My family and me think it’s cool to make fun of the satay that’s for sale in Holland. ‘They cook the meat or fry it! Don’t they know how to grill?’ We find the way this skewered meat is served very funny too. ‘They treat the meat like they treat cauliflower: they smother it in sauce. Maybe to hide the terrible taste?’ I guess finding the right satay is science to us. So when I served my Dutch-Indonesian mother the saté kambing I bought at Toko Manis I was kind of nervous: will she like it? Well, the lady did. This dish – originally from Java – is Manis’ claim to fame and is made according to Indonesian ‘law’: the small pieces of marinated goat meat are slowly grilled. You are treated to tender meat seasoned with some garlic and served with a decent quantity of a ‘syrupy’ soy sauce including peanut, lemon, shallot and chilli pepper. It may take some time before you can take your sticks outside. The sweet Javanese couple that run the place make the satay the minute you order it to guarantee maximal tenderness. Eat it once you lay your hands on it. If you want to turn this ‘snack’ into a meal, make sure you add some lontong (cubes of sticky rice). Steamed rice is sooo Dutch.
Saté kambing, one portion, €5.50
1e Goudsbloemdwarstraat 3, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 20 623 01 81
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 4pm-10pm
Pâtisserie Petit Gâteau is a new kid on the block and it’s definitely not ‘your average kid’. The Dutch-French team members – two women, one man – were all trained in Paris. They worked amongst others for La Grande Epicerie de Paris (Patrice, Audrey) and Michelin restaurant La Grande Cascade (Meike). Audrey and Meike worked together at Petit Gâteau Paris, a place owned by the latter. The first time I visited Petit Gâteau Amsterdam I was caught by fear of missing out: what to eat, where to start? A banana crumble cake, a clafoutis, something with black chocolate mousse or white chocolate and pistachio and/or a savoury tart with bacon and cheese? Then I chilled: the gâteaux are so ‘petits’ that it only feels natural to buy more than one. I bought four. They were all great, but the one I cannot seem to get out of my mind is the caramel tart. The tart shell is filled with a rich and extremely smooth caramel. The touch of fleur de sel adds extra intensity. Try one at one of the tables upstairs! Inhale the scent of freshly baked gâteaux and get sticky.
Caramel tart, one, €2.50
Haarlemmerstraat 80, City Centre (Haarlemmerbuurt)
+31 (0) 20 737 15 85
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 8am-6pm
At first glance the mobile shop in front of vintage store Petticoat seems to be a recipe for disaster. The moody Vietnamese boss and her shy assistant sell bara (fried ‘donuts’ of peas), roti wraps, noodles, spring rolls and bapao (steamed bread filled with meat). On top of it they sell French fries and fresh orange juice. Since you can buy just about everything edible, you run the risk of ending up with nothing good at all. Two months ago I ordered a special spring roll – only because a friend practically forced me to. After my first bite I was all smiles within a second: good stuff! Just like other ‘compatriotes’ this spring roll is thinner than a Chinese one. Unlike other Vietnamese spring rolls in Holland, this roll has a filling with an attitude: rich in ingredients, full of character. Behind the thin crispy ‘suit’ you’ll find cabbage, rice vermicelli and carrots. Usually these vegetables reign, but not here! In this snack it is all about chicken. Thanks to the right amount of pepper this roll tastes superb. Eat this wrapped chicken pure, with a sweet-and-sour sauce or with a little bit of an unforgettable chili-based sauce: the sambal badjak extra heet (extra spicy) of Toko Joyce in Chinatown, Nieuwmarkt 38.
Mobile snack shop
Vietnamese special chicken roll, one, € 1.50
Market at the Lindengracht, in front of number 99 (Petticoat), City Centre (Jordaan)
Each Saturday 9am-5pm
I admire people who eat a hard-core salad and keep smiling. If I have to eat something like that – lettuce, lettuce, onion, one cherry tomato – I get cranky. It feels ‘rabbit’ to chew on such a salad. But larb or laap, well, that’s an entirely different story. While travelling through Laos and Thailand I ate this salad very often. There are numerous variations on the larb theme. You’ll find larb with meat – beef, chicken, duck, water buffalo – but also with fish or mushrooms. No matter what version you eat, this salad is always light, healthy and full of flavour. My favorite larb address in Amsterdam: Kinnaree, a stylish Thai restaurant and takeaway. I always order laap ped, a spicy combination of minced duck, cilantro, lemon juice, mint, red onion, garlic and lettuce. It takes the cook about ten minutes to make it. Not that’s a drag to wait longer. It’s always nice to have a chat here, for example about the benefits of durian, the King of Fruits. In Asia larb is eaten as a side dish, but I like to serve it as a starter, followed by a curry with tofu and mango for dessert.
Laap ped, one portion, €14.50
Eerste Anjeliersdwarsstraat 14, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 20 627 71 53
Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 5.30pm-10.00pm, Friday-Saturday 5.30pm-10.30pm