Menikmati Masakan Vietnam di Belanda

“The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth – something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food – just watch it, don’t eat it.” – Ed Koch

Ga seperti restoran yang menjual masakan khas Indonesia, India atau Thailand (kalo restoran Cina sih jangan ditanya ya hehe), mencari restoran yang menyajikan masakan Vietnam yang cukup otentik dan enak di Belanda lumayan susah buat saya yang cetek banget pengetahuannya ini (terutama di sekitar tempat tinggal kami).

Walau kemungkinan besar banyak restoran Vietnam di kota-kota besar seperti Amsterdam, Rotterdam atau Den Haag, saya baru pernah makan masakan Vietnam yang enak di Den Haag aja. Ada dua restoran Vietnam yang pernah saya kunjungi. Saya tau restoran yang pertama berdasarkan rekomendasi dari teman saya yang waktu itu masih bertugas di Kedutaan. Kebetulan kata dia ibu Dubes atau pejabat diplomatik lainnya kadang suka ngajak tamu mereka untuk makan di sana. Nama restoran yang pertama adalah “NGON”, kali aja ada temen-temen yang sedang jalan-jalan ke Den Haag dan pengen makan masakan Vietnam boleh coba makan di sana. Dari pengalaman saya, memang masakan Vietnam di resto ini enak. Kalo ga jauh mah mungkin saya bakal lebih sering berkunjung ke sana deh hehe. Biasanya kalo kami makan di sana kami pesen papaya salad, fresh cold (beef) spring roll, dan sudah pasti Pho-nya (saya suka pesen yang Pho Bo Tai atau Beef Pho). Kuah Pho-nya itu enak, jernih dan ga bikin eneg. Porsinya lumayan besar, jadi buat yang makannya ga banyak bisa share sama temen. Dessert-nya juga lumayan enak, terutama yang kaya kolak ubi (namanya Che Koai Mon). Lokasi resto Ngon ini agak ke belakang Den Haag Centrum, kalo ga salah nama daerahnya Groenmarkt.

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via city guide

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Papaya Prawn Salad. Image via Tripadvisor

Restoran Vietnam lain yang pernah saya kunjungi di kota yang sama adalah “Little V”. Untuk lokasi Little V lebih di Centrum (kalo dibandingin sama Ngon), bersebelahan dengan rumah makan Indonesia “Si Des”. Kalo menurut saya, untuk makanan di Little V kurang umph, tapi resto ini menang ambience dan minumannya yang jauh lebih variatif dibandingkan Ngon. Buat yang pengen lamaan dan nyaman ngobrolnya, Little V menang deh. The food itself is not that bad, cuma emang kalo dibandingin Ngon sedikit dibawah untuk rasanya. O ya, kalo saya liat Little V ini punya cabang di Rotterdam.

Eksterior dari Little V. Image via delicioustravel

Sebagian interior dari Little V. Image via Travellust.

Menu yang pernah saya pesan di Little V. Foto dokumen pribadi.

Nah, karena tiba-tiba kangen masakan Vietnam (kalo kita bela-belain ke Den Haag cuma buat makan suami males hihi), minggu lalu saya dan suami browsing buat nyari restoran Vietnam di dekat-dekat tempat tinggal kami (kira-kira yang ga lebih dari 20 KM jaraknya dari rumah kita lah wkwk). Thanks to Google, kebetulan kami nemuin satu restoran yang kalo diliat dari review-nya lumayan bagus (bintang 4 dari 5), nama restorannya “Vin Pearl”. Lokasinya bersahabat banget, karna terletak di Stationplein, bersebelahan dengan stasiun kereta dan terminal bus Den Bosch. Setelah kita liat dan menimbang kalo menunya cukup kids’ friendly (setidaknya buat anak-anak kami), lalu cus-lah kami ke sana. O ya, sebelumnya kami sudah buat reservasi terlebih dahulu buat amannya.

Pintu masuk Vin Pearl. Image via Dailydinner.

Kami reservasi untuk makan malam jam 17.30 (di rumah kami biasa makan malam paling lambat jam 18.00). Sesampainya kami di sana, cuma kami pelanggan yang dine-in di jam yang sama, dan sekitar sejam kemudian baru ada pelanggan lainnya. O ya, restoran ini juga menerima delivery order via thuisbezorg.nl, dan kayanya si yang order untuk delivery ini lumayan banyak karna pas kita di sana pelayannya lumayan sibuk bolak-balik. Untuk ukuran restoran asia, interiornya lumayan bagus dan ga corny (saya cuma ga suka musiknya). Pelayannya cukup sigap, menu-menu yang kami pesan juga lumayan cepat keluar dari dapurnya.

Sebagai appetizer, saya dan suami memesan fresh cold spring roll dan crispy pancake, sementara anak-anak memesan lumpia goreng isi ayam. Rasa dari kedua makanan yang kami pesan bikin fresh dan ga berat, sesuai dengan tujuan makanan pembuka. Untuk main dishes anak-anak pesen mie goreng (kebanyakan tauge kalo kata anak saya yang perempuan), suami pesen rolled minced beef dengan rice noodles, sementara saya pesen beef pho. Kedua main dishes yang suami dan saya pesan dua-duanya tidak mengecewakan. Menurut saya rasa kuah Pho-nya cukup balance – ga keasinan ga flaw juga ga bikin eneg rasanya. Yang lumayan menarik dan belum pernah kami coba adalah menunya suami. Jadi si minced beef-nya itu digulung pake piper leaves, sejenis daun sirih tapi rasanya agak beda dan ga tajam. Sementara si rice noodles-nya ga tau dikasih apa tapi warnanya jadi agak keunguan gitu dan rasanya gurih. Surprisingly good lah.

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Banh Xeo or crispy pancake with beef, beansprout and onion (foto dok. pribadi)

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Goi Cuon Tom or fresh cold spring roll with shrimp and veggies filling (foto dok. pribadi)

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Banh Hoi Bo La Lot, grilled minced beef rolled with piper leaves (foto dok.pribadi)

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Pho Bo Tai atau Beef Pho (foto dok. pribadi)

Sebagai penutup, kami nyoba salah satu menu dessert mereka, yaitu Vin Pearl Matcha Green Tea. Menurut kami rasa green tea-nya terlalu subtle alias ga terasa, yang menonjol adalah rasa susunya. Enak si tapi agak kurang sesuai ekspetasi saya.
All in all, restoran ini menurut saya lumayan otentik dan enak masakannya. Besar kemungkinan ini bukan terakhir kali saya akan makan di sana (dengan catatan restorannya ga tutup atau pailit ya hehe). Lumayan lah sebagai pelepas rindu kalo lagi kangen sama masakan Vietnam 🙂

“Vietnamese food has probably been saved from the mass market because most people never master the sauces and condiments that must be added to the food, at the table, for its glories to become apparent. It’s too much trouble, and a lot of people don’t like asking for help, especially if the interaction involves some linguistic awkwardness.” – Tyler Cowen

#TBT: Tokyo, Japan – 2007.

“I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that’s very popular out there in Africa.” ~ Britney Spears

I don’t know where Spears got her Geography lesson, but that quote is quite something eh😜 and it relates to the post I’m about to write here =)

Back then in 2007, during the first years of my work, my boss had appointed me to join in a three week training held by the Government of Japan through their agency, JICA (stands for Japan International Cooperation Agency). The training was held in Tokyo, Japan. I got quite excited because it was the first time for me traveling abroad. At that time, never across in my mind that I could go traveling outside Indonesia. Besides the cost, I also never been far from my family for such a long time.

The flight from Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta Airport) to Tokyo took around 7 hours direct and non-stop. I went there with other two office colleagues (from different Division). We landed at Narita Airport early in the morning. Luckily the Agency had arranged the transportation for us (by taxi) from the airport to the place we were staying. The place where we stayed called JICA “Tokyo International Center” or TIC – Tokyo. From the TIC there are two metro stations that quite close by: Hatagaya and Yoyogi-Uehara station. The facilities at the TIC was quite complete. The place itself was almost like a dorm actually. The room was a bit compact, it has private bathroom inside (with a small bathtub), standard hotel room equipment such as bed (single size), wardrobe, TV, AC/heater. In the building they provide washing room, shared kitchen (including water cooker and ice block machines), karaoke room, lounge, dining room (which provide halal food as well), and computer room. A bit out of the topic, during the tsunami and big earth quake in Japan not so long ago, TIC was being used as one of the victim base-camp.

On a short note about the training, it was mainly about Intellectual Property System (IP System). The participants got a chance also to see how the Japan Patent Office handled the IP management system, including how they did the IP awareness campaign with young generation as their target and how the Japan Custom Office tackled the IP infringement.

For a first timer, and considering that during that time was the start of Ramadhan fasting moment, I think my visit at that time was not that bad. I had a chance to visit some Japanese’s landmarks such as the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Asakusa temple, City of Odaiba, Ueno park, Ginza as well as few other places. Oh, and just like typical (first timer) tourists do, I also took a ride on a hop on hop off bus there :p

Since this trip was completely arranged by the organization, I don’t think I have any tips or useful thing to share for a traveler here hehe. If I had another chance, I would love to visit Japan again someday, but preferably only for holiday =)

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The history of Customs in Japan explained in a beautiful painting

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(Miniature of) The Liberty Statue in Odaiba, Japan

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the view of Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan

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Team F1 – Panasonic in that year=)

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Plopped atop Tokyo’s Asahi Beer building is the famous kin no unchi, Japanese for “Golden Turd.” (Locals also call it the unchi biru, aka “poop building.”) The 300-ton stainless steel sculpture designed by French architect Philippe Stark was meant to look like foam rising from a beer mug (information derived from http://www.cnn.com)

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View from Ueno Park

In Ueno Park, there are some handprints and signature of very famous Japanese people who contributed to each field like sports and performing arts in Japan. I tried to look up on internet whose handprint this one below is, but I couldn’t find it. I guess I picked the wrong one hehe. There were few others also which has some info, for example the handprints of a former Judoka who won a gold medal with a world record in 1984 Los Angeles Olympic – YAMASHITA, Yasuhiro, and OH, Sadaharu – a former baseball player who held a world record of the total 868 home run and has not been broken by anymone else until now.

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does anyone know whose handprint is this? – taken at ueno park.

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the Swan swimming on the lake nearby Imperial Palace

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Lekker Shabu-shabu!

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Seeing these display of crepes which not (yet) available in Indonesia during that time made my eyes drooled :p

In Asakusa, there is an ancient Buddhist temple called Sensō-ji (Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji). It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, called the Asakusa Shrine.

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The Hozōmon (“Treasure-House Gate”) is the inner of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji (the outer being the Kaminarimon) in Asakusa, Tokyo. A two-story gate (nijūmon), the Hōzōmon’s second story houses many of the Sensō-ji’s treasures. The first story houses two statues, three lanterns and two large sandals. It stands 22.7 metres (74 ft) tall, 21 metres (69 ft) wide, and 8 metres (26 ft) deep. (Information taken from http://www.wikipedia.org)

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Nakamise dōri in Autumn

The Nakamise-dōri is a street on the approach to the temple. It is said to have come about in the early 18th century, when neighbors of Sensō-ji were granted permission to set up shops on the approach to the temple. However, in May 1885 the government of Tokyo ordered all shop owners to leave. In December of that same year the area was reconstructed in Western-style brick. During the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake many of the shops were destroyed, then rebuilt in 1925 using concrete, only to be destroyed again during the bombings of World War II.

The length of the street is approximately 250 meters and contains around 89 shops.

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The Indonesian group who stayed in TIC during the time of my visit posed in front of an interesting art on the ceramic painting located in one of the gate at the Ueno Station

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celebrating the Autumnal Equinox Day at the TIC =)