Friday, 6 July 2018

Pondok Vigen in Tanjung Pinang. First & Only Vegetarian Nasi Padang Restaurant in the World

Coming to Tanjung Pinang or anywhere in Indonesia, a Nasi Padang meal is a must. Nasi Padang is synonymous with Indonesia - it's a hearty meal of boiled rice eaten with robustly savoury spicy side dishes of beef, chicken, fish, squid and vegetables etc. But, what are herbivores to do? Well, if you are in Tanjung Pinang, you can check out Pondok Vigen's vegetarian nasi padang. I've been here twice and the food was nice, even for carnivores 😄

Pondok Vigen at 54, Jalan Bakar Batu is a small, rather inconspicuous shop so it is easy to drive by without noticing it. Pondok Vigen is across the busy Jalan Bakar Batu from the PT PLN (Persero) electric utility company office building - so you can look out for that.

Inside, Pondok Vigen is simply furnished. Nevertheless, the humble eatery is popular with locals - many are here for their working day meal as Pondok Vigen is in downtown Tanjung Pinang.

Owner chef Sutiang (Christine) is passionate about cooking. She is a self taught chef and developed all the recipes herself. Pondok Vigen is so well received that she is opening another outlet in Batam which will start operations soon.

The idea seems obvious - use gluten and mushroom to substitute for meat in Nasi Padang dishes and cook it with authentic Nasi Padang spices.


The familiar taste of lovely Nasi Padang spices is half the battle won already.

I'll be lying if I tell you that vegetarian Nasi Padang dishes taste the same as their meat based counterparts. But, I can vouch that the vegetable cousins are tasty and some might even fool you, if you are not attentive 😄 

No restaurant can call itself a Nasi Padang shop if it doesn't serve beef rendang, even if it is a vegetarian eatery. Some people judge Nasi Padang stalls, whether it can or cannot make it, by their beef rendang.

You know, after we ate and left Pondok Vigen, one of our party was shocked and in disbelief when we told him that there there was no beef in the "beef rendang" that we just had 😄

The beef was made with mushroom which was similar in texture to well tenderised beef. The mushroom absorbed the flavours and aromas of rendang spices well. The mock beef rendang is a tasty dish in its own right - the colour, mouth feel and savoury spicy flavours could even be mistaken for the real thing.

Chewy dried "beef" loaded with savoury spicy flavours made with mushroom and spices.

Chili "fish" looked like thin slices of fried Mackerel.

Chili sotong (squid). More tender than real squid with its own flavour and interesting soft crunchiness. I like this.

If you are not a fan of mock meats, Pondok Vigen has several vegetable dishes (the same vegetable dishes at conventional Nasi Padang shops). 

Petai (stinky beans) with sambal chili.

Petai and long beans fried with sambal chili. These are roundish type petai which are sweeter than the flatter variety (which has a subtle underlying bitterness).

Daun Ubi Kayu (tapioca leaf), one of my favourite vegetables because I like its slightly fibrous chewy texture which is softened by boiling or stewing in coconut based curry. Daun Ubi Kayu has its own green taste and in the dish it is complemented by spices and chili.

I like it that the vegetables at Pondok Vigen are very fresh.

Food is served buffet style at Pondok Vigen where you can put everything on one plate.

We can also put the dishes in sharing plates and eat them with boiled rice. (No signature Nasi Padang hidang style here where the mini buffet spread is served in small plates at the table and customers pay for only what they ate.)

Restaurant name: Pondok Vigen
Address54, Jalan Bakar Batu, Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia
GPS0°55'35.6"N 104°26'48.6"E | 0.926545, 104.446819
Tel: +62 812 7063 973
Hours: 7:00am to 1:00pm

Date visited: 26 Mar 2018, 26 Jun 2018

No pork, no lard, vegetarian

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't. All comments with genuine identities are published.

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