Tag Archives: durian

Taste of Bali

This restaurant closed late 2011. If you are looking for Indonesian dishes in Columbus you may find some at Lily’s on Bethel Road.

Cuisine: Indonesian
2548 Bethel Rd
614.459.7230

Click here to map it!

Taste of Bali is the only Indonesian restaurant in Columbus, and the only Indonesian restaurant we’ve ever been to.  This simple fact made it harder for us, as newcomers to Indonesian fare, to compare the quality and authenticity of their food.

With that caveat behind us, here goes…

As the menu can be somewhat daunting in its unfamiliarity, Taste of Bali have a variety of set menus with different names such as ‘vegetarian’, ‘spice lover’ and ‘adventurous’. Since we were a large group, though, we opted to order a la carte.

We started with the Bali Sampler, a mixed plate of appetizers including sate ayam (chicken satay) which was pretty run of the mill, pangsit goreng (deep fried chicken dumpling), crispy crab and vegetarian spring rolls, none of which was overly memorable, and risol (a chicken and vegetable spring roll) with a slightly creamy but largely flavorless filling.

Our server, who was very accommodating and helpful, offered some suggestions and we had also come armed with some recommendations. Beyond those, we also tried some of the ‘new’ menu items. One of these was a salad called gado-gado comprised of steamed, mixed vegetables topped with lettuce, deep fried tofu, a boiled egg and peanut dressing and was served with shrimp crackers. The mixed vegetables were straight-from-the-freezer green beans, carrots and sweet corn. The dressing was more of a sauce and there was a lot of it.

Sambal goreng kentang were fried diced potato stir fried in sauce; a tasty side dish and one I would order again.

Mie goreng was stir fried egg noodles with shrimp, cabbage, scallion, chinese vegetables and egg. It was a little overcooked and surprisingly bland.

We ordered a couple of different chicken dishes: Ayam bakar jimbaran which was grilled marinated chicken and Ayam bumbu rujak which was grilled chicken breast in red curry sauce. Unlike a Thai red curry, the ayam bumbu was just chicken, somewhat overcooked in a rich sauce.  The bakar was competently executed grilled chicken marinated in a sweet sauce.

Redang daging was a flavorful stewed beef with spices in curry sauce and was one of the most popular dishes.

Gurame Goreng was deep fried fish served whole with sambal ulek (hot sauce) and lalapan (salad).  It was slightly overcooked and bland, at least without the accompanying sambal.

Gudeg is a combination of opor ayam (chicken breast in white curry sauce) and telor balado (egg boiled and pan fried in chili sauce) and jack fruit. Jackfruit is a great meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans and was another popular choice. The egg was very spicy.

One thing we noticed overall was that most of the dishes were very sweet, which may be partly attributed to the use of coconut milk in many of the dishes.

Dessert options include fresh young coconut, bubur ketam hitam (warm black rice pudding topped with coconut milk) and shaved ice with fruit and condensed milk, with either es durian or es teler with sweet jackfruit, avocado and young coconut in sweet coconut milk. The sweet icy desserts were a great antidote to the spicy dishes. Being frozen, the durian was not as stinky as its reputation but still slightly odiferous. It tastes much better than it smells.

Taste of Bali has a children’s menu and caters to vegetarians. Their menu also offers some pan-Asian dishes and notes healthy menu options.

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Huong

Cuisine: Vietnamese
1270 Morse Road
614.825.0303
Open daily for lunch and dinner: hours vary (close early on Tuesday)
Website: http://huongvr.blogspot.com/

Click here to map it!

This winter we’ve tried a number of Vietnamese restaurants and Huong was definitely one of our favorites. We were instantly taken with the colorful dining room complete with plastic fruit trees, flowers and a large wall mural, as well as with the charming staff.

The menu is divided into appetizers, rice vermicelli, noodle soups, rice dishes and rice rolls. There is also an extensive selection of desserts, most of which are drinks and even include a durian smoothie. Banh mi sandwiches and congee (rice porridge), while not listed on the menu, are offered daily. They also have weekend specials that may include sticky rice, Vietnamese dumplings and Vietnamese baguettes. This is, so far, the only place in Columbus we have seen that serves congee.

To start we shared a Vietnamese crepe with shrimp, pork, mung beans and herbs. This was pretty similar to the Korean pancake we have had at Arirang. What was different was that this was served with a different dipping sauce (the same as served with bun cha) and a plate of lettuce leaves and fresh herbs. The crepe was crisp, the fillings generous and the dish met with universal approval.

We also sampled a pho, pho tai bo vien (noodle soup with rare steak and beef ball). The broth was good, if a little greasy, and had a fairly strong star anise note.

We ordered bun heo which was bun cha (rice vermicelli noodles on top of lettuce) with egg rolls and pork. This is a dish we order a lot and and serves as a useful comparison between restaurants. It was average, which is to say good, and the crinkle cut radish on top was a notable addition.  As you can see, it also comes with a generous topping of peanuts.

We tried one of the desserts, fried banana wrapped in sweet rice with coconut milk and peanuts. It was good but perhaps not overly exciting.

Vietnamese coffee is available iced or hot. The hot coffee is served as shown below, brewed at the table with a Vietnamese-style ‘over the cup’ drip coffee maker which dispenses coffee into a dollop of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the mug below.

It felt like we barely scratched the surface and will definitely return to Huong to try some of their other menu items and weekend specials.