It’s been nearly ten years since I last walked into the space that was Potato Head. So much has changed, it’s huge! It is the first hospitality company in Indonesia to be credited as climate neutral by the UN—the club and its ever growing complex of boutiques, restaurants, coffee bars and now Potato Head Suites is setting the standard of what should be tourism (not just sutainable tourism). This is Desa Potato Head village. We are here to check out Ijen.
Ijen is famed for offering a “nothing-leftover experience”. The sustainability ethos is woven into every aspect of its operation. In a fascinating twist on waste management, they repurpose plastics into building bricks and feed green scraps to local livestock, fostering a circular approach to waste. Even fish scales play a role, becoming a star ingredient in the creation of rice-flour crackers.
We arrive just ahead of sunset, our taxi takes us down the long driveway – it is all about anticipation. We jump out and step through a dramatic doorway heading down a weaved, wooden arched walkway. We go past aged, multicoloured shutters which become our walls and view peacock coloured art work only to look closer and see that it’s thousands of discarded thongs. We pass a plastic recycling plant and look through glass walls to see how new things are created from the old – tables, chairs, plates. It sets the mind and soul for what is to come.
Sunlight floods our view as we are thrown from initmacy of corridors to the mayhem, beats and happiness which is Potato Head Beach Club. Pretty, happy things have been hanging out on the lawns, lounging on padded beds and prancing around the pool. Entertainment used to be people watching but ‘people posing’ is a better description as instgrammers and Tik Tokers flick their hair, re-angle, re adjust and flex flesh for thousands of onlookers around the world . “Wish you were here?” Hell yeah! – a sip of an Ijen Kolada hits the spot with spiced rum and mesoyi bark arak shaken with caramelized pumpkin, coconut juice and palm sugar.
As the sun sets. all eyes (and body parts) are facing outward, suddenly human, nature, earth, sky, night and day combine to an etheral moment of contemplation. We say goodbye to the past and welcome the night…the future. Bring on the food!
Ijen’s dedication to sustainability is visible in the design. The restaurant is set off to the left hand side of the gardens and pool. The open-air dining spaces are illuminated with energy-efficient LED lights, and the floor beneath our feet boasts terrazzo flooring speckled with shards of broken glass and plates. The furniture we sit on is cushioned with foam recycled from old motorcycle seats. Notably, even the drinking glasses find a second life as repurposed beer bottles. Love. Love.
But the treasure lies in the kitchen, where executive chef Wayan Kresna Yasa orchestrates culinary magic. Using a wood fire, he crafts dishes like mackerel with rujak, charcoal-grilled beans, and grouper enveloped in banana leaves, each infused with the smoky essence of the wood fire.
Ijen’s sustainability extends to sourcing its ingredients. Vegetables are procured from local farms, ensuring the freshest, seasonal produce graces your plate. Moreover, seafood at Ijen is sourced daily, depending on the catch of the day, and it’s caught using a traditional hand-reeling process. I feel so good already and I haven’t eaten a thing.
We start with three juicy grilled king prawns drizzled with shallot, garlic, parsley, chilli, coconut oil. Its accompanied by wood fired flat bread with allium (cultivated garlic) and a decadent fish sauce butter I just can’t stop scooping up.
Onto mains. After doing a fly-by parade of the iced counter it’s hard not to go past the bonito special. A side of creamed corn speckled with salted yolk, fried anchovy and coconut is so life afirming I want to smear it on like a face mask, then lick it off later.
The service is friendly, the dining space intimate and the views will be forever etched into my memory – as will be tonights wood fired dinner.
This dedication to sustainability aligns with the movement towards greener, more responsible practices in the region. It’s heartwarming to see the momentum towards sustainability and environmental responsibility within Bali’s luxury hospitality scene, making Potato Head Beach Club and its restaurant, Ijen, a beacon for eco-conscious dining in this beautiful corner of the world. As Arnie said. “I’ll be back”