The first ViaVia opened in 1995 after a group of conscientious travellers, worried about the negative impact of mass-tourism, decided to go their own way and open a café-restaurant that focused on sustainable tourism. ViaVia Cafés can now be found in four different continents, each with its own identity and flavour.
Our first introduction to the ViaVia group was at ViaVia Yogyakarta. Located in the centre of the boutique area Jalan Prawirotaman, it is well situated to cater for travellers. Just a few doors down from both the Grand Rosela and Agung Inn Hotels (where we stayed), it always seemed busy when we passed by.
Jogja ViaVia’s menu suited us perfectly. Offering a great breakfast choice, with homemade bread, porridge, eggs, fresh fruit and yoghurt, it was a perfect start to the day along with a big glass of Javanese Coffee or my favourite local hot black tea with milk. The salads were deliciously fresh, a small portion working well on its own for lunch or as a starter to share for dinner (the large portion was plenty for a light evening meal). My favourite was the black pepper crusted goats cheese salad, with black olives, sundried tomato, peppers and served with an olive oil dressing. My partner favoured the caesar salad with bacon, black olives, parmesan flakes, homemade garlic bread and homemade creamy dressing.
We especially liked the daily Indonesian menu. Offering a choice of three local (usually Javanese) dishes each day, we began planning out what we wanted to eat nearly every evening according to the ViaVia menu. This ever-changing menu usually incorporates a vegetarian dish (often tempe – a delicious fermented soybean cake – it tastes a lot better than it sounds), a meat dish and a fish or seafood dish. In addition to this a World Kitchen menu offers items such as Indian curry, Norwegian salmon, beef burger, tenderloin steak and chicken chasseur along with other blackboard specials.
The homemade desserts really do hit the spot, proven by the small chiller cabinet selling their homemade delicacies to non-diners. They regularly sell-out of items added to the specials board (as unfortunately happened to me with the coconut pannacotta – I still haven’t gotten over it!).
It isn’t just about the food…..
Service to me is always important and the staff here really get that. (well OK – the owner does – but they train the staff and obviously choose their staff very well indeed). The menu is a little more pricey than you will find in other establishments, but in our opinion, it is worth it. Drinks aren’t overpriced and it’s all the little extras that do make a difference. An absolute must-visit during your stay in Jogja.
Cooking with Made at ViaVia
A legend in her own right, Made (pronounced Ma-de) has been teaching Javanese Cuisine at ViaVia Jogja for over 16 years and has contributed greatly to the ViaVia Jogja cookbook called Ring of Fire, from which we were to be taught no less than 6 recipes.
Five of us plus Made, gathered around the small kitchen area located on the first floor of the ViaVia restaurant, where it was explained which recipes we would be learning, cooking and best of all, tasting.
My partner and I met three wonderful ladies taking part in the cooking class, Elvira, Charlotte and Lisa . Between us, we chopped, diced, pounded, stirred, fried, oohed and aahed and collectively with the masterful skills of Made’s years of working with food, produced the following:
- Krupuk (known as prawn/shrimp crackers but in Indonesia there are many more varieties), vegetables, nut, garlic and prawn
- Sambal Kecap – Sweet Sambal
- Sambal Soto – Spicy Sambal
- Kering Tempe – Caramel fried peanut and chilli Tempe
- Sambal Goreng Sayur – Vegetable curry in coconut milk
- Ayam Kemangi – Chicken curry in cocnut milk gently spiced with chilli, candlenuts, bay leaves, lemon leaves, ginger and turmeric
- Nasi Goreng – fried rice with a ketchup and sweet soy glaze
- Coconut Rice
Now we just had one challenge, to leave with an empty plate and a full belly.
Obligingly, we did…..