Kafe Tahu: Bedugul, Bali

Indonesia is a food lover’s paradise and each island and city has its own special dish. There are a mesmerising amount of restorans and warungs in Bali and most serving tahu. I am a great lover of Tahu and my favourite being tahu goreng. In western countries, Tahu is known as Tofu. Another one of my favourites is tahu gimbal, a dish from Central Java.

There is an excellent place to obtain tahu in Bali that has never lost its popularity not far from Danau Bratan in north-central region of the island and located in the idyllic setting of Bedugul. Wasti Atmodjo explains more:

Tofu or soybean cake — which is gaining popularity in Western culture — has long been a menu mainstay in Bali. Kafe Tahu, which is located on Jl. Raya Denpasar in Bedugul, Baturiti, Tabanan, offers a wide variety of tofu dishes. Its owners, Zakaria and Elizabeth, have created a menu that features a wide array of tofu concoctions.

Soft tofu dishes — ranging from soups to puddings — are priced at Rp 5,000 (55 US cents) a portion. Tahu petis (sweet tofu) tahu martabak (tofu pancake) and tahu rujak mie (tofu and noodle salad) make very tasty snacks that are a lot more interesting than peanuts or crisps. Their prices range from Rp 5,000-8,500 a portion.

If a customer wants a solid meal they can choose from tahu gimbal (fried tofu cake), bakso kuah (tofu balls in soup), tahu telur (tofu and egg pancake) or tahu gejrot (chunks of tofu in a spicy sauce).

Customers can also learn how to make some of these popular dishes themselves, with a good selection of ingredients on hand.
If you don’t care for tofu, there is also satay, steak and fish on the menu.

“We are also helping the public lead a healthy lifestyle, by pointing them in the direction of high-protein foods that are readily available and cheap. This is not a vegetarian restaurant, but at least we are encouraging people to reduce their meat consumption,” Zakaria said.

The couple opened their cafe five years ago, after six months of tofu production. They had originally started producing tofu as a way of providing side jobs for researchers working on a wood mushroom project.

When the mushroom project ended, Zakaria lost many of his workers.

He found new ways to market his tofu, selling it to supermarkets and hotels, and later at his own cafe.

Zakaria said he had not realized his business would grow so fast. He had only really started the cafe with the intention of teaching people to cook tofu. An old caravan was later converted into a shop, with six tables placed outside.

“We never imagined such a thing, but people raved about our cooking. My wife and I have no training as cooks,” he said.

Zakaria and Elizabeth spend much of their time on the road in search of new tofu recipes. They have visited West Java for its tahu gejrot, Central Java for its tahu gimbal and East Java for its tahu campur (mixed tofu) and tahu telur.

Also influenced by the cuisines of Japan and China, they might try a recipe 10 times before considering it “mastered”.

At present there are 45 items on the Kafe Tahu menu, with two or three additions every month. Zakaria and Elizabeth are also expanding their business to Negara, Kuta and Denpasar under a franchising scheme.