Lantern may not have a particularly comely appearance from the road, but step inside and this self-proclaimed “Urban Asian Eatery” will quickly enthral you. With its mix of Asian cuisines – think Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian , Thai and Indian – and cheap prices, it looked promising. Lantern had been recommended by another foodie, and we were keen to see if it lived up to its reputation.
There’s a cooler indoor section if Bali’s humidity is getting to you, and an outdoor/smokers area for the brave or the addicted. We sat at the back near the counter, and admired the mixed decor with its wall paintings, lanterns, cane furniture, lattice work and splashes of bright yellow. We ordered drinks and a complimentary dish of tiny peanuts was served. Drinks were cheap, and we alternated between deliciously minty lychee mojitos and Balinese white wine (surprisingly good).
As we were intent on savouring our own dishes, we each ordered our own mains, rather than sharing, though Lantern’s food is ideal for just that. TJ’s Penang Chicken Curry with roti had him singing its praises, and as a Malaysian born aficionado of Penang curries, he knows a good one when he eats it. My Sindhi Biryani was light (unlike many versions I’ve eaten) and tasty – filled with morsels of tender yoghurt-coated chicken pieces, and scattered with raisins, cashews, fresh coriander and fried onions. Cam wasn’t as enamoured with her 12-hour Pho, though she couldn’t write put her finger on why except to say that it was a bit….beefy. All of that slow cooking no doubt intensified the flavours and I daresay lovers of strong meaty flavours would love it. Our one shared dish of fried Vietnamese chicken spring rolls was light and crispy, and came with a good dipping sauce.
We were too full to sample dessert, and despite our best intentions to return for another meal, we just couldn’t fit it in. We did manage to drop in for cold drinks on our way back to the hotel the next afternoon though, and I have to say that my Ruby Red drink of cranberry and soda was one of the scrummiest drinks I had in Bali. The service was excellent both times, and the experience great value for money. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing, and I’ll just have to be content with waiting for my next trip to Bali to discover some of the other dishes on the menu.
I would heartily recommend Lantern for singles, couples, small groups and families. It’s a small space and you may have to wait for a table, but you can find something to appeal to all tastes on the menu, and you’ll be rewarded with super smiles, delicious food and value for money. Winner!