At the beginning of Jln. Kunti, just off Jln. Seminyak, is a little Warung that stands out from the rest. Small and unpretentious, but with a certain class and style not normally encountered in this type of establishment.
The place is not a secret, as it has obviously already been discovered by many if you judge by it?s regular clientele, a mixture of local foreigners and seemingly foreign-educated Indonesians. It does not try to do what so many others attempt and fail, be a complete answer for everyone. Bale-Bali just serves a small selection of well-prepared Indonesian and Indonesian-Chinese dishes, and at most reasonable prices.
Entrees are simple, yet interesting. Lumpia Udang Bale-Bali, are supposed to be shrimp filled spring rolls. In fact they are not really spring rolls at all. The nine finger-shaped cocoons of prawn meat dipped in a light batter, before being deep-fried, are a pleasant surprise. They come with slices of cucumber and chilli paste, and when all are combined together the result is rather good. Pangsit Goreng is five large thin crispy fried Chinese wontons that have been stuffed with minced meat. They arrive with both a tomato and chilli dipping sauces. Amongst the soups is Sup Asparagus Kepiting, which is made from crab and asparagus.
An entrée that shows it?s Dutch-Indonesian heritage is Bitter Ballen [when available]. Small deep-fried balls of croquette mix, an unusual dish to find in Bali. More at home as an appetizer or bar snack in Amsterdam!
Tulang Iga Madu Bakar, or Iga Sapi Madu Bakar as it is referred to elsewhere in the menu, is grilled beef ribs that have been basted in honey, and is touted as a house speciality. I?ve tried two of the other four special specials, and both were great!
Daging Sapi Lada Hitam is a stir-fry of beef slices in a black pepper sauce, that comes surpisingly mild. Ayam Madu Bakar is a plate of almost boneless chicken that has been grilled whilst being basted in honey. The juicy flesh of the breast sandwiched between crispy skin, still sticky from the honey. The only bones are in the chicken wings and they are about as good as they get!
If a seafood-lover, Udang Saus Cabe are fresh shrimps served in a chilli sauce. A selection of Gurame fish dishes are on the menu including Gurame Asam Manis, which is served in a sweet and sour sauce. Or of you prefer, Cumi Cah Jagung Muda, squid cooked with baby corn.
Asian food is usually meant to be consumed, whilst selecting from a variety of different and complementing mains. The same applies at Bale-Bali. A normal main taken alone, may be disappointing with too much of the same, yet when sampling from four or five different dishes, the balance of flavour and taste is above average and most reasonably priced.
For those who have to, or prefer to, dine solo, there are a number of possibilities. The Nasi Goreng Bale-Bali is a hot and fiery fried rice, that has been liberally sprinkled with shrimps, slices of chicken and pieces of egg. It is one of the better ones that you will find at this price level. The Swang Mie is a plate of white noodles with shrimps, chicken pieces, Chinese mushrooms and assorted slices of vegetable, served with a bowl of clear soup on the side. The Mie Pangsit is a wonton and noodle soup with chicken, mushrooms, fried onions and onion leaves.
Vegetarians are not forgotten and a number of selections are available including a Nasi Cap Cay, rice with vegetables, or a Angsio Tahu, beancurd served with mushrooms and bamboo shoots in an oyster sauce.
Wine is limited to the local Balinese Hatten Rose, served cold either by the bottle or the glass. In this open environment, eating spicy food, it is quite acceptable.
Desserts are only for those who enjoy fried bananas, although you can get adventurous and order a banana spring roll!