Zuma – Bring the Black Card and Expect Fabulous Food

I have been to Zuma in London and Hong Kong, so I knew what to expect.


1)Wear your trendiest duds.

2) Have a reservation.

3) Leave your cash at home, just bring your credit card and prepare to pay a LOT.

4) The vibe is sexy. The drinks are really well made. And the food is mother-freakin’ fabulous. This is the perfect place for a blow out birthday meal or bachelor/bachelorette experience.

20150209_191953 Old fashioned

Whistle Pig bourbon and an entire shaved iceberg in the glass. I don’t even like old fashioneds and this was excellent. Side note – they need to stock their bar with all of the booze that’s on the menu. The one murky spot in otherwise awesome night.  20150209_195543 Soft shell crab

Where the hell do they get soft shell carb so great in the off season?  Creamy, crunchy, and buttery with the slightly salty taste of the sea. Flash fried and greaseless, well salted and served with a tangy yuzu dipping sauce.  20150209_202229 Wasabi scallion scallop sashimi

Light, soft, velvety and punctuated with sharp scallions and a tiny hit of wasabi. One tasty sashimi dish.  20150209_202647 Negitoro maki

Excellent, though for the price, I would get another fusion dish, like the excellent miso black cod. This is really great, don’t get me wrong – I just prefer to do my sushi eating at the bar. I know, I know – I’m snobby and I like it that way.
20150209_204303 Ginger-ponzu asparagus

Oh yeah, this was the night’s sleeper hit! Who would have thought that some simple, char-grilled asparagus could be so satisfying?! Meaty, fresh, crispy, and topped with a tangy-sour-sweet sauce that was so good that we ended up drizzling it all over everything else at the table.
20150209_211208 Steak

A HUGE portion and a really satisfying steak. Grilled to a succulent medium – totally pink with no bloody red or overdone gray. Cut into bite sized pieces and served in a sweet teriyaki marinade. This really satisfies those red meat cravings.

Zuma is super pricey but also super beautiful with great service and an interesting, utterly crave-worthy menu. Think Morimoto with a location that’s more convenient to uptown with a sexier, darker decor. I would come here again as soon as I could either apply for another credit card or at least justify the expense.

How does tomorrow sound?

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese chicken salad is SO under-represented on the east coast.

I don’t know why that is. Is it because Wolfgang Puck, creator of the world’s finest Chinese chicken salad, focused on the west coast in is heyday? Is it because NYC focuses more on dim sum and miso cod and less on the light food that you need on the incredibly hot, often arid weather on the west coast?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Bottom line: I need Chinese chicken salad in my life. And here is what that salad needs:

-soft, moist, poached or roasted but certainly not grilled chicken

-cabbage, not lettuce

-something crunchy

-a dressing that is a little spicy, a little sweet, and incredibly tart and refreshing.

So what’s a gal to do?

Make it herself, of course.

Chinese Chicken Salad

chinese chicken salad Ingredients:

1 package shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix

1 shallot, half in large slices and half in small dices

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Enough wine or beer to barely cover the chicken in a shallow saute pan

1 cup cilantro, cleaned and chopped

1 tsp. chopped ginger

1 clove garlic, diced

pita chips or fried wontons

sesame oil

peanut oil

wasabi and mustard OR hot English/Chinese mustard

sesame seeds

hoisin sauce

rice wine vinegar

soy sauce

20141208_171918 1. Put the wine, ginger, garlic, and the sliced part of the shallot in a large, shallow saucepan. Put he chicken breasts in there, too. Set it to medium high until it simmers, then set it to medium low. Cover and check back every 3 minutes until the chicken is poached – you want to take the chicken out when it is still BARELY pink in the very center of the breast. As it cools it will continue to cook.  20141208_174018 2. While the chicken cooks, put the scallions, snow peas, and cabbage into a large bowl.  20141208_174142 3. Make the dressing. This is a ratio thing, so get ready for it:

2 parts oil: 1 part rice wine vinegar: .5 part hoisin sauce: .25 part hot mustard/mustard and wasabi combo

Everything else is negotiable. You are looking for a dressing that is light, sweet, tart, an only BARELY spicy. Don’t forget to put the diced shallot in there, too.
20141208_175706 4. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull it with 2 forks. Alternatively, you can make the chicken ahead of time and then pull it and make the salad the following day.  20141208_175903 5. Add the chicken, pita or wontons, and dressing to the salad. Make sure that the salad is well dressed – it’s the secret to what makes this so embarrassingly addictive.  20141208_180258 6. Serve – if you want, like I did, with super crispy, soy sautéed potstickers

This is what I crave…THIS is the stuff. Light, crispy, juicy, and hearty. A tiny punch of heat and whole lot of sweet and tangy. The slight bitterness of the cabbage plays off of the juicy, ginger infused chicken and the sweet snow peas. Wontons are traditional but all I had were some rather stale pita chips and – lo and behold – it totally worked! The chips soaked up the dressing and managed to stay a little crispy. And oh, that dressing…you could serve this a rubber band and people would clamor over that rubber band. The secret is the hoisin sauce – its sweet, viscous, and umami.

I’m picking up where Wolfgang puck left off – because the East coast deserves its own Chinese chicken salad.

Remember These Baked Teriyaki Chicken Wings?

I got some chicken legs at the supermarket the other day and didn’t know what I wanted to do with them – so, I turned to the blog. I TOTALLY FORGOT about this recipe, and I bet you did, too! Well, it’s good enough to bear repeating! Besides, how many of you were actually paying attention in 2012? I mean, wasn’t Kim still married to that basketball player back then?

I love wings. Spicy, salty, juicy, saucy…I mean, it sounds more like an R rated film than a food, right? Wings are delicious when they are fried and crunchy, dipped in fire truck red sauce and served in a bar, but they are also great when made at home! Homemade baked wings are juicy, tender, and flavorful. They are the perfect party snack, inexpensive to make, and can be easily transported. Best of all, this recipe is a snap – my favorite “no recipes, just proportions” rule comes into play.

Baked Teriyaki Chicken Wings


2 packages Chicken wings or drummettes(the drummettes are dark meat, so they are naturally juicier)

2/3 part your favorite teriyaki sauce (I am a fan of Soy Vey products)

1/3 part  hoisin sauce (it’s easy to find kosher or vegetarian versions)

1 dash of Sriracha

a palmful of brown sugar (or as much as you need…this is all done by taste, remember?)

1. Combine the sauces and sugar in a large roasting pan. Mix to combine, then taste. It should be salty and savory, with a distinctly sweet edge and just a touch of spice. Also preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Put the chicken wings in the pan, then toss them around in the sauce to make sure they are coated.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the largest wing/drumette runs clear juices when it is pierced with a fork.  During that time, baste the chicken with the sauce every 10 minutes, so by the time the wings are done they look like…

this. Browned, caramalized with sugars and salt, crispy in parts and juicy underneath the skin.

4. When the chicken is entirely cooked, remove it from the pan and drain the juices and sauce into a saucepan. Boil it on the stove for 15 minutes, or until it has drastically reduced in volume and has become very sticky and thick.

5. Add the sauce to the wings, then serve immediately or let come to room temperature or refrigerate, or freeze…you get the picture.

What you probably don’t get is how delicious these wings are. If they were any saucier, juicer, or more tantalizing, they would have been the high school hussies.

So sweet and savory, so reminiscent of bad-for-you food while being baked instead of deep-fried. Sure there is skin on there, but it helps self baste the chicken, keeping it soft and juicy. This is a great dinner with a side of rice but is also ideal for a picnic. served room temperature, these actually taste better a few hours or a day after they are made. This couldn’t be easier or more delicious.

If I haven’t said it before…damn. I love wings.

Paleo Asian Sloppy Joes

This is something that morphed as I made it.

It was gonna be paleo Asian burgers. Sounds great, right?

Follow me on the journey to see what ended up happening:

Paleo Asian Sloppy Joes

marmie cooking class and il mulino


1 lb. ground white meat chicken

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 serrano pepper, diced

2 tsp. chile paste (I used these pastes that I seriously love for those times when you don’t have the fresh stuff on hand – it’s LEAGUES better than the jarred stuff and doesn’t have any weird chemicals)

1 cup cilantro leaves, washed and diced

1 package fajita or Asian mix, diced

1 tbsp. oil

to taste: ground ginger, coriander, soy, hoisin (ignore that bottle of mayonnaise there!)


1. Sautee the onion, garlic, spices, and other veggies (but not the serrano pepper) in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until they start to turn translucent.

2. Now, put  lid on the skillet and turn down the heat. Cook the veggies for another 15-20 minutes or until they are incredibly soft. We don’t want to caramelize the veggies, we want to soften them and stew them until they become a jam that we can…


mash with a potato masher or drinking glass! This makes the meat very moist and the vegetables palatable for even the harshest of critics.


3. Combine the chicken with the hoisin, soy, and diced pepper.


Don’t try to form them into patties. With so much moisture from the veggies, they will just fall apart. 


instead, just add them to the veggie mixture and mash it all around.


4. Cook until the chicken is totally opaque and cooked through.


5. Serve on portabella buns or mixed greens with a garnish of hoisin and Sriracha.


These didn’t turn out the way that I thought they would, but they are still great. The important part is the extra fat from the oil used to sautee the veggies – it makes the meat very tender and juicy instead of the hard, crumbly discs that you occasionally get when using low fat meat. The vegetables literally disappear into the meat. The sweet, spicy, and pungent flavors of the sauces and spices make this a great filling for a taco or topping for a salad – I would even serve this with fried wonton crisps as a room temperature party dip!

Bottom line, mistakes aren’t all bad.

Some of them are pretty damned tasty.

Another Look at Koi

While reviewing  the Trump SoHo, I realized that I have been back to Koi uptown multiple times but had not re-reviewd it for years.

Let’s take another quick look, shall we?

20140325_174251 Spicy tuna on crispy rice

This never fails me. The rice is always crispy without and chewy within, with soft, fatty tuna atop. It’s pleasantly salty and a little buttery from the tuna. The kicker is that crisp, cold jalapeno that is mild at first with a heat that creeps up on you. Consistent and magnificent.
20140325_174756 Spicy and creamy shrimp tempura

So much better than Lure’s that it blows my mind. Tender, clean tasting shrimp in a crackling, thin coating and a sauce that is part hot sauce, part sweet Kewpie mayonnaise, and part crack cocaine. It’s really that good. Piping hot and a large portion. This is enough for a main meal for any appetite. It’s also a great way to get non-seafood eaters to eat shellfish. It’s crispy, mild, and covered in hot sauce…what other endorsements do you need?
20140325_175400 Shrimp chili roll

This is just damned good fusion sushi. It ain’t Nakazawa, but then, nothing is. This shrimp is wonderfully fresh and free of any off, iodine-y taste. It’s sweet and snappy atop the crispy shrimp tempura and creamy avocado roll. The sweet chili sauce is a tangy, zippy accompaniment that does nothing for its authenticity but loads for its flavor.
20140325_185125 Rice pudding brulee

Why didn’t I think of this? Sweet, rich coconut milk rice pudding under a sweet, thin sheath of crunchy sugar. Um, ideal.

This restaurant is a winner. Yeah, it’s overpriced, but it’s chic, it’s delicious, and it’s reliable. It’s a great gals night or out-of-towners rendezvous and that crispy spicy tuna is the best in the city.

So glad I took it for another spin around the blog.

Morimoto – Sensational the Second Time Around

I haven’t been to Morimoto in years. When I went back recently, I almost wept.

How much time I have wasted! How quickly I forgot how delicious the food is!

For a quick description of the ultra modern, dreamy interior, check out my previous review.

And yes, have a laugh at my expense…if I’m not a great blogger now, I was an ABYSMAL one then!

Now, onto the good stuff!

IMG950637 Morimotini with wasabi vodka and cucumbers

A drink worth mentioning. Not too spicy, but with a very slight nasal-clearing aroma that comes off as clean and crisp. It’s almost like a salad – it is light, fresh, and really stimulates the appetite. The alcoholic tang is really tempered by that slight wasabi kick.  It’s easy to drink this too quickly…be careful with this one!

IMG950638 Yuburatta with black truffles and dashi

This delightful play on burrata is actually better than it even sounds. Homemade creamy, smooth ricotta is wrapped in tissue thin yuba skin. When you break it, it indeed resembles burrata both in texture and rich taste. It’s soaked in a salty, savory dashi broth and topped with truffle shavings. Spread on chargrilled sourdough bread, it is UMAMI (in capital letters). It’s so intensely savory from the broth – it really enlivens the cheese and helps the milky, clean flavors shine true. And those truffles almost take it over the top but not quite – it takes the flavors right to the brink of being overpowering without overstepping its bounds. This is a must order.
IMG950639 Yosedofu

Some tableside magic that should make Benihana hang its  head in shame.

Did I just really mention Benihana in the same post as one on Morimoto? I really am FRITOS and foie.

Imagine a 140F bowl brought to your table, filled with soy milk. Imagine a server pouring a few ingredients in there, stirring it, then leaving it in the center of the table with strict instructions to leave it alone. Touch it at the risk of losing a layer of skin and being rebuked by your server.

When the server returns…
IMG950640 The soymilk has transformed into silken tofu! It is cut with a spoon and served with a mushroom broth, dashi soy, and crisped rice.
IMG950642 Transportive. Very light but intricate in flavor and texture. Soft, crispy, silken, meaty…the mushrooms provide heft and earthiness and the pops of crisped rice are unexpected and fun. That tofu is otherworldly. It’s soft but not mushy, with a cloudlike mouthfeel. The broth is very full bodied – meaty, somehow, and savory but not at all heavy or muddy. It’s a clear, clean midcourse…and it beats the hell out of sorbet as a palate cleanser! IMG950643 Miso glazed bone marrow with ikura and chimichurri

The standout dish of the night. In fact, a destination worthy dish. This is unbelievable – by FAR the best marrow that I have eaten in a restaurant ever. Sorry, Ai Fiori. You have officially been displaced. This shows me what marrow can become when it surrounds itself with good influences. The marrow is unctuous and smooth but not totally liquid – it spreads like liquid gold on the thick bread. It is laquered with garlicky, herby chimichurri and salty, briny pops of sake cured salmon roe. It’s a little spicy from the miso glaze, a little floral from the chimichurri, and soft and decadent all on its own. Creamy, zesty, garlicky, and salty…it’s indulgent and it’s perfect to share. It would be far to decadent to enjoy alone but as part of a suite of shared dishes…it’s unbeatable.  IMG950644 Foie gras and eel with Meyer lemon gelee and Asian pear

Decadent and rich. Well seared foie with a crunchy exterior and a still pink, soft interior. The bbq eel is sweet and fatty – it really doesn’t taste fishy – it’s the prime rib of the seafood world. However, next to the foie, it does taste brinier and actually leaner. Of course, next to foie, anything seems like a diet food. The teriyaki glaze is sweet, the Meyer lemon gelle is sour, and the entire dish – minus the sour Asian pears – is unique and delicious.

There were no missteps in this meal – not one. From the excellent service to the hip but welcoming decor to the truly memorable food, it is a night out to remember. Who cares if it’s old hat by now? Who cares if the sushi isn’t the main draw? What matters it that the food – especially that bone marrow – is not only commendable but destination worthy. It isn’t a cheap night, but it is well, well worth the money.

Even the second time around.

Why You May Wear Jeans at Asiate

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner Center isn’t the type of place you should wear jeans.

But you can.

That’s because the staff is so well trained that you will never know that you look hopelessly out of place. The only reason that they exist is to make you feel like the most important diner they have ever had the pleasure-  nay, privilege – of serving.

It probably sounds over the top.

But this was some excellent service.

Asiate serves Asian inspired seasonal food in an absolutely beautiful dining room with the best views of Central Park on the planet. Really, it’s just a solid wall of plate glass and there you are, 60 floors above one of the world’s iconic views. The decor is zen but by no means minimalist. It’s very chic and high end.

And so is the food.

IMG_20131031_123112_099 Gougeres

Light, cheesy gougeres are flecked with bits of garlicky parsley pesto. It’s the sort of unexpected touch that is found everywhere in the restaurant – it takes something classic, and then puts an elegant twist on it that makes the dish memorable  IMG_20131031_124427_909 Amuse bouche

A mild yellowtail sashimi topped with crispy potato chips. Light, playful, and savory. It’s an excellent start to any meal.  IMG_20131031_125325_745 Squash soup

This is an example of the flawless service at Asiate. I ordered only a main course but the rest of my party ordered a starter and a main. The chef sent this out, not knowing that I would be reviewing the place, but only that I should have the same number of courses as my tablemates. Pure class. And this soup is excellent – not too thick or gloopy but with a rich, sweet, earthy squash taste. The addition of roasted pumpkin seeds is a nutty, salty, pleasingly crunchy textural component. It’s warming and comforting – the perfect cold weather snack.
IMG_20131031_131753_808 Tuna nicoise salad

The tuna nicoise to end all tuna nicoises. Delicate tuna poached until it’s still pink on the inside and flaky but not at all dry or fishy on the outside. It’s in a very light, creamy dressing and layered with rich hard-boiled egg yolks, crisp frisee, juicy tomatoes, and a few briny kalamata olives. It’s a very standard nicoise salad, ingredient wise, bu the preparation really sets it apart. Each tomato is perfectly split, the yolks are finely crumbled, and the presentation is classic and beautiful. The tastes are clean and although familiar, are likely to be far finer than most you have already tasted.
IMG_20131031_140036_553 Cheese plate

And a rather mammoth one, at that! This dessert easily feeds 2 people as a light meal and comes loaded with hard, soft, stinky, delicate, gooey, and tangy cheeses. Add to that the excellent house baked raisin nut bread, some salted nuts, and a whole orchard of fruit and..well…

You’re in business.

Asiate isn’t a cheap meal. It’s rather buttoned up and fancy and you will pay for it. But it’s equally suited to a business lunch or a romantic date. That’s not just because the food is excellent. It’s because the staff is. You will be neither hounded nor ignored. They will know if you want a table overlooking the park or a quiet semi-private banquette. They are there to ensure your comfort and happiness.

Even if you walk in wearing jeans.

Purple Yam – Comfortable, Craveable Lumpia

I wish there was a really great Asian restaurant in our neighborhood.

 You know the type…when you just walk in wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and can sit down to Thai soup or Korean buns.

Where you can order in and they know your apartment number because they come so often.

Where you can still go on a casual friends date because it’s nice enough.

A place like Purple Yam

I went here with a girlfriend because it is a stone’s throw away from her apartment. It was a cold night and the vibe inside was warm, friendly, and welcoming. It’s casual and Ikea-sleek, and the excellent service was apparent from the moment we sat down.

IMG_20131107_193044_015 Mussels in Thai coconut curry

Just what you want on a blustery night. Plump, sweet mussels in an aromatic coconut broth. the curry flavor is very light, and while it is highly seasoned with cilantro, lemongrass, and scallions, it is not overly garlicky or spicy. The tender red peppers strewn through the broth are only lightly cooked, so they retain their sweet snap. This is perfect for someone who likes the taste of coconut and is mild enough for someone who is scared of curry – it’s a great intro dish.
IMG_20131107_193949_888 Lumpia Shanghai

I LOVE these Filipino eggrolls – they are like uber-large spring rolls! Crisp, shattering wrappers surrounding ground pork, shredded vegetables, and springy noodles. Dip them in the sweet and tangy pineapple dipping sauce and prepare to be in fried food heaven. These are light, greaseless, and come in a very generous portion. I can’t recommend these enough – I’m still dreaming of them, actually!
IMG_20131107_195142_061 Market greens in Thai green curry

It’s Brooklyn, so there was going to be at least one hipster-local-seasonal dish. This is very good, but I can’t put my finger on why. The bok choy, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and other vegetables are tender but still have a fresh, verdant bite. The curry is, like with the mussels, mild and creamy. It’s light but the sauce is rich. Eating it with some of the accompanying sticky rice is just so comforting and tasty. I wouldn’t go back especially for this dish, but I would be happy to eat it again.
IMG_20131107_195614_917 Pork buns

The one item that was lackluster. Pulled pork with some Asian spices in a steamed bun. Okay but not great – nowhere near the best I have had.

Purple Yam is just a great neighborhood joint. The prices are VERY reasonable, the service and atmosphere are lovely, and the service is great.

It’s just the kind of joint I wish we had in our neck of the woods. 

Purple Yam on Urbanspoon

Mad Square Eats – Bring Your Stretchy Pants

After many years of letting this semi-annual event pass me by, I finally dragged myself to Madison Square Eats

And then I had to roll myself home.

This foodie haven consists of various restaurants, carts, and food purveyors who gather near Madison Square Park for a month each season to stuff you with all the goodies your blood pressure can handle. We went on a Tuesday night and it was relatively crowded, so leave the Saturday nights to chumps and go there early in the morning if you must make this trip a weekend one. However, that night, the crowds were manageable. We even managed to score a small table (by watching its dawdling inhabitants like hawks).

And the food. Was. Great!


IMG_20131001_200837_109 First and foremost, we visited this station because, really…how could we not? Roberta’s is known for its pizza, and it really delivers. Thin, supple crust with an earthy, deep char that makes even a  vegetarian pie taste meaty and satisfying.  IMG_20131001_200827_219 I must be the only person on the planet who does not love the Bee sting – the sauce is sensational – really spicy – but the honey is just too prevalent for my tastes. I’m not a fan. The special Supe Lace pizza, above, however, is dynamite. I can’t get over the crust – its’ just masterful. The sauce is bright and so vibrant that it’s practically alive, (in a good way, not a creepy way) and the cheese is both plentiful and tasty, but really…it’s the crust that takes the cake. It’s so delicious that I am literally dreaming of it. No matter how long this line is stand on it.

And get two pies at least.

I mean, we’re not fooling around here.


Delaney BBQ taco stand.

So delicious that I ACTUALLY almost cried. That freakin awesome.

IMG_20131001_194820_056 Their brisket is just so good. Tender, juicy, and really well seasoned – salt and pepper in every bite. It has a satisfying steak-like chew and it’s expertly  hand chopped. But the best part here are the accouterments. The soft, pliant tortilla, the acidic onions, the sharp cheese melting int he warmth and that chile sauce.

Be still, my heart.

That. Chile. SAUCE. Seriously wonderful. It isn’t hot at all, just heartily spiced with roasted chiles, cumin, and garlic. It reminds me of Taco Bell in the best way possible (is there a bad way to remind one of Tco Bell?)

I wolfed it down.

Trust me, you will, too.


Vinh Dog at AsiaDog

IMG_20131001_194154_190 This banh mi style dog is da BOMB mi.

Yes, I went there. It’s my blog, so I can do stuff like that.

Anyway, AsiaDog is really great! The hot dogs are juicy and not too salty, with an audible “snap” as you bite into them. The buns are well buttered ant toasted, adding to the taste and texture of the dish instead of just being a supporting player. At first, the cold, crisp vegetables are a little odd, temperature wise, next to the dog, but by the third bite, you will be hooked. They could have a heavier hadn with the pate but a little squirt of sriracha and mustard helps bring the umami flavor home. I would totally go back to Asia Dog and highly recommend it!They were also extremely fast in delivering your food.

I didn’t’ even get to half  of the eats that I tasted or half of the food that was offered! Brig some cash and bring some stretchy pants – and don’t wait as long as I did to get to Mad Square Eats!


Experience Indonesia at Tempoe Doeloe

I know that European Imperialism gets a bad rap. Manifest destiny and all that jazz, you know the drill.

However…putting aside all social responsibility and serious discussion…

It led to some pretty banging food in other parts of the world. Think afternoon tea in Hong Kong. Indian food in London. And – one of my favorites – Indonesian food in Amsterdam.

During the time that the Dutch occupied Indonesia, these cheese-centric Europeans learned how to makes some of my favorite Asian food.

Indonesian food’s intricate spices and layers of texture remind me of other favorite Asian foods of mine, especially Thai and Indian. If you like garlic, coconut, and layers of flavor, you will totally be into Indonesian food.

Oh yeah, and if you order rijsttafel, you also get to try it all. Because this traditional “rice table” means that you get 18 dishes delivered to your table.

That’s right…it’s a buffet at your seat.

My dream.

amsterdam day 2 123 Tempoe Doeloe is one one of Amsterdam’s most highly regarded Indonesian restaurants. It is a small, very crowded restaurant that is decorated with a few mirrors, some colonial Indonesian furniture, and so many tables that you will become best friends with your neighbors whether you want to or not.  amsterdam day 2 125

Where the magic happens.  amsterdam day 2 126

Don’t even look at the menu. Go for the biggest rijstaffel that they have. You want to try it all.

amsterdam day 2 127

These tabletop burners are brought to your table to keep the many small dishes warm. As your stomach starts grumbling, you are brought some tender pork satay swathed in a nutty, tangy peanut sauce. It’s tender and savory – like Indonesia’s answer to hot wings. Just be sure to save some room for… amsterdam day 2 129 Coconut turmeric ricCreamy and strewn with crispy fried shallots. The perfect accompaniment for the many fiery, creamy sauces that are to come.

amsterdam day 2 131 Though you are advised to eat the trays from mild to spicy, let’s start with the medium spicy tray. The small ramekins are filled with shrimp in a garlicky butter sauce, tofu in a coconut chile stew, and green beans cooked with yet more garlic, red peppers, and fragrant lemongrass. The beef in the back is crisp and on the sweeter side, while the chicken has a more fiery taste. The spices in Indonesian food are lip-tingling and zesty, so be sure that you can handle the heat. 
amsterdam day 2 132 The mild buffet is tasty too, from the coriander-spiked beef stew to the warm cabbage salad. The warm cucumber in its vinaigrette is a little weird, but hey…when in Indonesia, right? These dishes are all great for kids or adults who are adventurous but don’t love super spicy or garlicky food. They are similar to Thai food but with way less fish sauce or salty flavors.  amsterdam day 2 133 Whoa, Nelly. It’s getting hot in here. From pretty hot to the absolutely fiery and fearsome  daging rendang, this plate is not for criers. This is for people who love the slow burn from your tongue to your forehead. Who relish dabbing heir heads with napkins. Nothing here is as punishing as phaal, but it gets pretty darned close. However, the subtle nuances of flavors like coconut, cilantro, and caramelized onions to shine through.

amsterdam day 2 134 That daging rendang is a beast, though. It doesn’t taste hot, then as you continue to take bites, you realize that your lips have slightly swelled. That your temples are sweating. And that your ears have the faintest ringing sound echoing through them The tender beef is wonderful and earthy in that spicy, faintly sweet coconut and chile paste. And yes, your lips will be stained red for the next 24 hours.

But what you take away from this meal isn’t just heartburn, a rather sizeable bill, and the memory of a great meal. It’s the experience of eating a food that is rarely seen in this country. It’s the realization that there is a whole new cuisine that you want to explore. It’s Amsterdam’s history in the tastiest way possible.