Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan Puts a Healthy Spin on Classic Indonesian Cuisine – Luxury Travel Magazine
Ubud has it all for wellness travelers: yoga, Balinese healers, meditation, breathwork practices, ceremonies, vegan restaurants, and countless spas. The enlightened offerings at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan have long tapped into the world of wellbeing while also focusing deeply on authentic Balinese cultural experiences. And now the Resort unites these two priorities by releasing an Indonesian Sattvic menu at its treetop restaurant, Ayung Terrace.
“In the big picture, we see Ubud as a destination for yogis, vegetarians, vegans – people who live healthy lives. We thought, how can we complete the journey of these guests when they are in Bali?” says Executive Sous Chef Wayan Sutariawan (Suta). “How can we support the experience of this through food?”
Though rooted in Indian Ayurveda, the Sattvic diet has gained followers around the world who seek to increase sattva, which refers to consciousness or goodness. Light, seasonal and healthy, plus high in fibre, fresh vegetables, grains, and nuts, this ethos translates to balanced dishes that can promote mental clarity, increase longevity and boost immunity.
The Resort’s wellness programming first inspired Chef Suta’s curiosity with the Sattvic dietary ethos that is thought to increase energy and happiness. It excludes meat, seafood, eggs, and pungent ingredients that stimulate the appetite or central nervous system. Since launching a Western-focused Sattvic soul food menu at Riverside restaurant in 2021, Chef Suta became inspired to create an Indonesian version for Ayung Terrace, to cater for health-conscious guests craving local flavors while in Bali.
This was no easy task, however, since the Sattvic diet precludes stimulating ingredients that are at the very heart of Indonesian cooking. “For me as a chef, especially in Indonesia, cooking without onion, chili and garlic is really like a nightmare,” Chef Suta laughs. His entire life, starting in the small Balinese village of Klungkung and later learning to prepare ancestral Indonesian food from his auntie, he has only ever known these dishes in their original form. As head chef of Four Seasons Resort Sayan, he has elevated his favourite childhood recipes to a five-star standard and immortalized them in a cookbook for guests to bring the flavors of Bali home. And now he has reinvented them through the lens of Sattvic philosophy.
“We build our tastes, our palates, on a lot of onion and garlic since we’re very young,” Chef Suta adds. “And suddenly to change and go without, as a chef you feel like, no, it’s not right!” Still, he persisted for more than one year and ultimately found creative ways to represent beloved Indonesian flavors and textures. The strikingly diverse and well-balanced menu comprises three starters and three mains, plus a dessert, all in alignment with Sattvic principles and the Resort’s wellness mission. Additionally, the low-fat offerings highlight an abundance of organically, locally farmed fruits and vegetables.
“I’m not a person who likes fusion, I like to keep the original taste, protect the original flavors,” says Chef Suta. “The cooking can be changed, the presentation can be enhanced, but the flavor should be original.” Appropriately, his dishes take advantage of Bali’s deep devotion to root spices: turmeric, ginger, galangal, wild ginger – freshly ground in a mortar and pestle on a daily basis. Many of these same ingredients are age-old herbal remedies, further adding to the menu’s healthfulness.
Medicinal turmeric features in the jamu granite dessert, while ginger and lime leaf add a delicious zing to the sambal-inspired tomato sauce that tops tender grilled king mushrooms, accompanied by crunchy rice crumble, in jamur panggang. Sweet and sour rujak is a cross between ceviche and Thai papaya salad, with cashews, tamarind and local herbs. Chef Suta’s tahu tek is a spin on the fried tofu street sold from street carts married with the beloved peanut sauce found on gado gado. There’s a tandoor-inspired spiced cauliflower and sesame paste–marinated tempe as well.
The nasi campur is unmissable, a healthy and incredibly fresh Sattvic celebration of iconic flavors that originated in Java. Served with red rice, the colorful mix (campur) of dishes includes fern shoots prepared with coconut shreds and jackfruit rendang so nuanced and tender it’s arguably better than meat. Chef Suta admits it took finessing to achieve balance and not lose the complexity expected of Indonesian dishes.
While the flavor profile of each is unique, the new dishes are all comforting, calming and undeniably satisfying. Naturally, the plating and presentation are photo worthy. The original Western Sattvic menu is available at Riverside alongside the selection of international fare, and the Indonesian Sattvic menu is on offer at Ayung Terrace during lunch and dinner as an addition to the restaurant’s modern Indonesian fare.
“Sattvic is one thing that supports a healthy lifestyle, and you need to follow with other practices to complete it,” says Chef Suta. “I totally believe if you do it continuously you will get a benefit.” Vivid and diverse, this fresh addition to a well-rounded Bali-based mindfulness practice is a delectable place to start.