Saturday, December 17, 2005

Restaurant 72: Tanjung San (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)




RESTAURANT: Tanjung San
LOCATION: Amstelveensaweg 156, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DATE: September 16, 2005
FOOD: Rice Menu with Curried Lamb, Coconut Relish, Pickled Vegetables, Sliced Cucumber, Spiced Green Beans, Soy Sauce Tofu; Sambal Goreng Telor (Egg in Tomato Sauce); Krupuk Crackers
BEVERAGE: Tap Water
PRICE: 10.50 Euros

It is commonly known that the Netherlands resides below sea level. The canals and windmills may make nice postcards, but they serve the more important purpose of preventing the nation from sinking into the North Sea. However, with the onslaught of rain battering Amsterdam the night of September 16, it seemed only Noah’s Ark could keep the city from drowning.

Danny and I had spent nearly an hour and a half searching for a vegan restaurant with three euro dinners. When we finally found the place, the owners politely informed us it was only open three days a week. Thursday wasn’t one of them. Dejected and hungry, Tanjung San appeared like a wet mirage up the street.

Indonesian food and Amsterdam are as synonymous as the city and coffee shops, but only the former will reduce one’s appetite. Neither of us had tried the cuisine previously but Tanjung proved a memorable introduction. We both ordered combination rice plates and the flavors ran as wild as a naked toddler on a Slip ‘n Slide. The meal started with the wafery crunch of Krupuk crackers, delectably puffy and hinted with tangy shrimp. My main plate was suffused with food. The green curry lamb was exotically spiced but not hot, the curry integrated deliciously into the chunks of meat. The toasted coconut added a cascade of sweetness to the proceedings and a bite of meat, coconut, cucumber and rice was enough to convince me Indonesian food needs to become as ubiquitous in America as Chinese take-out and our disinterest in Arena League Football.

The green beans and red peppers raised the heat of the meal, but in a very composed manner. It wasn’t a light your mouth on fire after one bite heat, but a gradual, almost sexual build. Cold tofu in soy sauce was more chicken than vegan, meaty and substantial. A separate order of hard-boiled eggs in a tomato sauce with the consistency of sweet-n-sour sauce highlighted a link to Chinese, but showed how Indonesian goes off in a more complex direction. The tomato sauce was all things at once, sweet, spicy, almost like a thin jelly. But most importantly, it tasted sensational.

Usually first impressions are marred by awkwardness and noticeable silences. In my initial encounter with Indonesian cuisine, there was no room for quiet, every forkful referencing other Asian cuisines while maintaining a uniqueness all its own. The new acquaintance had left me enamored. Enough so in fact, that Tanjung San became the warm-up act for the premiere Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam. Two days later I was to experience Templo Doeloe.

RATING: 7.4/10

4 comments:

Alisha said...

Hi,

I'm Alisha from Wowzio, and I'm excited to tell you about our new widget platform that helps bloggers increase readership and create more engaged users. I wanted to reach out to you to ask for your feedback on these widgets (feel free to also install them on your blog, if you feel they are a good fit). You can check out widgets customized for your blog here:

Wowzio Widgets for your blog

I'm sorry for leaving this message via a comment, it's not at all our intent to spam you ( which is why i'm leaving this comment on an older post and you can always remove this comment ). Again, we would love to hear your feedback.

Thanks,
Alisha Wright
alisha.wright1@gmail.com

Bharat Book Bureau said...

Hello,

My Name is Sharon. I think your web site gives great news on current food market. As i am also into food research.
Its a good site with lots of information. Keep the good work on. I will definatly bookmark your web site for my research work.
You may also kindly visit my web site blog related to food and drinks industry that is http://foodmarketnews.blogspot.com and i would appreciate if you could kindly have a look at my blog too. It's updated on a daily basis

Thanks & Regards,
Sharon

The Law Office of Levinson Axelrod said...

Seems like you had a great experience. Thanks for sharing it. Enjoyed reading your post.

Connie - Dinnerware said...

Great stuff! I keep learning new things every time I come back to your blog.