It's so hard to find different things to do and try in Aruba! Planned a date night at Bentang Bali and had a taste of their quintessential dishes to mix things up.
According to their social media activity, Bentang Bali was born in late 2019, which is actually amazing, not every business survived the lockdown and quarantine. For quite some time I have been curious every time I passed by and was waiting for a special outing to go give it a try. My friend, the fabulous dinner date Ali Hector casually texted that day to make plans and Bentan Bali jumped out to be an option: Somewhere both of us haven't been.
Bentang Bali is located downtown Oranjestad, right behind Royal Plaza Mall (click here for location) and it is a small restaurant... let's say under 20 tables, all indoors. The décor has some Indonesian elements, wood, and warm colors, a little old-fashioned if you will. It is overall simple and peaceful. I do not enjoy loud music in restaurants. The service is attentive but not intrusive, it was a quiet Tuesday night.
The menu has great options but it's hard to understand why they have things like Wings, Escargot and a whole "Do you wanna go local?" section that has nothing to do with Indonesian cuisine. Stewed goat, Keshi Yena, Funchi, and Pan Bati. That was a little discouraging to be completely honest. Would you trust a sushi joint that has Lasagna also on the menu? Here is the menu
To be able to have the most complete experience, we decided to order appetizers, and mains. On the menu: Spicy Chicken Liver and Korean BBQ Meatballs.
Chicken Liver is a personal favorite, whenever I find it on a menu I gotta have it. This one was spicy, not too greasy, topped with some green onions for brightness. The portion is generous. Great for sharing ($10)
The Korean BBQ Meatballs were made with pork. I thought they were gonna be saucier. The slaw in the bottom was really chunky and I noticed it was prepared right before because the sauce did not have the chance to impregnate the cabbage. Would not order again. (12$)
When we were looking at the menu one picture caught our eyes: The Nasi Rames - Taste of Bali, and after asking our server, he indeed expressed that is one of the best sellers.
In pictures, you don't really get to see the scale of this dish. It is LOADED with food. You get Chicken Sate (skewers), Fried shrimp crackers (kroepoek), fried rice, coconut rice, a boiled then fried egg, Indonesian salad (Gado Gado), fish cake, curry chicken thighs, noodles, and beef, all served on top of a smoked plantain leaf. It was tasty, I am not going to lie! The peanut sauce was stellar, Ali enjoyed it very much! ($27)
Like I always say, dessert time is the best time and after the chef's recommendation here is the Tiramisu Pandan.
Pandan also known Screwpine is a tropical plant which leaves are a very popular ingredient in South Asian cuisines. They get dried and then pulverized to extract the emerald green powder that is characteristic to have this grassy vanilla, coconutty taste. I had to google for the info of course.
This dessert was also a generous portion and VERY good. The mix od sweet Pandan with the bitterness of coffee made this a very interesting one.
The first that comes to mind is: pricey. I am not gonna lie, these dishes are priced at the same prices of some hotel restaurants dishes. The bill was $140 for two people which is not a low ticket considering the area, no parking facilities, etc. A beer is $7. It is hard to compete pricing Indonesian food high when you have some other fantastic options on the island. We all know them.
The Service was nice, tables were clean and set the old way with the napkin folded on top of the plate. The food portions are generous and tasty. I know some of these flavors are not everyone's cup of tea, which probably explains the inclusion of more known dishes in the menu.
Would you go on a date there? It does not seem like the place for a first date. According to Ali, it is the perfect place to have the breakup though! 💔
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