More Dutch adventures… expensive Asian food and other yummy things.
June 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Done with my first exam in Switzerland. My head hurts so much from the lack of academic stimulation over the past few months… I say academic and not intellectual stimulation, because there is a big chasm between two. Intellectual stimulation is enjoyable. Academic is largely regurgitation, even here. 3 more papers to go, one this Friday and 2 more in the last week of June after I come back from Barcelona (yes I’m off to Barca next Monday, envy me).
Okay… I have to drop the word ‘design’ from this entry because it’s finally about my favourite topic and the main staple of this blog before I came to Switzerland… FOOD glorious FOOD.
I finally caved in to my need to eat REAL Chinese food after 4 months (fried rice and eating instant noodles doesn’t count). So Walts and I scouted out some good Chinese food while we were in Rotterdam.
The Netherlands in general has loads of food of many diverse origins because of it’s colonial history. Loads of Indonesian, Thai, and of course, Chinese food everywhere.
Walts was buying a Crumpler camera bag so we asked the guy where we could get some authentic Chinese food, cause we’d been away from home for months and really wanted The Real Deal. He directed us a couple of streets down to the Chinatown-ish area where there were loads of Asian eateries… and his recommended place, which was famous among the local Dutch and Chinese populations alike: De Lange Muur.
It was really like a Hong Kong 餐厅; very very busy, Canto speaking staff, very loud conversations and a lot of Chinese people… Which I didn’t really mind, for once. We did hesitate quite a bit before going in though, because Asian food in Europe is RIDICULOUSLY expensive even with the good exchange rate at the moment. (When you have to fork out 12 euros for a plate of kang kong, you definitely do a double take.)
But our Chinese taste buds won the argument, and after wandering down the street and realizing prices weren’t going to get any cheaper, we decided that if we were going to blow a lot of money eating Asian food, we were better off spending it on the good stuff.
Walts examining the menu cause Liz can’t read it. They automatically gave us the Chinese text menu because we were Asian. The Dutchies get a picture book version with pictures of the various dishes and descriptions in Dutch. Lol.
Har Gao! Siew Mai! I miss dim sum DEARLY. I already told Jem Oh that when I return to Singapore I demand another dim sum & durian outing to Geylang ASAP. I think one of it was €3.80 and the other €4.20. And the money I had with me was changed at around 1.85, so go figure how much in SGD that cost.
Walt and I going trigger happy and getting weird stares. That stupid boy started nose bleeding as we were queuing up to get a seat. Then when we started eating he started bleeding even more. There was so much blood everywhere I think only the sheer fact of what food was in front of me stopped me from losing my appetite. I don’t know why all these things always happen to him when I’m eating with him. I still vividly remember the day he fainted in front of me after dinner at Plaza Sing sometime in December 2009.
Beef kuay teow. Not the way we do it in Singapore, but this was still omgood. The ‘chup’ was very nice. Plus all the chili (the kind that’s drowning in chili oil). Heaven. This was €10. Ha. Yes. Take that. For beef kuay teow! But it’s not as ridiculous as the €15 laksa we saw in Amsterdam a few days later.
Soooo.. the food was so awesomely satisfying, that even though we were spending an average of SGD$20 on food we could get at a third of the price back home, we went back there again the next evening.
Mixed veggies. This cost €13.50, I kid you not. But the portion was gianormous! In fact the portion of all the food there was gianormous. And this came with a big pot of rice that Walts had to finish most of because we also ordered duck chao mian.
Their portions are HUGE. Only the Chinese can finish this much food. It was funny to observe how all the Chinese patrons really wolfed everything down or at least tar pao-ed their leftovers, and all the Dutchies would be stuck at their tables having eaten less than half of the food, then throw everything else away. Walts and I had to painfully watch copious amounts of glorious Chinese food being swept off the table by waiters.
Second night’s bill was higher than the first. And I was stuffed up to my nostrils. But boy was it a very happy two evenings of indulgences. Much better than the Thai restaurant we ended up in on our first night in Amsterdam, where Walts ordered Thai Green Curry that was 99% coconut milk. And the €5 tom yam soup that I shared with him that was about the size of two Chinese tea cups. Pfft.
And this area is just on the next street from the Red Light District, which wasn’t all that interesting the day we went. (Our hostel, which is a Christian hostel, was funnily in between these two streets.) Someone told me that the prostitutes on display were as hot as models, but that day I only saw a few girls on display and they were either flabby or saggy, so no further comments about the Red Light District if any of you want to ask me ‘So How Was Amsterdam’s Famous RLD??’. And if you want to ask me whether I smoked pot, the obvious answer is: No.
Anyway I digress. Going back to food, Walts and I of course also had to try the famous Vlaamse Frites… supposedly the Dutchies eat it with heaps of mayo, but I don’t like mayo. So we tried this one with their definition of ‘curry sauce’.
From another stall in Amsterdam. This one was supposed ‘sambal olek’. The guy warned us when we ordered it that was ‘very spicy’. We gamely grinned and told him we could handle it and asked for more. He originally only gave me a tiny dollop the size of a 50 cent coin. There was nothing I have yet tried in Europe that can compare to the way we Singaporeans eat spice.
Our verdict? Salty. I’m quite convinced the Dutch like everything salty. And it was barely spicy and only very vaguely ‘sambal olek’. But the fries were nice. These are about the cheapest eats you can get off the streets, averaging €2 onwards.
I also had a really good muffin. €2.50 from a sandwich place. One thing I must say about the Dutch is that they make DAMN GOOD sandwiches. Which makes Lizzy happy because Lizzy likes sandwiches. And it also made her very depressed the first day she re-entered Switzerland and tried to buy sandwiches off the supermarket shelf, which were pathetic slices of bread with miserable single slices of cheese or ham for more than 4CHF.
But oh well. Muffins.
And finally, on my last day in Amsterdam I tried something from Burger Meester. I first read about it on GoAmsterdam while researching before my trip but never really thought about making a point to find the place. But it turned out that they had a few branches and there was one on the way to the Dutch Resistance Museum and opposite the Artis Zoo. (I was heading for the Museum, not the Zoo, though I would like to go there if I get to go back to Amsterdam.)
So after my 4 hours in the not-particularly-large museum (which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the perks of traveling alone is that I can spend as long as I want gazing at museum exhibits.), I decided to try this famed burger. I ordered a mini duck burger for €3.50.
And boy was it made for messy eating! The bun was so soft it was breaking apart because of all the meat juices and sauces. The sauce, cheese and meat was spilling out all over because the fillings were bigger than the bun. But it was a really enjoyable little burger while it lasted. The duck was lightly seared and slightly undercooked, which I liked anyhow since I’m a medium-rare sort. Yums.
And that’s almost the end of this little Dutch holiday series, probably one more entry to wrap up my day spent in the Red Cross Museum in Geneva and to talk about all the stuff I got on this trip. This was really the most ‘holiday’ trip for me so far. No rushing around cheonging museums and trying to get 1000 done in one day like we did in Italy. Very relaxing, very enjoyable, and I spent most of my money enjoying food, museums, buying books and postcards.
Think I’m finally settling into the Ways of Chill as they do it here. Europeans really know how to relax and enjoy life. My first couple of months in Switzerland I was permanently restless and edgy because a workaholic like me really couldn’t understand the concept of having NOTHING to do. But I’m finally starting to learn how to relax. :] Shall enjoy the remaining months of it before it’s back to crazy-can’t-stop-working Singapore again.
Okay. Time to study for one more paper on Friday. Then off to Barcelona on Monday!