Amazing Indonesian Restaurants in Amsterdam

The history of the Netherlands has produced a rich Indonesian food culture that can surprise and delight. Parallel explores the colourfully spicy side of eating in Amsterdam.

The Netherlands and Indonesia go way back. For more than 300 years, Indonesia was a Dutch colony, eventually gaining its independence in 1942. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch East India Company supplied most of the world with nutmeg, mace, clove and black pepper from the lush, incredibly diverse Indonesian archipelago. The result was that Indonesian food’s greatest hits made their way back to the Netherlands. In that passage back to the old country, Dutch cooks created a version of an Indonesian feast from dozens of miniature portions of Indonesia’s regional foods. The Dutch called this marathon meal rijsttafel or ‘rice table’. As a result, you’ll also find Indonesian ingredients like boemboe, sambal and ketjap in any old Dutch grocery store to this day. Ask any Dutch person about patat met satesaus (French fries served with a large dollop of creamy peanut sauce) and they’ll likely point you to the nearest shop. So if you’re on the lookout for some Dutch cuisine of a different kind, here’s a few Indo-Dutch foodie essentials.

Fall in love with Café Amoi’s decor while you dine
 
Café Amoi
Relatively new to the scene is Café Amoi , the ‘little sister’ (or amoi) of the infamous and now sadly defunct Indonesian restaurant Sarang Mas. This is a refreshing take on the city’s Indonesian heritage. A warm glow immediately envelops you here; there are lush green walls and rattan chairs setting the tone, while bright design accents provide a modern touch.
 
Come for the food, stay for the impeccable surroundings
 

Start by ordering an Indonesian-inspired cocktail, like ‘Bobby’s Gin and Tonic’ with orange and clove, before digging into a whole host of shareable dishes. Co-founder Willemijn Koppelman suggests the satay kambing (spicy lamb skewers), the udang blado (grilled shrimp with fresh tomatoes and chillies) and the daging rendang (slow-cooked beef in a spicy coconut sauce).

Sie-Joe
Another well-known spot among Indonesians in Amsterdam is this small all-day eatery hidden behind the Nieuwe Kerk. Run by the same Chinese-Indonesian family for over 20 years, the tiny and unassuming Sie-Joe serves a smaller selection of traditional dishes like nasi goreng (fried rice) and satay (skewers) that are sure to please. They don’t take reservations and only have 15 spots, so getting a table might be tricky - but believe us, it’s definitely worth it!

Tempo Doeloe
Food critic Anthony Bourdain stopped by this restaurant on his 24-hour layover in Amsterdam, so you know it must be good. For decades, Tempo Doeloe has been a popular, slightly more elegant (and pricier) place to indulge in rijsttafel. They serve three different kinds but their most famous is the rijsttafel istimewa. This amazing, spicy menu consists of a range of popular dishes like gadon dari sapi, a beef dish seasoned with coconut and coriander; ajam bali, which is chicken in a sweet soy sauce with red peppers and tomato. The gado gado is great too - a vegetable-based Indonesian staple that comes in a killer spicy peanut sauce.

Eat to your heart’s desire with The Mangkok lunch special at Kantjil & De Tijger


Kantjil & De Tijger
Located in the heart of Amsterdam for more than 25 years, Kantjil & De Tijger is an Indo-Dutch classic. The restaurant serves four variations of rijsttafels, each with at least 12 different dishes and flavours that range from sweet to intensely spicy. The Mangkok lunch special gets you a full meal of rice or noodles, vegetables and a meat of your choice for just EUR 10.95.

Afternoon tea, Indo-Dutch style

Another good deal is Asian High Tea and Asian High Wine, which is a selection of sweet and savoury snacks with either a pot of tea or a pitcher of house wine. They also have a takeout corner next door if you’re more up for sampling something on the go.
 
Sari Citra also does quick bites if you’re on the go.

Sari Citra
“They cook like my mother does,” says Alfan Asyari, Kantjil & De Tijger’s manager, of the unpretentious takeaway spot Sari Citra, in the neighbourhood of De Pijp. ‘Sari Citra’ means ‘authenticity’ in Indonesian and there’s really no better way to describe this small, no-nonsense restaurant that’s been serving locals since 1996.
 
Enjoy the best yellow rice in the city at Sari Citra
 
Their most famous dish is probably the Nasi Koening Ibunda, which is a plate topped with Indonesian delicacies including yellow rice and fried tofu tempeh. Another amazing dish is beef rendang and Lontong Tjampoer, which is compressed rice cakes with numerous Indonesian meat and vegetable specialties. Sit by the window to watch the bicycles, trams and tourists pass by on Ferdinand Bolstraat.

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