A taste of Bali

December 11, 2012 Heather Chin
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In Indonesian, Selamat Pagi translates to “happy morning” and that is exactly what diners will get when they sit down at one of the new Greenpoint restaurant’s simply-yet-cheerily decorated light wood tables – tiny flower vases, candles, and green bottles of water – and get a whiff of the fresh and seasonal Balinese-inspired cuisine.

The eatery, which opened its doors in late October at 152 Driggs Avenue, is the creation of Laura O’Neill and Ben and Pete Van Leeuwen, who wanted to apply their successful entrepreneurial experience with Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream to bringing Balinese cuisine to Brooklyn, where, they say, the island’s flavors don’t really have a presence.

Balinese food is similar to, but distinct from, its closest cousins, Indonesian and Thai. Ingredients include fresh seafood and vegetables, curry spices, basil, chilies, coconut, ginger, palm sugar, shrimp paste and turmeric, among other spices.

All of these ingredients, and more, are represented in the bright and creative brunch and dinner menus crafted by chef Sophia Loch, formerly of Otto. Dishes on the more traditional side include Lemongrass Fish Curry ($16) served in a comforting bowl topped with cucumber slices and crushed roasted peanuts; Nasi Goreng – Bali-style fried rice with prawn crackers, cucumbers and a sunny-side-up organic egg ($12); and Palm Sugar Caramelized Bluefish ($17).

The fried rice is warm, yet lively with freshness, and the cucumber slices are great palate cleansers between bites of meaty bluefish and spicy Beef Rendang curry ($17), which is another crowd-pleaser with its super tender chunks of beef.

There are also Bali-inspired dishes that have Brooklyn sensibilities and sourcing, such as Banana Pancakes with coconut, macadamia nuts, and palm sugar syrup ($10), and a Bali Egg Scramble ($9.50), made with organic eggs, coconut oil, shallots and turmeric, and served with papaya and roti slices.

On the dinner side, Loch offers items like Biodynamic Pan-Fried Chicken ($13.50) with chili, Balinese spices, seasonal greens, white rice and sambal tomat.

Sambal tomat is just one of three popular Balinese condiments that are recreated here and served in several dishes, as well as on their own alongside homemade Prawn Crackers as a snack ($5). All three sambals – tomat, matah, and ginger – are flavorful and carry a light kick and heat, from raw shallots and lemongrass (matah), spicy tomatoes and chili sauce (tomat), and tangy coconut, lime juice, ginger and coconut (ginger).

Of course, considering the fact that an ice cream kitchen still exists behind the dining room, Selamat Pagi is replete with plenty of choices to balance out all the savory and spice with creamy sweet Van Leeuwen treats.

A trio of your choice of ice creams goes for $7 – we sampled the passionfruit (tangy!), black sticky rice with mint (chewy yet creamy), and palm sugar (cold candy in every bite), but there is also a Coconut Crème Brulee and Spicy Bali Chocolate Pot De Crème for $6 each.

Selamat Pagi is currently BYOB, but there is a liquor store right across the street, and, in-house, plenty of fresh juices, teas, lattes, espressos and homemade sodas flavored with Van Leeuwen’s signature unique combinations such as ginger-lime and lavender-galangal. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory!


152 Driggs Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11222



Monday (café only): 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tuesday – Sunday (café, brunch, dinner): 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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