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Blue Pepper

Nassaukade 366, Amsterdam, 1054 AB, Netherlands

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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.

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  • Fabio

    Hello, I am reading the above with interest and I find it amusing, as an expat, with many years of traveling across central and northetn europe; yes, last 10 years huge improvements have been made, but sorry to say you still have a long way to go until it can be considered reasonable. Cooking is an Art, and some cultures just cannot get it right! Sporadically I had witnessed good homemade kitchen, but for the majority just pathetic attempts to imitate some sort of french or classic cousine. Just stick to what you know, and create new things,as in Art, try to be different and innovative!

  • Eric Kellerman

    Don't be too snippy about Dutch cooking, Andy. Holland has made nothing like the strides in the culinary arts that are so evident in the UK, I grant you, but there are more and more good places to eat. You haven't been to Inter Scaldes in Zeeland, for instance. This has two Michelin **, and is the insider's tip for a third in the next guide. I've been eating there for years. And, oh yes, I did the photography for a cookbook by its chef/owner, Jannis Brevet. It comes out next month. (Full disclosure!) I grant you the standard of 'ethnic' cuisine is abysmal in Holland. I've never had a good Indonesian meal.

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