In Bahasa Indonesian, tempo doeloe means 'old days'; the name is very apt, as I was meeting old friends for a rare get-together. In contrast to the irksome no-bookings trend sweeping London, this restaurant is open only to those that make a reservation. This rule is strictly enforced; to the extent that you have to ring the doorbell to be let in.
This was followed by a batch of six milder dishes, then six medium dishes, and finally, six spicier dishes. These were served with bowls of white rice and yellow rice, which were topped-up on request. Of the milder and medium dishes, my favourite was, surprisingly, a vegetarian dish: sambel goreng tempeh. I really enjoyed this fried soy-cake, which had a subtle nutty flavour that went well with the medium spicy sauce.
|The Killer Beef Rendang|
Equally futile was The Black Widower's attempt to douse the flames by eating pak choi. That would have been a good tactic, but for the fact that the vegetables were themselves a touch spicy. Mr Frosty wisely steered clear of the killer rendang as did Mr Fussy, if I'm not mistaken. (It turns out I was mistaken, as Mr Fussy did sample some rendang. I guess I was temporarily blinded by the spice. Apologies!)
At this point, we were facing ignominy and shame; fancy giving it the big one about being able to handle the spiciness then not being able to finish the dish off. Mercifully, The Italian Shetland Pony rode to the rescue by hoovering up the not inconsiderable remains of the rendang (he even polished off the fiery chilli garnish). And with that, our reputation remained intact, and more importantly, my old friend gained redemption for a shameful incident involving roast duck in Manchester's Chinatown.
To be honest, the food didn't have to be that good for us to have a good time; it's sometimes enough to be in good company. But the food was good, very good. As was the service, and the ambience. It helped that the restaurant was intimate and buzzing with a room full of satisfied diners. It's also great value; with a couple of beers each and a tip, the bill came to €250 between the five of us. I highly recommend Tempo Doeloe, but remember to book in advance or you might end up be eating at FEBO!
Tempo Doeloe, Utrechtsestraat 75, 1017 VJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
PS: The photos have been enhanced, as the dining room was intimately lit and I was reluctant to use flash.