Foreign Food in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most diverse and multicultural cities, so it’s no surprise that you can find food from all over the world. In fact, some of the best food in the Dutch capital has its roots abroad, having been brought in by immigrant cultures, or simply established due to a fascination with foreign and exotic food from the natives.
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Amsterdam has a sizeable Indonesian population, and the influence this has had on the city’s food scene is so strong that many locals consider Indonesian food a kind of local dish. Order a risjttafel (rice table), which is a medley of small dishes designed to let you sample food from all over the Spice Islands. Visit Blauw, just outside of the city, for the most popular and authentic Indonesian food in the city, or enjoy live music with your food at Coffee & Jazz.
Thai food is also increasingly popular in the Dutch capital, perhaps because more people than ever before are visiting Thailand these days. Bird is home to an almost-overwhelming menu of curry dishes, while Kinnaree’s excellent location (just by Anne Frank House) makes it the perfect place to round off a day of sight-seeing.
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There are a large number of Surinamese people in the Netherlands, and although they have not influenced the Dutch food spectrum quite as much as the Indonesian population, you can find plenty of Surinamese and Javanese food in Amsterdam. Surinamese food tends to take in influences from other cultures too, such as Chinese and Hindu traditions, and this can be seen in restaurants such as Wan Pipel, the Surinam-Indian restaurant.
Warung Marlon offers authentic Javanese food, such as bakabana (fried plantain in peanut sauce), as well as rice and noodle dishes, all served in humble surroundings, while New Draver serves up Surinamese and Creole soulfood in a laid-back and unpretentious restaurant.
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Oriental & Far Eastern
The enduring popularity of Chinese food all over the world is testament to its quality and versatility. Amsterdam’s Sea Palace is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese food in the city, looking like a floating pagoda in the river, and with a comfortable bar area downstairs too. Sherpa offers traditional Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine, including dumplings and noodles, or dishes mildly spiced with Himalayan herbs.
Sushi has been popular in Amsterdam for a long time now, and the fashion in Holland is to serve it as all-you-can-eat. Genki is one of the most popular all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants in the city. For an alternative Japanese dining experience, try Japanese Pancake World, which serves pancakes in Osaka style, with mayo and sauce, Hiroshima style, with noodles, cabbage and other toppings or Negi-yaki, similar to Hiroshima style but with spring onions rather than cabbage.
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The size and diversity of cultures in Africa means that traditional food from the continent varies wildly depending on the region. Paloma Blanca may have a Spanish name, but the surroundings, decoration and food on offer is straight out of a Moroccan Souk, with cous cous and tajine dishes featuring a range of meats and vegetables.
Head to Azmarino to sample traditional meat stews, flavoured with authentic Eritrean and Ethiopian spices. There’s no cutlery here, your dish will be served with thick pancakes which you use to scoop your meat, and your beer served in a coconut shell. It’s a social way to eat, with wonderful African music and décor too.
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Despite its popularity with British tourists, Indian food is actually surprisingly rare in Amsterdam. That’s not to say that you can’t find quality Indian food in the Dutch capital, however, and Moti Mahal is among the best around. With an extensive menu offering traditional Indian meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, as well as curries and desserts all beautifully presented, Moti Mahal is the ideal destination for Indian food in the city.
Alternatively, Ashoka offers fine Indian and Nepalese cuisine and Vijaya specialises in northern Indian Swadish food, both offering a unique Indian dining experience.
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Middle Eastern & Turkish
Turkish cuisine has been around in Amsterdam for almost as long as Indonesian food, and is popular and visible throughout the entire city. Levant is one of the city’s most popular specialist Middle Eastern restaurants, with a wide-ranging menu inspired by the Levantine people, Europeans who inhabited Turkey, Syria and the Lebanon. Divan also offers a sit-down alternative to the many takeaway Turkish and Lahmacun spots in the city, offering a selection of hot and cold mezze, as well as meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
Meanwhile, Artist offers great-value Lebanese and other middle-eastern food including hummus, shawarma, mezze, soups and more.
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As you’d imagine, Amsterdam offers a range of food from its European neighbours. La Zoccola del Pacioccone is a traditional pizzeria with a cool, retro décor and a huge stone oven, while Pasta Pasta’s two locations offer cheap and cheerful pasta dishes, with sauces made fresh that day, and the options to add in plenty of toppings and ingredients.
La Oliva offers food from Spain’s Basque region, including their popular pintxos (small meat skewers) for a great price, while Mercat offers a range of tapas dishes in a restaurant with a Spanish food market vibe. For an elegant French dining experience, try Ciel Bleu, with its gorgeous décor and wonderful wine list.
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The Dutch love a steak, and there aren’t many cultures in the world who cook steaks as well as they do in Argentina, so it’s no surprise to see Argentinian steakhouses all over the Dutch capital. One of the finest is Toro Dorado, which has a fantastic al fresco dining area for when the weather co-operates. Alternatively, try Gauchos, a Dutch chain restaurant offering Argentinian steaks at a range of prices, or Alberto’s, which has a reputation as the finest Uruguayan steakhouse in the city.
For an authentic Brazilian dining experience, try The Samba Kitchen, and stuff yourself with barbecued beef, washed down with caipirinhas! Finally, Mashua offers a range of dishes inspired by South American, southern European and other cuisines, with a separate lunch and dinner menu.
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