Resto 7 Bali Bali, Shaftesbury Avenue

I’ve had my eye on Bali Bali for a while as being that lonely beast, an Indonesian restaurant in London. With Britain’s colonial history skewing South East Asian food towards Malaysia (though I now realise that I haven’t been to a Malaysian place in these posts) the only previous occasion I’ve gone for Indonesian was in Amsterdam, where we ate like kings.

I’m tempted by the Gado Gado special

Bali Bali doesn’t have the lineage of Sami Sebo (few places do) but it does have an agreeable air of keeping the spirit of pre-skyscraper London alive in an area coming to be increasingly dominated by high end commercial redevelopment. Like the Angel up the road you get the feeling that there are people popping in who’ve been doing just that for thirty years or more. Mind you, this does have its costs. Trying to book online was problematic so we took a punt on them being able to squeeze us in on a weekday evening.

When we got there a couple of guys were wrangling with their laptops and when they turned out to be part of the management team it became apparent that they were probably getting to grips with updating their Netscape-era website. Over a couple of Tigers we looked at the menu, which had some familiar stuff (Beef Rendang) but also enough exotica to make it worth revisiting to try a different combination on the à la carte. In the end though we just went for the spicy rijstaffel for two.

While not being on the splendid scale of Sama Sebo, BB’s taffel is extensive enough for twenty-odd quid a head with the highlight being some crunchy fried king prawns. The spicing is a 6/7 out of ten and thus fine if you don’t like sweating in public. The room filled up pretty quickly with a mixed clientèle of locals and tourists – with plenty of veggie dishes on offer I’d especially recommend it if you don’t eat meat.

The service was excellent and then a trip to jakes’s revealed that Bali Bali does a sideline in authentic (or what looked authentic to me) sarongs and kimonos off the peg which I’ve marked down for potential Christmas presents this year. We rounded off with a couple of very good coffees. All round an excellent evening and I’ll definitely be back.


To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.

Food London Restaurants

f1insburyparker View All →

Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).

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