Bali Bagus

85 Franklin St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9662 1474
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Fatbee and I paid a visit to Bali Bagus one Wednesday night. I look at it almost as a way of reliving our short-but-sweet holiday in Bali back in Easter, with the exception that the weather here’s freezing at the moment and the food here isn’t completely Balinese per se.

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That aside, I was pretty keen on exploring more Indonesian food, with Fatbee as my food guide.

We walked into a casual space with groups of students catching up over a cheap feed. The menus can be found at the front counter, you also order your food there, then grab a number and help yourself to the self-serve water, napkins and cutlery nearby.

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Soto Betawi w/ rice $8.80
Traditional Batavian soup served with sliced beef and fresh tomatoes

Fatbee went with a comforting bowl of soto betawi, a lightly coconutty soup that’s fragrant with herbs, hiding succulent pieces of beef and topped with broken-up pieces of belinjo crackers. It reminded me a lot of a less spicy Thai-style Tom Kha soup because I could taste delightful hints of lemongrass and galangal.

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Bitternut Crackers $2

It was a very nice soup, and of course Fatbee had to have his meal with keropok (crackers). I confess this Indonesian way of having keropok with your meals has rubbed off onto me now. And I’m particularly partial towards belinjo (bitternut – an Indonesian fruit) crackers because of its unique bitter-fragrant aftertaste.

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Tahu Telur – Satay Sauce $4.50
Fried boiled egg and bean curd with your choice of sauce

We also enjoyed our meal with a crisp serve of fried tofu with egg, made so moreish with that delicious peanutty drizzle of satay sauce.

And in the background, you can see another very Indonesian thing happening… it’s Fatbee pouring kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) over his rice. While I’m quite into keropok now… I still haven’t gone down the kecap-manis-with-rice pathway quite yet. :p

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Ayam Goreng Bumbu Bali w/ rice $8.80
Succulent chicken fried with Balin sauce

As for my meal, I had a simple serve of ayam goreng (fried chicken) topped with a Balinese sauce that tasted tomato-ey, tangy and lightly spicy. It was pretty good, although I’d have preferred if the sauce wasn’t poured all over the chicken because it made it not as crispy.

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Es Campur $4.00
Mixed ice with fruits and syrup

Despite the freezing cold, I still had enough curiosity to try out an Indonesian dessert – es campur (mixed ice).

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I only found it o-kay… it had pieces of lychee, jackfruit, basil seed, sea coconut and grass jelly in it, drizzled with a cordial-like rose-flavoured syrup. I think it was the artificial flavour of the syrup that made me less keen about it. All that said, Fatbee told me that this dessert was quite authentic, so it’s probably just me not growing up with its flavour profile.

The food here is cheap and enjoyable, so I’m totally not complaining. I can’t wait to revisit again and discover even more Indonesian dishes. It’s so funny that the countries that Fatbee and I grew up in are so close to each other geographically, but the dishes can be quite different… and hence so interesting to me!

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