Canggu has been experiencing the BIG BOOM a few recent years already. It is morphing and shape shifting, adapting to the vibe and likes of its dwellers. But what was it like here in Canggu before the whole “IT Suburb” craze came to be? Before the once sleepy village became a hipster, surf, skate and style paradise.
The area is bursting with cafes of all sorts, engaging graffiti and young active skating scene now. The trendy boom creates a lot of working positions for the local community, no doubt. But you can not help but ponder and wonder why that most of the successful F&B business ventures here owned by expats or locals from Java or different areas of Bali? However, there is one plaсе that is operated by the infamous Kus family – the essence of Canggu community since the 60s.
Gede and Komang – the two brothers behind Sunny Old Soul Cafe – both are gentlemen with a very powerful presence. Respected social activists in the local community, they are speaking and acting against Reclamation Project of Benoa Bay and curating Keep Canggu Safe. The guys are music lovers, custom car and bike aficionados and count the coolest Indo cats amongst their friends, such as JRX of Superman Is Dead (the local superfamous band for those of you living under the rock) and Vero of Kickass Choppers. The persona of the boys, tho being rockabilly and fashion forward, they also embody deep nostalgic feelings for the way of life in Canggu when they were growing up, as still today.
Kus the eldest used to be a tour guide in Kuta in the 70s, opening up the magic of Bali to the first waves of the surf hippies who came to this island. Gede and Komang grew up witnessing the beginning of Bali era as a melting pot it is now. Their father was also the only person to own a camera in Canggu at that time. Some of the photos he took back then, decorate one wall of the cafe. The images give you a sneak peak into Canggu life way before it became associated with the words “hip” and “trendy”.
Sunny’s design is rustic, with bookshelves and antique attributes, like an old piano. But there is an even deeper sentimental meaning hidden in the interior design. Sunny is the name of the guys’ mom who used to have a very famous Balinese food warung right in this place. And the current kitchen in the cafe is the same kitchen she used to cook at. Past and future embodied in the present, balanced to perfection, just like most things in the Balinese culture.
The food at Sunny is a mix of Eastern- and Western-style dishes, fusion style, each dish tweaked to have a unique element. Chef – another family member – worked on a cruise ship for years and now works as a chef at one high-end restaurant in the Oberoi district. The menu covers all the basics. There are breakfast classics, light lunch options and hearty mains for dinner. Our absolute favourite dish is Duck Salad. The fresh and zesty base of young papaya and pomelo with tender duck meat slices, crunchy peanuts and savoury light cream sauce. We also loved the quinoa and mahi-mahi variation of Sunny bowl, cafe’s lunchtime signature. Chocolate lava cake is an all-time dessert classic done right here in Old Soul cafe, with fresh ripe strawberries and scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Their bar menu sports all the necessary positions like juices, smoothies, coffees and beers. Bartenders are still working on signature Sunny cocktails. But in the meantime, you can indulge in classics like lychee martinis or caipirinhas.
Most of the ingredients are locally sourced throughout Indonesia. Like the health benefits of gula sabu – the brown palm sugar from the small island between Flores and Sumba. Kus family and Sunny cafe are also planning on working closely with Dr. Ir. Luh Kartini and organisation Farms Kultur (soil specialist and agriculture).
But it’s not only about the food. Music is an important part of the brothers’ lives. You will often catch them sitting outside the cafe, jamming and singing with friends. Sunny’s music night promises to become a regular event in the live music scene. The latest Johnny Cash event witnessed the place flooded by a colourful crowd of the cool kids on the block. All different backgrounds, coming together, sharing laughs and music, creating a very lively and pleasant scene. And that is exactly what the brothers wish to achieve and present to the public with their new venture. “We gotta mix and share and join cultural experiences. No race, no colour – all come together and learn from each other, talk and share the good vibes”. One love!
Words by: Katya K, also known as Bule Bali, a long-time island resident, a tireless explorer, adventure seeker and wild nature lover. There is nothing this lady loves more than a good day spent in the big outdoors, only maybe a hearty portion of babi guling it’s followed with ?