When Babel first opened, I couldn’t wait to try it. This was strictly based on the view of the 2nd floor restaurant from walking past on Orion Street (the spiky, white chandelier-like things are just so oshare). Then I learned that they served fondue, and then I REALLY had to try it.
So I went.
First off, they apparently got rid of the fondue quite quickly. It wasn’t on the menu, and when I asked, the waitress said they stopped serving it. Well, that’s disappointing, but I could give some other food a shot. So I did. Between one friend and I, we ordered a pasta dish and a lamb dish to share. They also had an extensive cocktail list (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and I ordered an interesting, sweet, non-alcoholic drink.
The drinks came, along with quite a large side-salad, which was fairly good. The drink, however, just tasted like milk with some flavored syrup in it–I guess I should have maybe seen this coming, but it was still another disappointment. The pasta came about 10-15 minutes later, and it was good. Nothing special, although that’s how I tend to feel with most Japanese spaghetti-based dishes (usually cheap noodles in a simple cream sauce). Then we waited for the lamb.
While we were waiting, I paid attention to the music playing. While the interior screams “chic and modern,” the music was an ironic type of hip hop that, based on what was being said in the lyrics, would definitely not be allowed in any <18 establishment in America. It was quirky and grew on me for a bit, but I couldn’t help laughing every now and then.
Then we were still waiting.
For the lamb.
The restaurant wasn’t particularly crowded–it was just us and a small group celebrating something near the bar–probably about 10% of the full capacity the restaurant could hold.
Eventually, I flagged the waitress and asked what was taking so long, afraid that somehow our order had been forgotten. She disappeared to check in on our food for a moment, then came back about 5 minutes later to say that our lamb would be about 10 more minutes. With no apology. Even in the US, you’d get something like “We are so sorry for the wait, it will be about 10 more minutes,” so in ever customer>god hyper-apologetic Japan, getting just a “It’ll be about 10 more minutes” was a bit jarring. Whether it actually was 10 minutes or not, I’ve forgotten, but it honestly felt more like 20.
Eventually, after over an hour of waiting (and no apology ever), our small plate of lamb came out. Now, I will say that it was good, but it was also cold–like they really HAD forgotten and just quickly decided to cook it up, or like they had made it 30 minutes before and let it sit there. Definitely not worth the wait.
I still give the place props for the cool look, but based on the treatment, I can’t recommend you go here for anything more than a casual drink. Babel was for sure not up to professional standards–and according to one other disappointed customer posting on Jalan, I’m not the only one who feels so.
Hours: 5pm-1am (Fri. and Sat. until 2am)