Eating in Amsterdam

March 1, 2012



A friend and I spent last weekend in Amsterdam. Quite a lot of things went wrong. We arrived to find a rather inappropriate transparent shower cubicle in our shared room, I got sick, we crashed our hired bicycles in the middle of a major junction causing chaos and we missed both our trains home. Through sheer grit and determination however, we did manage to fit in some good grub.

After 5 hours of train and tram travel, we were starving and headed straight to Albina in Albert Cuypstraat for some Surinamese food, a cuisine I’d never even heard of until we started looking into places to eat in the dam. The South American Republic of Suriname was a former colony of The Netherlands and so there are a lot of Dutch Surinamese living (and cooking) in Amsterdam. Completely coincidentally, a reader e-mailed me about Surinamese food almost as soon as we arrived back in London (weird), so I know that our first dish of fried potatoes topped with a kind of fish floss is usually made with cassava. Maybe it even was cassava. She also told me that the floss on top is called teloh, made with cod. Like kids in a sweetshop we excitedly doused it with the various condiments on the table, our favourite being a kind of sweetened soy concoction.

Moksi meti (above) was a dish of roasted chicken, pork, sausage and green beans in a sweet sauce; it was lovely but no match for the flakiest of rotis which came atop a mild chicken curry (below). Underneath the roti nestled boiled potatoes, which had spent their time soaking up all the precious sauce and were to be squished, savoured, treasured and fought over. Despite being full to bursting we managed to pack away most of this. The boiled egg however, was a bridge too far.

The next day we managed to pack in a bit of sandwich action despite my sickness, in the form of herring rolls from a stall called Frens Heringshandel. Two glistening fillets of rich herring were beautifully soft, contrasted by crunchy nuggets of diced onion and sweet/sharp pickles. I would have liked twice as many pickles but then, I always do. An excellent sammich. I warn you though, it makes you stink of fish and onions. This wasn’t a problem for me and my mate; we’d been sharing a bed and a room with a see through shower compartment and a toilet in the middle. Fishy onion breath was nothing.

On the subject of street eats, I’d definitely recommend also grabbing a cone of chips at the awesomely named Vleminckx Sausmeesters on Voetboogstraat. The chips seemed triple fried to me as the exterior was thick and crunchy. Topped with a sweetened mayo and diced onion they were excellent. The service was very fast, which is just as well as the queue was constant; a steady stream of tourists and locals, with more than the odd incredibly stoned person after a cure for the munchies.

On the other end of the street food scale, there’s the Febo automats. That’s deep fried stuff, plus burgers and sausages, from a vending machine. I kid you not. The poor burgers looked incredibly sad and the shrivelled sausages were a sorry sight but we chose a deep fried sausage shaped thing which was labelled ‘vegetarian’. It turned out to be filled with a very salty cheesy mushroomy gloop which was actually rather addictive, and I wasn’t even drunk. Worth a try if you’re game for a laugh.

So there’s a few pointers for you, in case you find yourself in the dam with an appetite. Ahem. We also visited a fancier restaurant which my friend assures me was lovely; I wouldn’t know because it was then I got sick and so ended up sitting there watching her eat it alone. Woe! Still, I pushed on through in the name of research, even grabbing a second herring sandwich for the train home. The one we were a spectacular two hours late for.

Eurostar return to Amsterdam from £99. It takes 5 hours but for someone like me who has a fear of flying, it’s an appealing option. 

Albert Cuypstraat 69, 1072 CN Amsterdam

Frens Heringshandel
Singel Hoek Koningsplein, 1017 AW Amsterdam

Vleminckx Sausmeesters
Voetboogstraat 31, Amsterdam

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  • Avatar
    Reply jessica March 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Ha reading this makes me miss Am*dam a bit 😉 You definitely had the best herring in town and also the best ‘vlaamse frieten’ =fries.
    The veg snack is called ‘kroket’.
    Those are indeed fried cassava and the dish is called teloh and that floss is cod.
    Come to dinner here some time and I’ll cook for you 😉

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 6:16 am

      Ah thank you for naming the mystery veg snack! Thanks also for all the other info you gave me. I am looking forward to trying your food 😉

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    Reply ileana March 2, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Wow, what interesting food.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 6:16 am

      Yup, just wish I could have eaten more but then you know, there’s only so much I can do it 2 days. Even me!

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    Reply Y March 2, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Oh yum! Potatoes look awesome. I visited Amsterdam a long time ago and really loved it. Would love to go back, especially now that I know there are many more delicious things to try.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 8:23 am

      They were! Even though they were apparently cassava. Oops.

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    Reply Manne March 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Oh, you just made me miss Amsterdam so bad. I think a spring visit is on the cards.

    Especially for the chips. With lots of ‘Dam style satay sauce.

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      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

      ooho satay! mixing it up

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    Reply Russ March 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Genius! I’m going next week 🙂

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    Reply Catfordandy March 2, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Those chips look great. I have been to Amsterdam many times and they are typically a bit thinner than that. There are some really good Indonesian places there, The rijsttafel (rice table) can be really good if you find a good one.

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      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Ah yes! We really wanted to try the rice table thingamy but just couldn’t fit it in sadly. Sounds great though.

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    Reply Tori March 2, 2012 at 9:59 am

    The novelty of the Febos shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ve got such fond food memories of Amsterdam. Particularly the apple cake. I think I ate my body weight in apple cake while we were there.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

      I HAD NO APPLE CAKE! Deprived!

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    Reply Shu Han March 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I once met 2 guys from amsterdam, funnily when I was travelling in Thailand. We were talking about food, and they said there’s nothing to eat there except potatoes and onions, apparently very boring repetitive food. As a result, I’ve never had the urge to go there, but I’m glad you showed me it’s not that way at all!

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      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Ha ha! Hilarious that one of the items (chips) is potatoes and onions though. But still, the herring the Surinamese and also the rice table thing that Catfordandy mentioned – there’s loads! Maybe they were unadventurous.

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    Reply Ben March 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Sorry to hear about all the things that went wrong. But food makes everything better, right?
    Great pictures!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      it does indeed! And thanks.

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    Reply shona chambers (@sathlondonshona) March 2, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Those chips look so nice! I could eat them now…sorry the overall weekend wasnt legendary though….

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      Well it was still a fun weekend! The chips helped.

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    Reply Sophie March 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I am sooo happy to find out that you and Hollow legs are friends! I have loved both of your blogs for ages, being a south east London girl myself (Walworth Road) and a huge food lover.

    Great writing! Keep it up! – And if you ever need a food taster or person to accompany you on random south east food adventures I would gladly help out ; )

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 3, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Your detective skills are second to none Sophie! Yes we are now closer than ever due to sharing that room 😉 You’re welcome to join us for dinner some time, of course.

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    Reply Chris March 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Always remember Bill Bailey on Dutch food, even if it does seem a bit unfair in the light of the food you found: “You wanna toashtie? We got ham toastie, cheese toastie… cheese and ham toastie… you want a bit of onion?? Oho, you crazy man!”

    Also I feel your pain but I’m glad now I’m not the only one to sit in a posh restaurant watching other people eat…

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 3, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Ha! Yes although it wasn’t the food that got me, sadly (sniffle). A mouthful of mushroom cannelloni did pass my lips but after that…

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    Reply msmarmitelover March 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Great piece…

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Cheers Kerstin!

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    Reply Yas March 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Very fond memories of coming across Febo for the first time, about 20 years ago… it was during my first visit to dam, and after my first visit to a coffee shop…. wandering the streets, searching for something to curb our crippling munchies, we came upon this cathedral of fatty snacks. It almost seemed to be bathed in heavenly light (it was the neons) and we spent a good long time in there that night, chomping away…

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      Reply Helen March 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Ha! Brilliant. I bet most of the people eating from those machines are doing so post-coffee shop. “Cathedral of fatty snacks” – love it.

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    Reply Gin and Crumpets March 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    You had a herring and onion sandwich – hooray! They are excellent.

    An ex with a Dutch mum introduced me to the ways of Dutch cuisine and even though the Dutch insist they don’t have any food worth considering, I think it’s excellent stuff. Mostly because it’s based around potatoes, onions, cake and noodles. Who doesn’t love that?

    Although, I’m disappointed to see no novelty chocolate penis among your haul from the market on Albert Cuypstraat market. You aren’t going to tell me they don’t sell them anymore. A holiday in Amsterdam with no novelty chocolate genitalia is an incomplete trip, imho.

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      Reply Helen March 4, 2012 at 8:38 am

      I know. I have let you down by not finding a chocolate penis in the dam. It can’t be that hard, right? Most of all though, I’ve let myself down. There is a gaping, chocolate penis shaped hole in my life. I must return!

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    Reply Anonymouse March 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I remember those vending machines, there was one snack that my mate and I loved. We went round the Dam searching all the machines for it.
    Last time was with the girlfriend, we found the most amazing cake shop, goodness knows where, the best cake I have ever had, no they were not space cakes. Also we found the Ben and Jerrys ice cream parlour, massively bigger than any U.K. one I have seen.

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      Reply Helen March 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

      I didn’t see that Ben and Jerry’s place! Damn! I’m always on the lookout for an ice cream fix too.

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    Reply Favourite Table March 23, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Amsterdam a Place of restaurents. i enjoyed very much when ever i was in amsterdam and its was just amazing movement.

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    Reply Simon R March 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Febo! It’s hilarious and disgusting and irresistible all at the same time. Yuk. But, yum! Keep up the good work!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen March 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      Exactly! Couldn’t have put it better.

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    Reply Wendy April 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Off to Amsterdam this weekend and am looking forward to trying out the Suranamese place. Thanks. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen April 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Wicked. Let me know what you think, Wendy!

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    Reply Marianne March 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Don’t forget Indonesian food when you’re in Holland! Another former colony, and as some commenters mentioned already, the satay (or as the Dutch say: saté) is another very nice street food.

    This satésaus is also used along the sweetened mayonnaise on your fries. It’s called “patatje oorlog”, and usually served with diced onions as well.

    In recent years, a combination of fries with doner kebab, salad, and grilled cheese on top has become very popular under the name “Kapsalon”, which means “hairdresser”. Yes, very strange. If you get it at a good place, it can be a very calorific experience you won’t forget.

    If you have a sweet tooth, do go for a nice pancake with bacon and cheese and syrup on top. Mmmmm…

    Personally, I also miss the nice tenderloin steak of Cafe Loetje, near Museumplein. They also have very nice smoked eel as a starter. Very popular with the locals. They don’t ask you how you want your steak, because if you go there that means you like a good steak, and a good steak should be served medium rare. Period. 🙂

    Yaaay, now I’m really looking forward to going back there next week. But how to eat all that food in just a few days 🙁

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    Reply adbee May 7, 2013 at 7:34 am

    doing travel and food shots in amsterdam is always amazing, when i found the vending machine i can eat till drop some local food, really miss to back there again

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