I learned that citizens from 180 nationalities call Amsterdam home. That explains the variety of cuisines you can find here. On a single street there are restaurants from India, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Japan, Brazil, China and more! The culture here has always been freedom of expression and will, which explains why Amsterdam is a true cosmopolitan city where people enjoy food from around the world. One point to be noted is you will always find fresh (not frozen) ingredients at almost all establishments.
One of the first experiences in the city is the aroma coming from bakeries baking fresh baked breads, croissants and pastries. Living true to European heritage, there are a number of places where you can grab a cappuccino and warm chocolate croissant for under 3 Euros. Sit down places will be more expensive. Bread is a staple food at all meals and can be found in various shapes and sizes. You can even get a loaf to go while transiting at Schiphol airport. Don’t forget to take a box of stroopwafel, distinct Dutch waffle cookie made from two thin layers of baked batter with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. It is served with tea and coffee anytime of the day. Dutch pancakes are delicious thin small pancakes eaten for breakfast and dessert. They can be served with syrup or filled with fruit or meat like crepes.
Perhaps the most native food to Amsterdam is Haring, served raw, salted and pickled. Think of it as the Dutch sushi. There are also street vendors and hole in the wall joints that fry the haring and other fishes and serve it with french fries. Try Vishandel, a one room family run seafood place since 1938 with only take-out. You chose the fish and they cook it right there in front of you, while standing in the kitchen. Talking about fries, it’s a popular snack served in a paper boat with a sauce of your choice. You will spot people eating it with a fork while walking around or conducting business. Try Flemish Manneken Pis voted number 1 in Holland that offers 21 sauces (from curry to ketchup) to chose from.
There are several cheese stores near the flower market that offer tastings and education on the Dutch sheep and cow cheese. You can get a young, aged or flavored with garlic, herbs, spicy, etc. Also, buy your cheese graters and condiments to go along. The most popular one from this area is Gouda.
While in Netherlands, beer is to be drunk like water. The Dutch as proud of Heineken, the world’s third-largest brewer of beer and can be spotted drinking leisurely in cafe’s pretty much any time of the day. It’s easier to get a beer than coffee here!
Try not to mistake a cafe for a coffee shop. A coffee shop in Amsterdam served much more than coffee, legalized drugs in single dozes. I did not bother entering one of such places (even for travel writer curiosity) but managed to get a glimpse of the menu. Just make a selection based on your mood or desire of one (literally).
China Town, located near the touristy red light district also seems to be a popular place to eat. There are Chinese grocery stores, dim sum restaurants, and other fares from Asia. I was told some of the best restaurants in the city can be found here. Does the picture below tell you something?