On a hot Balinese afternoon, with the kind of heat that comes before a tropical storm, Feby and Tipi Jabrik are at the long family table at the back of Good Mantra. The restaurant is located at a busy intersection in one of the backstreets of Berawa. Inside, the restaurant feels like a laid-back living room with people working away on their laptops and chatting among themselves amidst the artworks and surfboards displayed throughout the open room.
Good Mantra is the couple’s current culinary venture and one of the many restaurants they’ve created in Bali throughout the years. The shady restaurant provides a cozy resting point for those going between the beach and into town. Tipi and Feby are between their laptops and greeting guests and friends who would stop by the restaurant. We sat down with the couple to get to know them, their restaurant, and surf culture in Bali a little better.
Hi! What’s your name and how do you describe what you do
Feby: My name is Feby, I’m a wife and mother, and we have 2 children together. Suri is 14 years old and Shia is 9 years old. I would say I love to create and activate anything that gives a spark in my life
We own a restaurant & studio in Berawa, Canggu called Good Mantra, and are currently doing a few upcoming exciting projects. Tipi is an ex-professional surfer, and currently is running his own Surfing Company
Tipi: My name is Tipi Jabrik, I’m a father of 2 beautiful kids… and I’m a trendsetter haha. I want everyone in this country to surf so I’m setting the standards. You know why?
Feby: [Giggles] Why?
Tipi: Because when you surf, you go to the beach. The beach is not human-made, it comes from nature and is made by a much bigger & higher force. Things that are not man-made you need to appreciate more. And it’s not nice to go to the beach and see how polluted it is. Right now there’s a problem with trash and pollution, and there always will be. Besides not only being a trendsetter, I also love to create. And you know why I want to create more surfers in this country? So then, they can have the feeling of how I feel when I go to the beach with my family, and when they do go to the beach, seeing the beach with trash everywhere, I hope their heart moves and action will be made.
How did you start Good Mantra?
Tipi: I think the Good Mantra brand is more of Feby’s way of being a trendsetter (cheeky laugh)
Feby: Good Mantra name itself came on our daytime chats together, you know me the trendsetter and [points at Tipi] the real trendsetter haha. So, we used to own a restaurant & bar called Mantra in Seminyak, but we are kind of retiring in that night scene haha. When Tipi mentioned “hey we are the Good Mantra” I fell in love with the name right away. Back then it was just a cafe in our hostel in Seminyak.
Your current restaurant, Good Mantra, serves a plant-based menu. It’s a slightly different concept than the bar you previously founded. Where did the love for plant-based foods come from?
During the pandemic we had friends who are a plant-based chef and an amazing mixologist that were not working at the time. We had a nice chat, shared stories, realized we had the same vision and values at the time and somehow Good Mantra as a plant-based restaurant was born. I have definitely developed a love for plant-based diets more and more, I would say we are plant forward, and will continue to do so. Especially since we live in Indonesia, where it is home to a lot of natural resources and incredible high vibrational produce of plants and remedies. And on the upside this plant based diet is good for you, that’s one of the reasons we are trying the best we can to only do whole foods as our base in all our food and drinks at Good Mantra.
Tipi: My mum is vegetarian and mostly that’s how we were raised, and of course had experienced a bit of a different diet here and there. Especially when you are traveling at a young age and making money as you are on the go traveling the world as a surfer, I had some encounters on a small budget, eating $2 burgers every day.. that did not end well. Haha. From that experience, we are adapting to a plant-forward diet moving forward.
So you both were always interested in food and health..
Tipi: Yes I think both Feby & I have always been interested in food and health. Back again to the story above, at a young age while traveling for that reason I felt that I got angry easily and my body felt very tense as well due to my poor diet. Meat dishes are generally harder to digest, even while you are sleeping your body still has to work fully on to digest. The next day when you don’t have enough rest, your body and your mind become stressed. And after that, I decided I don’t want to have meat in my diet.
Feby: Initially I’ve always been a believer of a natural and holistic approach to healing. For me, I believe that it’s better for us to water our garden everyday instead of fixing it and that’s how I feel about eating the right food as they are your natural source of vitamins. When I was in college in Australia whenever I was sick I truly believed that your body can heal itself, and at home we only do mostly essential oil remedies and natural remedies– don’t quote me on this, haha, as this is a very personal choice.
So when I met Tipi, we bonded over our mutual interest in having a clean diet and lifestyle, which was not very common at the time.
And since you guys grew up in Bali, you know that being a vegetarian is not so common for Balinese people..
Tipi: I would say the typical Balinese diet is not so plant-forward. At every Balinese ceremony, like Galungan, you have Babi Guling and all these meat dishes cooked for celebrations and ceremonies. In Bali if you don’t eat what is offered to you, they think you are being disrespectful. After a while, when we go to a ceremony in Feby’s hometown in Beng, Gianyar, I tell our family that I don’t eat meat anymore. They question me- what is wrong with you? And slowly Feby and I start braving ourselves and telling people that we don’t eat meat. haha
Feby: If you think about it, Indonesia has always had a plant-based diet. If you go to any warung, there’s always a variety of vegetable dishes. Historically in Indonesia, you eat meat when it’s available and it’s usually eaten for community celebrations. But now it’s become the norm to have meat in every meal as it’s a sign of your economic status.
You both have been active in the hospitality industry for years; Feby you grew up in a family of hospitality veterans but Tipi comes from a world of pro-surfing! How did you both pivot to hospitality?
Tipi: My family background is more artsy; my dad is a musician, an artist, a batik designer, and my mom is a hippy. I don’t have a drop of hospitality in my blood. Nature is where I belong, especially the ocean.
Feby: When you’re born into a family of hospitality background, you kind of want to continue the legacy after seeing your parents and grandparents doing it. But actually, from my mom’s side of the family, she was born into a family of artists and art collectors. And when I reflect on why I like hospitality, it’s because I love food, and I love connecting to people. I don’t love the operations, but I love meeting new people with different backgrounds. We make cafes and restaurants because people come to my place and the connection happens here.
Tipi: When we got married we thought, what now? And we saw that Bali is an island that people want to visit.
Feby: That’s not true Tipi, haha, I think Tipi’s family is a great example of someone who actually performs an act of hospitality differently. They have this family house on the beach in Candidasa, called Pondok Pisang, which was slowly converted into a few bungalows for rent. It is the perfect place to reset and do slow living with organic vegetarian Indonesian dishes. Tipi’s parents love it because they created it on their own and it reflected their lifestyle, and we share this as well. To this day the hotel has paintings and art made by Tipi’s dad. Being in Bali, we had people to look up to who were doing hospitality in their way.
Very interesting! Besides hospitality, you both are very involved in the surf scene in Bali- and even with the whole of Indonesia. Tipi was a coach for Indonesia’s (first-ever) surf team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. So Tipi, I’ve always wondered how did you start surfing?
Tipi: When I was young I was always attracted by the strong energy of the ocean. My brother and I were just drawn by the waves, and this was in the 80s in Pantai Kuta and Legian. No one told us any rules or what surfboards we should use… And I think humans have always wanted to have a magic carpet. So I kept on surfing and I never stopped. I always wondered why my parents never stopped me from going to the ocean as a little kid.
Feby: So what Tipi is saying is he was being so authentic to who he is, he chose to surf because he wanted it, not because someone told him to.
Tipi: When I was 21 I became a professional. I started late, usually people become professional at 16 but they also end early. So I was kind of a late bloomer. Now I try to create a platform where kids can have a future with surfing. When I was young, there was no future as a surfer. From the 80s on, you couldn’t imagine what it was like to surf as a career. When I tell people what my job is, I say “I’m a surfer”, and people think being a surfer is just selling teh botol (packaged ice tea) on the beach, teaching people how to surf.. That’s it. And I realized that I need to change how people think about surfing.
You have also been active with pushing forward surfing all around Indonesia. You are part of Asian Surf Cooperative, the company that runs all the WSL competitions around Indonesia and Asia. But not many people know that surfing has had a big impact on the island and even Indonesia.
Tipi: Surfing has been super influential in Bali’s hospitality. Kuta was once a poor village by the sea, but in the 70s surfers came to Pantai Kuta and created an economy that later developed into the Kuta we know today. The first few expats in Bali were surfers too. In the 1930s before the war, there was an American couple who made one of the first hotels on the island, Legian Beach Hotel. And he was the first surfer in Bali too.
In Indonesia, with the best waves in the world, they don’t even think to put a focus on surfing. It’s an asset that is underutilized. I go all around Indonesia to promote surfing. For example 4 years ago I came to Krui, a town in Lampung that suddenly had some aid from the government. They said they wanted to use surfing to promote the town and start having tourism to ignite the economy. The first time we had a surf event there, only 9000 tourists were visiting Krui each year. We’ve made surf events there for 3 years, and now 20.000 people would visit each year- not bad, especially if you think about the amount of money coming into the place for accommodation and food.
Has surfing influenced how you run your business?
Tipi: Well you know as a surfer we face nature on a daily basis. And as humans, if we interact more with nature we have a higher sense of self-esteem. But humans also don’t like to be controlled. And hospitality people have to have thick skin, listen to their guests and have patience.
With the growing number of beach clubs, hotels, and resorts being built by the coast, I’m sure it has affected the beach. Satria showed me a great quote by the surfer Stephen Palmer which says “We need to pull in the reins and heal Bali’s wounded, overcrowded, over-developed, over-polluted soul. It’s up to the surfers. It’s always been. There is no place on earth where surfers are more powerful within the overall community than Bali”. How can surfing answer the future of overdevelopment in Bali?
Tipi: So in Bali, surfers are a big part of the community; they become strong figures in their village. People look up to surfers. In Bali, if you think about Canggu and Keramas, who do you think opened these places? The surfers, they opened the doors. And we are nice people, as long as you don’t ruin the waves. If that happens, those individuals who have a strong connection to the community are going to start moving.
The first few people who move to Canggu are here so they can be closer to the waves. Before they would surf in Kuta, then they would go to Uluwatu, and then back and forth. Kuta was the hub of surfing, and wherever the surfers opened the door, businesses started coming in. These businesses recognized the potential of the surfing community there and also had the need to protect the beach for it. They need to make sure the waves are protected, if not the charm and the magnet of that place is gone.
Bali is a good example of how far we can go with tourism, especially with surfers. It hasn’t been easy for us, with the Bali Bombs and volcanoes, but the people and the culture are so open.
Feby: Yes, and also the Balinese community of the place needs to come together and have an awareness that it needs to be sustainable and protect the local beaches.
That’s all the time we have! Some quick questions before we end this interview: What are your guilty pleasures in food?
Tipi: chocolates spreads like nutella
Feby: Salty potato chips are always nice
What’s your advice for someone visiting Bali for the first time? Any favorite spots?
Feby: I would say to get lost, every area in Bali is worth exploring! Explore everything, don’t read guidebooks, experience and feel, and really connect when you are truly there you will begin to experience the magic of each place in Bali.
You can go back in time, get a cottage by the sea at Pondok Pisang in Candidasa East of Bali. Have an ubud experience, stay at the Ubud Village resort, karmic cleansing ritual at Sebatu, indigo workshop at Tian Taru or enjoy a day at Komaneka Gallery, sunset drink while enjoying the valley at the Sayan House, followed by dinner & dessert at our good friend place, Room4Dessert.
Tipi: Before the pandemic, I would say go to Kuta and get wasted..