Friday, November 16, 2018
A visit to Bali Kitchen on 4th Street
Text and photos by Stacie Joy
When I meet up with David Prettyman and Jazz P. Souisay, the co-owners of Bali Kitchen, it’s late on a weekday night, an hour or two from closing time.
The two have just arrived back at the restaurant — 128 E. Fourth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue — from church, and we take advantage of a brief quiet moment to sit and talk about Indonesian food and culture.
[Prettyman and Souisay]
The couple, who have been together for more than 26 years, enjoy offering a primer on Indonesian food. When they first opened in September 2017, their initial customers were mostly people who’d been to Bali or were Dutch (there’s a lot of Indonesian food in the Netherlands), but now it’s repeat customers, those looking for a taste of home, and diners who are curious about Indonesian cuisine.
The most popular dishes here are nasi goreng (a fried rice with egg, tofu or chicken dish made with cabbage, shallots and candlenuts, and served with a mango/pineapple pickle relish) and rendang jamur (beef or mushroom dish with coconut milk and lemongrass over jasmine rice). The house special is nasi campur bali (their version of rijstaffel with sate lilit, betutu chicken/tofu, lawar, sambal matah, tempeh, boiled egg, peanuts, jasmine rice and tempeh crackers and served with sambal, a Balinese hot sauce).
[Nasi Campur Bali]
Almost everything on the menu can be made vegan or vegetarian, something Souisay says he discovered he’d need to do the month the restaurant opened following customer requests. One popular Balinese dish, suckling pig, is not on the menu. There isn't any pork at Bali Kitchen and all the meat they use is Halal.
There are plans for seasonal changes in the menu. Some heartier meals will replace the salads and a new soup is in the works for the colder months.
Prettyman and Souisay are also committed to environmental causes, using eco-friendly packaging materials that are compostable. Their space doesn't have a microwave and they both spoke about healthy food and alternatives to deep-frying: steaming, broiling and baking items.
They also want to promote Indonesian culture, hospitality and food. They provide a family meal each day during a break, when the space is closed, for the staff to sit together and eat.
Bali Kitchen, 128 E. Fourth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can follow them on Instagram here.
Previously on EV Grieve:
A visit to Eat’s Khao Man Gai on 6th Street
A visit to Yoli Restaurant on 3rd Street
Preparing for Saturday's dinner at Il Posto Accanto on 2nd Street
A visit to the Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen on 7th Street
A trip to the recently expanded Lancelotti Housewares on Avenue A