Compared to other Asian cuisines such as Japanese, Indian, and Chinese, Indonesian cuisine is less popular and widespread. In recent years, however, Indonesian fare has made its way into the dining scene of nearly every major city in the world. One of the cities that has a strong Indonesian cuisine presence is Amsterdam.
Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for over three centuries, which resulted in an influx of Indonesian immigrants coming to the Netherlands and bringing the local cuisine with them. Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to find Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam – whether you’re looking for a deli-like style or a more sophisticated dining experience.
Must-try Indonesian Dishes in the City
Indonesian cuisine has a special place in the Dutch dining scene due to the countries’ shared history. The following are some of the most common Indonesian dishes that you will encounter in Amsterdam:
- Rijsttafel: The most popular Indonesian dish in the Netherlands, rijsttafel literally means “rice table” and is a large meal of rice with small portions of meats and vegetables.
- Satay: This Indonesian favorite consists of spiced meat skewered on a stick and cooked over a grill. It is usually served with a peanut sauce known as satésaus.
- Tempeh: Tempehis a cake-like food made out of fermented soybeans, usually served fried.
- Spekkoek: A Dutch-Indonesian creation, spekkoekis a spiced layer cake with hints of cinnamon, clove, and ginger.
- Loempia: The Indonesian version of spring rolls is loempia. This is a combination of meat, vegetables and noodles wrapped in rice paper and deep-fried until crispy. Usually served with sweet and sour chili sauce.
- Sambal: This spicy sauce is made from ground chili and is used either for cooking or as a condiment.
- Kroepoek: Puffy fried prawn crackers called kroepoekare normally served as appetizers or occasionally as a side dish.
- Rendang: Rendangis a traditional Indonesian dish of meat (typically red meat such as beef or lamb) cooked in various spices and coconut milk and generally served with rice (or sometimes with noodles).
- Gado-gado: This is a must-try Indonesian dish consisting of vegetables served with peanut sauce. Aside from vegetables, gado-gadoalso contain potatoes, tempeh or tofu, and hardboiled egg.
- Nasi goreng: Nasi means “rice” in Indonesian and nasi goreng is essentially stir-fried rice with meat, vegetables, spices, and sauce. It is considered Indonesia’s national dish and is either served with other dishes or eaten on its own.
Best Indonesian Restaurants in Amsterdam
No dining experience in Amsterdam would be complete without sampling authentic Indonesian fare. For a trouble-free dining experience, don’t forget to stow away your things at an Amsterdam luggage storage facility. Below are some of the amazing Indonesian restaurants that you have to try when in the city:
- Restaurant Blauw: Arguably Amsterdam’s most famous Indonesian restaurant, Blauw serves classic Indonesian dishes with a modern twist. Despite its location outside of town, locals and tourists flock to the restaurant to sample delicious Indonesian cuisine. At Blauw, you can create your own rijsttafelor choose from the a la carte menu.
- Tempo Doeloe: This small but bustling Indonesian restaurant is considered one of the best spots in Amsterdam to get Even the late Anthony Bourdain stopped by here during his layover in Amsterdam, so you know it’s worth the visit. The restaurant has a traditional Indonesian menu and you get to choose the level of spice for your food. Note that it can get busy here, so it’s best to reserve a table beforehand.
- Sampurna: Sampurna is located in the heart of the city and is a favorite among locals and tourists, having been in operation for over 25 years. The menu consists of traditional Indonesian dishes served in small and large portions and the rates are quite affordable.
- Kantjil & De Tijger: Another Indonesian restaurant that has been around for some time, Kantjil & De Tijger is a beloved dining spot that features two areas – one area for takeout meals and one for a full-service dine-in option. The spot has variations of the classic rijsttafelas well as rice bowls and other to-go meals. You can book a table at the restaurant here.
- Café AMOI: The sister restaurant of the now-defunct Sarang Mas, Café AMOI has instantly become a favorite for those looking for authentic Indonesian fare in Amsterdam. While they serve virtually all the Indonesian staples, the star of their menu is their gado-gado,arguably the best in the city.
- Sari Citra: Found in the De Pijp neighborhood, Sari Citra is a tiny, no-frills takeaway restaurant that’s well-beloved by locals. The restaurant, whose name means “authenticity” in Indonesian, stays true to its name by serving authentic Indonesian dishes.
- Blue Pepper: One of the fancier Indonesian joints in Amsterdam, Blue Pepper essentially serves the classic rijsttafel in fine dining form. The restaurant offers set menus featuring classic Indonesian fare, prepared using contemporary techniques. They even offer candlelit dinner cruises where you can enjoy excellent food while cruising through Amsterdam’s beautiful canals. To learn more about the available dining options, visit the restaurant’s official website.
- Tujuh Maret: This homey, family-run restaurant is also prominent among locals because of their fine selection of Indonesian classics that revolve around meat, fish, and noodles.
- JUN: Located near the Jordaan district, JUN is relatively new to the city’s Indonesian food scene but has already built a reputation as a must-try dining spot in Amsterdam. Like most Indonesian spots, JUN is known for its rijsttafel However, diners can also find some authentic Indonesian dishes that are hard to find in the city, such as the soto ayam(chicken broth with aromatic spices) and ayam tengkleng (chicken cooked in yellow sauce and spices). You can see JUN’s full menu here.
Mama Makan: Founded by Indonesian native Mama Rosmina, Mama Makan offers a wide array of authentic Indonesian dishes. Located within the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam, the restaurant has an excellent food and drink selection and guests may avail dishes with unique beer or wine pairings. Apart from its fantastic menu, Mama Makan has also earned a reputation for its beautiful dining rooms and a lively dining atmosphere. Bestsellers include Mama’s signature rijsttafels, the tongseng kambing (lamb stew), and spicy rendang.