It’s not the cheapest Indonesian spring roll in town, but it sure is the best. Chicken, tofu, bamboo shoots, cabbage and shrimps. Even writing about this filling makes me drool. Most spring rolls have an overkill of bean sprouts. Cheap yeah, but very boring. Bamboo shoots instead make up for a spring roll with a bite, one that’s tastier as well. Especially if you add small shrimps too. The spring roll I am talking about goes by the name lumpia speciaal. It’s made by the cook of my all-time favourite Indonesian shop and takeaway: Toko Ramee. I could eat this special spring roll for days in a row. Together with other Ramee-stuff, such as the famous lemper, sticky rice with a stuffing of shredded chicken. The fried pieces of tempeh with tamarind are an excellent alternative for potato crisps. And have I already told you about the hard-to-find dessert Ramee sells? Kue talam! A white-brown pudding combining salty coconut cream, gula djawa (Javanese palm sugar) and daun pandan (pandan leaves). If it’s something exotic you need, then this is definitely it!
Toko Ramee Lumpia speciaal, one, €2.95
Ferdinand Bolstraat 74, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 662 20 25
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm
Don’t you just love the beach? Bare feet in the sand, a dip in the water, good booze and food at your fingertips. The frittura di pesce (fried fishes) of il Pecorino would definitely fit in that setting. This trattoria and pizzeria with a huge terrace isn’t on the beach, but these fishes dressed in a thin, slightly salted crust have ‘beach’ written allover their juicy bodies. They come with the sweetest lemon you’ll ever find. Some juice dashes of this sun-drenched lemon wonderfully enhances the taste of the calamari, sardines and shrimps. A glass of the white house wine or an ice-cold Italian beer will take your mood to an even higher level. And so does the scent of pizzas coming straight out of the wood-fired oven – the one with sausage of Tuscany and grilled vegetables is very mama mia. On top of it Il Pecorino serves hard-to-find dishes too, such as a risotto with a bolognese sauce of duck and a farinata, a ‘chicken peas pancake’ with a topping of onion, black pepper and – here he is again – the tasty sausage of Tuscany.
il Pecorino Frittura di pesce, one portion for two, €14.50
Van der Pekstraat 2, Noord
+31 (0) 20 737 15 11
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 5pm-11pm
Meet Billy! He’s the cute man in the kitchen. The one who chops and stir-fries with a smile. He used to be the cook of Little Thai Prince in Chinatown, but three years ago he opened his own restaurant and takeaway: Billy Thai. It’s hugely popular and this is why: excellent food, friendly service, a cosy decor. Orchids on the windowsill, candlelight, pictures of King Bhumibol, Queen Sirikit and our royal couple on the walls. Have a seat in Billy’s living room, inhale the scent of stir-fried basil, ginger and garlic and let him spoil you with a mix of duck, ginger and mushrooms, king prawns in garlic and pepper sauce or thalee samrod, prawns, squid and fish in a spicy, sweet-and-sour sauce. Get yourself a soup too: tom yam koeng. It has all the hot (red chillies) and sour (lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal) flavours you’d expect and much more. Love the prawns, coriander leaves and mushrooms with a bite. This soup brings back happy memories of the first time I had it. Bangkok, 1996, a food stall near Khao San Road. It was hot and humid, singer-starlet Sabrina sang Boys, Boys, Boys, the soup set my senses on fire. Love at first sight.
Billy Thai Tom yam koeng, one, €6.00
Prinsengracht 358, City Centre
+31 (0) 20 330 42 20
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 4pm-11pm