Bali Bali, Shaftesbury Avenue
Last night I had the pleasure of joining my mother at Bali Bali on Shaftesbury Avenue. I was excited to try Balinese and Malaysian back in the UK and see how it compared to the amazing food I had eaten whilst travelling. However, the main purpose of our visit was to do some more research for the Balinese Cookery School at Brookes which is taking place on the 12th May at Brookes Restaurant, Oxford.
After what felt like a very long walk in the rain we found Bali Bali with ease. It was quiet, but it was 5.45pm on a wet Wednesday. First impressions were good: the restaurant was clean, tidy and the staff were friendly and welcoming. It did feel a bit like we had stepped back in time with the peach fan shaped linen napkins that adorned the tables (maybe I am just a napkin snob). But, you can’t judge a restaurant on its decor!
We were given the regular menu, pre theatre menu and were told the chef’s specials. Considering the restaurants location, all dishes were reasonably priced . The pre-theatre menu was particularly well priced. The menus were typically Malay/Indonesian (just what you’d expect from a Malay/Indonesian restaurant) and it was nice to see some of my favourite dishes on there too.
In the time it took for us to order, Bali Bali had quickly filled up. It became clear that Bali Bali is popular with London’s Asian community; the staff seemed to know a lot of the diners. The restaurant was really buzzing: Fantastic!
After much deliberation we decided on the chefs sharing platter to start, this included: Malay style chicken satay, vegetable martabak and spring rolls along with a peanut and sweet chilli sauce. The satay was particularly good, each mouthful took me back to South East Asia.
Our mains consisted of: Kari Ayam (chicken curry), Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice dish), steamed rice and Roti Canai. The curry was delicious with a spicy kick to it, and the chicken was lovely and tender. The Roti Canai was a great accompaniment to the curry as it counteracted the spicy with a bit of sweet; slightly greasier than I remembered but lovely nonetheless (in fact I could not get enough of it). Although the Nasi Goreng was very nice it lacked the spice and flavour I experienced in Bali. This dish tasted as though it had more Soy Sauce in it but this may be because each region/family makes it differently.
Our bill came to £50 which included 10% service and 3 Singha Beers. Considering how much food we had I think that Bali Bali is very reasonably priced especially as it is a London restaurant. I think that we could have ordered a slightly smaller starter which would have shaved a bit off the bill but the chef’s special (priced at £13.20) was a great way of trying a bit of everything.
Overall we were both really impressed with the restaurant and the food it served. My mother has already planned her next visit, this time taking my father along. I have no hesitation in recommending Bali Bali and will definitely be visiting again in the near future (as I write this my stomach is rumbling and my mouth watering…it only it was closer to home!)
150 Shaftesbury Avenue
London WC2H 8HL
Bookings: 020 7836 2644
Monday – Friday: 12:00 – 14:30, 17:30 – 23:30
Saturday: 12:00 – 23:30
Sunday: 17:30 – 23:30
NOTE that the kitchen closes about thirty minutes before the restaurant: please leave plenty of time to cook your meal.
Nearest Tube stations: Leicester Square, Covent Garden