Ubud Food Festival: Foraging trip and plant-based tasting menu lunch | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Wild berry (locally known as trijata). This is considered a rare and endangered plant. The berries and their flowers are sweet and edible. Photos by Geela Garcia

Herbivore, the restaurant by renowned Ubud culinary chain Locavore Group, fronts Balinese local herbs


Bustling motorbikes were coming from both sides on a cool and cloudy morning, a common sight in the heart of Ubud’s city. It was a jam-packed weekend for food enthusiasts on the island, as the 2024 Ubud Food Festival, Indonesia’s leading culinary festival was on its last day.

Ubud Food Festival, dubbed as Indonesia’s “unmissable foodie haven” was founded in 2015. It is a three-day multicultural culinary event, which showcases Indonesian cuisine at its center. Every year, the event is filled with different culinary masterclasses, food tours, and talks, on top of a cross-cultural food bazaar. 

For its last day this year, some festival participants signed up for a foraging tour to Singaperang Village, a town with fields an hour away from downtown Ubud. The foraging trip was in partnership with Herbivore, the latest venture of Locavore Group, a renowned culinary chain in Ubud. 

The first stop at the foraging tour was a small plot of rice fields for slow rice farming. It only harvests rice once a year and changes crops to legumes, sweet potato, and cassava to ensure soil health and to harvest traditional rice, which contains less sugar compared to fast-growing hybrid rice.

Sustaining life through foraging

The newly launched tasting menu restaurant, which just opened its doors to the public in December 2023, offers an exclusive “all flora, no fauna” dining experience. For the foraging trip, Herbivore brought its diners to Singaperang Village, where the Locavore group sources 10 percent of its herbs. 

Bali has a fertile soil, which is attributed to its volcanoes, making the land rich in magnesium, calcium, and potassium, among other essential minerals for farming. Combined with a warm tropical climate, the island produces flavorful herbs enough for their needs. 

Modern technology and corporate agriculture have altered traditional farming making some herbs difficult to find in plantations. But in this small farm in Singaperang, farmer Agum Bagus still practices traditional Balinese farming which centers harmony between the environment and humans. 

Farmer Agum Bagus on his farm in Singaperang.

Ida Bagus Yawa Kasida, commonly known as “Kasida,” Locavore’s sous chef and forager said that Locavore has been sourcing their herbs at Singaperang for over 10 years now because of the farm’s prime location.

“The farm is located in the middle altitude, which allows the herbs to have a more intense taste making it perfect to bring out flavors in the dishes. Different herbs would have different tastes, depending on where they are harvested,” said Kasida. 

Traditionally, Balinese families have a “Tegalan,” a rice field that has everything the family needs in life. In the field, coconut trees and different herbs grow with the rice, which they use for food, medicine, and ceremony. A harvest is usually enough for one family, and the excess is shared in the neighborhood or sold in the market. One of the most evident healthy practices in a Tegalan farm is polycropping. In an hour of foraging, the group identified 22 different edible plants. 

Agum sorting clover leaves.

Found below are some of the plants found on the foraging trip:

Wild berry (locally known as trijata). This is considered a rare and endangered plant. The berries and their flowers are sweet and edible.
A peppercorn plant.
Wild oyster mushroom (locally called wong papah) growing on a branch of coconut. The mushrooms taste like coconut meat.
Agum extracts honey from a trigona bee hive, stingless bees found in Bali. The honey from stingless bees has a sweet but acidic taste.
Agum climbing a coconut tree for Balinese wine.
Head chef Hauchon and kitchen staff Yogi prepare a dish for the “Freshly Picked” menu.

An herb-forward plant-based tasting menu

After the foraging trip, participants returned to Herbivore restaurant, where head chef Arnaud Hauchon prepared a “Freshly Picked” menu, made especially for the Ubud Food Festival.

It was a 10-course tasting menu lunch, showcasing the foraged herbs in different dishes. It was Herbivore’s first time joining the Ubud Food Festival as the restaurant recently opened, and Hauchon and his team joined to do something fun and new for the team and guests. 

For Hauchon, the main challenge for the Freshly Picked menu was preparing and making a limited-offer menu good for a day. 

“I worked on the menu for two months, while the team trained for two weeks. This exercise brought some oxygen and energy to the team after seeing the fruit of their work come to life,” he said. 

Hauchon said they held a foraging trip so guests could see the herbs up close on the farm, while also showcasing how it could take place once put together in a menu.


The second appetizer made use of various local green leaves from the farm such as sawi bali, cemcem, jepen jepen, and spinach which were served on ice. The leaves have distinct tastes: sawi bali leaf tastes like mustard leaves, cemcem leaves taste like sweet mangoes, while the jepen jepen leaves have a floral taste. The leaves are then dipped and enjoyed on the jelly passion fruit mixture.

“Herbivore” was a plant-based menu option on restaurant Locavore’s menu, but the founders wanted to specialize in plant-based cuisine hence what then was a menu became a tasting menu restaurant in itself. 

For Hauchon, who’s also a vegetarian, a plant-based menu is a beautiful cuisine to be developed especially in terms of sustainability. 

“Our cuisine is product-oriented, meaning, we curate local produce and create a dish depending on the products and the flavors,” said Hauchon.

“We use local ingredients found in Bali because it makes sense. As a chef you should cook with what you have, using a product that is in season. In terms of sustainability, why import things when you can feed yourself with what you have? We can preserve and ferment, and we don’t need to go to the other side of the planet for food and this was the practice centuries ago before we imported food,” he said.


Cassava pancake, melissa, trijata berries, preserved makrut lime


Mini chayote, coconut palm tree, belimbing wuluh, sea lettuce, green tomato, turmeric leaves.


Pineapple cacao, baby corn, eggplants, peanuts, bulun baon, cemcem leaves.


Grilled red rice tempeh, tamarillo, tamarin, red chilli, galangal, andaliman pepper, ayam leaves


Soursop, amazake, mango, herbs, flowers


Herbivore by Locavore is located at Jl. Dewisita No.10, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. For reservations, you may book a table here. 

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