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Eating Out in Amsterdam

by Len du Midi

Chinese Food in Europe

Winter Volume: 1998 Issue: 5(4) page(s): 19

For a relatively small 'big city,' Amsterdam offers astonishing variety and quality in the Asian culinary area. Best known is its outstanding Indonesian kitchen. The Chinese kitchen is not far behind. No wonder, better than ten percent of the thousand plus restaurants in town are Chinese, Chinese-Indonesian or Indonesian.

Spices, silks and porcelain brought from China were gathered and traded in Amsterdam in the 16th and 17th centuries. Situated near the sea, Amsterdam has a visible remnant of the Dutch United East Indian Company (1692 - 1798) and the Dutch West Indian Company (1621 - 1791). One example is the oldest of warehouses, those of the United East India Company; they can be seen at Prins Hendrikkade 176.

Eating Chinese food in Amsterdam takes a mite of planning. Most restaurants open for dinner at 5:00 p.m. and close at 11:00 p.m., but there are a few Chinese eateries that do open for lunch. Almost every one speaks English, most restaurants have their prices displayed in the window, tips are included though an extra amount is not forbidden, and no-smoking areas are always available.

When you come to Amsterdam bring Flavor and Fortune's page 11 from Volume 4(2) and the information that follows for some fantastic Chinese and Indonesian restaurants and more. Both will steer you right. And now let me share several best known restaurants, but begin with my favorite,

Sukasari, Damstraat 26, in Amsterdam opposite the Royal Palace is the one I like best. A whole family takes care of the cooking, portions are not too big, but the flavor surely is. I suggest you try the very small Spring Rolls and 'Smoor' and several of their other things. They are all top notch.

Nam Tin at Jodenbreestraat 11, the best known--though there are many, has three different Chinese cookery offerings, Dim Sum, Original Cantonese specialities, and a Mongolian grill. This restaurant is decorated Hong Kong style and provides an ambiance that meets the highest of standards. You'll like it and the moderate prices.

Puri Mas in Lange Liedschedwarsstraat serves Indonesian Rijsttafel, a traditional rice table meal (discussed in the aforementioned issue). One can also select from the ala carte menu. Vegetarians will love this restaurant because it is one of the first Indonesian restaurants to introduce the Vegetarian Rijsttafel. Allow me to advise that they have perfected it and brought it to new heights.

Lotus, on Binnen Bantammerstraat 5 is near the red light district, in the heart of Amsterdam's Chinatown. It is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants. It has an open kitchen that provides a unique opportunity for continuous lessons. I love to watch the professional cooks there as they prepare delicious food.

Tuan Besar on Nieuwezijds Voorburgway 77 has an interesting name; it means Great Gentleman. This restaurant shows you how Dutch colonists were once addressed in the era of Holland's colonial past. Everything is placed on the table to be shared with friends, from which derives the very expression, Rijsttafel. Try their Sate Lamb, the Chicken varieties, too, and other things to your liking. The restaurant looks modest, the food tastes delicious, and during the summer you can enjoy it even more, dining on their outside terrace.

Tropical Museum on Linnaeusstraat 2 is the place to go if you have spare time. There, you will discover trading's glorious past as you view the treasures brought from China and surrounding countries. The building dates from 1913 and makes a wonderful backdrop for all of its displays.

And, do not miss food shopping in this big/little city. Supermarkets are an experience in foods that are probably less familiar to you. The Asian fruits, on view at the Albert Kuyp Market and several Toko shops are all over town and special. Do come smell and savor them and taste the many treats of China and Indonesia. I know you'll enjoy them all!

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