I have lived in the Netherlands for almost eighteen years now, and feel very much at home in Utrecht. While I enjoy the Dutch endive stampot, raw herrings and hearty stews, there are times that I miss the exotic tastes from my hometown, Jakarta. It’s the Indonesian the street food that I miss the most, such as charcoal-grilled chicken or lamb satays, gado-gado (steamed vegetable with peanut sauce), and the zesty and yet comforting soto ayam (lemongrass chicken soup).
Just blogging about this, makes me hungry, but I don’t have the luxury to just walk outside the house and call out the nearest street vendor for a plate of delicious snack, the way folks do back in Jakarta. And while I know how to make several of my favorite Indonesian dishes, I don’t always have the time. So, when the cravings get more intense, I would hop on my bike and head towards the one of the following places in Utrecht city center for some tastes of home. There are many Indonesian restaurants in Utrecht, but the places mentioned below are my favorites. Each also offers a different experience and concept.
If you are also a fan of Indonesian cuisines, please share with us your favorite places. Indonesia is a large country, with 34 provinces and hundreds of ethnic groups. So, you can imagine that there are many-many types of cuisines from all corners the country yet to be discovered. In the meantime, here are the places to start your journey:
1. Toko Mitra
To me, being in Toko Mitra is like being teleported back in a local food court in Jakarta: quick, delicious and at very reasonable prices. Located at the Lange Viestraat 2, Toko Mitra serves a great variety of authentic Indonesian dishes and sweet and savory snacks, for take-out or a quick meal on the spot. My favorites here include the gado-gado, pepesan ikan (mackerel steamed in fragrant spice paste), Tahu telor (a hearty salad made of battered fried tofu and crunchy bean-sprouts, topped with a special mix of soy sauce and spices), and ayam pedas (chicken braised in spicy chili sauce). You can also ask for a plate or rice or noodles, combined with a small portion of several dishes of your choice. Go discover!
At restaurant Blauw, (Springweg 64), you can try quite a variety of Indonesian food in a modern and trendy setting. The first time I came here, I was quite impressed with the authenticity of the food they serve. In Indonesia, people usually prefer going to a renowned street vendor to sample local delicacies instead of going to an upscale restaurant. But Blauw charmed me with their culinary skills and their upbeat style. They usually serve the food rijstaffel style, which means serving several dishes at once, enabling you to taste a bit of everything. I personally really enjoyed their lamb and chicken satays, their domba bakar pedas (roasted lamb with spicy soy sauce), and their specialty, Ayam Tuturuga Blauw (chicken braised in mild coconut curry). And try their sambal – it’s the real deal!
Located at Drieharingstraat 10, this restaurant is one of the new kids-on-the-block. One of our fellow blogger, Lisa, wrote a blog about Spekuk, which triggered my curiosity. I recently dined there with a friend and I found their concept quite interesting. While recreating authentic flavors of local dishes and family recipes, Spekuk also uses local and seasonal ingredients, such as kale (boerkool), pumpkin and brussel sprouts, which I found creative and delicious. They serve great satays, of which we tried three varieties: chicken, goat and squid – really good! I would also recommend their Oseng-oseng daging (stir-fried beef and vegetables) – the beef was tender and the vegetables were crunchy and very tasty. And, the one, which I rarely see on other restaurants’ menu, is Ketoprak, which is a mix of bean sprouts, tofu and vegetables in a mix of soy sauce and spicy peanut sauce.
Picture’s by Lisa Peters and Susanne Sterkenburg