5 places to try the freshest fish in Amsterdam
It’s no secret that the Dutch are water people – there’s the labyrinth of canals that run like veins throughout the land and the vast open sea on the west coast.
We reckon that all this H2O has made the Dutch very fond of fruits de mer, with most of the local spoils coming from the frigid waters of the North Sea. When in Amsterdam, keep this list handy to find where and when to get the best local seafood.
For the tastiest haring
Visit: Frens Haringhandel
Best months: Around June-September (specific dates change each year)
Love it or hate it, haring is one of the must eats when in the land of tulips. In Dutch cuisine, this small fatty fish is typically marinated in salt and served with raw onions, and when in Amsterdam, sweet pickles. Traditional fish shop, Frens Haringhandel on Koningsplein have the preparation down to a tee, perhaps it’s because they’ve been serving this raw street food for over 40 years. The haring they serve here is plump and fresh and some say it’s the best in the city.
Photo (and main): Femmy Weijs
For the freshest local oysters
Visit: Visrestaurant de Oesterbar
Best months: September-April
The waters of the westernmost province of Zeeland are known for their succulent mollusks like oysters and mussels. Visrestaurant de Oesterbar on the bustling Leidseplein offers a few local oyster varieties that are delicate on the palate. They are served freshly shucked on ice or warm in beurre noisette or Rockefeller-style. For something more substantial, go for the classic dish of mussels served with crispy fries.
Photo: Visrestaurant de Oesterbar
For juicy North Sea shrimps
Visit: Restaurant Stork
Best months: All year with peak season in April and May
These crustaceans may be small, but boy to they pack in flavour! Caught all year round in the North Sea, these shrimps are eaten in the Netherlands in a variety of ways – in salads, soups, on toast, or even on its own. Restaurant Stork on the bank of the IJ plates these little babies in a few ways: served with bread sided with lemon mayonnaise; in their Fisherman’s Club Sandwich; and with their beautiful lunch platter that comes with other lovely additions like smoked salmon, mackerel rillettes, and shrimp croquettes.
Photo: Restaurant Stork
For sampling the diversity of the North Sea
Visit: John Dory
Best months: All year
This trendy little restaurant on Prinsengracht is like the holy land for seafood lovers with sophisticated tastes (they’ve even coined the word “fishonomy” to describe their food). Just like Dutch weather, no day is the same at John Dory. The chefs here serve multi-course menus comprised of day’s freshest catch from the North Sea. Look forward to inventive and unforgettable dishes such as mackerel with fennel, cucumber, and avocado; squid with tomato, watermelon, and jalepeno; and eel with asparagus, ramson, and lamb sweetbread.
Photo: John Dory
For delicious smoked seafood
Visit: The Seafood Bar
Best months: All year with peak seasons in April-July
You can’t talk about Dutch seafood without talking about the smoked variety. Typical Dutch fish specialties, such as mackerel and eel, are often salted and smoked. Although the home of Dutch smoked eel is about an hour north in Volendam, The Seafood Bar offers this delicacy at several pit-stops around the capital. Smoked mackerel is also offered at The Seafood Bar, but hit three fish with one stone and order a tasting platter of local specialties that includes Dutch shrimps, Volendam smoked eel, and smoked mackerel.
Photo: The Seafood Bar