I was quite tempted to complete this review in just one word. That word is not very kind and my dear mother did not teach me it. She was always more of an ‘If-you-can’t-say-anything-good.’ type and for her profanity was the refuge of sailors and fly-by-nights. So I will attempt to articulate my displeasure in a more constructive form. Alibaba is an Indonesian steakhouse in the moulid of Ababa but it harbors upwardly mobile delusions. Where Abuba is a smoky, spit-and-sawdust canteen, Alibaba is clean, airy and air-conditioned.
So far, so good, you may be thinking. But I ask you to imagine dining in a vacant equipment less hospital surgery or an empty, freshly pressure-hosed swimming pool and you might be forming an image in your mind. The white tiles gleam and reassure you that someone is a dab hand with a scrubbing brush. Small sounds echo. I feel my shoes may have brought microbes in from outdoors. In fact to look down, I can almost see those bacteria multiply all over my Pumas. I know that you will say that I would bitch and moan if it was dirty, and yes, I would. But I have dined in plenty of lived-in places and never had cause to stop and finger the surfaces. This is a dusty country and I think I have got used to it. To be presented with such an emotionally and hygienically sterile environment was rather like being dropped into a Cafe World Facebook game played by a tweaking crystal meth addict. It makes McDonalds feel like your friendly neighborhood cottage industry.
To put it a little more clearly, imagine you are watching Indonesian TV and there is a comedy show on. The set is of a kampung (village) with the characters standing outside the facade of a house and the usual visual comedy hilarity ensues. This is when the famed ‘willing suspense of disbelief’ kicks in and you somehow indulge them that they are not on a set in a television studio but in the supposed environs. That’s how Alibba feels but without the willingness to disbelieve. It feels like it was knocked together by an obsessive compulsive set designer with no sense of the organic. I know none of this will carry through in the photos, but you know how you make snap judgements based on instinct and little else? That feeling 100% colored my view of the place. Ah yes, the food. I ordered chicken wings. 6 1/2 out of 10. Cooked all the way through, spicy and left me sticky-fingered (and -faced). Served with an imaginary garnish of oxygen. 4 chicken wings ona plate. Would a lettuce leaf have killed you? Maybe you will go along and have a whale of a time. I felt like I was in a Singaporean candid camera show. Good luck to you.