The other night H and I reminisced about all the food we’ve enjoyed this year. Where did we have our very best European meals? I think we both agreed that the Rice Table we had in Haarlem was probably at the very tip top of our list.
So, a little history to accompany the food. The Dutch colonized Indonesia as the Dutch East Indies back in the day. Remember learning about spices on boats in history class? While in Indonesia, the Dutch adapted local custom to create the Rijsttafel (rice table) where up to forty side dishes, served in small portions, arrive at the table along with rice. This was to show off the exotic abundance of the country, to enjoy a stunning variety of dishes for a festive banquet.
One rarely finds this in Indonesia today, but the custom lives on in the Netherlands. De Lachende Javaan (The Laughing Javanese) in Haarlem came highly recommended on Trip Advisor and won our business.
Although we made a reservation for 18:30, many tables were available, maybe because Tuesday nights are not as busy. Nonetheless, we were tended to by the sweetest Indonesian man. After H and I ordered rice table for us (the smaller version was about €23 per person) B ordered a beef dish, but the waiter explained that that kind of beef would be in the rice table (and we would surely share), so he suggested something else, which ended up being the right recommendation.
Soon the extra table was added to the side of ours and the racks which held lighted tea lights to keep food warm were brought out, and I wondered who else was coming to eat with us. Such a production! Soon the food arrived, parade-style, with oohs and aahs, and I wondered how it would all get eaten.
I need not have worried, as the portions were just right, but really because the food was SO amazingly delicious. The meat was tender and the sauces so flavorful. The satay sticks melted a little in my mouth. The curries. The vegetables. The salads. I cannot tell you what everything was, but I can say I tried it all.
Anyone have a recommendation for a Rijsttafel in the Los Angeles area?