Selamat Pagi Brings Bali to Brooklyn
Tucked in Greenpoint on Driggs Ave, Selamat Pagi is an Indonesian-influenced addition to the neighborhood, with plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike. The restaurant quietly opened its doors in 2012 by Ben Van Leeuwen, Laura O’Neill, and Pete Van Leeuwen, the trio behind Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. The Indonesian menu is inspired by a series of trips to Bali and Laura O’Neill’s Australian background, where Indonesian food is widespread.
The stylish space features white walls, rustic light wood tabletops, a few thoughtfully placed potted plants and pink fluorescent light accents, emitting a retro-feeling cozy pink glow. The restaurant space was originally designed and built by its founders but underwent a renovation in 2016 led by the Brooklyn architecture firm Carpenter + Mason.
With Polish chef Mateusz Wlodarski at the helm in the kitchen, the menu features a mix of smaller appetizers and larger entrees of traditional Balinese cuisine. The menu ranges from small, comforting items like the sambal deviled eggs to the larger spicy beef rendang, a fantastic rendition of a classic Balinese dish which can conceivably be split between 4 people.
The bar menu, curated by General Manager Taylor Vaught, features a mix of craft beer and wine and some thoughtfully crafted soju cocktails. The Roxanne, for example, is a refreshing elixir of soju, Cocchi Americano Rosa, passion fruit, and lime. Green chili lends a spicy kick to the Killer B soju cocktail made with pineapple, Thai basil, and lime. The menu also has non-alcoholic sodas and mocktails like the Pink Guava and Ginger Soda, Turmeric Tonic, and Kaffir Limeade.
An ideal way to dine at Selamat Pagi is ordering as many dishes as possible among a few friends. The Krupuk + Sambals is Selamat Pagi’s answer to ‘Chips and Dip.’ Sambal is an Indonesian hot sauce or paste traditionally used as a condiment, and this starter item comes with three different flavors: beet, tomato, and lemongrass. The green papaya salad is a refreshing starter item with a turmeric-lime dressing and peanuts. The grilled fish in banana leaf is a beautiful presentation of Thai chili bird rubbed porgy fish. Another standout fish item is the market fish curry, made with tender bluefish, lemongrass, and seasonal vegetables.
The restaurant is open for brunch on weekends, featuring old standby comfort food dishes like banana pancakes, but also dishes like Kaya Toast, topped with coconut jam, soft slow-poached egg, sambal tomat for those of us who are tired of avocado toast. The Bali Bowl is vegan delight served on both the brunch and dinner menu, made with red lentils, housemade coconut yogurt, pineapple chutney, and mint.
The dessert menu isn’t extensive but the good news is that the owners have incorporated Van Leeuwen ice cream flavors on the menu. There are a few other dessert options, including the Sticky Black Rice pudding, which is a surprising study in contrast. The mild nuttiness of the black rice paired with the sweetness of thinly sliced mango and coconut milk makes for a dish that doesn’t taste like a traditional dessert item but feels like the perfect way to end the meal.
Selamat Pagi is located at 152 Driggs Avenue. They are open for dinner every day, 5:30pm – 11pm; and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 4pm.