If you’ve been to Bali too than you will have a pretty good idea about what to expect from Warung Bagus Byron Bay. A ‘warung’ in Indonesian is a small, family run business; typically a simple shop, café or restaurant. While the word ‘bagus’ in Indonesian means ‘great’ or at least ‘good’.
Warung Bagus Byron Bay is indeed a small, simple Indonesian styled café in the centre of town that lives up to its name.
I had been craving some authentic Indonesian flavours recently. Mr GFAF and I are planning a Bali jaunt later in the year and, when planning any jaunt, the local food is always front of mind for me. Itinerary planning essentially includes researching restaurants, cafés and dishes I must experience before anything else. I also just really like Indonesian food and, despite Australia’s fixation with Bali and the surrounding archipelago, it amazes me that there’s not an abundance of Indonesian or Balinese restaurants or warungs here. I enjoy Balinese food for its complex layering of spices and flavours mixed with some good heat that leaves you with a warm glow. Cue the Suckling Pig please! So, when the craving struck for a spicy Nasi Goreng and a fresh Gado Gado with loads of Hot Sambal on the side recently, it was back to Warung Bagus Byron Bay for an ‘Indo’ inspired feast.
Warung Bagus is in a prime location on Bay Street directly across the road from Main Beach, Byron Bay. There is seating inside and outside where you can see the ocean and listen to the rolling waves and, on a humid Summer’s day if you close your eyes, you can imagine sitting in a roadside warung in Bali, complete with scooters and passing traffic. The décor is a medley of traditional Balinese teak and carved furniture with café style tables and chairs. The settings are decorated with bamboo tableware and tabletop collages depicting Balinese culture, surf life and sunny days.
The menu at Warung Bagus comes in two parts. There is an all-day breakfast list of options that mixes Indonesian and Western dishes and a separate lunch menu that’s all Indonesian inspired. The food offering is healthy and nourishing with ample choice for those following specialised diets. Subsequently the café draws a crowd of post surf worshippers and health conscious yogi types with good support from the passing tourist trade.
The breakfast menu at Warung Bagus features Western styled dishes like the Eggs Benny – poached eggs on sourdough toast with a spinach and cashew hollandaise, the Acai Bowl of frozen acai, banana and berries with mint, fresh fruit, seeds and a nut granola or the Bacon and Egg Toastie with tomato jam, cashew mayonnaise and fresh greens on brioche. On the Indonesian inspired side of the menu I can recommend the classic Nasi Goreng of spiced fried rice with mixed vegetables served with a fried egg on top, a delicious house made hot sambal, kecap manis and prawn crackers. A nasi goreng never goes out of style in my books and this one is the real deal. I can also recommend the Corn Fritters with lemongrass and kaffir lime, garlic potato cake, poached egg, sweet and sour sambal and kecap manis. The fritters come in a generous sized stack and the sambal ties the dish together.
I have to say that the house made sambals at Warung Bagus are worth bottling. The Hot Sambal is based on red chilli, tomato lemongrass, lime, ginger and shrimp paste, which gives a savoury depth. While the Sweet and Sour Sambal is made with red and green chilli, red onion and palm sugar for sweetness, tamarind for tartness and ginger for zing. It’s really very good and is a sambal I would eat with all sorts of meat, rice or egg dishes.
From noon, Warung Bagus Byron Bay also offers a lunch menu in the style of Indonesian Nasi Campur. The nasi campur begins with rice to which you add a main dish and sambal and the option of two sides. For mains, there are beef, chicken, fish and vegan curries. The sides include eggplant, jackfruit and papaya salad among others. The Chicken Gulai main from the nasi campur menu is a creamy and mild curry that’s flavoured with cinnamon, cardamon, turmeric, lime, lemongrass and peanut. It’s a favourite and is great with the hot sambal.
On one of our recent visits to Warung Bgus I wanted to order the Gado Gado from the Special Board. The café was out of tempeh after a massive Summer holiday trade that coincided with the tempeh maker taking holidays. After genuine apologies from the café owner I took him up on his offer to prepare me a special plate of sides and salads with a peanut sambal on the side akin to a Gado Gado. It was totally delicious and the perfect solution. Definitely good service.
For cold drinks, there are options from the fridge including locally made Kombucha as well as fresh house made Smoothies, Frappés and Cold Press Juices all named after Indonesian surf breaks. They are some of the best priced Smoothies around Byron Bay. For hot drinks at Warung Bagus they serve great coffee made on Single Original Organic Beans from North Sumatra of course. It’s good. They also have organic teas and hot chocolate.
There are treats in the indoor glass cabinet – all healthy ones of course – or in the afternoon you can grab a savoury street food side snack like chicken skewers or fish cakes. There is also a simple all day kids breakfast menu.
For Indonesian food in Byron Bay, try Warung Bagus on Bay Street where the eats and drinks really are ‘Bagus!’ Now, if only they would start serving Suckling Pig? Next stop – Bali!
Warung Bagus Byron Bay Price Range:
Breakfast: $8.00 for Banana Bread to $19.50 for the Big Brekky
Lunch: Nasi Campir $12.00 small plate – $15.00 large plate
Smoothies, Frappes, Juices: $7.00 Sally $10.00 Giant
Coffee and Tea: Piccolo $3.50, Regular $4.00, Mocha Smoothie $7.50