Restaurant Review - Senang
Feature Story Xp Bonaire IslandLife
We love new restaurants, so as soon as we get the chance to book a table and try new foods we will. Senang, the new "Oriental" restaurant (we wonder about this somewhat outdated word choice on the menu), located at the side entrance of Delfins Beach Resort, was therefore high on our wish list to try.
The recently introduced reservation procedure of calling, giving your email to confirm your reservations online, but never receiving an email to confirm, is very cumbersome, but in the end, we managed to get a table. You would expect a packed restaurant after such a procedure, but perhaps because of the same procedure, it was very quiet.
The founders of Senang are Jonny and Thérèse Boer, known for the Michelin star restaurant, De Librije in Zwolle, The Netherlands, but on Bonaire, they are mainly known for Brass Boer, the excellent restaurant that is also located on the Delfins Resort site. Big names, so our expectations were high.
We enter a very tasteful ambiance, where subtle Asian bamboo and orchid details have been thoughtfully combined with high-tech equipment. The staff are dressed in a southeast Asian style uniform and are extremely friendly and competent hosts.
Our food choice
We immediately get a bite on the table in the form of prawn crackers with a dipping sauce. After studying the menu, we wonder how broadly the term “Oriental” is taken. Very broad, it turns out when we are served the Senang table we ordered. This table can be ordered for 2 people or more and consists of steamed rice with 6 dishes varying from middle to far eastern dishes, some classic, well-known dishes and fusion creations.
What strikes us is that the dishes differ quite a bit in temperature. The Thai mussels were very hot and small. Small can, of course, be due to the season, but in this case, cooked too long and therefore very rubbery in texture. A comment about this resulted in a return trip to the kitchen, but strangely enough, nothing was returned. The classically named Rendang was on the dry side, not very warm and not what you expect a Rendang to be, maybe more like a fusion beef stew. We wouldn't call it a disappointment, but blindfolded, it wouldn't be recognizable as an Indonesian, nor a Malaysian dish.
The four other dishes, (Turkish) Börek, pastry filled with lamb, (Chinese) Char Siu, barbequed pork, (Pacific) Black Cod fish and (Asian /Mediterranean/ North African) Eryngii , king oyster mushrooms, are also lukewarm. All dishes are fine to eat, but more so, if you are not familiar with Asian dishes that are not westernized. This also applies to the small side dishes - a yoghurt sauce for the Börek, 6 small pieces of pickle and a kind of atjar, that, in our opinion, was incorrectly called Kimchi.
Normally we only share one dessert, but because we hadn't chosen an appetizer and the Senang table wasn't lavish, we chose 2 desserts. The classic Asian favorite, sticky rice with coconut and spicy mango and an Apple Gyoza with vanilla ice cream, where it wasn’t clear if it wanted to be fried or steamed. Both tasty, but, here too, the real Eastern finishing touch is missing.
As mentioned, expectations were high, partly because there is a big name at the base of this beautiful establishment. The girl serving our table made up for a lot with her adequate way of working and her cheerful, humorous demeanor, but we cannot help feeling that in the kitchen, the authentic flavors are subordinate to the speed and maybe food cost. And that's a shame, because with a little more attention, Senang would be a unique experience on Bonaire.
Of course, this is a snapshot. The menu offers a large variety of dishes and we have only tried a few. For the Asian food connoisseur and lover of Asian classics, don’t expect it to taste or be served the way you know it. When you enjoy different flavors and spices without expecting anything specific, it is enjoyable and you should experience the journey and take in the very tasteful ambiance. The spacious parking lot close by makes a visit to this restaurant very comfortable and, for the wine lover, besides the regular wines, they offer an excellent wine list from their other restaurant, Brass Boer, that gives you plenty of choice. Our conclusion, if you want something different from an average restaurant for a reasonable price and you don't expect real authentic food, an evening in Senang is recommended.