So you missed your train? Good for you! Plenty of time to go to the back of Central Station and grab some fast food at one of the two Dutch branches of Exki. This Belgian chain of organic restaurants is all about local and natural (seasonal) ingredients and impresses with fresh sandwiches with raw ham and mozzarella, tasty (lentils/ pasta) salads, gorgeous fresh spring rolls and some pretty handsome pies. Check the raspberry clafoutis, say ‘hi’ to the chocolate pie, give a wink to the cheesecake with that absolutely fabulous famous Dutch cookie speculaas and indulge into a piece of that pie on your left: the one with plum, fig and pistachio. Dried figs are so-so, but fresh ones are ‘da bomb’. I love to pair these fleshy fruits with dates or creamy cheese – preferably goat cheese – and I adore them on top of this pie. Each one being mildly sweet, as succulent as the finest jam and pure ‘to the bone’. An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Boring! This pie will do.
Fig-plum pie, one piece, €3.60
De Ruijterkade 36, City Centre. Other Dutch branch: Turfmarkt 224, The Hague
+31 (0) 20 737 26 89
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-10pm
Two friends, same roots, one mission. Nghia La and Nghia Huynh are determined to ‘wow’ their clients with the food they grew up with: the famous Vietnamese pho bo (beef noodle soup), sweet-sour-spicy salads, raw spring rolls with lettuce, mint and meat or shrimps. Unlike most other Asians the Vietnamese have a crush on bread too – an inheritance of the French colonization. We’re talking baguettes here and not just average ones, but versions with a memorable exotic twist. One example is the banh mi dac biet pork ofNghia N Nghia, a meat lovers’ dream with lemon mayonnaise, cucumber, cilantro, pickled daikon (a Japanese plant with a sharp, radishy flavour), carrots and triple x-meat. Picture smooth homemade chicken pâté, a mortadella-like Vietnamese sausageand – oh la la – caramelized pork. Less than two months in business and the two thirty-somethings already have a notable amount of fans. In the future they will expand the menu of their restaurant and takeaway. Hope they will serve the exquisite squid cured in lime juice I ate on the isle of Phu Quoc. Or the divine appetizer I had in Dalat: chao tom, shrimp paste on sugar cane. Vietnam food rocks, that’s for sure.
Nghia N Nghia Banh mi dac biet pork, one, €7.00
Rozengracht 106-112, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 624 57 52
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm