From New York, With Love: A Taste Of Bali
Like many women of my era, the memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” holds a special place on my bookshelf. Author Elizabeth Gilbert is a true inspiration, using travel as a way reconnect with herself on different levels: “to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India, and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two.”
In giving my well-worn and tattered book its annual read, my inner-Libra got a fierce craving to explore the world of Bali that Elizabeth loved so much…this is, after all, where she finds balance and love. Unfortunately an impromptu jet-set to Bali for a long weekend wasn’t exactly an option, so I did the next best thing and Googled “Best of Bali in NYC”. One of the first things to pop up was a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen called Bali Nusa Indah, so in the spirit of adventure I threw on a summer dress, some strappy sandals, and headed out for a taste of Bali.
While the outside of the restaurant is nothing fancy, I encourage you to adhere to the sign in the window: “Come experience New York City’s BEST, Manhattan’s ONLY Indonesian restaurant. Taste Asia’s most subtly spiced and sweetest cuisine. Come hear our music, see our arts and photographs, and you are in Bali!”
Upon entering the restaurant, we were given a warm greeting and asked if we’d like to sit at the bar or at a table. Now, I’m all for an exposed brick bar any day, but keeping in mind “What would Elizabeth do?”, we chose the more intimate option of a table for two. We started with Chang beer (technically a Thai beverage, but we figured it was a bit more authentic than Heineken?) and then warmed back up a bit with hot Indonesian Jasmine Tea.
For an appetizer we went on the recommendation of our server and tried the Kroket Sayur, an Indonesian vegetable croquette with peanut sauce. The main course was an easy choice: Kari Sayuran, an Indonesian vegetable curry with a side of Jasmine Rice.
I’m no expert on the art of food critiques, and I certainly don’t fancy myself a guru of Indonesian cuisine, but I will say this: if Anthony Bourdain himself were scouring NYC for an Indonesian palate-pleasing experience, Bali Nusa Indah is the place I’d direct him to. My veggie curry was much sweeter than its Indian restaurant counterparts (thanks to the liberal usage of coconut milk, perhaps?), and was not nearly as heavy on the stomach, which is always appreciated for a midday meal. For NYC, the price simply can’t be beat: our entire check came up to $23…not bad at all for a delicious taste of a country on the other side of the globe.
As promised on the outside sign, sounds of Bali were playing jovially over the speakers. The walls were decorated with traditional Bali artwork (tribal masks, anyone?), and the strings of twinkle lights on the walls made for a rather festive dining experience.
In “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth says, “I am a better person when I have less on my plate.” I agree with you full-heartedly, Elizabeth, both figuratively and literally. I walked out of Bali Nusa Indah, plate clear, heart happy, and travel itch scratched.
Of course, if you can hop on a plane and take a real holiday to Bali, we certainly would love to hear about your travels, and compare notes on our dining experiences! Drop us a note below!WHERE: Bali Nusa Indah 651 9th Avenue New York, New York Ph. 212.265.2200
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen