Nyoman was a nomad. He wandered all over Indonesia, mainly Java and Kalimantan, as a young man.
In 1979 when he opened a small café on Ubud's main street there was only one name to call it, Nomad. Ubud back then was just a small artist colony with home stays scattered amongst the rice paddies. Nomad was one of the first places attempting to provide western food in Ubud, but more so it became a place for the fellow wanderers of the world to meet, as it was also Ubud's first wartel.
Nomads has become an Ubud icon.
Many things have changed since that day 33 years ago, and the menu at the Nomad of today bears no resemblance to the original. Now it is very International, with many local touches, but still very much at budget prices.
Nomad offers a range of snacks, entrees and unusual Balinese tapas, so it is a very popular spot for a quick visit, to drink and snack, as well as for an extended stay for relaxed dining.
Martabak is a popular Javanese dish, minced pork & mixed vegetables are wrapped within a thin pastry and served with cucumber & carrot pickles with tamarind sauce. An International touch is the Japanese Gyoza, minced pork dumplings, with spices and herbs, served with an organic mesclun salad & soy sauce. Rice Paper Rolls have become a standard offering in Bali due to their popularity. At Nomad they are fried prawn spring rolls with cucumber, mint leaf and glass noodles: all rolled in rice paper and seasoned with a Thai dressing.
Gado Gado is very International and is very popular with the vegetarian set that see Ubud as their 2nd home. At Nomad it is done very differently; potato, fried tofu and soya bean cake, rolled in rice paper and served with a peanut sauce.
Vegetarian Club Sandwich is another one for the vegetarians. It consists of ripe papaya, avocado, red onion, egg, grilled eggplant, cheese and lettuce. Served with French fries and sprinkled with "herbes de provence". The Smoked Chicken Sandwich is served on sourdough bread with French fries and green salad with sliced tomato.
Green Papaya Salad is very Thai, shredded green papaya is tossed with apple, orange, mango, pineapple and organic mesclun, sprinkled with Thai Sweet & Sour dressing.
Also Thai is the Prawn Salad of seared black tiger prawn on a bed of sliced apple, mango, pineapple, orange segment and mint leaves. It is served with an organic mixed salad, dressed with tamarind and palm sugar.
Laksa may have originated in Malaysia and Singapore but is now an International dish, seared black tiger prawns in a Malacca style Laksa with bean sprout, glass noodles, cilantro and lemon.
Mie Kuah brings us back to traditional Indonesian, a rice noodle soup with shredded chicken, straw mushroom, and bok choy. Served with soy sauce and chopped chili. Also very traditional is the Soto Ayam, a rich chicken soup.
A popular innovation at Nomad is their Balinese 'Tapas'. You can choose plates of from 3-12 different small tapas, satisfying for just a snack or take the lot for a full meal. They include chicken betutu, martabak, babi kecap, chicken satay, crispy tempe, spring rolls and a sample of Bali's famous pepes ikan, sate lilit and lawar. This is the perfect solution when you want a variety of small tasty snacks, my type of lunch. As most of the serves are in pairs the full 12 tapa selection is perfect for two ppersons.
Pasta is essential on any menu and Nomad has three interesting ones, all homemade; Pumpkin Ravioli, tomato ravioli stuffed with sweet pumpkin in a creamy pesto sauce, Seafood Tagliatelle of pan fried fresh tuna, prawn, squid on a bed of spinach tagliatelle in tomato and basil sauce and Ravioli Bolognese a spinach ravioli stuffed with minced beef and red wine bolognese sauce. All the pastas are topped with grated parmesan cheese.
Many mains come from the big BBQ at the front of the restaurant, the constant smell of cooking meat tempting many to enter when passing by.
Grilled King Prawns are BBQ?d after first being marinated, then garnished with grated coconut. One of Nomad's most popular dishes are their BBQ Beef Kebabs, 200 grams of marinated beef with pineapple, onion, peppers and tomatoes. All BBQ dishes are served with sautéed mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes blended with roasted garlic and wrapped in a banana leaf.
Beef Tenderloin Steak is grilled and served on bed of mixed mushrooms, confit cherry tomatoes, chat potato with cinnamon jus. The Tuna Fillet Steak [pictured] is one of the stars at Nomad, just pan seared, with a coriander crust on top. It is served on a bed of stir-fried mixed vegetables and a roasted garlic potato cake, and dressed with Balinese 'sambal matah' to give it a bit of a bite.
Indonesian curries are a base food throughout the country and different to those of other nearby countries due to their use of coconut milk as a base. The Chicken Curry is with string beans, carrots, lemon grass, and young papaya. The Seafood Curry has a mix of calamari, prawn, tuna, broccoli, leeks, onion, button mushroom and fresh chilies. Both curries are served with white steamed rice.
Whether you are catering for tourists or locals you can not escape the humble hamburger. Nomad's Beef Burger is a ground beef patty with tomato, onion olive concasse, iceberg lettuce and melted mozzarella cheese. Served with homemade French fries sprinkled with herbes de provence.
For dessert in Bali you can not go past that sweet favourite from Java, Dadar Gulung. It comprises coconut palm sugar wrapped in a pandan leave pancake topped with salty fresh grated coconut & palm sugar syrup. No visit to Bali is complete without trying their Balinese Black Rice Pudding, a perennial favourite. It is served with sliced banana & coconut milk and vanilla ice cream. Something different is Deep Fried Banana Cinnamon Spring Rolls, with chocolate sauce & vanilla ice cream.
In the evening a gamelan player quietly performs in the background, pure Bali.
Nyoman the nomad sadly passed away recently and is now on his final journey in life. His children continue the tradition that is Nomad's restaurant.