Philippines Dinner
Bailliage of Manila
Manila, October 4, 2017
Rijsttafel banquet at the Shangri-La at the Fort

Rijsttafel, a Dutch word that literally translates as “rice table”, is an elaborate meal adopted by the Dutch from their colonial days. It originated from an elaborate banquet called Nasi Padang from West Sumatra. Despite its Indonesian roots, the concept of the Rijstaffel is not authentically Indonesian and is rarely served there now. It has however become widely popular in the Netherlands and South Africa.

During their presence in Indonesia, the Dutch introduced the rice table not only so they could enjoy a wide array of dishes originating from Java, Bali, Sumatra and other islands at a single sitting but also to impress visitors with the exotic abundance of their colony.

The banquet typically consists of many side dishes served in small portions, accompanied by rice prepared in several ways. Popular side dishes include egg rolls, sambals, satay, fish, fruit, vegetables, and nuts.

Chef Joris Rycken, Executive Chef of Shangri-La at the Fort, himself a Dutchman who has spent time in Indonesia, and his team of south-east Asia chefs came up with an impressive menu that showcased the culinary wealth of the former Dutch East Indies.

(served family style)

Crispy shrimp crackers | Cooked vegetables with peanut sauce
Shredded chicken, chili and tomato | Pork satay
Minced seafood satay | Clear oxtail soup
Boiled egg in spicy sauce | Spicy beef stew with coconut milk
Roasted duck in banana leaves | Prawns, chili, lime in coconut sauce
Simmered chicken in sweet soya sauce | Lamb stew with cardamom
Mixed seafood in yellow turmeric sauce
Vegetable stew in coconut milk | Green beans with chili sauce
Indonesian yellow rice | Fried rice | Banana fritters
Shaved ice, candied fruit & coconut milk | Mixed seasonal fruits

Prior to the dinner, cocktails were served. Guests could choose either a Belgian beer or a gin and tonic enhanced with herbs, dried fruit and spices.

The dishes came in three salvos and it was a struggle to restrain oneself from eating too much of one dish before the others arrived. Despite the prevalence of coconut milk based stews, all the dishes had quite distinct flavours. The spice and chili heat also contributed to an increase in appetite.

This was a “BYOB” (bring your own bottle) event. Out of the wines and beers brought it did seem that the best wines to match the food were the Rieslings. Beer also went particularly well, especially the lighter styles.

This was a unique dining experience. The tremendous effort by the Shangri-La kitchen brigade and service staff was greatly appreciated by all.
Jay Labrador