I used to think I didn’t like Indonesian food, but then I ate at Bali Nusa Indah.
A few months ago, Murray had an opportunity to ask several members of the Indonesian Consulate General what they considered the best Indonesian restaurant in town, and the answer was unanimous and unequivocal: Bali Nusa Indah.
The country Indonesia encompasses 17,000 islands, it’s the fourth most populous nation in the world, and using the word “diverse” is an understatement – More than 580 languages and dialects are spoken. So, naturally, it’s pretty impossible to pinpoint a single Indonesian cuisine. Some themes are fairly consistent, however: Rice is a staple, and predominant flavors and techniques are heavily influenced by Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese and even European cuisines. Peanut sauces and coconut milk are used in many signature dishes.
On our first visit to Bali Nusa Indah, we ordered two dishes – Kari Sayuran and Nasi Rames (pictured above). Kari Sayuran is a curry-spiced vegetable dish, including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and other vegetables, in a coconut milk sauce. Nasi Rames offers a nice mixture of typical Indonesian dishes, including Rendang Padang (beef simmered in coconut and chili sauce), Kari Ayam (Indonesian chicken curry), Sate Sapi (beef satay with peanut sauce), Sambal Goreng Udang Buncis (stir-fried shrimp and string beans), and more. All of this was delicious, and plenty to fill the two of us up. The meal cost under $30, if you don’t include our glasses of white wine or the tip.
Service was excellent – Someone was always there when we needed something, but no one was obviously hanging over us.
We’ve been back several times more now – because we like it so much. Some other great dishes we’ve enjoyed: the Special and the Veggie Special. When you order either of these, you get a mix of foods, which helps you get a diverse experience without ordering the entire menu. One of our favorite dishes is Ikan Pepes, which comes in The Special, or can be ordered on its own – broiled red snapper with lemon grass sauce.
Even the desserts are good. Banana Island comes along with the Special or the Veggie Special. Or try Lapis Legit, which is a dense many-layered cake with cinnamon, and topped with vanilla ice cream. Sarikayo, a coconut cream custard, was quite tasty as well.
The restaurant is fairly small – probably only about 20 tables – and the decorations are fascinating. Tablecloths are batik, and the walls are lined with photographs of Indonesia, colorful handmade masks, and traditional wood carvings.
It is quite popular, and in a very convenient location if you’re heading off to a show. (We ate there before seeing Hair.) Although we've never had an issue getting a table, you might consider calling in a reservation on a Friday or Saturday evening, especially if you have more than four people in your group.
Wine and beer are served, and all major credit cards are accepted.
Where and When
Bali Nusa Indah
651 9th Avenue (between 45th and 46th Streets)
New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 765-6417
Monday through Thursday
11:30am – 11:00pm
Friday and Saturday
11:45am – 11:30pm
11:45am – 10:00pm