85 Franklin St, Melbourne 3000
Date visited: 23rd March 2012
Bali Bagus is an Indonesian restaurant along Franklin Street. The interior is simple, with wide spaces and the walls lined with frames and exotic artwork. Being this close to RMIT, it caters mainly for the student population here in the CBD and works sort of like a canteen - you make your order at the counter and pay for your dish at the cashier.
I had the iced grass jelly, which was grass jelly, basil seed and grated ice in rose syrup. Slightly diluted but it was all right.
MerlinFan had the Soto Ayam, which was the yellow chicken soup with egg and vegetables. This is how it looked on the 'advertisement' on our table for the new menu:
And this is how it looked in real life:
|Soto Ayam $8|
Let's play spot the difference. (Hint: Where did all the ingredients go?)
Anyway, the soto ayam was not bad. The soup was salty and sour and tasted of familiar vegetables and spices - MerlinFan said it reminded her of homemade soup, which she quite enjoyed.
I wanted to try something with their thumbs up (or recommended) flag, so I chose the Ayam Penyet, which was the grilled chicken. The menu states, "Penyet means "flattened" and is one of Bali Bagus' special dishes. The meat is marinated with Java special sauce and cooked to perfection to seal the flavours. It is then flattened to tenderise the meat and served separately with a special sambal (chilli paste)."
|Ayam Penyet $8|
As soon as my dish it came out, I told MerlinFan I knew straight away it was going to be dry. This was a real shame, because the marinade sauce was actually really delicious, sweet and smoky and tasted like Malaysian satay. However, I didn't a get chance to enjoy it because although the thigh is the most tender and juicy part of the chicken, most of it was overcooked to the point of being extremely dry and difficult to swallow.
The rice was seriously the worst steamed rice I've ever been served in any restaurant. It too was extremely dry and grainy, like they had cooked it with too little water (yes, I've done it myself at home as well). I didn't know which was drier, the rice or the chicken. MerlinFan even commented that at one point I looked like a mule chewing on dry grass.
I don't like giving bad reviews, but I was overall disappointed with my experience here. Turns out that for me, Bali Bagus wasn't so bagus after all, cheap prices or not.
<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1531332/restaurant/CBD/Bali-Bagus-Melbourne"><img alt="Bali Bagus on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1531332/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>