rijsttafel - a dutch tradition

Rijsttafel is a Dutch tradition that was introduced in the 17th century by the traders from the Dutch West Indies Company as they travelled back to Holland from Indonesia.  Rijsttafel literally translates to 'rice table' and involves multiple small dishes served along with rice.  The idea is to eat little bits of this and that, mixed together to experience different combinations of taste and texture.  A variety of meat and vegetable dishes that are sweet, spicy, sour, crispy, smooth, etc. are served all at the same time.  Sometimes a rijsttafel may involve as many as 40 different dishes, but could be as small as 12 dishes.

Last weekend we made a reservation at Kantjil & de Tijger, a popular Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam.  It turned out to be really busy in there, so it was good we had booked a spot.  We ordered the Rijsttafel Kantjil (12 dishes).  I'll try to remember everything that we tried: rice with a sprinkling of fried onion, hard-boiled egg in spicy coconut sauce, fish and pork satay, vegetables in coconut broth, spicy beef, cabbage salad, shrimp crackers, vegetables with sesame oil, shrimp in a banana leaf, sweet sticky fried potato and toasted coconut with peanuts...ok, I think that's it.

Overall, it was good - I liked being able to try a wide variety of dishes, and I liked being able to mix different things together.  For example: I liked adding a few of the sweet & sticky fried potato slices on top of my spicy beef, and I enjoyed adding the toasted coconut with peanuts to the vegetables or shrimp.  It was a lot of fun to eat this meal, and we were both absolutely stuffed at the end...we couldn't quite finish everything.

We both felt that the meal was overpriced though - it was about 26 euro per person, whereas a plate for one on the menu was around 15 euro, or we could have ordered individual dishes to create our own rijsttafel for a lot less money.  I would definitely go back to Kantjil & de Tijger, but I probably wouldn't order rijsttafel from them again.  The meal was fun though, and it's a neat food concept, so if we can find a good recommendation for another restaurant I would like to try a rijsttafel somewhere else.