Amsterdam cuisine usually elicits thoughts of pancakes and french fries. And that’s entirely accurate. Therefore, you may be surprised by the popularity, even ubiquity, of Indonesian rice tables in Amsterdam. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the history linking the two countries.
When Dutch colonists explored the archipelago now known as Indonesia, the way in which Indonesians prepared food and the diversity of cuisine and spices enthralled them. To celebrate this abundance, Indonesian colonials created this elaborate feast called “rijsttafel.”
Indonesian rice tables: the 411
“Rijsttafel” is the original Dutch term given to this dining event, translating into “rice table.” Although, don’t take the name too seriously, as rice is only one of the many components comprising an Indonesian rice table in Amsterdam. This meal entails a buffet of varied Indonesian-style meat, vegetable and fish dishes served in appetizer-sized portions for easy sharing.
What to expect at an Indonesian rice table in Amsterdam
Over 1,000 islands populate Indonesia, so the cuisine encompasses many wide-ranging styles. That said, all Indonesian cooking is widely recognized for the intention and hard labor they put into preparing food and the freshness and diversity of ingredients. Frankly, it’s mind-boggling.
Generally speaking, anticipate multiple courses consisting of some version of chicken soup with noodles, stewed vegetables, fresh vegetable salad served with a unique dressing, crispy fried fish, grilled fish, grilled chicken, various styles of pork and beef marinated and dressed in an array of sautéed sauces. And, of course, plenty of rice.
Traditionally made by hand with a simple mortar and pestle, sweet peanut sauce complements just about everything. But the sauce selection doesn’t end there. Other sauces you’re sure to encounter at your Indonesian rice table include spicy, sweet soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and curry. Garlic, ginger and onion, along with native spices bold in flavor make up the base sauces for most dishes.
My rijsttafel recommendation
Of the myriad options, I find myself returning time and again to Tempo Doeloe. With reasonable prices, good service and an easy-going atmosphere, Templo Doeloe continues doing it right.