Amsterdam’s Chinatown isn’t really a “town”. Compared to Chinatowns in other cities (such as the Hague and Utrecht), Chinatown in Amsterdam is really small. The shops mainly concentrate along one street, Zeedijk, which extends into Kloveniersburgwal, and there are also Chinese shops along Geldersekade (next to the canals).
Chinatown is important to me for many reasons: this is where I get my supplies to cook Asian food; where I get my bubble tea craving fixed (which is a rarity in Amsterdam, somehow); and where I get my haircut. When my friends and I first arrived in Amsterdam, we had meals in a few restaurants here, as they were recommended by peers back in Singapore. Other than Chinese restaurants, there are also a good mix of other cuisines – Japanese, Thai, Italian, Surinamese, Malaysian, as well as Singaporean Satay!
In this post, I will recommend a few places to fulfill your Asian needs, and I’ll share the prices so that you can expect how much to spend and decide if it is worth your Euros 🙂
1. Supermarkets – Wah Nam Hong & Dun Yong
In these supermarkets, you get your noodles (including familiar cup/instant noodle brands), vermicelli, spices (cinnamon, star anise, peppercorn, etc.), sauces (dark/light soy sauces, chilli sauces, OYSTER sauces, etc.), vegetables, frozen meat/seafood, and a lot more. Prices in Dun Yong are generally higher than Wah Nam Hong, and foods may b more expensive during festive seasons such as the Lunar New Year. I experienced paying about 1.5x more for a pack of glutinuous rice balls (aka. Tang Yuan) during the CNY period, and I realized it was much cheaper after the Lunar New Year.
Both Wah Nam Hong and Dun Yong are located along Geldersekade. Wah Nam Hong is a few shops behind Dun Yong (based on the Google Map below).
Bonus: Here’s a simple recipe you can refer to make a green bean dessert! This is the exact recipe I used, and most ingredients can be found in the Chinese supermarkets 🙂 I excluded the tangerine peels, and couldn’t find sago. When the soup is ready, throw in the glutinuous rice balls and cook it for another 7-8 minutes. Serve hot.
2. Nam Kee
One of my first lunches in Amsterdam was in Nam Kee. I ordered a duck rice which was pretty much bones.. The food here isn’t that nice, although their serving is huge (alot of rice), by Asian standards. Nam Kee has two storefronts; one along Zeedijk, and another along Geldersekade. If you must have Chinese food in a restaurant, I recommend…
3. Hoi Tin
I did not take a photo of what we eat, but I remember we ordered duck, vegetables, sweet and sour pork, and a tofu dish, along with a large bowl of rice, shared among 7 people. The price is reasonable for the variety and the amount of food that we get!
4. Fancy a haircut?
I need a haircut quite frequently as I like to keep my hair short and tidy. I don’t understand how guys can keep their hair for so long during their semester exchange overseas and only cut it when they return home. That means keeping their hair for at least 4 months without cutting it! Well, I’m just not that kind of guy, and I started looking out for a hairdresser within 2 months of my stay here.
My criteria was simple: 1) Asian hairdresser and 2) reasonable price. What considers as “reasonable”? A quick google search told me that the cheapest haircuts in Amsterdam city cost about €13. That was the minimum benchmark that I set for myself.
For €14, you can have your hair cut, washed, and blown dry. If you have long hair, it costs €18. I was just cycling around Zeedijk when this shop caught my eye, and I made the gamble to try it out. I liked their service, and I returned here for a second time (yes, I do cut my hair frequently haha)!
Somehow this shop appears as “Ying Beauty” on Google Maps!
5. Bubble Tea – Yo Yo! Fresh Tea Bar
I was lamenting how I cannot find bubble tea here in Amsterdam. I frequent Koi and Gong Cha in Singapore, and I like how they can be found easily in almost every train station in Singapore. Here in Amsterdam, it is difficult to find bubble tea stores.
Thanks to the almighty Google, Yo Yo! was found. A small cup of Hong Kong Milk Tea (with toppings) would cost you €3.20, which can be finished in around 4-5 gulps. It might be more worth it to get the larger cup. For my (almost frequent) cravings, a small cup suffices =)
I have not tried the other restaurants here in Chinatown as they are quite expensive. At the minimum, a meal in any of the restaurants would cost you €12, without drinks. This area is highly populated by tourists, and it is only natural for the restaurants and shops to charge higher prices. A good thing for you is that their menu are usually stuck on the window, near the entrance of the restaurant, and you can check out the prices before entering the restaurants!
Do you have recommendations in Chinatown? Do let me know by commenting on this post!