Cozy, welcoming, funky music, arty walls, attractive and comfortable setting, friendly staff, free wi-fi, information about interesting social activities in the area, sustainable tourism, sensational smoothies, social and meeting place, and delicious food ….these are all suitable descriptors for Via Via café. After discovering this café on our first evening in Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta or known to many as Jogja) we made multiple return visits as do most who go! The café has an irresistible lure that just keeps pulling you back!
Yogyakarta, one of the oldest cities in Indonesia and known as the ‘cultural heart’ of Java, is a great little city with a lot going on and a real buzz to it. In addition it is very popular due to its proximity to the amazing Borobudur and Prambanan temples. After travelling for 2 days on bus, ferry, bus, and train we arrived from Bali, via Surabaya and stayed in the popular backpacker area of Jalan Prawirotaman. This area was perfect as there are lots of nice little cafes around and it is easy to arrange things and get around from here.
Via Via cafes can be found from Indonesia to Latin America; from Africa to Europe. They call themselves ‘traveler’s cafes in the far corners of the world’ where travellers can ‘rinse off the dust of the road and meet travellers and locals.’ As a social enterprise the idea for Via Via was born in 1994 over a camp fire by a group of Belgian friends who were worried about the impact of growing mass tourism on the environment and local people. So Via Via was established with sustainable tourism in mind and each cafe has been set up in synch with its unique specific environment in mind with the menu's boasting local delicacies and ingredients and activities ranging from tango lessons in Argentina, to motorbike temple tours in Indonesia. Along with this the cafes host live music, debates, and other events.
Part of the Via Via profits go towards supporting educational, social and cultural projects in Yogyakarta so it's nice to know that your money is going towards worthwhile projects as well as tasty food. From Via Via not only did we immensely enjoy the diverse range of food available to order, but we also booked a fascinating and fun batik course with a local producer and a cooking course with their in-house teacher and chef.
The cooking course was amazing and I cannot recommend it enough. Of all the cooking courses I havenow attended in Asia this has to be my favourite because it was just the two of us with the teacher and it didn’t have the regimented/slightly conveyor belt feel that some lessons can have. We selected a starter, main and dessert to learn but our teacher added in a few more recipes around what we had selected so we came away with many more cooking ideas!
She was a real mum sort of character, warm, friendly and really easy-going. The lesson takes place on the roof of Via Via where they have café seating and another kitchen which is used primarily for the lessons. At the end of the lesson you get to enjoy feasting on all the delights you have made. We had so much food that they offered to keep it overnight for us so that we could come back the following day for lunch and have the leftovers! This was amazing value as for just 14 dollars, we had an in-depth and hands on cooking lesson as well as two really tasty meals!
During our lesson we learnt how to make the following:
- Nasi Goreng
- Terong Balado (Aubergine/eggplant in a spicy marinade)
- Ayam Goreng Kalasan (Chicken in a tamarind based marinade)
- Tempe Curry
As I recreate these dishes in the UK I will post recipes and share secrets!