We pass a dreamy afternoon in the River Café at the tropical oasis of Maya Ubud Resort, soothed by the gentle flow of the river and satiated by a delicious lunch of ‘Conscious Cuisine.’
Peering over the veranda at the river that winds through the rainforest, I am overcome with that feeling of peace and happiness that comes from being somewhere truly beautiful. The steep surrounding forest is thick with banana trees, bamboo and palms, and below us an infinity pool juts out over the river – a vision of tropical perfection.
The atmospheric setting of the River Grill is enhanced by bright and cheerful tables settings, including pots of wheatgrass and elaborately rolled napkins. Maya Executive chef Australian-born Kath Townsend comes with vast experience in high profile restaurants and resorts from Sydney to Sri Lanka to the Maldives. Her concept of ‘Conscious Cuisine’ sees a holistic approach to dining that emphasises clean, crisp, fresh and natural flavours, with a mix of textures and ingredients intended to nourish the mind, body and soul. Super foods abound, from salmon, to nuts, juices, quinoa, chocolate and avocado. Fresh organic vegetables and herbs are sourced in the hills of Bedugul, and from the resort’s own gardens, and the menu offers dairy and wheat alternatives – such as buckwheat and coconut flour, as well as tasty pizza, and a Riverside Ploughman’s for those looking for more substantial fare.
Healthy drinks makes a logical starting point and we try a Skin Tonic, a delicious blend of carrot and orange juice, and a sweet refreshing Kidney Kick Starter mixing apple pineapple and watermelon. Rather than a bread basket, we are offered crudités of carrot and cucumber wrapped in noori, served with tahini, then move on to the Riverside Bowl, a salad teeming with taste and texture. The long, spiraling strands of carrot and beetroot are a little like eating crunchy colourful spaghetti, while tofu, tempe and seeds provide substance, and a spirulina and tahini dressing lends a certain sweet earthiness. The Gado Gado is the most elegant I have seen, with dainty quail eggs, vegetables wrapped sushi roll-style, triangles of potato and tofu and a scattering of cashews. The highlight is the cashew nut sauce, which is milder, creamier and more subtle than the usual peanut sauce, and is delicately flavoured with turmeric, ginger garlic and honey.
Crispy Salmon comes as a plump fillet topped with watercress and a drizzle of citron dressing, and is served atop a tasty chickpea and spinach fritter, with pipa verde – an excellent Mexican-style sauce made with pepitos, coriander, garlic, onion and jalapenos. We finish with a Heavenly Vegan Chocolate Mousse which is rich in taste, with a smooth velvety texture. Dairy free, this lush dessert is made with avocado, honey, raw cacao and vanilla bean and has the occasional surprise crunch of a hazelnut or cacao bean.
The Maya Spa is adjacent to the restaurant, with atmospheric treatment pavilions scattered along the river. Famed for its exotic sensory journeys, a spa session is perfectly completed with a nutritious and tasty lunch at the River Café. Outside guests can immerse themselves in the tropical healing vibe, and treat themselves to a ‘Day at Maya’ spa package which includes yoga, a riverside walk, cooking class, spa treatment and lunch. Alison
Maya Ubud Resort & Spa Jalan Gunung Sari, Peliatan, Ubud +62361977888