Dumpling hunting in Amsterdam turned out to be a bust, the Dutch do not have indigenous dumpling form and overall the Asian restaurants I saw didn’t look that good. But I do want to give a shout out to Onigiri YA! in the De Pijp neighborhood, they make some of the best rice balls I have tried. The owner is from Japan and has been in Amsterdam for six months and opened Onigiri YA! about two months ago. The rice balls are handmade fresh each morning and the Pork with Wasabi Rice Ball is excellent.
For the second part of my trip to the Netherlands I was in the north of the country, in the city of Groningen. During a walkabout I stumbled upon Konbu StreetFood, a casual spot that sells dishes from Japan, Korea and Vietnam, including dumplings, kimchi, Korean style fried chicken, Pho, Ramen and Bun. I think it is a bit of a stretch to call most of their menu “street food” – it is tough to eat Ramen or Bun while standing on the street.
The Dumplings: Konbu sells steamed shrimp and pork dumplings, grilled gyoza and octopoes (Takoyaki).
Pork Gyoza – The pork gyoza were pretty standard Japanese restaurant or sushi restaurant appetizer menu gyoza that you can get at many places in the U.S., most likely packaged, frozen dumplings. The gyoza appeared to have been steamed and then cooked on a griddle which left some crispy grill marks. They were fine and will hit the spot if you are craving gyoza, but were nothing special.
Octopoes (Takoyaki) – The national bar food in the Netherlands is Bitterballen, which are small croquettes with a fried bread crumb outer layer and an interior made of a roux or dough of butter, flour, stock and flecks of meat, that has a texture of whipped mashed potato. The Octopoes at Konbu are a Bitterballen-esque interpretation of Takoyaki. Typically Takoyaki have a hollow interior housing pieces of octopus, but the ones at Konbu were completely filled with creamy dough with pieces of octopus embedded in the dough filling. They were good, but they were closer to a croquette than a dumping. They came dressed with Worcestershire sauce, mayo and flakes of dried seaweed but no Bonito slivers.
Konbu takes pride in its presentation, the pork gyoza were served on a small wooden cutting board and the Octopoes were served in a small wire fryer basket lined with wax paper.
The Dipping Sauce: The pork goyza came with a soy and vinegar sauce flavored with slivered scallions and ground red pepper flakes. Each table was also home to squeeze bottles of Hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce, and bottles of chili oil and S&B brand seasoning powder.
The Location: Konbu Streetfood is on Oosterstraat about 1 block off the main City square. The square is full of drinking opportunities so Konbu is conveniently located for a post-drinking snack.