Bon Bon Bun

I had my first bun ever in Paris, the European capital of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian food. That encounter caused a coup de foudre. Who wouldn’t fall for this vermicelli rice noodle salad with cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled carrot and daikon, coriander, crushed peanuts, a sweet-sour fish sauce dressing and spring rolls on top? Why wasn’t the whole world eating this fresh, light dish of multiple tastes? During my trip to Vietnam five years later I conquered one bun a day and was wondering why good Vietnamese was unavailable back home. Luckily the Amsterdam food scene has changed over the years and has some great Vietnamese options now. My favorite bun eatery and takeaway is Pho 91: vibrant, cool, international and welcoming. The cooks buy their ingredients at the market on their doorstep. Most of their tasty (organic) dishes are gluten, egg and dairy free. The signature dish is the uplifting beef-noodle soup. The fried chicken wings drizzled with a caramelized sauce are winners. But please do ask yourself: ‘Did I have a bun today?’ If not, score one with pork spring rolls, fish cakes, beef, chicken or tofu.

Pho 91
Bun cha gio, one portion, €12.50
Albert Cuypstraat 91, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 752 68 80
Opening hours: Tuesday-Thursday 5.30pm-10pm, Friday-Sunday noon-10pm

A Piece of Cake

‘Seriously. This is. The best cake I have ever eaten.’ A text message of my neighbour Tim after I gave him some pieces of the panettone cake I bought at bakery Klopper en Stolk. This guy was so right. Other than the usual Italian bread made with eggs, butter and fruit, this version has a more powerful fruit taste and is about as juicy as a fruit pudding. Thanks to the use of olive oil instead of butter. Klopper en Stolk did a great job making this highly addictive fruit cake. It makes you wonder how good the other cakes on the shelves are: the Jewish cranberry cake, the brownie cake, the almond cake. I can tell you the bakers make a fine speculaas muffin too, a small spiced cake filled with almond paste, and, man, do they have a lot of (gluten-free) bread options. Check the Turkish figue-nuts bread and the Moroccan date bread, ideal additions to a cheese plate.

Klopper en Stolk
Panettone cake, one, €5.25
Amstelveenseweg 95, South. Other branch: Kinkerstraat 75
+31 (0) 20 675 12 52
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 6am-6pm, Saturday 6am-5pm, Sunday 8am-4pm

Autumn Rolls

In the Rechtstraat, close to Maastricht Central Station, Le Salonard opened the doors of a super duper delicatessen years ago. One of its claims to fame: excellent sourdough bread – pain de campagne, nuts-figues, walnut-honeymade in its own artisanal bakery. The Amsterdam branch is run by Evelyn en Elroy, a fun and food loving couple eager to please epicureans. Every Saturday at the end of the day Elroy opens a bottle of wine and offers clients a glass. A perfect finish of your hunt for weekend bites: organic charcuterie, quiches, cheeses, a football-seized meat ball and veal-truffle rolls. These home-made rolls are the quintessential autumn food; firm spiced organic meat with an earthy twist. To be eaten pure or with a bit of the home-made truffle mayonnaise. This bite and this season make me scream for one of the available red wines and some ‘serious’ chocolate too. Le Salonard’s best chocolate dessert is the moeulleux, a chocolate pie that spills out liquid chocolate when broken in two. Serve it warm, together with raspberry sauce.

Le Salonard
Veal-truffle roll, one, €3.95
Eerste van der Helststraat 21, South (De Pijp), other branches: check website
+31 (0) 20 846 64 69
Opening hours: Monday 9am-4pm, Tuesday-Friday 9am-6pm, Saturday 9am-5pm

Chicken Smileys

In Thailand I had several dinners in fancy restaurants, including Nahm in Bangkok; excellent creative food made of top-notch ingredients. But somehow I prefer to eat on the busiest markets and in the smallest restaurants. Loud music, lots of chit-chat, the scent of garlic and coriander, the sound of fish cookies sizzling in the wok. Like! Kay, the manager of the new small Thai restaurant Boi Boi in Amsterdam, was born in Thailand and sure knows how to handle this pan. He has showed that behind the wok of restaurant Bird and now he does that in his own funky hang-out. The food – based on ingredients of the Dappermarkt – is ultra fresh and as Thai as it gets, such as the papaya salad, tom yam and pad thai. Besides the usual suspects Kay offers unique bites, the monkey balls for example. Tasty fried rice balls with minced chicken and Thai spices that come with a sweet-sour sauce (beetroot!). Perfectly balanced flavours guaranteed to turn your face into a smiley immediately. Another plus of this welcoming restaurant and takeaway: the desserts of Majesteit Taart, baked by the talented Gaby.

Boi Boi
Monkey Balls, one portion, €6.50
Dapperstraat 12, East
+31 (0) 20 233 94 99
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday noon-10pm