I am very fond of Indonesian food, so on a recent quick trip to Amsterdam I thought I’d try one of the better-known Indonesian restaurants there, Blue Pepper. This was a pretty easy decision, since in general Dutch food is not something to tempt anyone who is not literally starving. I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Netherlands over the years, and one recollection that I have sums it up fairly well. Tired of the ubiquitous choice of a ham sandwich and a cheese sandwich one day, I asked a waiter whether there was any alternative: “ah yes, we have the special sandwich surprise today”. Which was? "Ham and cheese”.
Blue Pepper is not in the centre of Amsterdam, but still only a ten minute taxi or tram ride from the central station. It is in a fairly quiet area, and the dining room is reasonably simple, quiet and cosy. There are some variations on the usual “rijstafel” menu, but we went for the classical version, exotically termed “The Sultan and I”, which had 20 dishes in all (though this did include some condiments). My favourite dish was the beef rendang, which was properly spicy and whose texture was as melting as it should be (13/20). Also enjoyable was sambal gorneg, telor pujuh, essentially an egg curry made from quail eggs, which had a nicely vibant sauce.However most dishes were merely OK, such as otak otak, a grilled fish pate in a peanut chilli sauce, and a decent chicken sate, while there was the odd slip: a roast duck salad with turmeric leaf dressing had distinctly overcooked duck.
Service was unusually good: our waiter was extremely friendly, and they made an effort to modify the dishes to accommodate one person at the table who did not much like spicy food. My main concern is the price: at EUR 70 for the menu (to be fair, the other, shorter menus are a bit less, one as low as EUR 40) this is a lot of money for what is essentially pleasant rather than superior Indonesian cooking.