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May 8, 2014 09:21 PM

Rijstafel in Bay Area

I am looking for good Indonesian Rijstafel in Bay Area. Is Borobudur the best?

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  1. Jayakarta in Berkeley, Padi in San Leandro.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      We took my mom to Jayakarta once and she kept saying that it was "nothing like in Amsterdam." Are there different takes on it?

      1. re: Glencora

        I take that means "she didn't love her meal?"

        1. re: Glencora

          What I had at the highest rated place in Amsterdam about a year ago was bland from a heat perspective, but fresh tasting and subtle but interesting spice touches. There were a lot of older dutch people there.

          1. re: Glencora

            Glencora, Rijstafel or "rice table" is one of those famous specialties firmly established elsewhere (particularly the Low Countries of Europe where it's a constant reference point in food discussions in my experience), but an exotic rarity in the Bay Area. I'd guess few people have even heard of it here, and the accomplishment is to find a restaurant that offers it at all.

            (Historical note: The minor-classic US cookbook writer Morrison Wood did popularize it somewhat in his 1949 book, with evocative details. But Rijstafel never seems to've gained the national traction here of certain other distinctive regional specialties like Gulasch or souvlaki or dim sum.)

            1. re: eatzalot

              Rijsttafel was a Dutch colonial invention that's still popular in Holland. The traditional dishes that inspired it were tumpeng and nasi padang.

              Every Indonesian restaurant I've been to around here has offered Rijsttafel, though apparently in Holland they usually include more dishes and the spicy dishes aren't as spicy.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Yes: though dishes served in it have Indonesian origin, the style of service and the name Rijsttafel (which can also be found spelled Rijstafel), "rice table," are distinctly colonial and very prominent in the Netherlands, as I mentioned.

                (Colonial associations were clear enough in the 1949 US pint explanation I cited, describing a sequence of numerous servants each bringing a different dish to eat with the rice.)

                1. re: eatzalot

                  The request is for Indonesian rijsttafel in the Bay Area, which means a dozen or so traditional Indonesian dishes served family-style.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yes; and it promptly drew comparisons to Amsterdam.

                    Seekers also are likely, if they didn't already know this, to benefit from awareness that the phrase "Indonesian Rijstafel" entails at least a whiff of contradiction -- given that the specialty is rare in modern Indonesia, yet crops up constantly in modern Holland.

                    Morrison Wood in the 1949 cookbook I cited did set his Rijstafel example in "Batavia" however. (A place name so seldom used now in the US that I'll bet it sends some people to Wikipedia.)

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      "a dozen or so traditional Indonesian dishes served family-style" -- that's exactly what we got at Jayakarta. I think my mom expected lots of smaller plates and more familiar flavors. So I probably shouldn't have taken her there. Oh well. The food was good (I thought) and the service very friendly. And we had tons of leftovers.

          2. A long time ago there was Garuda in San Rafael. It was good.
            Borobudur rice table dishes.
            Appetizer Lumpia Semarang (Indonesian Spring Roll)Soup Soto Ayam (Smooth lemon grass soup with chicken)Main Course (rice included) Gado-Gado/salad (Steamed vegetables, tofu, potato & egg with peanut dressing) Sate Ayam (B.B.Q. marinated chicken on skewer with peanut dressing) Kari Udang (Shrimps & vegetables in coconut curry sauce) Ayam Panggang Bumbu Rujak (B.B.Q. marinated chicken cooked with spicy coconut milk sauce) Rendang (Sumatra beef stew with spices in coconut milk sauce) Oseng Oseng Tahu Tempe (Sauteed Java soy bean cake & tofu) Dessert Choice of : vanilla ice cream or black sweet rice with coconut milk

            1. A walk down memory lane - my first taste of Rijstafel
              at The Rice Table - opened in 1969 and closed in 2006.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cynsa

                The Rice Table in San Rafael was my first taste, too. They did a shrimp dish with tamarind (udang goreng) that was memorably delicious and simple. And the after-dinner coffee was spiced to thrill me with cardomom and who-knows-what. Lovely people and place -- much missed.