Yesterday, Marco, Roger and I made okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake. The recipe came from a cookbook called “Tokyo stories” which I gave to Marco for Christmas this year. It was a nice find at the local American Book Center, or ABC for short. The joke in the blog title was that Marco couldn’t pronounce it right away after visiting Japan (oh-co-nome-e-ah-key) so he took to calling it onomatopoeia, which is ironically just as difficult to say. But these days we all just call it by its true name.
This variant was the Hiroshima style, which differs from the Osaka style Marco and Roger ate in Tokyo last year. 1) It uses 3 to 4 times the amount of cabbage as the Osaka style variant, with the cook (in this case Roger) pushing it down to flatten it as it cooks. 2) It is built in layers, including one careful flip halfway through. Roger was a flipping master last night.
For the most part, you can add whatever toppings you want. The original recipe called for squid but we were not adventurous enough for that, so we used pork instead. There is bacon in the recipe – you add it to the top of the pile and then you immediately flip the pancake so that the bacon is on the bottom and crisps up. It also usually has noodles (we used yakisoba noodles, which are stir-fried). There’s also a special okonomiyaki sauce, and we used a wasabi mayo as well on top.
We also used Roger’s gourmetten set, which has a dual use plate depending on how it was flipped: a grill for gourmetten or a flat grill for occasions like this. For the most part we cooked everything on the stove in pans and then transferred the mixture to the grill plate at the end to keep everything warm (traditionally you should cut off a piece and put it on your plate and get more later).
As a drink, Marco and Roger had calpis, which is a Japanese uncarbonated soft drink. But personally I like carbonation so I don’t drink that often. I had an Asahi “super dry” beer. Ironically enough it does taste pretty dry. It is also my beer of choice if we go to Wagamama in Amsterdam.
Last April a new restaurant opened in The Netherlands: TGI Fridays. It’s an American restaurant chain that has over 500 locations in the United States with an additional 300+ locations outside of the United States. Since April 2018, one of those locations is here in the Netherlands. In the Hoog Catharijne mall in Utrecht, to be precise.
In case you are wondering, the name comes from the American phrase “Thank God it’s Friday”, which is also often shortened to “T.G.I.F.”.
As usual the only sticking point was never knowing what language to speak: when we came in, the hostess (person who greets you and takes you to your seat) spoke English. The first waiter spoke Dutch and the second waiter spoke English. Hmmm… That happens a lot, though. Must be something to do with mine American accent (haha). Although I also had the impression that some of the staff only spoke English.
For dessert, Marco and I split warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream, which went well with my coffee. I really enjoyed the ice cream; it was frozen enough that it didn’t melt instantly.
Overall the food was good and I loved the decor. For instance, take a look at the chair in the background of the dessert photo – it’s covered in American flags and other American trinkets. Anywhere else and it would look tacky, but it works here.
Marco also noted at the end that they used an American style “receipt/check book”, which included a slot for a credit card which sticks out over the edge of the book. That way the waiter knows there is a credit card inside when the book is closed. See also this link (Amazon.com).
“The Fred” or De Fredis a neighborhood in The Hague, a shortening of the street name Frederik Hendriklaan, where the heart of the neighborhood can be found.
Last Monday a new Papa John’s pizza location opened on The Fred. It’s the first one in The Hague, although there are already locations in nearby Delft and Zoetermeer. It’s originally from the United States.
And of course (like what Dunkin’ Donuts does with new locations) the first 100 visitors that day received a free pizza.
I’m actually not much of a fan of Papa John’s pizza, although admittedly I haven’t had any in years. I’m more of a thick pizza/thick crust person. But some of my friends do like it, so to each their own!
It’s that time of year again! The Rrrollend food truck festival has returned to The Hague. Today was the last day, although they will be back at Lange Voorhout from August 9th to the 11th.
The highlight of this excursion this time around was the rolled up ice cream (Wikipedia), which I have never had before. The food truck was manned by a team out of Rotterdam (Facebook). It is a semi-solid ice cream made of cream, milk and sugar. The trick is that it is placed on a cold surface (chilled to -20 degrees) while it is being worked on. Check out this photo from the Wikipedia page:
Once frozen, you can roll up the ice cream as shown above.
A few weeks back Marco, Roger and I went to SET restaurant in The Hague. We have been there a few times, but every time I went we have just had the lunchtime bento box. This time we sampled from the sushi side of the menu. We also sampled a few Japanese drinks: Calpis (a soft drink) and cold sake.
I loved where we were seated. It was its own cubby hole. The table was also sunk into the ground a bit (you had to step down to get to it) so it made it seem like you were sitting on the ground without actually sitting on the ground.
And we can’t forget the dessert! So cute.
The chocolate sauce drawing was a nice (unexpected) touch. My dessert was called Ice and sand chocolate and was chocolate ice cream. It was quite frozen, which did give it a sort of crumbly texture, so the “sand” part of the name definitely made sense. It was quite tasty.
I can definitely recommend this place. Everything we have had there is delicious, from the drinks to the sushi to the bento boxes. And now I can add the desserts to that list!
A Cheeses & More store by Henri Willig has recently opened in The Hague, not far from the Binnenhof. This chain bills itself as a ‘cheese gifts’ store so expect slightly higher prices.
It looks a bit touristy from the outside:
The location isn’t marked that well on Google Maps, but if you’re coming from the Hofvijver (the famous pond) and you’re at the Bagels & Beans café, then keep walking past it and follow the corner. The cheese store will be on the left.
Marco and I aren’t cheese experts, mainly sticking to a few standard cheeses. I was thrilled when the local grocery store started carrying cheddar cheese. It goes great with the Ritz crackers from Kelly’s, the local expat store. Otherwise our standard fare is a jonge belegen cheese which is ripe at about 2 months and translates to ‘young, mature’.
I had a purpose for visiting this Cheeses & More store, as I knew they carried a lovely spicy cheese. We first tried it (or something similar) when Marco’s mom brought back cheese from Alkmaar, a city well known for its cheese market.
We had seen the cheese at Schiphol airport as we were flying to the States for Thanksgiving, but didn’t have time to pick it up after we arrived back in the Netherlands:
I wonder how many people accidentally ask for the ‘red hot chili peppers’ cheese. Ha!