Times critic Pete Wells has mixed feelings about French-Indonesian restaurant Wayan: In his two-star review out today, he praises chef Cedric Vongerichten’s menu of contrasting flavors, colors, textures, and techniques — but criticizes the food’s inconsistent quality and notes toned down flavors.
The pork skewers, for instance, cooked on a flattop instead of a grill, are “appealingly juicy and savory” one week but “bitter” the next, Wells writes. He recommends the Jimbaran-style clams instead, flavored with soy sauce and garlic paste and grilled under a “crust of coconut,” though he says the dish is more like the ones sold by seafood vendors on touristy Balinese beaches rather than a staple of Indonesian fare.
On the nasi goreng and gado gado, he notes:
There had better be nasi goreng at any restaurant that is even playing at being Indonesian. There is, the rice fried just until it crackles a bit between your teeth. It has a gentle but genuine spice undercurrent that would be welcome in more of the cooking. Of course there is a gado gado, and this being 2019, of course the main ingredient is avocado; the hard-cooked eggs belong to quail. This time the peanut dressing isn’t cloying or clumpy.
Wells points out that Wayan doesn’t fully pay tribute to Indonesian cuisine, though the cultural references are “more specific” here than other fusion-y places, whose decor and menus are frequently “mindless and out of touch.” Eater critic Ryan Sutton similarly points out how the restaurant doesn’t entirely stick to Indonesian cuisine in his two-star review, saying he was disappointed that the chef ignored the many “brilliant Southeast Asian crab dishes” to instead serve a ubiquitous crabcake with cucumbers and sprouts. Two stars.