I am getting forgetful with my old age. The other day, I started a book and got about two chapters in, thinking the style was reminiscent of other works by the author before realising it was reminiscent of this particular work by the author, which I had already read. Similarly, I jumped at the chance of dining in Nusa Dua, excited by sampling Indonesian cuisine for the first time, only to remember half way though the meal that this was in fact my second acquaintance with Indonesia's food, the first having taken place in Amsterdam (where there's a large Indonesian minority). Nusa Dua is perched on a corner of Dean Street and gives off a welcoming vibe with candles flickering through the window and cheap prices winking at you from the menu. We weren't the only ones charmed as the small ground floor space was full of diners. The basement looked gloomy by comparison (what is it with restaurants in Dean Street having forlorn basements for their dining overspill?), so we chose to brave the slight chill and sit outside. As anywhere in Soho, the people watching was great. I was particularly amused to notice that the old tradition of street sellers pestering dining couples with single red roses have passed -- instead they are now armed with flashing, fluffy, pink bunny ears. (I couldn't help feeling rather sorry for any first daters out there, wondering whether the bigger faux pas would be to buy or not to buy.) We washed down our musings -- and the complimentary prawn crackers -- with quite pleasant Indonesian larger called Bintang (£2.75 a bottle). The food menu offered many Thai and Indian dishes, but we concentrated on those highlighted as Indonesian specialities. The Gai (green curry in coconut milk with Thai aubergines, green chillies and bamboo shoots) featured some tender chunks of chicken in a spicy, coconuty sauce (£5.95). The Rendang Daging (slow cooked beef in chillies and coconut milk) also had a good kick of heat, but was less successful as dish, with the beef on the tough side. Overall the service was friendly (as were the prices), and the place generally very amiable, and I would like the chance to come back and explore the menu some more.
Nusa Dua, 11-12 Dean Street, W1D 3RP; Tel. 020 7437 3559; Tube: Tottenham Court Rd; www.nusadua.co.uk
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