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Warung Bumbu Restaurant

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by Ellie Ross (subscribe)
Freelance travel writer and Policy Adviser for the UK government living in Brixton. View my blog for ethical and budget travel inspiration
Published March 24th 2013
Try Indonesian Food in South London

It was 10.30pm. I'd been at Battersea Arts Centre for three hours, one of which was spent sitting in the pitch black for an hour as part of a theatrical experience. My friend and I had turned round to get some chips as a quick, unhealthy dinner, before backtracking and realising that there was an Indonesian restaurant right there, to the left of us.

I have been looking for an Indonesian restaurant in London for the best part of three weeks, so I grabbed fate by the horns and went in. Vietnamese food is my favourite cuisine in the whole world, then Malay, then Thai, then Swedish and then Israeli. I had high hopes for Indonesian food but I'd never really been able to eat authentic Indonesian food in anywhere other than Asian-fusion restaurants which doesn't really count.

Warung Bumbu was opened by a Javanese man keen to bring the flavours of Bali to London and the menu is interesting and extensive. The décor is reminiscent of Wagamama: long trestle tables, communal seating and sparse ornamentation.

We decided to order to starters to share and one main. The starters, at £5 each, were expensive but incredibly tasty. Three satay sticks with some tiny chunks of vegetables dipped into thick peanut sauce was delicious, but far, far too expensive for the size of the dish and the quality of the ingredients. 5 chili and coriander slices of tempe were delicious and worth the fiver: they came with a sour dipping sauce that I imagine was upended from a bottle, as I believe that I have the same one at home. The starters were tasty, moreish and I'd happily go back to Warung Bumbu to eat them. It was the first time I had eaten tempe, a kind of soybean, tofu texture, and the surrounding batter was delicious and fiery with chilli spice.

The main course was slightly less delicious. And by slightly less I mean it was a bit of a chore to eat. It had evidently been microwaved, because the outside of the bowl was far too hot to touch, and the liquid inside was randomly hot and cold as I went through it. The curry, essentially an 'Indonesian vegetarian dish' was completely bland. There was a serious absence of the warmth of ginger, or of cumin or of any spice other than the harshness of chillies. A little bland, bland, bland and a huge disappointment after the gorgeousness of the starters.

I might pop in here again on the way back from BAC just to eat some of the incredibly starters. That, and Warung Bumbu has seriously fuelled my love of Indonesian food. I knew I would like it, now I just need to go and sample somewhere a little better to eat it! Nevertheless, thank you for the introduction!
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Why? If you haven't eaten Indonesian food before
Phone: 020 7924 1155
Where: Clapham/Lavender Hill
Cost: £5 for starters £9 for mains
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