Sukasari

If you’re looking for a nice, quiet place to hangout for a while right off the Dam Square that won’t set you back a lot of guilders, visit Sukasari.

Located in the very first block heading east from the Dam Monument, Sukasari is on the right side of the street just past the Old Man Headshop. The place is nicely decorated, Indonesian style, and was an oasis for lunch on one of Amsterdam’s hottest summer days. The spinning ceiling fans kept us quite cool as we relaxed over a lengthy business lunch. A steady supply of kleine biertjes chilled us even further.

The food is traditional Indonesian, not hot and spicy like Thai food. The menu is extensive, and they offer daily lunch specials if you don’t have a clue as to what to order…

The appetizers range from the standard shrimp-flavored kropek crispies to soups (meatball, chicken, chicken-corn or vegetable) and loempias. They offer a variety of sate’s (chicken on skewers) with the usual peanut sauces, and traditional bami (noodle) and nasi (rice) dishes. (Prices range from f5.25 for an appetizer to f22.50 for the most expensive item on the menu.)

Sukasari will also make up a Rijstafel with a variety of eleven Indonesian dishes for you to sample. (Priced at f45 per person.)

Being reasonably priced is the main attraction here, with a lunch special geared to the wallets of travelers who want a quiet oasis near the Dam Square. Be sure to ask for some hot chili sauce for your dishes to spice things up!

Sukasari is open from noon until 11:30 in the evenings Tuesdays thru Saturdays. On Mondays they are open from 4:30 pm until 11:30 pm. Closed Sundays.

Tibet Restaurant

We discovered this relaxing refuge from the hectic pace of the Red Light District, after showing a friend around the area. We were pretty burned out as we’d been walking all over town for many hours, and our last hour in the Red Light Light district was spent dodging tourists and listening to pounding house music in coffeeshops.

The Tibet restaurant welcomed us and restored us with it’s wonderfully exotic ambiance while the soothing Tibetan music put us in the proper calm mood to enjoy the tasty delights of this popular dining spot. The Tibetan artworks on the walls including eyecatching tankas and colorful woven tapestries that transported our city-tortured souls to distant Himalayan villages were the inward journey is as awe-inspiring as the lofty peaks.

We ordered from a menu filled with Chinese delights, including the spicy flavors of Shechuan. I ordered a delicious Kung Pao Chicken, and my friend had a delightful shrimp and fried noodle dish (bird’s nest style, photo above). The food was perfect, the service good, and we left feeling refreshed and centered. So if you’re in the mood for a transcendental treat, the Tibet Restaurant is just the ticket.

Puccini

I already knew that Belgian chocolates, as fine as they are, are equalled if not surpassed by Dutch chocolate. I first became addicted to Dutch chocolate when some friends from Breda took us to their favorite chocolatier which happens to be around the corner from them. Another friend told us about Puccini, right here in Amsterdam, so I finally went by to see what all the fuss was.

I was glad I did! I’ve never tasted such fine chocolate in my life! All the bonbons were fresh, creamy smooth, and so flavorful. While their selection isn’t huge, each choice is meticulously made with the finest natural ingredients and a 70% cacao content. Many of their bonbons contain fine liquors like cognac, grand marnier or amaretto.

Discover this well-kept local secret for yourself! Puccini has two locations, and at the Staalstraat shop, you can see them make the bonbons through a window. On the Staalstraat you can also enjoy a coffee and some fabulous chocolate desserts at their cafe…

The other location is at Singel 184
Phone: 020 427 8341

Bachzaal

The Bachzaal is a medium-sized concert hall in Amsterdam-Zuid.
When I used to live on Beethovenstraat, I loved to pop down to the Bachzaal, a few blocks away, to get my fill of classical music. I’ll never forget one striking performance by a music professor playing Scriabin so intensely, I developed a great fondness for the composer.
The Bachzaal is a venue where music students hold recitals and occassionally professional musicians come to play. Most events are free, and it’s unlikely the place will be crowded, so you can enjoy fine classical music without all the commercialism.
The hall gets its name from the Bachstraat, where the room is located. Architect Piet Vorkink (1878-1960) designed the ingenious complex in 1930, of which the Bachzaal is part. The building, where musicians for the Concertgebouw Orchestra were initially trained, is an important semi-public building, of which only a few have been built in the Netherlands.

China Sichuan Restaurant / Warmoesstraat

Also known as “Chinese Kitchen,” this little place in the Red Light District is an interesting spot for a spicy meal.

The decor is that of a converted Italian restaurant, with a shrine by the front window including a picture of the Dalai Lama, and statues of Ho-Tei and Buddha for that authentic Asian feel. The insence wafting from the altar went quite well with the aromas of sizzling spices and food while we settled ourselves at the table inside the front window.

Take some time and look over the menu carefully, there’s a lot to choose from. The menu will seem familiar to American tastes, with Kung-Pao and other Sichuan specialties to choose from. However, the flavors are anything but American, this is true Sichuan cooking in Amsterdam.

The waitress took our order, helping with suggestions and answering our questions clearly. I ordered the Sichuan soup, Sesame Prawns as an appetizer and Kung Pao Prawns for my main dish. My friend ordered the same soup, shared the Sesame prawns with me, and for a main plate choose a Sichuan chicken dish, which the waitress promised would be very spicy. I also ordered a large pot of hot tea to wash everything down.

The jasmine tea and soup arrived quickly, and my taste buds were soon reeling from the intensely flavoured and delightful Sichuan soup, which featured mushrooms, chili peppers, herbs and tofu in a great broth. The sesame prawns arrived soon thereafter, along with a spicy dipping sauce made with a base of soy, salty and wonderful. The main dishes arrived on platters as large portions, with a huge bowl of steaming jasmine rice and individual plates. My Kung Pao Prawns were fabulous, clean-tasting and fresh, cooked perfectly and the rest of the dish was classic kung-pao, with the peanuts and vegetables in a light brown sauce spiced with bits of red pepper. The sichuan chicken dish wasn’t quite as good, but it was uniquely flavored and delicious in its own way. The pieces of chicken were cooked with the shreds of skin still attached, adding a certain greasiness to the dish, but the addition of allspice to the seasoning almost fooled me into thinking this was a dish made from duck…

Our meal was good, with efficient service in nice surroundings. The table we had in the front window proved to be a great place to watch the never-ending parade of humanity passing through the Red Light District. Our table was also cigarette-smoke free being by the open door, an added benefit indeed.

The bill for our great Sichuan Chinese meal was f72. I will visit again and have more soup, their menu has an extensive selection of hot pot meals as well.

Since ourt original review this restaurant has moved from the Zeedijk to the Warmoestraat, see the map below.

Ruigoord

A gathering of hippie souls have founded their own community of sorts just outside Amsterdam, and it is truly unique. Lots of events are scheduled to educate the public about their plight, as well as to have some fun and spread the love of the hippie movement. The collection of buildings is rumored to be truly Mad Maxish, I will report further after visiting myself.

You can visit Ruigoord by taking a bus (Number 82 on Marnixstraat outside Sloterdijk Train Station), by car or bicycle.

Here’s a couple of videos from Ruigoord to give you an idea of the action.