I don't eat that much Asian food, mainly because I'm not that good around spices. I dislike Tom Yam soup, and a blight upon whoever decided peppers and chillis in soups would be a good idea. Hence, I stay away from almost all hot and spicy foods, of which Asian cuisine seems to be particularly strong in. Curries are a different story though.
Anyway, when my father suggested lunch at Cumi Bali, a house of Indonesian food, I was slightly concerned. However, he told me that Balinese cuisine wasn't as spicy. Thankfully, this was indeed the case.
Cumi Bali is located in Duxton Hill, not far from the central business areas, which makes it a hop and skip away for working executives, but a bit far to come otherwise.
The restaurant is fairly open, with no doors at the entrance, which means it can get pretty warm although they have air-conditioning units and fans. The decor is meant to put you in mind of something traditionally Balinese, but it's okay. Nothing very spectacular nor awful.
We had an order of sayur lodeh, or curried vegetables, in this case made with beancurd, beans, carrots and cabbage. Sweet and mild, it was a good sauce-like dish that helped the rice go down easier.
Some sort of chicken dish, which I cannot now recall very distinctly. It was good, though.
When my father ordered chicken satay, I was expecting the normal grilled meat on wooden skewers, but apparently Balinese satay isn't quite the same thing. Crispy on the outside, but succulent on the inside, these were pretty good.
The beef rendang here is not spicy at all, almost as if there's no chilli in the dish. Good for tastebuds that can't abide spiciness, but somehow I feel rendang should have a certain hot kick to it. It's just something that I've grown up used to. The beef chunks were very tender though, some almost gelatinous after being stewed in the rendang.
Some sort of flat fish dish which I didn't really try.
My father recommended the chendol at Cumi Bali, but personally I didn't like it. The restaurant doesn't have a proper ice machine, so the ice shavings in the dessert are rather too coarse. The gula melaka (brown sugar syrup) used was also extremely generous, making the whole dessert overly sweet. It also tasted a little starchy, for some reason. I couldn't finish mine.
Since my father did all the ordering, I have no idea how much the dishes cost, but knowing my father's penchant for value, I imagine they must be fairly reasonably priced.
The Duxton area is not terribly accessible, unless you're travelling via MRT, or if you're already in the area, and the ambience of Cumi Bali is pretty casual and laid-back, good for a lunch over which you catch up with the latest office gossip. Service is friendly if you strike up a chat with Fiona, the owner.
Cumi Bali (Asian, casual)
20 Duxton Road
Tel: 6220 6619
Overall: Not a bad place to come for lunch if you're in the area, and looking for something a little different.