Last Saturday I once again ate at the happiest restaurant of my neighbourhood: Plato Loco, a Caribbean restaurant owned by Magda – sparkling eyes, enchanting smile. Lots of plants and vintage, bachata music and a regularly changing menu blending influences from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Bananas, herbs and the devilish yellow pepper Madame Jeanette rule the list. I suggest you to analyze the spicy mango dip next to the salt cod croquettes or the coriander salsa coming with the jerk chicken. This grilled bird shines on a plate with rice, coleslaw and sweet banana. It has the looks of an ‘easy peasy’ kind of dish, but it takes a lot to prepare a perfect version. Jamaicans use a whole array of ingredients (spices, ginger, brown sugar) to create a marinade, let the chicken swim in it for 24 hours and then grill it. The meat has to be tender, the skin crispy and somewhat sticky. I had the original version in Kingston and Treasure Beach and let me tell you this: Plato Loco’s jerk chicken is the real thing!
Jerk chicken, one portion, €18.00
Rombout Hogerbeetsstraat 29, West (Westerpark)
+31 (0) 20 358 50 47
Opening hours: Wednesday-Sunday 5pm-midnight
Some think it’s cuckoo to put rice in your soup. Well, people from Suriname and my fellow Dutch Indonesians completely disagree. My family pops rice in every soup; in green pea soup, in brown bean soup. A scoop of rice turns a soepie into A Meal. Home-made chicken soup is manna to sick souls. When I was feverish my mother used to serve me saoto ajam (chicken soup), with rice of course. To Dutch Indonesians saoto is the holy grail of soups. The broth of this Javanese soup is powerful, but the flavours of lemon grass, lime leaves, koenjit (turmeric) and ginger make the soup fresh and elegant too. It’s usually served with chopped celery, fried onions, beans sprouts and boiled eggs. Close to where I live is a great Surinamese-Javanese takeaway, Warung SuriKitchen, where I buy my chicken satay and rich saoto mama-style. Based on broth of a real chicken – no way, chicken fillet – including the right spices and the sides the soup deserves. Try it with the yellow paste of Madame Jeanette peppers. It’s about as evil as it looks like.
Saoto ajam, one big portion, €4.50
Tweede Nassaustraat 38, West (Westerpark)
+31 (0) 20 475 10 21
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 3pm-10pm
I know these two great Amsterdam kids: Pander (13) and Morris (15). Funky Pander is into fashion and likes to shop. Her favourites: Urban Outfitters in Amsterdam, Kiliwatch in Paris. Cool Morris is more into food and knows exactly where to eat. French fries: Doardi, Van Limburg Stirumstraat 15. Ice cream: Van der Linde, Nieuwendijk 183. When Morris wants roti he goes to Ram’s Roti, but only after he has placed his order by telephone. ‘I don’t want to queue for my food.’ His beloved Surinam takeaway with some tables is a huge name within the Surinam community. And right so. The chicken with bone that comes with flat round bread is incredibly succulent. The roti with lamb is good too. Want something small? Try the bread roll with pom! This extremely rich and creamy ‘sauce’ of tomatoes, chicken and grated roots of the tayer plant is a champion in its own right. But do ask for peper en zuur, especially if you’re as dynamic as a snail today. The spicy paste of Madame Jeanette peppers (‘peper’) and the mix of red onion, cucumber and acid (‘zuur’) will turn your pom into a power pom. Instant energy assured.
Bread roll with pom, one, €3.50
Jan van Galenstraat 107 F, West (De Baarsjes)
+31 (0)20 683 14 99
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 1pm-10pm