Going Dutch

Many Americans who visit Holland return with vivid memories of rijsttaffel, an Indonesian feast comprising dozens of dishes served in small portions. A good rijsttaffel, or "rice table," is unforgettable, and the well-traveled locals who frequent Goodies have asked for it so often that Gutierrez finally decided to present a prix fixe rijsttaffel once a month. Reservations are mandatory and should be made well in advance.

On a daily basis, only the nasi goreng and sate are available. Both dishes were tantalizing. The former was slightly sweet with kecap manis, an Indonesian soy sauce doctored with sugar, garlic, laos (a rhizome similar to ginger), and salam leaf (an herb). Pork nuggets were strewn throughout the stir-fried rice, and a fried egg and crunchy krupuk (shrimp cracker) blanketed the nasi goreng. You can order the rice with a side of sate. The thick, slightly zingy peanut sauce that laces the tender, skewered chicken also complements the pork.

A local purveyor supplies desserts such as apple pie, blueberry crumb squares, and a remarkably good hazelnut layer cake, the moist white cake iced with mocha-infused hazelnut butter cream ($3.25). But this course seems like a missed opportunity, as sweets are neither Dutch nor Indonesian. A pannekoek topped with raisins or apples would offer authenticity, especially when washed down with a cup of imported Dutch coffee or Pickwick tea.

The decor here could also use some improvement. Some tables are topped with black marble, others are made of green plastic. Walls are covered with burlap, over which hang some orange Holland soccer shirts. The cafe looks like what it is -- a restaurant that has grown out of a market without much thought given to design. As for service, the staff is sincere but forgetful. The best attention comes from Gutierrez herself, who makes customers comfortable with unfamiliar fare by engaging them in conversation. She'll even introduce regulars to her children, who sometimes roam around the store and kitchen (and if you visit twice, you're considered a regular). In short, Gutierrez invites guests into her restaurant the way she would ask them into her home. And as far as the Countesss van Limburg Stirum and I are concerned, this kind of welcome is the only way foreigners can truly become acquainted with the subtleties of Dutch cuisine.

Goodies from Holland Cafe
8461 SW 132nd St; 278-2783. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tuesday -- Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m; Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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