netherlands

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

Sapporo Ramen SORA (Amsterdam, Netherlands): A Spiritual Ramen Experience

THE STORY

I just can't stay away from ramen.

I enjoy eating it when I'm happy. I enjoy eating it when I'm sad. I enjoy it on a cold, rainy day. I enjoy it on a hot afternoon as the sun sets. While I may devour a bowl of ramen in merely minutes, I do truly try to savor it.

This experience at Sapporo Ramen SORA was no different, yet the ramen was exceptional. The shop is narrow, much like everything else in Amsterdam. There were one or two tables that could fit parties of 4 or more, but the rest appeared to be 2-tops.

Sapporo Ramen Sora Amsterdam Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen Noodle Soup Netherlands

When we arrived in the early evening, we took the last open table in this tiny ramen shop. The menu, as always, offered quite the span of ramen, as well as some classic appetizers and cold beverages.

Sapporo Ramen SORA, however, had a slightly different energy than other ramen spots we had recently been to. Maybe it was because we were in Amsterdam, and so the crowd felt more international. Or maybe it was because the restaurant was simply full and buzzing. Or maybe it was everyone's anticipation that electrified the air.

Whatever the cause may have been, it all became insignificant when I took my first bite of ramen.

The Asian Craving Sapporo Ramen Sora Amsterdam Netherlands Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen with Cha Siu and Fried Garlic

THE REVIEW

I ordered the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen, which is apparently the signature dish at their sister resturant Ishii.

No bite of a dish is ever as bright as that first innocent, unexpected experience of the food meeting your taste buds. That's how I felt about this bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The first slurp of broth was just as magical as the following ten. I just kept slurping and slurping and slurping, thoroughly enjoying each spoonful as its own experience, but also fearing that the ecstasy would fade.

I can no longer remember the exact flavor profile of my first bite, but I can tell you that it didn't matter to me what else was in my bowl. I've generally felt that a perfect bite of noodle soup has some combination of broth, noodles, and accoutrements.

But what if it isn't? What if the broth is all you want from a noodle soup? Does it still succeed as a good bowl of noodle soup? These are the existential questions this meal presented.

It was salty like a shoyu, and creamy like a tonkotsu, and a perfect balance of flavor, like there was nothing else I could want from it, other than to have more. Is this what umami means? Because I'm only cultured enough to know how to spell it, not to define it.

I implore you to visit Sapporo Ramen SORA so that you can at least tell me whether this is, in fact, the experience of umami perfection.


Sapporo Ramen Sora (no reservations), Ceintuurbaan 49, 1072 ET Amsterdam, the Netherlands, +31 (0)20 664 4396

Foo Concepts (Rotterdam, Netherlands): Asian Sweets and Savory Delights

THE STORY

I have been posting about a lot of ramen spots lately, so I wanted to write about somewhere else I've been, so that you know that I know that ramen isn't the only Asian food out there. (Though it is oh so delicious...)

Egg puff waffles seem to be very popular these days (see my post about chicken n' waffles at Nomo Rotterdam). Pictures of them used as cones are common across Instagram, though I hadn't seen any tagged near me - that is, until I learned about Foo Concepts.

Foo Concepts Rotterdam Restaurant Netherlands dijon chicken egg puff egg waffle with bubble milk tea latte

Foo Concepts is a small, vibrant spot on Hoogstraat in the Rubroek neighborhood of Rotterdam. The handful of tables they have are low to the ground, with stools and benches for seating. One wall has a huge mural of their logo creature dressed as various beloved anime characters.

To me, this feels like a neighborhood cafe because it's unique. It doesn't look like anywhere else I've been in the city, and it certainly doesn't serve the same menu. Foo Concepts doesn't blend into the monotony of coffee spots scattered throughout the urban landscape. It's a destination, but also still a place to stumble upon.

Foo Concepts Rotterdam Restaurant Netherlands California sushi sandwich onigiri food porn places to eat

THE REVIEW

The fact that this is a cafe should not have you believe that you will eat lightly here (though you could, I guess). The Ramen Marauder and I ordered quite the variety: a matcha latte bubble tea, a taro latte bubble tea, a California sushi sandwich, a dijon chicken egg waffle, and a pulled pork egg waffle. While he prefers sweet and I prefer savory, the dijon chicken and the pulled pork were great compromises for lunch.

As a fan of onigiri and the sushi burrito trend, I loved the California sushi sandwich. It's dense, but the flavors are fresh - the rice, the nori, the cucumber, even the imitation crab. Have you ever described a sandwich as "refreshing"? And it's filling, too.

Foo Concepts Rotterdam Restaurant Netherlands pulled pork egg puff egg waffle with bubble tea latte places to eat

The egg waffle dishes were also quite substantial, though I expected the egg puffs to be less airy and crunchy. It was perfect, however, for the meats and sauces because the egg waffle never became soggy. The Marauder and I agreed that the dijon chicken was our favorite of the two, but we're picky about pulled pork (if you come from the American South, you may think the pork is too dry).

We haven't had a chance to try the sweet egg waffles yet, but hopefully there will be a follow-up post soon, because I can't wait to go back!


Foo Concepts, Hoogstraat 67A, 3011 PH Rotterdam, Netherlands, +31 6 83057144