Easter time was Amsterdam time for us! I’d been looking forward to our first visit to the low country city and I’d been really looking forward to a rijsttafel meal. This Dutch-Indonesian meal is made up of lots of different dishes that fill up entire table and which are served with rice (the name itself translates to ‘rice table’ in Dutch). While there are similar rice and lots of dishes meals in Indonesia (see nasi padang or tumpeng), rijsttafel is truly Dutch-Indonesian.
While researching Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam, I eventually decided to skip the usual places and go somewhere a little more modern. Blauw seemed just what I was looking for and had great reviews too. On the evening we arrived in the city, we ended up hustling to make our reservation due to a tram jam but luckily they held our table for us. The restaurant is made up of many layers of levels; to reach our table upstairs, we first had to go down then up!
Our table was already set with a generously filled basket of prawn crackers and two chilli-based dips. The chilli sauce was fine but it was the sambal that triggered childhood memories, despite the ingredients needing a longer cooking down. As we were absolutely starving after our journey (we took the Eurostar and changed at Brussels for a Thalys train to Amsterdam), we made short work of these.
Of course we ordered the rijsttafel (€31,25 per person) and after a while our table was set with a plethora of dishes (there were so many that our waiter had to come to our table twice to fill it up). (Do click through on the photo below to see all the dishes labelled in Flickr.)
It was made up of 18 different little dishes of a good variety of things. On the warming plate were pork, beef, and fish dishes – I loved the babi ketjap on the far left and the fish dishes on the right. The rendang served was also very good. And at the bottom right was the original Indonesian version of sayur lodeh and despite it looking all white and insipid, it was full of flavour – fantastic!
There were two types of satay – a chicken one with peanut sauce and a lamb one coated in a thick sweet kecap manis sauce (the latter is traditionally Indonesian and a variety I’d not come across before – I want to learn more).
Fried bananas, the famous Indonesian gado gado and sweet and spicy fried potato sticks (sambal goreng kentang) all made great accompaniments.
There were a pair of bergedil (fried meat and potato patties), a refreshing pickled cucumber salad, a sugared toasted coconut accompaniment called seroendeng, eggs in a spiced nutty sauce and fried tofu in a kecap manis based sauce. Two kinds of rice - putih (white) and goreng (fried) - to eat with everything completed the meal.
We doubted our abilities to finish it all but we shouldn’t have worried! That’s not to say there wasn’t enough food – we were utterly stuffed! If anything, it just shows what pigs we are. While we could tell that the flavours of the dishes were muted (under the assumption that Indonesian food can be as highly spiced as Malaysian food), this didn’t stop us from having a grand time at Blauw.
We even managed to fit in a dessert. Es ketan hitam is the traditional black rice cooked with coconut milk and here served with a pandan ice cream. The dessert portion was a little on the small side for €7,75 but it was just right for two who had stuffed themselves on rijsttafel.
Service was excellent with everything explained to us, waiters happy to answer our questions, and our never feeling rushed. So, yes, I’d recommend Blauw for Indonesian food if you’re ever in Amsterdam. If you’re not up for all that food, you can order a la carte and each dish comes with the two types of rice, seroendeng, sayur lodeh, sweet and spicy fried potato sticks, and pickled cucumbers.
(Restaurant Blauw Amsterdam)
1075 XN Amsterdam
For Indonesian food in London, I’ve only tried the Indonesia Mini Market. Does anyone else have any other recommendations please?