After a wonderful day in Amsterdam we’re hungry and excited to get to our dinner booking. Restaurant Johannes is in pretty little canal house. Inside the decor is simple, white gallery like space with black leather chairs and timber tables. We are seated at a little table near the bar. Our young waitress comes to take our order and it’s clear she is quite new and inexperienced with customer service of any type. I can’t put my finger on it but something is off here. The head waiter seems frustrated and is arguing with floor staff, the energy is tense, awkward, making it very hard to relax.
Our first dish arrives and it is visually nice but the flavour is not there. I’m not sure I have ever felt quite so uncomfortable. We look at each other and without words we agree…..it’s time to go. We ask for the bill and leave immediately. Maybe it was an off night for the staff, for Chef Tommy, but either way it didn’t have to be a bad night for us. Sometimes it’s ok to say no.
We walk for a while relieved to have made the call to leave. The evening is gorgeous and I’m mesmerised by all the colourful lights reflected on the water of the canals. We finally end up back on our home canal and from outside our hotel we can see a few restaurants across the other side of the canal.
Authentic Indian & Indonesian Food – Vijaya, Yes!
We make our way over there, peer in a few windows and decide on a little indian / indonesian place, Vijaya. It’s small but bright and colourful swathed in red and gold. Our waiter shows us to a little table and we immediately relax, there is no pretension, the young man looking after us is so happy and I sense a pride in what he is doing.
Having a wonderful time enjoying food is what we love to do and following our instincts has brought us here tonight. We choose the Rijsttafel ( indonesian rice table) and sit back happily waiting for our meal to arrive. How exciting, this is something that I had heard of that I definitely wanted to try while we were in Amsterdam. I am fascinated with the history of it. The wonderful flavours and spices of the indonesian cuisine is still such a strong influence in the Dutch culture from the days of the Dutch East Indies when indonesia had been a colony of the Netherlands.
While the food is indonesian, the Rijsttafel is a completely Dutch Idea, created by the Dutch colonials to showcase the flavours and abundance of the colony. Our young man comes and sets our table up with little burners to keep dishes warm. Before we know it dishes start to arrive.
Plain rice and yellow rice are followed by dear little portions, Ayam Rujak ( chilli chicken and coconut), Ikan Bumbu Bali, wonderfully fragrant balinese style fish tangy with lime juice). Gado-gado, (a stunning vegetable dish, beans cabbage tofu potato and egg with a sensational peanut chilli dressing), Sayur Lodeh a gorgeous coconut vegetable soupy curry, Daging Semur (rich and deeply flavoured sliced beef ), Daging Rendang ( beef rendang), Saté Kambing (fragrant lamb and coriander). Yummy little accompaniments are brought; serundeng (crispy shredded coconut and peanut), Krupuk (shrimp crackers), Acar Campur (pickled vegies). It all looks wonderful.
We start to eat, so so good. Then the dishes keep coming, dish after dish, taste after taste.
Ayam Opor ( gorgeous coconut milk chicken), Saté ayam (indonesian sate sticks), Urapan (a Javanese vege dish), Kerrie Tahoe ( tofu Curry ), Sambal Goreng Telor ( the most amazing spicy coated eggs), Sambal Goreng Buncis (spicy green beans), Tempé Kering (spicy fried tempe).
What a fun colourful way to try lots of interesting flavors. So many dishes but thankfully in dainty little bowls, just a taste of each. After a brief false start we have brought the evening home in our typical, everything always works out for us style!
We walk out into the beautiful evening and pause for a moment. Amsterdam is so pretty at night and I’m suddenly all emotional. It feels so special to be standing on a canal looking across the sparkling water at our little canal house hotel just across the way. How life has changed, how I have grown. Yes, everything is definitely working out!