Travel engages all five senses, and my faithful traveling companion would probably suggest that I focus on taste more than any of the other four when we’re on the road. So, for our recent trip to Amsterdam, I was determined to find some unique dishes to complement the intense experience of a van Gogh seen in person and the delightful sound of the high plinks of bicycle bells in concert with the lower plonks of trams on their street tracks.
Indonesian places came highly recommended, and we did visit one (mentioned at the end of this post), but my main culinary goal for the trip was a broodje pom, a sandwich filled with a Surinamese chicken-and-tuber casserole called pom. And Tokoman, on Waterlooplein, holds grail status online as the place to visit for this sandwich. So we went!
The first time we tried to eat there, this website-less shop was closed (no Sunday hours), but the second trip, on an incredibly breezy day (small glass vases went flying from vendors’ shelves when we roved around the nearby Waterlooplein Flea Market) proved more bountiful. For €3.30, we got a nice sized sandwich (say ten inches long) on a fresh baguette, filled with the orangish-red casserole and topped with a cabbage relish and peppers.
Or, at least we asked for the peppers. Everything I had read suggested the peppers would impart some heat, but there was no heat at all in this sandwich. I wonder if the person behind the counter, detecting my foreignness, held back the good stuff for fear that I couldn’t handle it.
Still, the broodje pom had a nice sweet and sour balance, and the grated tubers blended well with the chunks of soft chicken. The tubers, while essentially the filler, played a nice textural role, a tender counterpoint to the chicken. Overall, the flavor was reminiscent of a barbecue sandwich that substituted any vinegar tang for a sweeter, more citric bite. A multi-napkin sandwich for sure.
The broodje pom wasn’t the knockout sandwich of my dreams, but I’m glad we tracked down Tokoman (Waterlooplein 327) to give it a try. It’s not every day you sample Surinamese cuisine, and the broodje pom we shared kept us going for another few hours of walking in one of Europe’s most walkable cities.
Oh, and we grabbed Indonesian take-out in Nieuwmarkt, near our hotel, at Toko Joyce. A small, take-out only operation, they offered a lunch box with 100 grams each of a meat dish and a vegetable dish over rice or noodles for about €6.00 or so. Perhaps it wasn’t a full-blown rijstaffel, but it hit the spot, gave us a sample of Indonesian fare, and got us on our way for more sightseeing and random canal crossings.