Atman Cafe, Ubud, Bali
Words by Kirsten Durward
Photos by The Yum List
If you like fresh, natural and original food and drinks, you are going to love the Atman Café in Ubud. Perch yourself above the hustle bustle of Hanoman street, relaxing on plump cushions in a natural indigenous wood and bamboo setting. Owner Michelle Petit has a vision for her life in Bali that she wants to share with the world, and Atman Café is the first venture on her path. And you know what? It’s great! As daft as it might sound I am first excited by the notice that prices include tax and service. I LOVE knowing exactly what things cost with no extra surprises at the end. I hope this might lead the way to more businesses being this direct.
I read in the menu that Atman means the innermost essence of each individual or the little voice or ‘knowing’ within your heart that guides you. I suggest you let your inner knowing guide your feet down Hanoman Street for breakfast, lunch, a coffee or even just a delicious gelato.
Michelle tells us the story of her Organic Cold Brew Coffee served with salt, an increasingly popular house specialty. It’s a locally grown and roasted organic Arabica Coffee and she believes it’s the best you will find in Bali. Being high in antioxidants and low in caffeine and acidity, it is in any case; perfect for those who love their coffee hit but also want to care for their bodies. We elect to try it her favourite way, with coconut milk. I’m delighted to see the separated presentation - mix it to your own taste - palm sugar syrup, your choice of milk, and salt on the side. There is even a mini serving ceremony, as the cold coffee is poured over ice, salt is added to personal taste and mixed before adding the sugar syrup and coconut milk. It’s a subtle, taste, surprisingly good, unsurprisingly reminiscent of a salted caramel. Certainly very refreshing and boosting with a good blend of taste notes building in intensity towards the end of the glass, and with the added blessing of a crumbly home made ginger biscuit. Yum! (Organic Cold Brew Coffee, Single Shot IDR 23000, Double Shot IDR 34000. Add milk, coconut, raw, skimmed or regular IDR 7000)
As we enjoy the coffee, a beautiful Balinese wake procession goes past. Colourful dresses abound and gongs bang. Michelle comments on the celebration of death here and delightful lack of sadness. She also tells us of larger celebratory processions on the street and how busy the café is on these days. It sounds absolutely marvellous and I wish I could be there.
Coffee is not the only drink on the extensive menu. I’m in love with the juice selection and find it hard to choose. Best of all, is the option to create your own juice from a range of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Smoothies are served in a recycled glass that sparkles in the sun, with a coconut wood spoon and a bamboo straw. Awesome!
We are happy with our foamy drinks, which pack a punch on flavour and body. Beetroot, carrot and apple is rich and pink for me and Banana with Yakut is foamy and thick for Monica. Healthy yums! (Fresh Juice IDR 35,000. Probiotic fresh juice upgrade + 7,000)
Atman appears a small and simple café, but the menu is extensive, catering for vegan, lactose free, and organic tastes as well as more mainstream pasta and salad options. The children’s menu is impressive and Michelle reflects on the tastes of her own two children. Her eyes sparkle as she explains her commitment to healthy tasty food.
A colourful stack of red rice sushi is placed before us with flourishes of carved vegetables. It’s delicious! Red rice is slightly nutty in flavour, with more of a texture than is usual with sushi. Fresh sashimi grade Maguro Tuna, in juicy fat rolls create happy dipping in soy with ginger and wasabi. (Red Rice Sushi Tuna Roll IDR 69000 - also available in tofu or teriyaki chicken)
Coconut Crusted Fish is four cubes of fresh fish in Japanese spoons, coated in coconut, sesame seeds and coriander. Crispy fried served with Atman tomato sambal and lime. Thick, white fleshed Mahi Mahi in crisped coconut, a slight kick in the salsa. My taste buds are set alight as I enjoy the contrasting textures and subtle blend of flavours. Simply delicious! (Coconut Crusted Fish IDR 35,000)
Served warm, Jukut Urab is a traditional Balinese salad with long beans, coconut sprouts and chili with rice. Fresh and tangly, vibrant colours, slippery textures, crunch on crunch, it is simple and satisfying, and very filling. Though if you are extra hungry, rice comes on the side, Asian style. (Jukut Urab IDR 31,000)
Dairy Free Cheese Cake is quite splendidly pink. Cashew butter, organic cacao, coconut butter, palm sugar, fresh seasonal fruit served frozen or at room temperature. The filling is more nutty than cheesy with a distinct cashew taste. A cacao, walnut and date base has a great texture and guilt free deliciousity! (Dairy Free Cheesecake IDR 46,000)
Michele spoils us at her new ice-cream bar with Gaya Gelato. Gaya is famous in Ubud for being the best Italian ice cream that people drive miles for. Using only seasonal fruits, no artificial ingredients and with a choice of gluten free or dairy free cones, it promises to be something special. Having gorged on gelato in the streets of Italy, I am eager to have a taste, and taste we do, being forced to try every flavour before settling on our choices. I hate this job!
As usual I love it all but settle on a classic favourite; the vanilla is too good and fresh to ignore, and the chocolate deeply chocolatey. Monica sticks to her nuttiness with a hazelnut choice. It is great sticky textured ice cream, stop for a cone on a hot day as you walk down the street. You’ll be happy that you did. (Gaya Gelato: One scoop IDR 20,000; Two scoops IDR 35,000; Three scoops IDR 46,000)
Atman Café opens at 7 am for breakfast. We are heartbroken not to be able to return to try some of the delicious sounding options on the menu, including vegan and dairy free specials, but mostly, the raw porridge. Mmmm!
Reasons to visit: fresh organic and simply tasty food, relaxing atmosphere, fabulous juices and ice-cream
38 Jalan Hanoman
+ 0361 8620505
Opening hours 7 am – 10:30 pm