As a pedestrian walking past Pondok Bali, the first thing that will immediately catch your attention are the bright yellow parasols, like a welcome sign inviting you to enter. The interior itself was a surprise to me, as I walked in with a group of friends for dinner.
Colourful and atmospheric, the restaurant is alive with cheerful yellows and vivid blues, while the walls are decorated with large, stylised creatures familiar to the Indonesian art form of wayang kulit, or shadow puppets. The word 'pondok' in Indonesian means 'hut', and it is clear that this is the atmosphere they're trying to re-create.
Located on Pulteney Street, the decade-old restaurant serves Indonesian cuisine with lots of room for large group gatherings as well as that intimate environment if you're a table for two. As I was dining in a group of seven people, we decided to share a few dishes together in order to get a taste of what Pondok Bali had to offer. The menu lists a variety of flavours, though we went with all main course dishes without any entrees or desserts.
We decided to share some steamed rice between us, though one friend wanted to try the fried rice. It was the first thing to arrive at our table, a plateful of rice stir-fried with prawns, chicken, eggs and vegetables. Though it is listed under the 'accompaniments' section of the menu, it could easily be a fulfilling dish on its own.
We wanted to try a fish dish, so we went with the ikan pepes, which were marinated fish fillets grilled in banana leaf. I'll admit that the portion was very disappointing, especially for the price that we paid. Nevertheless, it was a nice dish and the fish tasted quite fresh. The sauce that came with it was tasty, although somewhat mild.
This was a personal favourite of mine, as I quite like peanut sauce. I liked the combination of the sauce and other ingredients: hard-boiled egg, steamed vegetables, tofu and bean sprouts. While the sauce was not as flavourful as other dishes I've tasted before, I still enjoyed it immensely, and it went well with the other meat mains that we ordered.
This was my favourite chicken dish of the two that we ordered. The outer coating of the chicken isn't as crispy as it looks, as the tangy sauce has soaked into the layer. The sauce was tasty with a hint of lime, mild and sweet to the tongue. Between the seven of us, it disappeared pretty quickly.
Because of the unfortunately hasty consumption of the previous dishes, we ordered another pair of chicken and fish mains, as we were still hungry. This time around, we went for grilled chicken, having tried the fried one. Though I still like the sanur fried chicken the best it was still a delicious chicken dish with a nice sauce that tasted a little bit like the one that came with the banana leaf fish.
The other fish main that we ordered was the ikan belado - I have to apologise that the picture I took of it did not turn out so well, so there's no photograph to include here. Like the ikan pepes, the fish portion was a bit disappointing but expected this time around. I have to admit that the chicken mains felt like a lot more worth it, though I enjoyed the freshness of the fish and the belado sauce was a nice change from the other flavours we tried, as this one had a bit more chilli to it.
We had an enjoyable dining experience here, and I loved how the restaurant was decorated. The servers were friendly and the food was good, although the portions were smaller than we hoped. If you'd rather dine in the comforts of your own home, they even offer to deliver. Pondok Bali is also listed in a number of halal restaurant websites, though I got no reply from the restaurant when I asked to confirm.
Sara I find the taste at Pondok Bali highly satisfying. Service is also quite personable. Like you mentioned, the portion sizes could be more generous and it's the only thing that keeps me from returning again and again.