Well this train is back in full swing now, after a long while with no outings, we have two in quick succession.
All in all most of the places we have visited on this mad hop around London have been pretty good, some excellent, some so so. But Bali Bali unfortunately has to be the lowest point so far. I hope none get any lower than this.
I initially tried to get everyone to head to my favourite Pizza Pub in Islington, but this was rejected out right, as I think it was not exotic enough for some people.
So India then. I thought this was a sure thing, but surprisingly most of the others are not particularly keen on Indian food. I mean what is this world coming to.
So after a brief mention of Indonesia at the end of the email. Voila, guess where we were going then.
After more chit chat about the merits of the small band of Indonesian restaurants in London, Bali Bali was chosen and booked.
I was hoping, just hoping that they would have Babi Guling on the menu, but this wasn’t a Balinese (Hindu) restaurant, but more of an Indonesian (Muslim) cum Malay joint. Shame, but oh well. Will just have to head back to Ubud for that. Now, that I would be more than happy to do.
My first impression of Bali Bali as we walked through the door, was that it reminded me of a run of the mill tourist restaurant in Bali. Guess what, the food was the same as well.
Strangely on the menu there are two sections for the starters. The first part containing more run of the mill dishes like, soups and other delights such as prawn crackers and spring rolls.
On the other section are the “Chef Specialities”. Now these beauties were actually the same price as some of the mains. Why this is I do not know. Well makes good business sense, as you make more money on the starters than the mains.
My starter of Sato Ayam (Chicken soup) was bland. The shredded chicken was dry and tasteless, and the supposed coconut base stock for the soup was nowhere to be seen. Very poor.
The large tasteless Indonesian prawn crackers were served with a dull, industrial standard sweet chilli sauce.
The starters form the “Chef’s Specialities” did not look that impressive at all. The deep fried battered prawns, which were served on a giant platter, I guess to try and justify their huge price tag were greasy and not very appetising.
The only thing in Bali Bali’s favour was the Spring Roll, (yes only one) it did look homemade and not brought that morning from a China Town grocer.
As there was no pork on the menu, I went for my old favourite of Rendang Daging. I love this dish, it really is one of my all time loved dishes.
I mean what could be better than a heavenly plate of beef cooked for hours slowly in coconut and spices, to end up with melt in your mouth meat in a thick brown slightly picante sauce. Life is good.
Unfortunately Bali Bali’s version was anything but. The sauce had the right consistency and the meat was soft, but alas it was dry and overcooked. The sauce was sadly lacking any real heat. It was just disappointing big time.
The Nasi Goreng (Indonesia’s National Dish) was basically served as a Chinese style egg fried rice with a few slices of cucumber and tomato on the side. A real poor show.
To be honest I really shouldn’t have expected wonders from Bali Bali, as on our month long visit to a few of the islands of Indonesia, we were not overly impressed with the food there.
There were exceptions of course. Most notably the Babi Guling we had many a time at Ibu Oka in Ubud. This was out of this world, and still rates as one of the best meals I’ve ever had. But this was one of the few exceptions we found.
This is kinda surprising as with the multitude of influences Indonesia has, the food should be up there with the best of them. Or maybe we were very unlucky and just headed into the wrong joints.
I think a return visit is going to have to happen to try and find the best dishes there. Not to Bali Bali, but to Indonesia.