The Little Bali is a newly opened Indonesian restaurant in the relatively underdeveloped Cluster U of JLT. Located at lake level, its one of the larger outlets, about the same size as Streetery in Cluster D. The kitchen, which is visible though a full-length glass display, is small in comparison with the dining area. It made me wonder how they’ll cope when at capacity. Little Bali uses communal benches similar to Wagamama and Noodle House to seat diners. It’s not quite as professionally harmonized as either but looks and feels far more upmarket that direct rival Betawi…yet somehow doesn’t have the same raw charm.
I dined at Little Bali with a food buddy (who is also a famous restaurateur and for which reason shall remain anonymous). Together we ordered…a lot, starting with Bakwan (a vegetable fritter or pakora) followed by their Satay Sampler consisting of three skewers each of chicken, beef and lamb. I liked the chicken and lamb satay, but the beef was fatty and chewy; none (not even the peanut sauce) were anywhere near the satays at Betawi or Streetery. The Bakwan was tasteless and best forgotten.
Our mains were much, much better. We ordered a Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice), Bakmi Goreng (Mie Goreng by a different name, spicy fried noodles), Bebek Betutu (Balinese roast duck) and Sotong Sumbat (braised squid stuffed with curried minced chicken). The latter two came with steamed rice. I liked everything. I loved the Sotong Sumbat, which is one of the most unique dishes I have had in a long time, and the Nasi Goreng, without doubt one of the best I have had in Dubai. The noodles missed perfection by being a little too salty; I will give them another chance on my next visit. I enjoyed the contrast the curried duck presented from the usual roasted style I have become accustomed to eating Asian duck. I recommend all these dishes.
Service at Little Bali was typically Asian-style friendly and polite. Our table was looked after by an accommodating young Indonesian lad by the name of Bella. In addition to the way he took care of us, I am also grateful to him for recommending the Sotong Sumbat and Bebek Betutu to us. Staff with good product knowledge and the confidence to make recommendations are so important. Well done, Bella.
Summing up, I felt the excellent mains and service made up for the disappointing starters. Yes, Little Bali may not have the quaintness of Betawi, but it has more than enough to earn a hearty recommendation from this new fan.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on email@example.com.