Rijsttafel at Bali Nusa Indah
I was super pumped this weekend when I found out there's restaurants in New York serving a rijsttafel. A rijsttafel or rice table is an Indonesian meal (with a Dutch name) consisting of many many small dishes and rice. We had tried this out in Amsterdamaged in March for the first time and loved it. They go all out in the 'dam with the rijsttafel, serving so many dishes that they have to bring you a small stand next to your table to hold some of the dishes.
We went yesterday to Bali Nusa Indah on 9th Avenue and 45th in Hell's Kitchen. Bali's rijsttafel has considerably less dishes than the Dutch provide but they did offer 11 for $25, including soup, salad and dessert. Oddly there was no price listed on the menu and my excellent pronunciation of rijsttafel neither suprised the waiter nor got us a superior deal on the meal.
The dishes are served on a heated rack which has tealight candles under it. Most items were fairly good but the quality and variety of flavors and types of dishes paled in comparison to Amsterdam. There seemed to be a preponderance of peanut based sauces. They started us off with a salad, in peanut sauce dressing, natch, which was nothing special. Then came a cellophane noodle soup that was very tasty.
After soup they clear the table and bring out all the remaining dishes at once in an impressive display of arrangement. The eggplant in chili sauce was excellent, as were the two beef dishes (which tasted sort of similar but were good regardless). I tended to enjoy the darker chili sauces more. The shrimp was decent but portions were small- mostly sauce. The red snapper didn't seem to hold the flavor well- the middle was a bit bland. The other dishes were broccoli, chicken satay, and a rice cake derivative that was real nice for soaking up sauces on the plate. Dessert was a flan type thing and was perfect.
Overall it was a pretty good meal despite not living up to the original. I would have preferred a bit more spicy heat to most of the dishes. For $25 we got a pretty fair amount of different flavors to taste and most were rijsttafelicious. I am the 1st person, according to google, to ever use the word rijsttafelicious. Can I get a prize?
On the way back from our Indonesian meal, we saw a crowd gathered outside a theater door in the theater district of all places. The crowd was waiting for Martin Short to exit into his waiting towncar after his Broadway show. They had barricades and all set up. My finger obscures the bored looking cop. We waited with the crowd across the street for about 2 minutes before deciding that our desire to see Martin Short walk to a car was not worth more than about 2 minutes of our time.
Besides, he's pretty small and we probably wouldn't have been able to see him over the car anyway. Rock on Marty.