Asian Palace Restaurant

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55 Steenstraat, Leiden, Netherlands

Asian Palace Restaurant Leiden Reviews

planxty planxty
99 reviews
Excellent rijstaffel and a lot more besides. Apr 04, 2017
I have mentioned in other entries here on TravBuddy that I am a great fan of Indonesian food (having visited that wonderful country) and that it is particularly well done in the Netherlands due mostly to the large immigre population as a hangover from the colonial days when Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies.

When asked about an evening meal, my friend had indicated a preference for a rijstaffel (literally rice table) which is effectively a large plate of rice with various small main dishes and Heaven knows how many accompaniments and is a complete staple of Indonesian cuisine. My problem is that it is normally served for a minimum of two people and usually many more as it is a very communal style of eating so the fact that I usually travel solo generally precludes me having one. However, I had enquired of Tony, the de facto owner of my latest favourite bar and one of my "new best friends" where was good for this particular delicacy as it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. He told me immediately and with no hesitation that the Asian Palace was absoulutely THE place in town to go and, as luck would have it, it was a very few minutes walk there.

We arrived shortly after nine and the place was totally empty. My friend told me later that the Dutch seem to like to dine early in the evening unlike Mediterranean countries where nobody considers going to a restaurant before about 2200. We actually went in the side door in Morstraat to what appears to be a small dining room and where the staff were all sitting about and were greeted in a most friendly fashion and quickly walked through to the main dining room by the obviously Asian waitress in semi-traditional dress.

Once seated and a bottle of wine ordered by my friend, who knows far more than me about it (frankly, there are amoeba on the floor of the Pacific Ocean who know more about wine than I do) we set about the fairly extensive menu. Obviously, rijstaffel was what we were there for so that was called up and my friend decided on another main of crispy duck, which is a great favourite of mine as well. As for starters, we both opted for soup. I had the hot and sour and she had the chicken noodle, I believe it was called. I understand fully that hot and sour soup is very much a Chinese thing but the menu here offered dishes I would normally have associated with China, Indonesia and even Thailand and so hence the name ASIAN Palace, I suppose.

My soup was excellent and a very good example of the style with the sourness just balancing the heat perfectly. Then it was time for the mains and the crispy duck was an utter delight, cooked to perfection. It was not served with the Chinese or even thinner Vietnamese pancakes I am used to at home but it was beautiful just eaten "as is".

As for the rijstaffel, well I do not know where to begin. I apologise in advance for the poor quality of the images accompanying this review but I really do not like firing off flash on my camera, even in a totally quiet place (we were literally the only customers). Even had it been David Bailey photography on my part it would scarcely do justice to the quality of the food depicted. Every one of the dishes served on what I always think of as a "thali" tray from my time in India was superb and with nothing overly hot to offend the Western palate. I actually like screechingly hot although my friend is not so keen but the dishes were all brilliantly and subtly spiced rather than merely overloaded with chilli.

We were offered coffee and / or dessert and, whilst the selection looked very good, neither of us had room so we paid the bill and attempted to walk the calories off on a very leisurely and enjoyable meander back to the hotel.

I cannot remember the exact prices of everything but I do remember that the rijstaffel for two was €31:50 and my friend remarked that the wine was not overly expensive. It was just a tremendous end to what had been a great day and I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending the Asian Palace to anyone reading who may visit Leiden. You will not be disappointed.
Asian Palace restaurant, Leiden.
Asian Palace restaurant, Leiden.
Asian Palace restaurant, Leiden.
Asian Palace restaurant, Leiden.
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