new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Warung Bali: Cheap Indonesian Eats

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Warung Bali: Cheap Indonesian Eats

Warung Bali
#25, Street 178, across from the National Museum
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I love Indonesian food, but it's extremely difficult to find in the USA, even in the multi-cultural hodgepodge that is Northern California. I'm certain someone can tell me why the Indonesian diaspora doesn't tend to open restaurants in the USA, but, whatever: there's excellent Indonesian food right here in Phnom Penh.

Warung Bali is an Indonesian food specialist with extremely cheap prices - it's hard to top $10 - and a pretty extensive menu, with a particular focus on interesting soups and tempeh dishes. There's also lots of fruit drinks, including a great tamarind shake with brown sugar.

Everyone loves meat on a stick, those without horrifying peanut allergies love peanut butter (those WITH horrifying peanut allergies should stay five feet away from Indonesian restaurants), and the combination is pure magic.

This is definitely the best satay in Phnom Penh, and, at the princely sum of $2.50, a real deal. The peanut sauce is also absolutely superb: perfect, flavor, texture, crunch everything. Hoard the plate and toss it on your rice when your main course comes.

I hadn't really known that glass noodles were an Indonesian thing, but these stir-fried glass noodles with chicken and vegetables are a big favorite with my boyfriend and are indeed excellent, a slightly more delicate riff on the thicker, denser noodles that keep a healthy majority of Asia on its feet.

Beef rendang, stewed meat in coconut milk and spices served with coconut rice, is one of Indonesia's most iconic dishes and is something I occasionally really, really crave. Good thing is that this stuff is delicious - even the rice is good enough to warrant eating on its own.

I should add that it is impossible to attractively photograph beef rendang, but I tried.

I've also had the beef and coconut milk soup, and the beef, sweet soy sauce, and vegetable soup, both of which were excellent.

It's a great budget option and quite popular with both Indonesian and Western expats, and conveniently located near the tourist mecca of Riverside.

Warung Bali is a family restaurant in the most classically Asian sense of the word, which means various relatives amble through the restaurant and everyone lives upstairs, or at least I think they do. You walk through the rather close kitchen to reach the bathroom. Someone's kid might come over and stare at you. This is all part of the charm for some.

1 comment:

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