few months? Because you can pretty much try a new cafe a day in Canggu over this length of time and still have more to try. So many are worth mentioning — here are some of our faves, starting from the Berawa area and moving north to Echo Beach. Our only complaint: jeez we wish ALL cafes served a bottle of water on arrival, even if, like Crate, they charge a minimal 5,000 rupiah service charge for it. It’s hot—don’t make us buy an overpriced bottle of Equil. Rant over!
Peloton is a vegan cafe-slash-cycling store and boy, is the food scrumptious. We came back two days running for the tacos: lettuce bowls filled with walnut/sun-dried tomato "meat", pineapple salsa, and corn, drizzled in cashew sour cream. With an elegant wine glass of kombucha on the side, you’ll be tempted to renounce meat forever. They do a fine vegan nasi campur, too, a range of salads, fab sweets and coffees with either cashew or coconut milk—yum! Various bowls, pancakes and porridges for brekky if you stop by earlier in the day, too. Recommended.
Set in a gorgeous space—Bali meets Morocco meets shabby chic—Bungalow Living Cafe is a great stop for a coffee and browse for a tasteful Bali souvenir. It’s housed in a gorgeous bungalow of course; look for the painted hanging bird cages and lovely patterned blind outside. Take a seat on the veranda or head inside to a nested banquette-style space we are quite partial to, or a table in among the shelves (for sale) housing lots of beautiful stuff (for sale), such as notebooks, candles, ceramics, cushions, bags, throws, baskets and so on. Breakfasts include fruit with honey and yoghurt and sourdough toast with tomato, feta and and basil, while lunches are light, and include a range of salads and a mezze plate. A great range of coffees, fresh juices, smoothies and teas (ayurvedic, Japanese sencha, masala chai latte…) as well as good cakes and bikkies make this a fine quick pitsop too. Pop over the road for Bungalow Living Home, where you’ll find more homewares—they describe their aesthetic as tribal meets tropical, which isn’t far off the mark.
Heads up: Tiny, beautiful Butter has closed for now, but they are still taking orders for their incredible hand-made and decorated cakes. If you’re getting married in Bali or celebrating a birthday here, order in advance for a cake from these guys!
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a French farmhouse if you pop into lovely Warung Gouthe, up the northern end of Jalan Pantai Berawa. Indeed they encourage you to stick your head into where they are doing the cooking, but you can see just by sitting at a table -- it’s all very open and lovely, with a palette of soothing olives and woods. We stopped for a cheeky chocolate caramel tart and macchiato, but would love to pop back for a simple panini lunch—think octopus Romanesco, chicken boudin bechamel or escargot pesto.
On the dog-leg portion of Jalan Pantai Berawa you’ll find Milk and Madu, the bustling brother of Watercress on Batu Belig. The setting is urban-rustic—we just made that up, but it fits!—with a lovely vibe. As with Watercress, the focus is on healthy whole foods. Think super-smoothies, fresh juices, bubble teas, and coffee from Revolver, too—superb. Breakfasts include items like shakshuka eggs with caramelised capsicum, tomato and coriander, or a Mexican burrito with scrambled eggs, beans, bacon, corn salsa, cheddar, avocado and sour cream. Loads of imaginative salads, burgers, wraps and pizzas for lunch. And while it feels like a cafe, they are now open for dinner too, just like Watercress—we guess when you hit on a winning formula, you may as well push on into the final meal of the day. Great little kids’ menu, too.
More modestly sized but just as ambitious when it comes to serving up great food, Quince is a little further along this leg of Pantai Berawa. It serves up its great breakfasts and lunches with a side of homewares—they have a simply lovely collection assembled on one side of the cafe. Sit streetside at one of their long tables, or inside; either way you’ll be given a warm welcome from your Balinese-Australian hosts. The coffee is FREAK, the breakfasts cover items like pumpkin and quinoa patty with a poached egg on asparagus with feta; lunch sees some delectable salads on offer—we’ve loved their Vietnamese chicken salad since they opened their original outlet back on Batu Belig (they closed that one to move here).
In the southern portion of Berawa you’ll find Ruko (meaning shopfront) serving up decently sized breakfasts, pastries, sandwiches and excellent coffee in their air-conditioned interior or streetside. Across the road, Bali Bowls is a cute little addition to the neighbourhood, serving up healthful vegetarian dishes and smoothies.
Up on Raya Semat, a sprinkling of cafes keep the growing numbers of tourists in this area well caffeinated. Hungry Bird is always bustling, serving decent coffee and reasonable breakfasts and cafe fare (not on Mondays—we are always amused to see the huge sign saying "Closed Mondays" out the front where it might be nicer to say "Welcome!"). Sprout, a little further north, is a more polished offering, with a bit more of a hipster menu: think kale pesto folded omelette, pork and fennel sausage rolls and lentil haloumi salad. It’s attached to a pre-school, so it’s very kid-friendly.
It can be a challenge to find a cafe or restaurant in Bali combining healthy food with specifically Balinese flavours, but Betelnut Cafe does an excellent job of doing precisely this, in rustic, relaxed surrounds. The eclectic cafe—one of the first that kicked off the proliferation of cafes now buzzing in the vicinity—focuses on breakfast, burgers, wraps, salad bowls, raw food, and Mexican, with a few other starters, mains plus desserts as well. The focus here is on light and healthy cuisine, with plenty of robust flavour. The range of drinks is brilliant, with a great choice of smoothies, juices, frappes, Dharma teas and coffees. Check out the board for the daily salads and order a few for a satisfying but healthy meal. We had the red rice with shallots and coconut dressing, lawar (bloodless!) comprising beans, shredded coconut and crispy shallots, and a green salad with cherry tomatoes and cashews. Sturdier offerings include for instance flour tortillas with red rice, beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole, or a chicken betutu burger. Sit downstairs in the air-con space, or head upstairs where it’s open-air and you have better views of the surrounding paddy (at least, what’s left of it).
Betelnut’s little sister Shady Shack is a stone’s throw away along nearby Tanah Barak, and offers another take on scrumptious healthy vegetarian (and vegan) eating. It’s a little more sturdy than a shack, but there are really just a few tables inside and out on the veranda, plus a smattering in the—shady, natch—garden. Choose from smoothie bowls, salad bowls, burgers and more, such as raw treats to go with a cashew nut-milk coffee. It’s all so vibrantly colourful you’ll be totally tempted even if you usually lust after something more, well, meaty. Table service is always prompt and friendly. Parking, as in much of Canggu, is a pain if the couple of spaces out front are full.
The Bali branch of Australia’s Deus sits amid green paddy in lush gardens and offers up a cafe, retail outlet (The Temple of Enthusiasm), and all sorts of magical stuff—well, ok, surfboard- and motorbike-making in its complex of buildings out back. The sleek and shiny things inside the airy, very cool retail space will no doubt grab your attention first. If you’re looking for a surfboard, custom-made motorbike or bike, skateboard or simply clothes and accessories like hats, T-shirts, watches and sunglasses, this is where you’ll find them. You really can walk away with a whole new life from here (and a very, very empty wallet). Don’t go in if you’re having a mid-life crisis!
The attached Deus Cafe serves up a wide range of great Asian and Western fare. Prices for the quality are very reasonable indeed. Breakfasts include a range of egg dishes—we tried the smoked salmon and poached eggs and they were very nicely done—as well as sweet fare like French toast and black rice pudding. For lunch light noodle meals cover Southeast Asia and include pad thai, Singaporean wok-fried noodles, Malaysian mamak mie and Japanese Udon. There’s a range of baguettes, sandwiches, salads and burgers. The coffee is really smooth, with a good range of fresh juices, mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks, as well as alcohol—the Dirty Deus is a Bintang over ice with a dash of sambal and squirt of fresh lime in a salt-rimmed glass. If you’d like to explore, you can stick your head out back and see what’s going on in the workshops. Or go on, snare a bike and vroom away into that sunset.
If a navy and white striped top, culottes and chignon are more your style, pop into the Canggu location of Bali’s croissant kings, Monsieur Spoon. They have a lovely little garden spot at the Deus/Betelnut junction, but the heat may well drive you indoors to their air-con area. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re spoiled for choice: eclairs, salted caramel tarts, citrus tarts... you get the idea.
Another French-inspired spot just up the road is Le Petit Prince, a chic little casual cafe specialising in crepes. The decor is gently mismatched woods and coloured glass panelling, a little dash of Normandy right on Jalan Batu Bolong. We tried the classic crepe with a sunny side up egg, emmental cheese and ham and it was delightful: light and flavoursome, a tasty Gallic start to the day.
Cute little Cafe Avocado is a feast for the eyes as well as the tum. Think turquoise patterned wallpaper, a mural of plants and birds, brass light fittings, floral cushions and wooden furniture. The menu is well considered, featuring beyond breakfasts loads of salads, curries, stews, soups, pastas and burgers, but the emphasis is on good nutrition. We had the Green Dragon Granola, nestled into a green smoothie, and jeez it was good.
Just around the corner you’ll find In the Raw, serving up loads of cold-pressed juices, smoothies and raw foods. There’s just a few tables here, but it makes for a good pitstop if you don’t want to settle in somewhere else for a full breakfast or lunch.
We are big fans of white-on-white Cafe Organic and their simple but scrumptious meals. They offer a huge range of all-day breakfasts—like a raspberry chia parfait, Byron breakfast burrito (yes, quite an Australian vibe here...) or an Uluwatu omelette—plus smoothie bowls and lunches. We tried the Soul Bowl, a combination of edamame, cherry tomatoes, zucchini noodles, avocado and pesto. So good! With a green juice on the side, we didn’t even miss our carbs. Or meat. Or gluten, come to think of it. The porch gets hot by mid-morning, but inside is spacious and cool.
Crate might be little more than an on-the-spacious-side-hole-in-the-wall, but boy it knows how to serve brekkie and brunch. Take a seat at one of the footpath tables or pull up a bench at one of the half-dozen glass-topped wooden tables in the fan-cooled interior. Order and pay at the distressed concrete-bar and the staff will whisk your food out to your when it’s ready. We love the Peas Please: a poached egg atop pesto, wilted spinach with peas and feta atop sourdough. Fab coffee, naturally.
Canteen lies on the main road connecting Batu Bolong and Echo Beach, serving big portions of surfer-friendly breakfasts and lunches (they close at 15:00, so beware!). Think hash browns with avocado, scrambled eggs and grilled tomatoes, smoothie bowls and a range of salads and wraps, plus plenty of juices, coffees and teas. Come hungry!
Little Flinders is a boho-vibed cafe that always seems to be buzzing in a relaxed sort of way. Our coffee was just okay (the flat white came in a latte glass), but the food excellent: our bowl of dragonfruit, mango, berry yoghurt, apple, granola and caramel butter was filling but also light. Their lunches and dinners traverse Indonesia and the West—we liked the sound of the lobster spaghetti.
Three cheers for beautiful Gypsy, tucked away off the Batu Bolong-Echo Beach road. The decor’s breezy and bright and the food is simply amazing. On our most recent visit we sat near a table of eight who effusively told their waiter they’d just had their best meal in Bali and we don’t think they were fibbing. Chef Robin trained in a two-star Michelin restaurant and it certainly shows, both in presentation and non-fussy flavours. We had the house-made ricotta bowl of chopped fruits and granola, which came with fluffy balls of creamy ricotta and was drizzled ever so lightly in salted caramel. Other breakfast offerings include dishes like layered pancakes with caramel, fruit and cashew butter plus eggplant salsa with sour cream, poached egg and coriander on multigrain. These guys are open for lunch and dinners too, which sound special: think pork chop with broccoli puree, fennel salad and sesame sauce or an octopus salad with tomato jam, pickled onions, salsa verda and corn salad. There’s a degustation menu, or come Sunday for a boozy brunch—though we’re not sure what that includes. Hmmm, must go back ...
If you’re a Grocer and Grind fan, you’ll be pleased to find they have an outlet down towards Echo Beach on the left. Offering their usual take on modern international cuisine, the setting here is off the beach, but if you’ve had enough of the sand and just need to chill out, this is a good spot to do it. For breakfast think sweet corn and zucchini fritters with roasted cherry tomatoes, malt-cured bacon, avocado, sour cream and chilli jam; lunch might be one of their wood-fired pizzas, like marinated artichoke, Tuscan kale, blue cheese and macadamia nut pesto and for dinner they do various takes on sausages and mash.
We are big fans of the kitchen at Samadi, an organic cafe, yoga retreat and wellness centre. Their Indian breakfasts are out of this world: Try the Uthappam, a soft pancake made with fermented rice batter, served with lentil curry, coconut mint chutney and tamarind chutney. Come for yoga, stay for lunch. Samaditoo across the road and down the gang has a beautiful looking cafe set up, but for now they order in from Samadi. They also do a great farmers market on Sundays.
Way back towards Seminyak on Raya Anyar you’ll find an outlet of divine Bali Buda. Their menu is healthful and far-ranging. We love their live food platter of jicama, sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber, their raw spreads and delicious seeded flaxseed pizza crackers. Notably well priced for the quality they offer. They have an excellent attached bakery (grab some energy balls) and grocery with items like natural mosquito repellent and various groceries like coconut yoghurt.
Just around the corner from Bali Buda is an outlet of Cafe Moka, a long-running French-style cafe with fabulous pastries, tarts and salads. We believe their mille-feuille is responsible for about a kilo of the extra weight we carry around. Coffee isn’t amazing, but the sweets sure are. Seating is bistro-style, in comfortable air-con, with table service.
Bali Bowls: Jalan Pantai Berawa, Canggu; no number; www.facebook.com/balibowlsandsmoothies/.
Bali Buda: Jalan Raya Banjar Anyar 24, Canggu; T: (0361) 844 5936; www.balibuda.com; open daily 07:00-22:00. Betelnut Cafe: Jalan Batubolong No. 60, Canggu; T: (082) 146 807 233; open Tues-Sun 07:00-22:00.
Bungalow: Jalan Pantai Berawa 35 A Canggu; T: (0361) 844 6567; www.bungalowlivingbali.com; open Mon-Sat.
Cafe Avocado: Jalan Raya Batu Bolong 69B, Canggu; T: (0811) 399 9411; motionfitnessbali.com/food-solutions/avocado-cafe-menu/; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Cafe Organic: Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong 56, Canggu; open daily 07:00-16:00.
Cafe Moka: Jalan Raya Anyar, Canggu; T: (0361) 844 5933; http://www.cafemokabali.com/; open daily 07:00-20:00.
Canteen: Jalan Batu Mejan 33, Canggu; T: (0878) 6228 1755; open daily 07:00-17:00.
Crate Cafe: 64 Jalan Batu Bolong, Canggu; T: (0812) 3894 3040; open daily 07:00-03:00.
Deus Cafe: Jalan Batu Mejan 8, Canggu; T: (0811) 388 150; www.id.deuscustoms.com; open daily 07:00-23:00.
Grocer and Grind: Jalan Batu Mejan (100m from beach), Echo Beach; T: (0361) 846 9189; www.grocerandgrind.com; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Gypsy: l Munduk Catu 1, Canggu: T: (0812) 3067 0056; open daily 08:00-23:00.
Hungry Bird: Jalan Raya Semat 86, Canggu; T: (0898 619 1008); hungrybirdcoffee.com; open Tues-Sun 08:00-17:00.
Le Petit Prince: 65 Jalan Batu Belong, Canggu; T: (0858) 5672 8087; open daily 09:00-22:00.
Little Flinders: 78 Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu; T: (0361) 4715238; www.facebook.com/littleflinderscafe/; open daily 08:00-22:00.
Monsieur Spoon: Jalan Batu Bolong 55, Canggu; T: (0878) 6280 8859; monsieurspoon.com; open daily 06:30-21:00.
Peloton: Jalan Pantai Berawa 46, Canggu; T: (0859) 5413 1451; www.pelotonsupershop.com; open daily 07:30-16:30.
Ruko: Jalan Pantai Berawa 99, Canggu; T: (0812) 3967 3077; www.facebook.com/Rukocafe/; open daily 07:30-16:00.
Samadi: Jalan Padang Linjong 39, Canggu; T: (0812) 3831 2505; www.samadibali.com; open daily 08:00-19:00.
Shady Shack: Jalan Tanah Barak; T: (0819) 1639 5087; open daily 07:30-22:00.
Sprout: Jalan Raya Semat, Canggu; no number; sproutbali.com; open daily 07:00-18:00.
Warung Gouthe: Jalan Pantai Brawa 7A, Canggu; T: (0878) 8947 0638; open Mon-Sat 08:30-17:00.
Over the years we’ve been consistently disappointed by pizzas in Bali but we finally reckon we’ve uncovered a keeper. It might sound a little gimmicky, but we reckon Pinsologi makes about the best pizza you’ll find on the island.
The restaurant, tucked into a wooden complex at the busy Canggu intersection near Deus, isn’t a bad spot for a relaxed meal, but it’s really more about the pizza than the surrounds here. The dough, a mixture of soft wheat flour, soybean flour, rice flour and dried motherdough, is leavened for 72 hours, creating what they claim is a highly digestible dough. Whether it is or it isn’t (we certainly don’t feel bloated after eating it) it’s certainly delicious -- crispy on the outside, chewy within, and with generous and interesting toppings. Definitely recommended if you’re after a pizza hit.
La Baracca trails a close second with their great range of pizzas -- try the one featuring fresh burrata! Canggu is home to their second branch, with the first on Petitenget. Both are casual joints where the emphasis is on good food.
Right by La Baracca you’ll find exceptional and stylish Salumeria Tanah Barak, brought to you by Australia’s well-regarded chef Geoff Lindsay. On the menu are fantastic plates of local and imported salumi e formaggi—cold cuts and cheese doesn’t sound as great in English—as well as salads, antipasti, crudo and panini. We like to start with the duck liver pate with toast and buni jelly. The Campari bar serves up great cocktails—we love the Aperol spritzes and the limoncello version is pretty alright too. Get there early for their two-for-one sunset drinks, from 16:00-19:00. They’ll do takeaway meats and cheeses if you’ve just got to have more tomorrow.
Modestly sized, Bottega Italiana Rosmarina punches above its weight with excellent panini, pastas, salads and pastries. There seemed to be a million staff and we joked about how long it took our food to emerge from the kitchen, but the delectable Rosmarina salad and pasta we had was worth the wait. Don’t miss the fluffy sugar donuts, or bomba, with coffee to finish. These guys also offer takeaway delicatessen items like, say, seven-hour roasted pork sirloin wrapped in pork belly by the 100 grams. This is Bottega Italiana’s second branch; lovely Basilico in Seminyak was their first.
For cheap and cheerful Italian, no-nonsense Trattoria does the job. Bali has about six outlets now, while around 20 are sprinkled around Asia. The Canggu one is tucked right by Canggu Deli in Canggu Plaza, and while it won’t win any amazing decor awards, the food covers all the faves authentically. This makes for a decent, home-style spot if you’re with a group. It’s good value and service is always efficient.
Bottega Italiana Rosmarina: Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong 77, Canggu; T: (0822) 3611 1011; open daily 08:00-22:00; www.bottegaitalianabali.com/
La Baracca: Jalan Tanah Barak, Canggu; T: (0361) 471 5283; www.labaraccabali.com/; open daily 11:00-23:30.
Pinsologi: Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong 56c, Canggu; T: (0856) 4561 5951; www.facebook.com/Pinsologi/; open daily 11:00-23:00.
Salumeria Tanah Barak: Jalan Tanah Barak 47, Canggu; T: (0361) 300 3463; salumeria.asia; open daily 16:00-23:00.
Trattoria: Canggu Plaza, Jalan Taman Wisata Tibubeneng, Canggu; T: (0822) 4735 4709; www.trattoriaasia.com/; open daily 07:30-23:00.
Campur Asia is a breezy little cafe offering a small but delicious range of Asian dishes with a Japanese emphasis, plus coffees and other good drinks. This joint is well worth a stop off for a cheap but well cooked meal in rather funky surrounds. The restaurant may have been decorated on a budget, but whoever designed this joint knows all about style. More importantly, they also know about food. We love the rotation of fresh, healthy, dishes on offer from the Japanese chef. The dishes are simple but interesting — our plate of sesame chicken wings and braised eggplant, with a serving of red rice on the side, was light but filling and flavourful. Other examples of typical fare include baked salmon, Indian-style chicken curry, and various veggie dishes too. They take their coffee seriously, serving local organic beans FREAK — Fresh Roast Enak (delicious) Arabica from Kintamani. Service is fast and friendly. While the surrounds are pretty, you are right roadside, so it can be a bit noisy and gets piping hot during the day — you’ll want to eat and run, or else grab takeout.
All-vegetarian Green Ginger Noodle House is cute beyond cute, and worth seeking out for something a bit different. A celebration of fresh produce and vegetarian goodness (many dishes are also vegan or can be made vegan), the menu here is short and sweet but likely to delight with its imagination. Come for breakfast and tuck into strawberry and banana pancakes with ice cream and honey or try a Thai-style omelette with oyster mushrooms, corn, coriander and mung beans. The lunch and dinner menu is Asian-focused and as it says on the label, noodle heavy, though a good starter is the ginger shiitake tofu wontons or spinach shallot dumplings with dipping sauces. Follow that up with, for instance, a laksa (baby corn, bok choy and tofu in spicy coconut milk with lime, boiled egg, peanuts, cucumber and chilli) or Singapore noodles (stir-fried flat rice noodles, tofu and veggies with veggie oyster sauce and sweet soy. Three cheers too for a simple kids’ menu: fried rice with egg, spring onion and a dash of soy, ramen noodles with corn carrot, greens, and sweet soy dressing or for your annoying fussy eater, white bread jam and butter sammies. Though the food offerings are yummo, this is the sort of spot to take a book and while away an afternoon, or to meet friends for a catch up over a drink. The kids have a little bit of space to run around and the staff are friendly. Run by the same crew as The Elephant in Ubud.
While Indotopia Warung Vietnam & Indonesia in Canggu looks somewhat more glamorous than your average Bali warung, with pretty chairs and dangly things and a very clean, open kitchen, it’s not going to win any design awards. This is a simple, open-to-the-street affair, with a basic garden courtyard at the rear. Decor doesn’t matter too much, however, as it churns out some of the island’s best pho and other cheap Vietnamese dishes, as well as a short but sweet range of local offerings. Vietnamese appetisers include banh cuon, steamed rice crepes filled with fried minced chicken, yam and mushies as well as goi cuon, fresh rice paper rolls filled with shrimp, chicken, veggies and egg — we saw these being meticulously prepared — and green papaya salad. We however went for the pho bo — beef pho — which was served in a reasonably rich broth with great fresh noodles and all the accompaniments. Just two Vietnamese desserts are on offer — sticky rice with mango and Saigon banana crepes. The Indonesian section of the menu is equally brief, covering a few key bases like gado gado, nasi goreng, mie goreng or nasi campur. No MSG is served, no microwaves are used, and free WiFi is on offer — and their authentic Vietnamese drip coffee should power you through a lot of work.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.