- Tord Feb 17, 2000 06:15 AM
WM said -----
"And doing the Indonesian "rijstaffel" is really fun. It's like a big sampler table of the different dishes like ayam goreng, sate and gado gado. A bit costly, but definitely worth a try."
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When you come to Boston this will be a bit of a problem for you. There is only one place I know of up here that offers a rijstaffel - the Andover Inn in Andover just north of Boston. They only offer it on Sundays and you have to reserve. For a while there was a small Indonesian restaurant in Somerville which advertised a rijstaffel - but they didn't last. Several Malaysian restaurants have done well, however, and are worth a try. You can get Ayam Goreng, Sate and Gado Gado in these places. I tend to make these dishes at home.
We discussed rijstaffels a bit on the International Board - focusing on Amsterdam. The rijstaffel apparently was a Dutch invention - a combination of many dishes native to Indonesia during Dutch colonial rule.
If you have several Indonesian restaurants in Houston offering a rijstaffel that is better than Boston has. Is there a Burmese restaurant down there? We used to have one near Northeastern University in Boston and one down in the Combat Zone near Chinatown, Both have been closed for a few years. What about Sri Lankan food? A full on Lebanese Meza?
Boston has a decent population of Russians with several Russian restaurants and deli's over in Allston/Brighton. Are there Russian places in Houston? Do you have a Swedish restaurant? I know that Houston can have excellent shrimp - Boston has a problem with that.
Boston lacks a decent Roadkill Restaurant - you have to go to Maine for that. If you manage to hit a moose up there, that is a jackpot kill and you have to eat the whole thing before they let you leave the state.
To get into Boston culture you should rent "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" --- a Robert Mitchum film. It's about my neighborhood and a lot more realistic than the new Boston movie - "Boondocks Saints".
As Tord just mentioned, "rijstaffel" is basically a Dutch creation. It was more or less "expat food" -- what the nobility and diplomatic core were eating, either in the East Indies, or bringing back to Holland. In fact, when I first had South African food, I was shocked at how similar it was. A bunch of flourescent curries, nestled in between the ostrich and wildebeest!!
Anyway, the two cents I want to put in here are that after two years in Jakarta, I can only recall ONE restaurant serving "rijstaffel", at least under such a name. Obviously "lunch set" -- when it consists of a bunch of dishes and rice -- is pretty much the same. According to the Indonesians I know, the term is used more to describe the style of PRESENTATION (one course at a time; each brought by a *different* waitress), than the actual contents.
I too know only of the one at the Andover Inn. It is an interesting place to experience old New England aristocracy (it is part of a prep school), but in spite of any parallels to Dutch Colonialism, it is hardly the setting for Indonesian food!! And we didn't think it was too hot, to boot!! How they ever came up with THIS idea, I'll never know....
I too would be interested in any Sindomal recommendations in the area....
re: julie id
Julie wrote ---
"I too would be interested in any Sindomal recommendations in the area...."
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The word "Sindomal" is not in my large Oxford Dictionary. I ran it on several search engines on the net and none of them had any reference to the word "Sindomal". The closest reference I found was for sindom -- "the shroud that the body of Christ was wrapped in." If that is the case, the recommendation would be to use linen as a body wrap and try not to eat supper with anyone named Judas.
Thanks for the report on the Andover Inn's rijstaffel. I have no idea why they do it --- but I suppose one could ask. The Penang is in the Boston Combat Zone -- which may be more like Jakarta? The walk from the Chinatown T stop is always interesting -- the ladies of the evening make life fun. I often ask them about Christ -- if they have his power to raise the dead. I have ED and Viagra does nothing. Perhaps I could try a sindom wrap from the "naked college girls" place. It worked for Jesus.
Although, that "shroud of Turin" stuff sounds pretty good, too!! Sorry to put you to so much work with the search engines....
I want to add "a.k.a. Nonya", but I imagine someone in the know will draw a distinction. Besides, I can't recall anyone ever USING the term over there -- it's a known ethnic group, but "Nonya cuisine" seems to be exclusively in the ENGLISH cookbooks and menus. You see it in Singapore a lot -- mostly in hotels -- but never on the Malay menus, and rarely on the Chinese ones.
Actually, I may have had the original term wrong. Perhaps it was "Simalindo" instead that the papers over there use. But "Sindomal" sounds better....
re: julie id
Why not Baba? Or do the Singaporean males make a condemned woman cook her last meal --- too?
We had a great little Singaporean restaurant named the Merlion down near Ming's in the South End. My wife and I got to know the cook/owner -- Chua --- well. It broke our hearts when he quit. He did Nonya stuff --even though he was a Baba.