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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


We're in Indonesia! Our first stop in this beautiful country was the island of Java, and the incredible city of Yogyakarta. We didn't really know what to expect on our visit here, but we really wanted to visit the beautiful temples of Borobudur and Prambanan... we never expected that the city of Yogyakarta itself would be one of the highlights of this trip! We found Yogyakarta to be one of the friendliest places that we'd been: everyone we met was so kind and generous, determined to show their city in the best light. There was so much to see and experience... and most of all, there was an incredible vegan cafe that we visited several times, where we were made to feel very much at home! And it was in this beautiful cafe where we got our very first taste of Indonesia's beloved dish Soto - made to a completely plant-based recipe!

But wait, what exactly is Soto?

Originating in Java, and loved by the locals here, Soto is a traditional Indonesian soup. Indonesia is an archipelago nation, and has diverse histories and cultures as a result. This leads to diverse recipes, even when it comes to the same dish at heart: this is certainly true of soto, a dish which has a similar base, but very different ingredients depending on where you find it! Many of the variations are named after the the region they were developed in too, so no matter where you are in Indonesia, there will be a new variation of Soto to try! Soto is most prevalent in Java though - so of course, this was where we had to try it!

One of the most famous and popular varieties of Soto is Soto Ayam, meaning chicken soup. This variant includes rice vermicelli, eggs, lime juice, beansprouts, and chicken, all in a spicy yellow broth. Though other varieties contain very different components, what they have in common is the warming nature of the dish, and the hearty mix of meats and vegetables found inside the broth. One of Indonesia's five official national dishes, Soto is absolutely the comfort food of this beautiful country! It is a little more difficult to find a Soto that is vegetarian and vegan friendly though, with all of the traditional recipes containing meat; so we felt very lucky to find such a delicious and authentic vegan Soto in wonderful Yogyakarta!

Where did we try a vegan Soto in Yogyakarta?

The beautiful cafe where we ate our hearty bowls of vegan Soto was Black Forest Cafe. This fully plant-based eatery had a menu packed with vegan Indonesian and Western food, drinks, and desserts... there was so much there that caught our eye, we had to visit more times while we were in the city just to do it justice!

I absolutely adored Black Forest Cafe: with its immersive decor, it genuinely felt like we were in a forest. It was such a chill place, with the friendliest staff. When I think back to our time in Indonesia, this cafe was one of my absolute favourite places we visited. The prices were great, and the food of such excellent quality; there was such an excellent vibe here too. We spent some time talking with some of the locals that were eating there on our second visit, and this experience reinforced our view that the people of Indonesia were honestly some of the kindest, most wholesome people we have met across the world.

Before we get back to the Soto, a quick note. If you are visiting Yogyakarta, I would highly recommend that you pay Black Forest Cafe a visit. Everything we ate there, from the Soto, to the noodle dishes, and even the chocolate cake, exceeded our expectations by a mile. I was most delighted by the vegan chicken caesar salad, which even came with a vegan fried egg. I wish that we lived a little closer to Yogyakarta so that Black Forest Cafe could be our local vegan cafe! Next time we're in Java you can be sure we will be paying them a visit!

So come on - tell us all about the Soto! How did it taste?

When we first ordered the Soto, I wasn't super excited about it. I thought, "it's just soup, right? Surely this won't be anything special." How wrong I was! It was clear when the Soto came to our tables, that this was not just your ordinary soup. It was served with a plate of rice, soy sauce, sambal, and vegan prawn crackers... I cannot explain how excited I was to have some vegan prawn crackers!!

The soup itself, in a huge, deep bowl, really looked like something special. This warm, yellow broth was sufficiently clear so that you could see through the depths to the vegetables inside. When I tasted it for the first time I was so impressed by how tasty the soup was. It was heartily warming, with some spice, and lots of flavour. The herbs and spices that go into this broth were really delicious: I had a little bit of a cold on this day, and I really felt like this was the best thing I could have eaten. It made me start to feel better right away! But let's talk about all those vegetables: it was a healthy dish, but it tasted so comforting too. The mushrooms added a lot of texture that is presumably similar to the chicken in a traditional Soto Ayam. The beansprouts were crunchy, and there was a softness to the mixed vegetables as they had soaked up the flavour of some of that delicious broth. Needless to say we were very impressed by this Soto, which is very worthy of its reputation as Indonesia's favourite comfort food!

How much did this plant-based Soto cost - and was it worth it?

Would you believe it if I told you that this hearty bowl of Soto, along with the rice, crackers, and sauces, only cost Rp25,000? This is approximately £1.35, €1.56, or $1.67. Well it's true! This was such excellent value for money - and so worth it! You absolutely have to try this vegan Soto next time you're in Yogyakarta!

As for the other dishes we tried at Black Forest Cafe? My caesar salad (including that incredible plant-based egg) cost Rp46,000 (approx. £2.49, €2.87, or $3.08), whilst Mike's Kweitiau Goreng, and the slices of Black Forest Cake, cost Rp30,000 each (approx. £1.62, €1.87, or $2.01). Incredible value for money!

Have you tried vegan Soto in Indonesia? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
The Indonesian islands are stunning!

Where should I stay?

Yogyakarta has so many highly-rated places to stay, at really reasonable prices.For a beautiful and inviting hostel, with a choice of dorm and private rooms, in the heart of the city, Snooze Hostel Yogyakarta is a popular choice. Or for a friendly guesthouse with a swimming pool, a vibrant neighbourhood, and a choice of double or family rooms, check out Nextdoor Yogyakarta!

Tours & Experiences

There's a lot to do and see in Yogyakarta, but top of most people's list is a trip to the incredible temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. But there's much more to visiting the city than that. This Java Nature Tour takes visitors for a trek through the stunning rice terraces, to meet local villagers, and to the Hidden Waterfall at the bottom of Merapi Volcano: a beautiful day out in Java's unique nature. Or, if that's not for you, check out some of the top-rated Viator tours below!

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