Hujan Locale in ub ud

Ubud’s Hujan Locale takes diners on an elevated journey of the Spice Islands.

Upstairs or downstairs, Hujan Locale elevates a local experience.

With a lick of welcome green to the walls, there’s a fresh celadon feel at Ubud’s Hujan Locale, from the floor tiles to the bowls. Downstairs the lounge area and bar beckons for an aperitif before your meal or a casual light supper with a glass of wine. The dining room upstairs remains light and breezy, with comfortable banquette seating and large tables set for family-style dining.

Hujan (meaning rain) Locale has been a consistent go-to when friends from overseas are visiting Bali so news that Will Meyrick, Bali’s Street Food Chef, reopened the Ubud restaurant is a welcome update. One of three restaurants opened this year by Meyrick; Honey & Smoke in Monkey Forest Road and the revamped Billy Ho in Canggu, the chef returns from Australia older, wiser and committed to pushing a farmer to diner menu. 

By RICHARD WILLIAMS

Will Meyrick at Hujan Locale

This is a menu made for sharing, so bring a crew.

This is a great place to take friends when visiting Ubud, despite some stiff competition. Hujan Locale is great for families and groups of friends because there are loads of dishes you’ll want to try, and the bigger your crew, the more plates you can taste and share! 

The concept here is to champion the local foods of Indonesia from far and wide; from the local “sawah”, (rice fields), to the Balinese mountain clove and nutmeg forests, to the far-off spice trails of the Maluku (Spice) Islands. The experience engenders community, heralding back to the local Indonesian style of dining together, Liwetan – meaning to join together, dine, eat and share. In Bahasa Balinese this is called me-gibung.

New dishes, old faces.

What a happy surprise to be welcomed by Pak Rada, the manager, who has remained with the group through these last years and Dayu who has always been another mainstay and supervises the team. I wasn’t going to miss out on their signature Negroni made with aged Gin, vermouth, and oak barrel Campari. My partner in crime chose the Coconut Mojito, which she happily inhaled and promptly ordered another, not stopping for a munch on the sugar cane, which is something I love to do, and reminds me of a childhood in the tropics. The curated wine list offers the usual suspects with some very suitable companions like the Australian Margaret River Semillon or the New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir.

Hujan Locale showcases authentic regional dishes.

The menu has had a revamp and as mentioned you’ll be lost for choice. A common question asked by food servers these days is “do you have any food allergies,” to which I am always happy to reply, none. Without feeling the need to order rice, roti, or noodles, we launched with a fine Scallop Ceviche with a little coconut cream, kalamansi, finger lime, green chilli oil, the crunch of tobiko, flying fish roe, and a suspicion of sambal hijau, a delicate green chilli sambal. Light, fresh, and delicious, I was left wanting more. A perfect amuse bouche.

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It came as no surprise that the Crispy Rabbit and Pork Batagor Dumplings were their nod to Bandung and Sundanese cuisine. I’ve sat in the hills of Bandung eating the famous rabbit sate and the Batagor dumplings, made with tofu. Golden crunchy wontons are filled with rabbit, chive, pork fat, and carrot, combined with kimchi, pickled daikon, and served atop an unctuous mix of cashew nut and kecap manis, (sweet soy). This dish won’t be for everyone, there’s crunch and chew to it, but hard not to love for a visiting foodie.

Feel the heat - no dumbed-down spices here.

The next sharing dish was Padang style Cumi Cumi Kalio (baby squid), stuffed with minced prawns and simmered in a rich curry with cassava leaf and petai. Very brave to include petai, the stinky bean, loved by locals from near and far for its detoxifying properties and benefits to gut health. Having lived in Asia for over 22 years and growing up in a blended family I am very familiar with spice. My dining companion told me that this dish was quite spicy and if it wasn’t for the sweet, fair, young couple at the next table eating the same dish and slowly turning bright red, I wouldn’t have picked the heat! I encourage you to be brave and adventurous and eat out of your usual comfort zone. You’ve travelled the globe to get to Bali, do yourself a huge favour and be that culinary explorer.

We followed with a light interlude of charred romaine lettuce, shaved corn, salted egg yolk, bumbu kalasan, (a spicy seasoning with ginger, turmeric, chilli,) and buttermilk dressing for a smoky crunch and a rich finish. A little salted egg is very hard to resist.

Certainly the ‘pièce de résistance’ was the next dish of Babi Panggang, a slow-cooked char siu pork hock with char-grilled baby Chinese cabbage, and steamed buns, which Dayu shredded for us at the table. A prediction here is this dish may possibly steal the limelight from the sister crispy pork hock dish at Mamasan. The sticky sweetness, the collagenous hock, (think skin nutrition here ladies!), the soy’s sweet, sour richness, cut with cucumber pickles, ginger, and coriander in the bao is simply a classic that will never grow old on any menu.

A sweet finish.

I would not normally head to dessert and as you may know, desserts in Asia are more often sticky jellies or buns or bread with red beans, corn, and other curious concoctions. Hujan is not going to claim fame for desserts and offers three choices that will appeal to most. The partner in crime orders us two. The Burbur sumsum; black sticky rice porridge with coconut, fresh jackfruit and freeze-dried jackfruit, (you can walk out with a packet of these in a supermarket in Bali), is served with cashew ice cream. I wasn’t brave enough to eat the pretty flower garnish, I’m not sure of how the taste would enhance this busy dish which was suitably yummy already.

Lastly, we sampled a perfectly nice ginger and lemongrass crème brûlée with strawberries  macerated in honey and black pepper, fresh mint, and a caramel stick.

They were a suitably sticky finish to a very smooth return to this Ubud favourite. You really must put this on your list. 

It was terrific to see the dining room full and abuzz with groups of friends and families with kids of all ages. Hujan Locale continues to honour and showcase the culinary heritage of Bali and Indonesia and I would encourage you to put this one on your Ubud list.

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