Balan’s is generally known for their breakfasts. They usually get overall good reviews for food, but bad for service – which generally is how breakfast places go. I, however, went for dinner on a Sunday night. My friend and I were thinking Thai food in Soho, but Busaba Eathai was too busy. We found ourselves starved and walking down Old Compton Street and Balan’s seemed good enough.
As we walked in, I realised that this was probably the most flamboyant restaurant I’ve ever been in. I mean, if the location wasn’t a dead giveaway, the zebra-printed walls complemented by purple flourescent light certainly were. Plus, I could never get the attention of any of the waiters, but my male friend seemed to get along just fine! I had fun teasing him about that.
We were seated and brought some delicious warm assorted breads with some sort of bitter tomato salsa that I’ll definitely avoid next time.
The dinner menu at Balan’s is a bit all over the place. No doubt, you’ll be able to find anything you think you’re in the mood for. On the starter menu, you’ll see the Greek nibbles situated next to the Quesadillas, for example. The menu is huge too – I counted 21 different main dishes.
We skipped starters, and headed for the main course. I went with a Swordfish with black bean rice, tempura shrimp papaya mango salsa:
The swordfish was prepared medium rare, which was perfect. The black bean rice was just ok – a bit dry. While the mango salsa helped out the dryness, the dish needed more of it. I did get a second ramekin of it though, which made things a lot better. The tempura prawn was brilliant – just wish there was one or two more of them. I could have done with less swordfish and rice, and more salsa and prawns. It’s going in the right direction, it just needs a bit more balance.
My friend, with Busaba still on the brain, went for Thai Curry with Shrimp:
I love all the colours that come in this dish. It just looks lovely. Stir-fried Thai spices, onions, peppers, cashews, and coconut cream with egg noodles, this dish was a lot spicier than I thought it would be. That’s a good thing. Apart from the non-menu-listed cucumbers, the noodles were a winner.
Balan’s is pretty good. Not the greatest, not the worst. I do love, however, that the dining room is open till midnight (turned more bar scene after that). It’s perfect if you’re out late, but still want to sit down to a meal. Keep Balan’s in your back pocket for such an occaision, but don’t go out of your way when there are other restaurants in Soho open and not busy.