Eight years ago Taka had an IT-job and was living in the area of Tokyo. He had been looking for a new adventure and decided to leave for Europe. Since October last year this somewhat shy, but very nice guy is living in Amsterdam and opened the one and only onigiri shop in town. As of March he makes and sells the Japanese version of a sandwich: snacks made from salted white rice formed into triangular or cylinder shapes and wrapped in seaweed. ‘Unlike sushi we eat onigiri on a daily basis. It’s great if you need a little bite on the go. Onigiri are ready to eat; no additions needed. You can carry them with you and have nibbles during the day.’ How convenient, no? Luckily these daily fresh snacks are tasty too. I tried the ones with salmon, tuna mayo and wasabi and really liked them: perfectly cooked sticky rice with pure fillings – more fish than I expected. Say bye bye to your usual slices of bread for lunch and have 2 onigiri and a bowl of miso soup instead.
Onigiri Ya Onigiri, one, €1.50 – €2.80
Ferdinand Bolstraat 37, South (De Pijp)
Opening hours: Monday noon-10pm, Wednesday-Sunday noon-10pm
Admit it. You would love to devour these fish bonbons, don’t you? The soft salmon cuties you’re staring at are one of the many treasures of Amsterdam’s one and only fish boutique: Vis op Zuid. All of the fishes on display here come straight from the fish auction of IJmuiden, a village near Amsterdam. If you have guests and you really want to spoil them, I suggest you to make a platter of fish bonbons, the sparkling trout-champagne salad and some grams of the magnificent King Crab’s salad. Add some thin crackers, open a bottle of champagne, Chardonnay, Chablis or Riesling et voilá: your aperitif deluxe is ready to roll. Want to serve your friends a delicious three-course dinner? Start with fish bonbons. End with a dessert of white chocolate. Serve a green salad with John’s quiche in between. The salmon-broccoli-zucchini pie created by this super friendly employee is definitely a winner.
Vis op Zuid
Box of fish bonbons, €7.95
Maasstraat 27a, South (Rivierenbuurt)
+31 (0) 20 767 04 64
Opening hours: Monday-Tuesday 11am-7pm, Wednesday-Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 9.30am-7pm, Saturday 9.30am-5pm
Wheatgrass, goji berries and hemp seed are so-called superfoods. The benefits (and disadvantages) are described everywhere. But how about fishes? Did we forget about them? Fish, especially oily-rich species like mackerel, salmon and herring, are essential if you want to eat healthy, due to the presence of the fatty acid omega-3. According to scientists this ingredient is ideal to keep your brain in good shape. Check Brainfood, a book written by Dutch journalist Froukje Wattel, if you need easy-to-make recipes with oily-rich fish and other brainfoods. Not in the mood to cook? Relax, I have found you a delicious brainbite: the mackerel salad of Vis van Henry. Henry, the owner of this fair fish store, grew up in the fishing village of Spakenburg. As a boy he used to help his uncle to smoke mackerel. The smoked fish Henry sells comes from small smokehouses where they still pickle and smoke by hand. No additives. No smoke flavours, no antibiotics. His mackerel salad is based on the purest mackerel I have ever eaten. A bit of mayonnaise, some fresh capers. To be eaten with bread, preferably with pain de campagne.
Vis van Henry
Mackerel salad, 100 grams, €3.00
Spaarndammerstraat 113, West (Spaarndammerbuurt), and several markets (check site)
+31 (0) 6 1314 71 49
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 10pm-5pm
Looking for something nice and easy to go with your favourite Pinot Gris or Chablis? Don’t look any further. Head for the Albert Cuyp market and stop at the fish stall or fish shop of the Steur brothers: Vishandel Albert Cuyp. Amongst the super fresh fish and tempting fruits demer you’ll find Mr(s) Right: a package of three quiches filled with chunks of cod and salmon, leek and cheese. Homemade stuff with a tasty and firm crust – not the soggy one bad cooks always end up with. These quiches are almost prêtà manger. It only takes fifteen minutes in an oven at 180 degree Celsius to get you and your wine ready to roll. After you have confiscated your quiches, do relax and explore the market. Check out the impressive selection of cheese, olives, nuts and fruits that’s for sale. Apart from the food there’s something else that explains the X-factor of this place: the quirky humour of the vendors. A friend of mine moved to Amsterdam years ago. On her first day she went to ‘De Cuyp’ and bought two cucumbers. The vendor looked at her, smiled and said: ‘Have fun tonight, schat (darling).’ Welcome to Amsterdam!
Vishandel Albert Cuyp
Fish quiches, one package (3),€3.50
Albert Cuypstraat 155 (fish stall and fish shop), South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 845 67 72
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm
Amsterdam has many Moroccan fish shops. Eager to discover the best of the bunch I asked a Moroccan cab driver to help me out. Without any hesitation he said: ‘Tresor de mer! If my family has something to celebrate, we go to that place. Tresor’s plates of calamari, prawns, sole and other seafood are famous. The fish soup is great too.’ The next day I visited the shop. The giant pieces of fish tortilla instantly caught my eye. The scent of fresh fried filled sardines made my stomach rumble – at 10 am, god, I’m a pig. Suddenly I spotted a black bowl filled with the legendary fish soup, the one made by the father of the house. And that his kids sell with pride. The soup is made from tomatoes, pepper, parsley, paprika and lots of salmon and cod. All these ingredients create a pure and rich taste. The slice of lemon that comes with it is a bonus. A dash of lemon juice adds some freshness to the soup; it softens the salty taste and makes the soup even more powerful. Take a portion home or eat it on the table behind the window.
Tresor de mer
Moroccan fish soup, one portion, €3.00
Postjesweg 81, West (De Baarsjes)
+31 (0) 20 489 01 50
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-7pm