The winter blues had set in after a La Nina tainted summer sapped us of our vitamin D stores. So eight of us decided to take a short trip to Bali to warm the bones. However, only seven of us made the trip. Ash had something better to do. This is the story of what Ash missed out on.
We didn’t actually pull out our passports, pack our sarongs and board a plane. We just made a quick jaunt down Shannon Avenue to Warung Bail in Geelong West.
Warung Bali has been a favourite haunt for scrumptious Asian food for a sometime now. It started out as a few tables in a shopfront on Shannon Avenue, the poor sister of Pakington St in Geelong West. Back then if a craving for spicy Indonesian fare hit suddenly, there was no hope of getting a table. They needed to be booked well in advance. Since then the restaurant has been renovated and the floor space expanded. On this night we sat in a private enclave at the back of the restaurant. The waiter asked if we wanted the heat turned down but it seemed fitting to leave the warm breeze sweeping our table to add to the tropical feel. This was in stark contrast to the single digit temperature outside.
Warung does its best to transport you to Bali for the evening. Brightly coloured flags flank the entrance. The dark wooden walls are decorated with timber carvings, brightly painted pictures of serene looking temple faces and other knick-knacks, recalling memories of shopping in the hectic markets of South East Asia. But it is really the food that entices people here.
While a little more expensive than your run-of-the-mill Asian restaurant, Warung is anything but average. The quality of the produce used shines through in every dish. We ordered some old favourites. The Pergedel Jagung for entrée, crispy corn fritters, which are spiked with kaffir lime leaf, for an extra burst of flavour. A whole fried fish, the Tommy Special, was ordered for main and fun was had daring each other to eat the opaque eyes. Two serves of beef Rendang were needed for the table to ensure that we didn’t have to keep passing the dish back and forth.
It’s hard to move away from old favourites when you are at a restaurant that you love. Mostly the reason that you keep coming back is for the dishes that you already know. That’s where having a few newbies at the table is an advantage. Dishes that we had never considered before were ordered and new a favourite discovered. Sambal Udang, prawns stir-fried in a zesty sauce of coriander, galangal and tomato will definitely be added to the must order list from now on.
Warung Bali is BYO so a six-pack of Red Duck beer was brought along to share, a local brew from Camperdown. And while we drank one topic dominated our conversation. Ash’s lack of organisation skills and how he would make a terrible teacher if he couldn’t even remember what night the go-cart committee meeting was booked for…