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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
If there is an adopted native cuisine other than Dutch in Amsterdam then it would have to be the Indonesian ristafel which means rice table. And in this case a whole bunch of various Indonesian foods are served along with vast amounts of rice. It's kind of like a buffet that is brought to your table.
Curiously but not surprisingly we first ran across this cuisine in Aruba in the mid-80s at a place called the Bali Floating Restaurant. Since Aruba is part of the Dutch Caribbean they had to have at least one place serving this popular Indonesian dish from Amsterdam. Sadly the Bali Floating Restaurant burned down many years ago.
Kartika is a very small restaurant and four of us ordered the main ristafel which included meat and vegetarian versions. Our son-in-law, who is a vegetarian, went with---duh---the vegetarian ristafel.
Since the tables are small at this restaurant and the spreads are huge, it's a logistical nightmare. But they've cleverly designed multi-tiered, heated serving platforms to accommodate all the food.
Each of us probably had 10 or 12 different things to sample including beef, lamb, shrimp and a number of Indonesian vegetarian dishes. And plenty of plain veggies, too.
Overall we were all pleased with our meals but this place didn't exactly knock our socks off. For one thing the food came out warm but not as hot as it should have been. The clientele seemed to be mainly college students and the place was practically empty--never a good sign for a restaurant.
It certainly was good value. With beer the entire tab for four came to 229.25 Dutch Guilders or $114.00 U.S. and keep in mind it's basically all you can eat because of the way it is served.
If you're gonna be spending several days in Amsterdam you really should try this local favorite. And while Katrika certainly wasn't bad, I'd suggest that you ask your hotel concierge for his or her recommendation on the best ristafel in town.
Kartika is located at Overtoom 68, HL Amsterdam and judging from our experience, I wouldn't worry about a reservation.
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