So I’m almost disappointed to report, after all this, that the food was actually quite good. Beef rendang had excellent warm spices and a rich sauce; gado-gado was fresh and fragrant, not cloying with peanut butter as is often the case. Two chicken dishes were good and distinctly different from each other: a hotter version in a thin, chilli-based broth; and a milder version in a sweet, soy-based sauce with plenty of aromatic anise. Other vegetable dishes were tasty too: green beans in a spicy sauce, and potatoes (or perhaps yams?) in a dry sambal.
Less good was the chicken satay – there was nothing wrong with the sauce but the meat was dry, probably from being pre-cooked and re-heated. I wasn’t a huge fan of the tofu and tempeh dish either – but then again I never am. Oh, and the shrimp and cassava crackers at the start were stale. The bakabana wasn’t bad, if you like that kind of thing, and we were randomly given a free scoop of coconut ice-cream to round off our record-time dinner.
I can’t slam Kartika, because what we ate was some of the better Indonesian rijsttafel I’ve had in Amsterdam. But the circumstances of our meal were such that I’d never go back. That is, unless I had a burning desire to gulp down a dozen dishes in 30 minutes.