Since we moved in to the neighbourhood, everyone who has dropped in to visit us has been raving about Cumi Bali. So when we had some downtime last Sunday evening, we decided to try out this much loved family-style restaurant along Tanjong Pagar Road.
Cumi Bali, named affectionately after its house specialty, squid, is located along the bustling stretch of Tanjong Pagar Road. Our first impression upon entering the restaurant was that everything about it from its interior decor to its Singapore Airlines table cloths felt strangely dated and old fashioned in a not-so-cool kinda way. We later found out that Cumi Bali has been around for more than 20 years – guess some things have simply remained everGREEN…
We ordered the house special, Cumi Bali, lightly chargrilled squid which had a pleasingly firm bite, but was presented to us semi-cold in a nondescript sauce – we got worried. To our relief, our next dish, mutton rendang, was a marked improvement; the meat was tender while the gravy flavourful, pleasantly chunky and extremely addictive. But our favourite for the night was definitely the ladies fingers or okra, stir-fried in sambal sauce. The vegetables were extremely fresh, crisp and had a lovely spicy and tangy sauce to accompany. We polished off a bowl of cendol to complete our meal; the coconut and gula melaka were adequate but the ice would have been better if less coarse. Certainly not one of the best we’ve tried.
Overall, we didn’t really find much reason to gush over the food, although slightly unfair as we neither tried their famed Ikan Bakar (fish smothered in 18 spices and top-grilled) nor their soup buntut (ox-tail soup) which was unavailable.
The real gripe we had that night though, was service. They seemed to be running quite a full service and it took almost 25 minutes for our first dish to surface (the cold squid). Subsequently, the next two dishes (three, including our rice) came out just as slowly, Chinese wedding style. We could hardly relish the food all at once.
We may give Cumi Bali another go for their Ikan Bakar and ox-tail soup, and hope and pray that they turn up at our table fast and piping hot. It would also be very nice if a major decor overhaul is on the cards, but that is probably too much to ask for. Afterall, the four dishes cost us a grand total of S$36 – how very reasonable and wallet friendly.Cumi Bali 62206619 | 66, Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088487 11am – 2.30pm or 6pm – 9.30pm
Mondays to Saturdays, including Public Holidays
(Call for functions and Sunday reservations) http://www.cumibali.com/