Once again, I will have to fill you guys in with last night’s dinner, as I posted my blog post before we went out to eat, and it turned out to be one of the best meals we’ve eaten in Paris. Knowing we would be getting up at 5am for the train to Amsterdam, we didn’t want to stray too far from the hotel for some decent food, and decided to peruse the immediate area in an attempt to find a gem. We very nearly settled on a little café serving cheap but alright looking food, when I spotted the sign for “Miss Hú” and went over to do some recon; Asian cuisine is my absolute favourite, and as soon as I saw the menu, I asked Jacob if he fancied the look of it, and to my delight he agreed.
We entered to be greeted by a tiny Chinese woman who was effervescing with energy; she was actually hilarious, and although she didn’t speak English, the menus did. From the way in which the French speaking diners were watching her and laughing to one another throughout our meal, we summarized that she must be Miss Hú, and that her personality contributes a lot to the experience of dinner. Anyway, after flicking through the menu (which covers an extensive range of Chinese classics, as well as some exotic sounding specials), we ordered two small plates and two mains to share: 8 piece grilled pork dumplings (Raviolis grilles), 8 piece steamed beef dumplings (Bouchée au boeuf), beef with onion and fried rice (Riz sauté au boeuf oignon), and some chicken with fried noodles (Nouilles sautées au poulet).
The dumplings arrived promptly, freshly made by a chef in the front area of the restaurant, and as far as dumplings go, these were some of the best I’ve eaten in a long while. The pork dumplings had the perfect texture, crunchy on the base and soft on the ridge, and were packed with real meat, and real flavour. They had a subtle fragrance to them which was a really pleasant surprise, and made them quite a light morsel to tuck into. The steamed beef dumplings were also fantastic; I often find in crappy dumpling houses that the filling is a tiny ball of flavourless mystery, whilst the casing is huge in an attempt to disguise this. These, however, were the opposite. The casing struggled to contain the amount of juicy, tender beef packed in, leaving us half way to being full before the mains even arrived.
The chicken noodles were riddled with moist chunks of chicken, shredded carrot, and spring onion, with citrus hints provided by the wedge of orange served alongside, dripping flavour into the dish. The real highlight, for myself at any rate, was the beef; the strips were impossibly tender, the sauce was rich, and had wonderful depth to it that went really well with the sweet, crunchy onion and sticky rice. Miss Hú was attentive, filling our table water up when required, and clearing plates when they were empty; the atmosphere is relaxed , with pots of herbs in the window ledge and a giant piece of oriental art dominating the wall, and we were so, so happy to have found this place by complete accident. We would recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh, hearty fix for dinner. Overall it was EUR. 40 for the both of us, with drinks.
We went back, packed our bags ready for this morning, and tried to get some sleep, which I wasn’t too successful with. We got a taxi to the station, and after a brief wait (I recommend you get there early for the security checks), boarded the train to Amsterdam, where I read the book purchased on day two. Although our tickets were booked to go to Amsterdam Central, it turned out that it stopped at the airport just before, and that’s where we were meeting Tom – we decided to get off there so we were nearby when he arrived. I don’t know if it was the right decision, as there was nothing to see/do of any real interest, and I can imagine that the central station had plenty to offer as we sat through our wait. Grabbing a bite to eat in the lobby, we searched online for places that weren’t too far away, and discovered a coffee shop called “Superfly“. I pulled out my phone and hailed an Uber, which I can promise you is the best option as it arrived in no time at the pickup point outside departure exit B – if you don’t do this, you will be waiting for up to an hour for a taxi from the queue!
Within 15 minutes, we were there – it’s relatively inconspicuous, and we even thought it was closed as we approached, before a friendly bouncer came out and asked to check our IDs – after being let in through the glass doors, we went to the counter where there was a decent menu of weed and hash, ranging from EUR. 9 to EUR. 16.50 for a gram, with ratings of strength and whether it is indica, sativa or both. If you can’t roll, fear not, as they sell pre-rolled joints too, but it’s always best to roll your own. It’s much bigger than you would think, and a well stocked bar runs down the left hand side, selling natural soft drinks, smoothies, and iced coffees; I sampled the latter, and for EUR. 3 I got a fantastic coffee/caramel frappucino. The rest of the room is comprised of sofas, chairs, and tables, occupied by pleasant mannered customers enjoying their smoke. Jacob opted for a gram of Amnesia, for EUR. 11, whilst I decided not to partake as I was already knackered and didn’t want to waste the rest of the day. Even though I wasn’t smoking, it was a lovely environment to relax in, and we spent two hours playing chess, cards, and listening to the music, before getting an Uber back to the airport as Tom touched down.
With all three of us together, we dropped our things off at the hotel, changed, and walked down the luxury shopping street (Van Baerlestraat), past a particularly amazing antique store called “Kramer Kunst & Antiek“, which stocked an eclectic plethora of wares. The next few hours were comprised of exploring the various streets nearby, packed with galleries displaying everything from modern paintings to ancient oriental sculptures, antique shops, clothing stores, and bars. We ended up stopping at “Ter Marsch and Co” to test their boast of ‘The best burger in Amsterdam’. The staff are wonderfully pleasant here, and the open kitchen oozes the smell of grilling meat through the open plan seating area; there’s a vast menu of drinks, with beers between EUR. 5-6, gin and tonics for EUR. 10.50, and cocktails for the same. It is apparently renowned for it’s speciality burgers, and today’s was “Asian”: black Angus, wagyu, slow roasted belly pork, wasabi cremé and miso mayo, all for EUR. 12.75. We all got the same, and shared some brilliant crispy chips served with roasted garlic mayo – the burger was gigantic, and the belly pork was the highlight for me, tasting exactly like Char Siu. The bun is seeded and fresh, and the miso mayo ties all the weighty flavours together for a truly satisfying meal.
It was EUR. 63 for us each to have a burger, fries, and beer, which we didn’t think was too bad, and we went to sit by the canal to let it digest. Unfortunately, my phone died soon after, and thus I couldn’t make any detailed notes of what we did next – to be honest, we’ve reserved tomorrow for a cultural expedition, and spent the evening catching up with one another (as I haven’t seen Tom for over four months), and popping in and out of coffee shops, bars, and stores. I will say, however, that Amsterdam is like no other city I’ve ever been to; it seems to be in a bubble of it’s own, with the beauty of it’s serene canals and fantastic architecture standing side by side with the gritty streets of the red light district – it’s a heaving, bustling oxymoron, and I’m looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.
P.S The WiFi here isn’t good enough to upload photos for Amsterdam, but I will find somewhere tomorrow!