chinese food

Tai Wu (Rotterdam, Netherlands): Great Dim Sum That Doesn't Require Reservations

THE STORY

You may be wondering “‘Doesn’t require reservations?’ What dim sum place does?”

The one I tried to go to before going to Tai Wu. That restaurant.

It was my birthday. I had been planning to get dim sum on my birthday for weeks. Generally, the way it works is that you get up and out the door by 10 a.m. on a Saturday in order to beat the rush. First come, first serve.

Tai Wu Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant Rotterdam Netherlands Holland asian food travel craving

There have been multiple occasions when I end up hangry by the time I arrive at the dim sum restaurant, only to wait another 30 minutes for a table. It’s just an accepted reality of dim sum: you eat nothing so that you can wait for an unknown amount of time to then stuff your face with dumplings. Regardless of where you are, these rules hold true.

Or so I thought.

We arrived at the dim sum restaurant, and they asked if we had a reservation. At first, I thought “Is he speaking to me in Dutch? Because I don’t think I understood his question.” But he then repeated himself and yes, he was confirming whether I made a reservation.

Tai Wu Chinese Dim Sum Restaurant Rotterdam Netherlands dumplings haam sui gau wu gok asian craving travel

After telling him we did not have a reservation, he said that he could not seat us. In my hangry state, I muttered something snide and proceeded to leave.

I had previously marked Tai Wu as another restaurant to try, and so we went, hoping they would let us sit without a reservation. To our delight, they sat us immediately.

Tai Wu has a few dozen tables for various-sized parties, but most are large enough to fit a lazy Susan in the center. And while no one was carting around trolleys of dumplings (which is no longer commonplace in dim sum restaurants), there a luxurious chandelier hanging from the high ceiling.

By this point, I was ravenous.

(The Ramen Marauder claims I was creeping on another table’s food in this picture)

(The Ramen Marauder claims I was creeping on another table’s food in this picture)

When restaurants still pushed dumpling carts around the tables, it was easier to pace myself. I had to wait patiently for the dumplings I wanted. Now, however, I can order all of them at once, which usually leads to a combination of shameful overeating and a waste of food.

Maybe this article will serve as a reminder to my future self not to order so much. But probably not.

Tai Wu Chinese Dim Sum Restaurant Rotterdam Netherlands chicken feet lo baak gou asian craving travel

THE REVIEW

When ordering dim sum from a menu, usually the options are limited. Not at Tai Wu! They had everything I wanted: siu mai, har gao, chicken feet, fried taro, those glutinous rice balls filled with ground meat, baos, turnip cakes…it was a joy.

If you wake up craving dim sum on a Saturday morning, bring your appetite to Tai Wu.


Tai Wu, Mauritsweg 24-26, 3012 JR Rotterdam, Netherlands, +31 (0)10 433 0818

Mookata (Rotterdam, Netherlands): Korean BBQ and Chinese Hot Pot in One Delicious Spot

THE STORY

Sometimes I’m not a fan of the Instagram and Facebook algorithms. I get weird recommendations, like for a club I’d never go to or nude-colored heels because I searched for them once for a wedding. But every once in a while, the algorithm strikes gold.

That’s how I learned about Mookata.

Mookata Restaurant Rotterdam Nederlands Korean BBQ Chinese Hot Pot asian food asian craving flat lay

But let’s backtrack a bit - what is Chinese Hot Pot? It’s not something I had never experienced, but I saw a bunch of Hot Pot restaurants throughout the States when I visited recently.

There is a pot of broth warmed on the table, and then various ingredients are added to it: fish cakes, pork belly, noodles, napa cabbage, marinated beef, fried tofu…it’s unlimited options and bottomless servings (well, at least at Mookata it is, for 2 1/2 hours).

I, however, had overlooked the Hot Pot aspect of it and was excited enough just for Korean BBQ.

Mookata Restuarant Rotterdam Nederlands Korean BBQ Chinese Hot Pot side dishes asian craving

Mookata is long, spacious restaurant right on the Hofplein roundabout. The Ramen Marauder and I sat at a four-top table, and considering how much food we ordered, I’m glad we did!

I’d say “Asian Fondue BBQ and Grill” is a pretty good way to describe the dining experience. First, you pick your broth, toppings, and side dishes. I initially thought we only ordered once, but you can keep ordering toppings and side dishes as you eat. (The cost of the food is just the per person price, which varies depending on the day.)

They will then turn on your burner and warm up the broth. When your first round of toppings arrives, you’ll add a cube of lard onto the grill, and once it’s oiled, you can begin!

Mookata Restaurant Rotterdam Nederlands Korean BBQ Chinese Hot Pot noodle bowl pork belly fish cakes marinated beef asian craving

THE REVIEW

Our soup base was chicken broth and our sauces were teriyaki, crispy chili oil, and sweet chili sauce. Of all the “Fondue and BBQ” options available, we tried Thai fish cakes, pork belly, Korean BBQ chicken, beef sweet BBQ sauce, usuyaki (a thinly sliced beef), bamboo shoots, baby corn, don don noodles, udon, and Chinese cabbage. We also ordered the Vietnamese loempia, curry triangles, spicy soya cucumbers, and spicy potatoes (they did not have the sichuan beans when we went).

When the food comes out, it’s all in tiny bowls (which I love). It doesn’t seem like much, but the grill and the broth fill up fast with all your items. And while it starts as a slow process, you eventually won’t be able to keep up with how much you need to cook versus how much you’re eating.

But that’s part of the fun: trying all the different options and cooking with friends. We ordered three rounds of food before we were comfortably stuffed.

Mookata Restaurant Rotterdam Nederlands Korean BBQ Chinese Hot Pot asian craving chili noodle pull

Considering we cooked the food ourselves, I was happy with how it was prepared. At first, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to relax and converse during dinner because we had to cook the food.

I realized, however, that I was overthinking it. You just put the “fondue” items in the broth, and then tend to your grilling meats while you talk. Once everything is cooked to your liking, you compose the perfect bowl of bites.

We cooked and ate and talked and ate and cooked and ate and talked some more, and before we realized it, nearly 2 1/2 hours had passed.

Mookata is a great spot for people who want Asian food, but aren’t sure everyone in the group will want Asian food. Plus, for those who aren’t good at splitting bills, the math here is simple: the per person cost (26,50-28,50€ depending on the day) plus your beverages. And keep in mind: this is an all-you-can-eat price for 2 1/2 hours.


Mookata Asian Fondue BBQ and Grill, Pompenburg 652, 3011 AX Rotterdam, Nederlands, +31 (0)10 210 80 26

An Easy Won Ton Soup Recipe That Will Fill Your Belly

THE STORY

Let's be honest with each other - no one really reads the story that goes with recipe blog posts. That being said, I do feel obligated to say something about why I made this.

After engorging myself with dim sum a couple weeks ago, I was still craving a taste of home. And when I say a taste of home, I mean a taste of something that makes me feel like me.

Hainan Chicken and Rice Gai lan Chinese Broccoli recipe Cantonese food

My parents never made won ton soup at home - we almost always went out for Chinese food, rather than making it at home. To be fair, my mom didn't make Chinese food, and my dad didn't start making dinner on a regular basis until I was in middle school.

But even then, we had so many delicious Chinese restaurants in town, so why cook at home? And when I say Chinese restaurants, I'm not talking about Panda Express or a buffet that also serves french fries or a greasy spot that is almost strictly for to-go orders.

Easy Homemade Won Ton Soup simple recipe dumplings chicken soup Asian comfort food

I'm talking about restaurants with chandeliers and lazy Susans. I'm talking about restaurants that offer you one menu in English (with no pictures) and one in Chinese, assuming that non-Chinese speakers won't want certain dishes. I'm talking about restaurants that only serve dim sum on the weekends, don't accept reservations during that time, and serve you a variety of dishes from rolling carts directly to your table.

Maybe I'm just riding the hype of the recent release of Crazy Rich Asians (which I haven't seen yet), but I wanted a simple dish that helped me reset all the fervent chaos inside my head. So I made won tons and cooked them in the chicken broth left over from making Hainan chicken.

Easy Homemade Won Ton Soup recipe pork dumpling filling Chinese cooking

THE RECIPE

for the won tons:
500g ground pork
250g shrimp, cooked and minced
4-5 green onions
2/3 cup whole water chestnuts, minced*
1 tbsp shaoxing wine*
1 tbsp soy sauce*
1/2 tsp ground white pepper*
1 pack frozen won ton wrappers (thaw in fridge)

for the broth:
1 whole chicken (if you buy frozen, be sure to thaw it completely)
3-4 green onions
2-3 2-inch pieces of ginger, sliced in thirds*

parchment or foil
ziploc bag or container

*I didn't really measure these ingredients. These are my approximations.

1. Line at least one (if not two) baking sheet with parchment or foil that will fit in your freezer.

2. Combine all the won ton ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop a healthy teaspoon of filling onto center of a won ton square, then fold however you see fit (Woks of Life has some great suggestions).

3. When baking sheet is full, place it in freezer and start lining the other baking sheet with more won tons. If you don't have another baking sheet, leave the won tons until they won't stick to each other when you put them in the ziploc bag or container to store in the freezer.

4. Once you finish making the won tons, put the ginger and green onions into a large pot of water and bring to a boil. (I add enough water that looks like it'll cover the whole chicken.) When boiling, gently add the chicken butt-side down, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn the burner off and let sit for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove chicken to cutting board and tent with foil. Bring the pot of water with green onions and ginger up to a gentle boil for another 2 hours. I usually keep the lid cracked on top.

At this point, you can scoop some broth out to cook rice, or make a dipping sauce with a squeeze of lime juice, a teaspoon of sugar, and a healthy shake of fish sauce.

6. Scoop broth into a smaller pot for cooking the won tons. Bring broth to a boil, then add as many frozen won tons as you like. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve as you like.