We’d been really looking forward to eating rijstaffel – it’s a few years since the last one. But Srikandi proved to be a disappointment on all levels.
First issue was the exceptionally slow service - slow to bring menus, slow to take orders, slow for drinks to come (and one of the two drinks was forgotten and had to be chased), slow for food to arrive. Apart from a starter of crispy prawns and a bowl of pleasant enough chicken soup, it was getting on for an hour and half from arriving to the main rijstaffel dishes being served. Frankly, that’s well past the finger tapping stage and into the “We’ll give it another five minutes, then we’re leaving”. We were not the only ones waiting. Another group gave up after 20 minutes and just left.
But that wasn’t the end of the service issues. The food is delivered from the kitchen on a “dumb waiter”. We could see it sitting there for a while, then the waiter loaded it onto a trolley which they use to bring food to the tables. Was it brought? No, it wasn’t. Instead, it sat there while the waiter seated a new arrival and reset that table. It was perhaps no surprise that dishes that probably left the kitchen piping hot were now luke-warm in a number of cases.
We’ve eaten rijstaffel before and we’ve eaten a wider range of East Asian food. What makes it a pleasure to eat is its vibrancy and its use of spice . Not for nothing did this part of the world used to be known as the “Spice Islands”. You’d expect the food to have the classic elements of sweet, sour and hot but that’s all lacking at Srikandi. Not a single dish had that vibrancy – almost as though everything had been considerably dumbed down for a perception of what westerners might like. They don’t even serve a sambal with it. That’s not say that every dish of the 17 was poor. A couple were really nice – beef rendang was rich in a thick coating sauce and, similarly, beef satay had a nice sweet/savoury sauce. There was another of very tender lamb – the menu described as it as coming with an “aromatic curry sauce” – that was pleasant enough, although the sauce was very bland and nondescript in flavour. I think the extra disappointment in all this was the fact we’d ordered the “gastronomic special” rijstaffel and yet there was nothing gastronomic, nor special, about it.
It was packed with tourists and probably is every night, so they’ve no need to do any better. Not recommended.