Cuisine – Indonesian/Pan Asian
787 Bethel Road – 614.326.3778
Website – Facebook
Last year when Taste of Bali closed, it seemed as though Columbus was suddenly lacking for Indonesian food. Happily, we’ve come to find that was not the case – Lily’s offers it, and it’s our distinct impression that it’s superior to it’s lapsed competitor.
The restaurant, which occupies the old Hometown space on Bethel Road, is run by an Indonesian family. Although they are hedging their bets with sushi, Chinese, and Thai, it’s primarily the small but well chosen range of Indonesian dishes on the menu that’s the real draw.
Acknowledging our lack of expertise in Indonesian cuisine, we invited some Indonesian exchange students to accompany us to Lily’s, where we ordered one of every dish from their homeland. Each dish was fully dissected, analyzed and graded – these guys knew their food, and would go off on long (and invariably fascinating) tangents describing in minute detail the proper preparations of each dish and how they relate to the cultures of their regions of origin.
The best dish, according to our Indonesian critics, was the empal marinated fried beef steak which is sweetened with brown sugar and coconut and flavored with coriander. It is served with rice, a mild curry soup, and house made sambal; a curry paste made with dried shrimp paste. The beef was a little chewy but had a lot of flavor and was deemed by the Indonesians to be a real taste of home (‘99% like home!’, one exclaimed).
The soto betawi, a beef soup reminiscent of a mild Thai curry, was also deemed to be very authentic (‘95%!’). It is served with rice, chips and belinjo (aka melinjo crackers). We learned that soto betawi is soup of the Betawi people, from around Jakarta, and that many regions of Indonesia have their own distinctive soup.
We thought the ‘marinated fried chicken’ was good, with a nice crispy skin and still moist meat, but we learned that American chickens are much fatter than Indonesian chickens and in our friends’ eyes the plump American could not compete in flavor. The Belcan and Indonesian fried rice and the rendang were given passing grades. One complaint was that the rice was not spicy enough, but the server let us know that next time we could order it Indonesian style – extra spicy.
In a nod to Lily’s other offerings, here’s a gratuitous shot of their delicious, cracklin-tastic roast pork.
I had the Belcan rice a couple months ago and was wondering about that spice level; its just when I go by myself, folks are a little incredulous that I want it just like they eat it. Will be going back soon to try some of the dishes in the article.
I loved Taste of Bali. It is the only Indonesian I have ever had. I miss it. This is good news.
Not an Indonesian dish, but Lily’s has a pretty kick ass duck fried rice. Yum.
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stick with Indonesian food ……….do not order thai food here……..the cook is a delightful gentleman that has been through all the different incarnations of this restaurant spot. he is a very good cook , makes wonderful duck but do not expect the Thai food to taste like Thai food. the version of pad thai is an interesting spin but unlike any Thai food you have ever tasted……………….
Lily’s has closed. Now its called Jiu Thai. I have not tried the food in the current incarnation.
Are they the same owners? I saw the old owner of Hometown working in Lily’s so maybe they just changed the name.