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September 29, 2023

A Byron – Bali Connection

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WarungBy: Vivienne Pearson

Let’s get the name issue sorted right now. If you’ve travelled in Indonesia, particularly Bali, you probably won’t need this lesson but, for others, here’s a primer.

Warung Bagus, one of Byron’s newer eateries, located opposite the surf club, has been open since December. Warung is pronounced pretty much as written, and means ‘a small, casual café or restaurant’. Bagus is pronounced ‘bag-oose’ and, meaning ‘very good or awesome’, is often the first Indonesian word that travellers master.

Brad Sawatzi, owner of Warung Bagus, says ‘people who know Indonesia love the name but others can be confused.’ Brad, originally from Brisbane, graduated from ‘dish pig’ to cheffing his way around the world. Though it was photography that originally took him to Indonesia, a by product of ‘teaching locals how to cook western food’ was ‘learning a lot about Indonesian food’. He opened his own restaurant in Nusa Dua; one of the first to bring Byron-style food to Bali.

He reversed this combination by opening Warung Bagus, which offers Indonesian-inspired food in Byron. Brad does not claim to offer purely traditional Indonesian food. One difference is a focus on popular eating trends. Of 15 daily lunch options, around 12 will be vegetarian and 10 of these vegan. The vast majority of food is gluten free and many of the cakes are vegan, and some are sugar free.

For lunch, the most popular option is Nasi Campur (pronounced ‘nasi champur’, literally meaning ‘mixed rice’). This ‘taste plate’ style mean involves choosing a rice (options often include a fried rice), then curries (meat, fish and vegetable options are always available) and then vege or salad dishes. $13 allows you one curry and two vege/salad selections, while $16 gives you more flavours with smaller serves of three curries and four vege/salads.

Breakfast (available until 3pm) includes twists on traditional offerings – the corn fritters are Indonesian flavoured, the eggs ‘benny’ feature a faux hollandaise sauce made of cashew and spices, and the ‘vegan bakon’ is made from marinated zucchini.

Indonesia’s presence is felt in the coffee, with beans hailing from North Sumatra. Coffee is available throughout the opening hours of 7.30am to sunset. Opening later for dinner was recently trialled and is a possibility for the future, but for now an early dinner ‘sunset special’ allows you to grab a takeaway Nasi Campur for half price.

This takeaway might be for home or for the beach, as Warung Bagus is located directly across from Main Beach and many of the regular customers are surfers. Fitting with the Warung part of the name, this is a small, colourful, tasty and cheap eatery. ‘You are welcome straight off the beach – with no shoes and covered in sand,’ Brad notes. We say ‘Bagus’ to that.

Warung Bagus – 3/14 Bay St (opposite the surf club) – 7.30am–7pm every day – Dine-in and takeaway – BYO

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