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Tahu Gejrot and Nasi Uduk on a Rotterdam Tram

Jakarta – While Indonesian cuisine is nothing new in the Netherlands, eating tahu gejrot and nasi uduk during a tram ride around Rotterdam is quite unique. And if it’s up to Rotterdam’s tram restaurant RotterTram, Indonesian food will be among the culinary delights people can enjoy during a city tour by tram in the foreseeable future.

“Our menu is European, but occasionally, in collaboration with other parties, we can offer Chinese, or like this time, Indonesian cuisine,” said RotterTram director Suzanne Knegt on March 30. On that day, RotterTram served an introductory Indonesian lunch prepared by no less than Leiden-based chef Eduard Roesdi, who has cooked meals for both President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Joko Widodo during their official visits to the Netherlands. During the ride, Roesdi served dishes from different Indonesian regions, such as bir pletok, a typical drink from Jakarta, lalampaa savory snack from North Maluku, and spicy tofu dish tahu gejrot from Cirebon, West Java.

RotterTram, which started i2018, serves lunches and dinners on a vintage tram that has been converted into a compact and cozy restaurant with 44 seats. While restaurants on trains have existed for a long time, the concept of a restaurant on a city tram first started in Australia’s Melbourne in 1982. Currently in Europe – where trams are a vital mode of public transport – several cities also have tram restaurants, including Milan, Brussels, and Prague. In the Netherlands, they ride in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague.

Tahu gejrot and lalampa appetizers for the RotterTram lunch. Doc.: Monique Patricia

The idea to serve Indonesian food on RotterTram comes from Monique Patricia of Bina BV, a Rotterdam-based company that connects Indonesian and Dutch businesses. “I am a proud Indonesian as well as Rotterdammer,” said Monique, who has been rotating between Rotterdam, Singapore, and Jakarta for the past eight years. “I want to use this opportunity to promote Indonesian cuisine and products to the Netherlands, especially Rotterdam.”

While enjoying their meal, RotterTram guests are treated to highlights of Rotterdam during a two-hour ride aboard the white-and-green tram. Departure is at Willemsplein by the waterfront of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port. The route goes through spots including the Erasmus Bridge, the Feyenoord Football Stadium, and architectural gems such as the Cube Houses.

Chef Eduard Roesdi (right) preparing lunch during a RotterTram journey on March 30, 2022. Doc.: Monique Patricia.

Although seasoned chef Eduard Roesdi – born in the Netherlands from a Sundanese father and a Dutch mother – has been cooking Indonesian cuisine in the Netherlands and abroad for years, this was his first time serving food in a moving tram. “I was a bit worried as there can be quite a bit of swaying back and forth, but it was actually OK. Everything went well,” said Roesdi, standing behind the small kitchen counter next to the bar in the tram.

Among the lunch guests was H.E. Mayerfas, Indonesia’s ambassador for the Netherlands. “Wonderful: an Indonesian atmosphere on a Rotterdam tram,” Mayerfas said. “The timing is also right, as the Netherlands is just opening up again (after Covid).”

Chef Roesdi will be serving four-course gourmet Indonesian dinners on the RotterTram on May 11 and June 1.

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