Savory Morsels

The Culinary Adventures of a California Girl

Thursday, September 14, 2006

***September 14, 2006: Tempo Doeloe***

Tempo Doeloe
Utrechtsestraat 75
I’d never had Indonesian food before coming to Amsterdam, so I was extremely excited to get to taste this new cuisine. After lots of debating between the various restaurants the city had to offer, I took my concierge’s advice and booked a table at Tempo Doeloe. I was happy to see that this cutely decorated compact place was filled to the brim, and I didn’t mind our 20 minute wait at the bar for our table (I hate empty restaurants)! The only thing that slightly worried me were how many of the conversations I overheard were in English; I am afraid that this place might be slightly tourist overrun, although that does not necessarily mean a loss in quality!
After a set menu the previous night at De Kas, I was happy to get the opportunity to order my own dinner. However – the menu is huge! It’s important to realize that by discussing what sounds appealing with your waitress, she can mix and match dishes from the al a carte and set menus in order to create a meal that includes everything you want to try. Needless to say our waitress was very friendly and very accommodating; it makes sense why tourists feel comfortable coming here!
From Chowhound recommendations I knew I had to start with the goat skewers and that I should be cautious about how much spice I asked for. While the goat skewers were quite good, the portion was small and I would not suggest ordering them 'mild' because they had basically no heat (almost to the point of being bland). I’d love to go back and try them medium or even fully spicy! We also started with crispy dough wrapped beef. They were basically crepes filled with minced beef and while there were some interesting spices and we finished them off quickly – it was once again a small portion and I wasn’t blown away with the flavors.
Our main course definitely made up for the small portion sizes of the first courses. My main was four shrimp – 2 cooked in a tomato ginger sauce and 2 cooked in a coconut based curry.

I found the shrimp to be tasty and fresh, but slightly over cooked (they were a little dry) and once again slightly bland. However, I wasn't particularly hungry that night and they were exactly the light main course I had in mind when I ordered. Our other main course was called the meat trio and you were allowed to pick three meat preparations off the menu. They came in separate little dishes, with a collection of vegetables such as green beans and salad, and a big bowl of saffron rice. It was almost like a small rice table. The three meats were a coconut-cream and chili chicken (very spicy- finally!), slow cooked pork, and beef with a light curry. I was very satisfied with all three of the flavorful, moist meats and I was so happy to finally have some spice! I think these three meat preparations were probably the best part of the meal. My favorite was definitely the beef and I tried to sneak as much onto my plate as possible while my dinner companion wasn’t looking! Our mains made me think that maybe we should have ordered the rice table after all!

For dessert we ordered the mango dish (mango slices, mango sauce, and mango ice cream) and the cinnamon ice cream. The desserts come overly decorated (imo) on huge plates. Be aware that the coconut ice cream, while really good, is not just a bowl of ice cream – but two scoops of ice cream along with quite a collection of tropical fruits. I also received a complimentary slice of the Indonesian layered cake because I had simply asked what it was. Both desserts were quite good, I actually really appreciated the unexpected fruit – I love fresh fruit – and I could have eaten an entire pint of that cinnamon ice cream.
Overall I we enjoyed our dinner and have already recommended it to others. The atmosphere was lively, the staff couldn’t have been friendlier, and the food was good. I have a hard time rating the quality of the meal because I have no other experience with Indonesian cuisine to compare it to. I’ve also heard Indonesian food described as blander Thai food – so maybe the lack of spice was actually authentic. I’m also not sure we did the best job at ordering. I would definitely be more than happy to (and I plan to) try Indonesian food both here and anywhere else I can find it!


Anonymous Joost said...

Hello. I live in Amsterdam and know Tempo Doeloe quite well. It used to be a pretty nice restaurant. But then they decided to become a tourist restaurant. They have almost no other customers than tourists. Tourist restaurants, in general, you pay a high price for not so good food. Not bad food, just not so good. These restaurants live through tourist books that do not check and through tourists who do not know the good restaurants, so they recommend places like this. There are some very nice Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam. This is, sadly, not one of them.

9:24 AM  

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