Those who follow our Instagram know that I am a big fan of 90s nostalgia photos of Chinese restaurants. The 1990s being a buzzing time for Chinese food in Switzerland. In other countries, there are also such periods of prosperity for Chinese restaurants – and from them, you can learn a lot about the history of immigration in this country.
The Netherlands, for example, had the boom phase of Chinese cuisine in the 1960s. Most of the restaurants opened in this time are not strictly Chinese but Chinese-Indonesian restaurants (with the famous abbreviation Chin. Ind. Spec. Rest.). It was a result of the end of the colonization of Indonesia by the Netherlands in 1949 when about 150’000 Dutchmen came back home from the previous colony. The returners searched for Indonesian cuisine in the Netherlands, but Indonesian restaurants were quite rare. There were already restaurants with Chinese owners and those saw the opportunity and started also to offer Indonesian food. An extremely popular restaurant concept was born.
Today, the once-celebrated restaurants rapidly disappear. New gastronomic concepts are conquering not only the Netherlands but the whole of Europe. Customers want authentic cuisine with a reduced menu. The «Chin. Ind. Spec. Rest.» are just out of fashion.
The photographer Mark van Wonderen has gone on a quest to find all the remaining Chinese Indonesian Restaurants in the Netherlands – 1097 in total – and take a photo of them all. The result is to be found in a wonderful photo book.
photos by Mark van Wonderen
«CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST» by Mark van Wonderen. 283 pages.
Order the book on his website: https://www.chinindspecrest.nl/