Tuesday, August 11, 2009

25. Malaysia/Indonesia: Bali Brasserie, Brighton

Bali Brasserie
Kingsway Court
First Avenue
Hove, East Sussex

Tel: 01273 323 810
Fax:01273 324 572


Badgerman and I didn’t feel like cooking one day so decided to consult the Sussex Ethnic Eats map for a new place to visit and fell upon the Bali Brasserie. He remembered visiting when he worked for Amex in the early 90s, so off we went. We parked on the street, no problem on an August Tuesday evening and found the Bali Brasserie, well marked, on the ground floor of the Kingsway Court block of flats, just up from the seafront. You can enter the building from either First or Second Avenue and after a very short walk find what is a huge restaurant secreted away. Entering the doors you immediately forget you are in sunny Sussex and are transported via the configuration and d├ęcor into an exotic, tropical bar/restaurant.

We were greeted immediately and seated quickly and hospitably in the restaurant area that seats around 8o. Eighty more can be seated for functions in the whole restaurant and bar area. We ordered our drinks: a Tiger Beer for Badgerman and a ‘virgin’ Pina Colada (pictured right) for me, the driver. Perusing the vast menu with a la Carte choices of beef, chicken, king prawn and fish dishes for £6.75 - £7.75, vegetarian dishes priced £2.90 for Indonesian Salad- a mixture of vegetables and fruit in a light dressing to Sayar Gulac, aubergines, potatoes, courgettes in a spiced coconut sauce priced £4.75 etc..., we chose the famous Rijsttafel, the Rice Table. You could have just the Rijstaffel for £14.95 with no starters or dessert but we chose the full works: Rijstatafel, starter and dessert for £16.95.

Our Krupuk with Sup Unitok Hari Jni, giant Javaneese prawn crackers served with soup of the day (pictured left) quickly arrived. The huge crackers were more dense than found typically in a Chinese restaurant and were very tasty and crispy and complimented the very fresh, flavoursome vegetable soup. I really liked the light but piquant soup; it was spicy but not too heavy and set your taste buds up for what was to come. A spicy sauce/paste was brought to our table with the soup for us to make any dish just that bit hotter if desired. The beautifully presented Satay Ayam with Gado Gado (pictured below) tasted as good as it looked. The chicken was very moist and perfectly cooked; the satay sauce flavour was all through not just on top of the meat and was just yummy. The sweet soy sauce added another dimension to the strong and separate flavours of the chicken satay and the mildly spiced, crunchy vegetables. We both thought this was a great dish and enjoyed every mouthful. The soup and starter were served in sensible, modest portions so as not to overwhelm. Our waiter, the owner's son, who had made sure we did not have any food allergies, directed us to the buffet after he had ascertained it was all in order and that two hot plates were waiting for us.

We found a great choice awaiting. My plate, below, is arranged as follows: 12 o’clock: noodles, 1 o’clock: Daging Tiram, beef in oyster sauce, 3 o’clock: Udang Pedas, king prawns in a spicy tomato and soy sauce, 5 o’clock: Sayar Champur, stir fried vegetables, 8 o’clock: Kachang Kuda, chickpeas in a delicate curry sauce, 9 o’clock : Indonesian Salad, Ayam Kari, chicken curry and the caramelised, chilli potato crisps are in the centre. There was also fluffy boiled rice available. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single mouthful! All the dishes are freshly created with very good ingredients and it shows. I loved the beef; it was tender, springy, cut onto sensible sized pieces and the savoury sauce was excellent. Badgerman really enjoyed the chicken curry. The prawns were cooked just right- not hard and the sauce was a little spicier that other dishes. I like chickpeas and often avoid them in restaurants, as they are canned and bland, but not so here; they were prepared freshly from dried and tasted bright and nutty. These, the noodles and the fresh Indonesian Salad gave good variation to the Rijsttafel selection and ensured the pallet was not dulled. We were encouraged to revisit the buffet but were filling up and wanted to save a little room for dessert.

From the four desserts, including the daily special, on offer, Badgerman chose the mango and passion fruit sorbet and I, trying to keep the carbs down, asked for the lychees, both are pictured right. My serving of lychees was just right and left me with a full tummy but a light, sweet taste in my mouth. I think it’s a mark of a very good kitchen if the simplest of dishes are prepared well and Badgerman’s sorbet was truly excellent: sharp, sweet, creamy and with a strong fruit flavour. I was envious.

Our bill with a beer and a cocktail, excluding tip, was £39.65.

On Monday to Saturday the Bali Brasserie offers a three-course lunch for £8.50 and a Sunday Lunch Special, three course Mayasian/Indonesian Buffet for 10.95. These menus look interesting and, if the food we had is any indication, will be well worth the money and trip.The Bali Brasserie has been open for 22 years and tries very hard to please its customers old and new. I ran into a work colleague, who is a regular, and she said she has always had good experiences at the BB. Have a look at the web site for information on menus, parties, weddings, functions etc… and for particularly interesting Christmas menus too!

Ambience: 3.5
Food presentation: 3
Food quality: 3.5
Value for money: 3
Service: 4

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