Sunday, 10 March 2013

Warung Bumbu - a review

There's no doubt about it. Southern Asian cuisine has been taken into British hearts and minds. Thai green curries are gracing the average family's dinner table in increasing numbers. Its becoming the norm to see Thai restaurants inhabiting the most British of institutions, the pub. You can now get Pad Thai and wash it down pint of locally brewed ale. Your choice of pork scratchings or prawn crackers on the side. Stranger things have happened.

We are so fortunate to live in a country where culinary fusion is commonplace. Globalisation of the supply chain is alive and well. And despite its recent bad press with the horsemeat scandal, its time we took a moment to consider the positives. If I want a juicy mango lassie or to have Mexican food for dinner on a Wednesday night, I don't need to think twice. Our ability to import and export means that we are living in one of the most culinary and culturally rich patches on earth. It is not just goods we are exchanging, it is thanks to our diverse population that we've gone from bangers and mash to dim sung. It goes without saying that we still need to buy British and support our local economy but it would be foolish to ignore the growth of the rest of the world.

All this in mind, I was chuffed to see the reinvention of a restaurant in Lavender Hill near Clapham Junction, London. Once known for its Japanese cuisine, it has since changed hands and become Warung Bumbu. Now a brilliant restaurant with Indonesian flavour. The decor is a heady mix of heavy red and black, the seating long benches (think Wagamama-esk). The menu is simple enough though I'm not sure there's much choice for veggies.

Simple skewers meats with satay are bound to be a favourite to start but its really the mains that shine. We dined on soft chicken thigh meat in sauces fragrant with coconut and chilli, with rice. We had a couple of ice cold Tiger Beers as the wine list didnt havea wow factor. The couple next to us had Nasi Goreng, a fried rice, meat, fish and veggie stir fry similar to Pad Thai. Again it looked and smelt divine. Typically with Indonesian cuisine, don't expect dessert to be fancy. In Southern Asia this would just consist of fruits like pineapple or of tapioca balls on shaved ice - foods readily available. Suffice to say this isn't going to be the place to come for a sticky toffee pudding.

Service is a little hectic, with the bloke in charge barking at servers. I can only assume that this is temporary as staff learn the ropes. Oh and there were 3 dishes unavailable on the day we went. Worth going for the punchy flavours that are a rarity in other restaurants in the area.

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