In the heart of Tras Street, the long-standing Cumi Bali is an oasis for no-frills Indonesian food.
It is frequently rated as one of the best Indonesian restaurants in Singapore, though not exactly the cheapest.
If I am not wrong, it is the only Indonesian cuisine restaurant in Singapore with the Bib Gourmand.
Opened since 1986 (older than many of you?), the Indonesian restaurant was previously located at Duxton Hill and Tanjong Pagar. Even now, the menu has remained focused on great seafood dishes.
The eatery is careful to emphasise the distinct elements of Indonesian cuisine, using spice blends to create different lingering tastes in each dish.
On the menu are dishes such as Assam Fish Head ($38), Ikan Pepes ($36), Udang Serai ($42), Tauhu Goreng ($18), Sou Ayam ($16), and Ayam Panggang ($18).
Prices are on the higher side though portion is considered substantial – will be good to gather a few family members or friends to order more sharing dishes.
Those fond of fish cannot miss out on the Ikan Bakar ($36), a whole fish slathered in a paste of 18 spieces and top-grilled to perfection. The spice paste locks the natural juices of the fish within the flesh, creating a tender result.
The Cumi Bali ($35) is the namesake of the restaurant and deservedly so. It is a deceptively simple charcoal grilled squid which packs more flavour than you would expect.
When I had the dish, the flesh of the squid was not chewy but easy to cut through. Whatever sauce was used for the squid was super addictive.
However, I wished that it would have a stronger smoky or charred flavour to bring it to the next level.
On the meat side of things, the Ayam Sate Madura ($18) comes with two pieces of Javanese styled chicken satay.
Its uniqueness comes from its seasoning, which involves sweet soy sauce, candlenut and more.
As they advertised, the skewers were indeed different from the local satays. I could see why the Sate Madura is immensely popular.
In contrast with the earlier dish, there was much charred parts on certain areas.
The unexpected best dish of the night – hands down, was the Sayur Lodeh ($20) of soft mixed vegetable curry which came piping up in a rich, almost-creamy gravy base, and a surprise of deep-fried egg tofu.
The curry was so flavourful – you could taste the freshness of the coconut milk, that I wished I order plain rice instead.
Draw the curtains on the dining experience with the Cumi Bali Es Cendol ($6), a dessert many of us are used to, though could do with a little more coconut milk for better savour.
With so much of Javanese food we are unfamiliar with, Cumi Bali Indonesian Restaurant is the place to begin the exploration.
Cumi Bali Indonesian Restaurant
50 Tras Street, Singapore 078989
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 6pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
* Written by Daniel Ang @DanielFoodDiary and Dean Ang. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.