Okay, I was wrong. There is a good Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam after all. Not just good, but great and serves authentic food (“asli”), towards Balinese style.
After my last experience at an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam, “Indrapura”, I gave all hope in finding an authentic Indonesian place to eat. I had 3 nights only in Amsterdam, which made it important to find “the right place” to eat. Indrapura was a total let down. Not only that, my partner and I argue for two days blaming each other for making the wrong choice that cost us €120+. I blamed him for choosing the wrong place. He blamed me for insisting to eat at an Indonesian restaurant. Have you ever been in the same position when you go out to eat with your partner and things just went pear shaped?!
It was our last night in Amsterdam, after arriving back from a three nights stay in Paris. My partner was tired and preferred to stay in the hotel, which gave me a time alone to spend the last few hours in Amsterdam. I went shopping. Then looked for a place to eat. It was not easy. I did not look-up Google Place or Trip Advisor. I did not want to make the wrong choice on my last dinner in Amsterdam. I wandered as many streets and alleys as I could. I saw mostly western restaurants, and lots of Amsterdam’s “Coffee Shops”. Marijuana and other kinds of drugs wafted in the air as I walked past several narrow alleys.
I walked along the Flower Market end of Singel Canal. I heard that there are some trendy little restaurants of ethnic food in this area. I wanted to know more. I walked along Singel, and noticed a small front with the word, “Sampurna – ASLi Indonesian Cuisine”. “Asli” is an Indonesian/Malay word which refers to “native”. That means, Sampurna serves authentic, native Indonesian food. After a bad and costly experience at Indrapura, I was doubtful and suspicious of Sampurna. I was having two minds – should I go in or should I continue with my walk and search for a place to eat. I decided to continue with my walk. I walked to the next street, “Herengracht”, that runs parallel to Singel. There are several small and interesting looking eating places including Sichuan, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, a couple of bars and western restaurants, and a sexy men underwear shop. I was not interested in anyone of them because at the back of my head, I was still thinking of Sampurna. My curiosity was about to kill me so I wandered back to Singel canal to look for Sampurna.
Sampurna is a trendy looking restaurant. It has all the vibes of a hip, and cosy dark place. Dark with wood paneling and furnitures, interesting decor, soft lightings and huge drum ceiling lamp shades adorned the entrance and front section of the dining room. It was noisy with customers chatting and laughing. It reminded me of trendy little South East Asian eating places in Sydney and Melbourne.
I had a good feeling that Sampurna will be good after I walked into the restaurant. It is different from Indrapura. A different ambience. A relax and fun happening place. Unlike Indrapura which had a live pianist to draw in the crowd, Sampurna had no music. I thought it was unusual for a trendy looking place with no modern inspired Asian music for added ambiance and mood of an otherwise warm looking place. But, I didn’t even realised that there was no music until I sat there for ten minutes.
I studied the menu – four choices of “rice table”, ala carte section and a mixed rice section, “nasi campur”. “Rice Table” is not an option, which requires a minimum two persons. Ala carte gives me little choices to try a few dishes. The best option is “nasi campur” or mixed rice with two meat dishes, vegetables, satay and sambal egg for €22.50.
When my “nasi campur” arrived in a big plate and set in front of me, my mind went wild. It was stunning! Immediately I could tell I was in for a wonderful treat. The smell and sight of each of the dishes took my breath away. The curry gravy of the beef rendang and curry chicken were thick with fresh homemade pastes, the satay sauce was dark and rich. The “sayur campur” or mixed vegetables and “acar timun” or pickled cucumber were colourful and appetising. The half hard boiled egg topped with red sambal was divine. I took the first bite of chicken satay on a bamboo skewer. My first bite and taste convinced me that I have made the right choice. A truly, “asli” Indonesian cuisine in this little part of Amsterdam. Everything on the plate tasted wonderful. It transported me back to Bali. The beef rendang was dark and sweetly rich with palm sugar. The meat tender and melted in my mouth. The chicken was tangy and complex with the beautiful auroma of a complex spiced concoctions of chilies, shallots, turmeric, lemongrass and ginger. The sambal was hot, hot, hot. Love it. None of the beautiful flavours were westernised to an American palate.
Unfortunately, I can only share my experience with you in the post in words. I didn’t have my camera with me. Even if I did, it would be hard to take any good or decent pictures with my Linux as the interior lighting was soft and dark.
Sampurna was a great find. It is probably more well known with the Dutch locals. It is a must for anyone looking for a great place with great, authentic Indonesian and Balinese food. The service was professional and fast from a young and handsome Indonesian Maitre d’. I repeatedly told him how much I have enjoyed my dinner.
Do not miss Sampurna if you are looking for an authentic Indonesian and Balinese cuisines in this part of Europe, and if Bali and Jakarta are too far for you to indulge in the beautiful, colourful and unique flavours of Indonesia.