Blue Pepper- Amsterdam

After the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, delicious Indonesian food remained on the mainlands. At the present, one of the best Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam is Blue Pepper, a small fine dining place with a dimly lit ambiance and pre-set menus. πŸ™‚

The restaurant opens at 6, but fills up towards later hours. Even with the preset menus, our waiter recommended us eating family style– with a combination of the two pre-set menu choices.

We got two of the traditional pre-set, and one of the more modern menu. The first dish that came out was the amuse bouche, a little like a kebab with cheese sprinkled on the top. It was quite delicious!

After the amuse bouche, the dishes from the preset menu came out. The first dish was a light soup with a strong sense of lemongrass. Two types of soup came out: one with shellfish and one without. My Papa has an allergy to shellfish, and often, preset menus are required to have another option on hand for their customers.

The first picture is the lemongrass shellfish-based soup, and the second is the modified one.

Another one of the first dishes to come out, the softshell crab with mango and pineapple was delivered right next to our soup platters.

Although the fruit was a nice touch, the fried outside of the crabs overwhelmed the inside, making the dish more commonplace and greasy than would be an expected of a more upscale restaurant.

The baked scallops were my favorite dish of the night, accompanied by caviar and greens.

The raspberry was a nice fruity add on, and the scallops themselves seemed to disassemble in my mouth as I ate them.

Then the chicken sate and lamb sate came; this was one of my favorite dishes that came out. It reminded me a little of a kebab, but with an Asian twist (for example, they added grapefruit instead of say, tomatoes).

The duck came in a tortilla-chip like bowl with greens on the side. The menu said it came with avocado salad, but from what I saw, there really wasn’t any. It seemed that in place of the avocado, they added cucumber. It was also pretty soggy, with the juices of the meat seeping into the chip. In contrast, this was one of my least favorite dishes on the menu, seeming both too common and too badly done.

After the duck, it was truly a family style meal. Waiters brought us all kinds of dishes including fish, beef, and a truly delicious goat curry.

My least favorite dish was the mixed vegetables, which to me tasted kind of pickle-y. Truly rather bland. The best dishes were the Balinese fish of the day and the delicious goat curry. Although a little more fishy than I would have liked, the balinese fish was melt in your mouth, and was paired nicely with some crunchy deliciousness on the side. I was very excited about the goat curry, because it was the spiciest thing on the menu. Not only that, but it was also very melt in your mouth (I seem to like melt in your mouth things). For those who don’t like goat, the beef curry is another delicious alternative, though it is far less spicy.

I took a bit of all the dishes and put them on the plate they provided, which was topped with a beautiful volcano of rice.

To be quite honest, dessert was somewhat of a letdown, with a mango pannacotta and a surprise dessert with a mix of several traditionally “Indonesian” flavors. The mango pannacotta was delicious, but other than that, dessert was disappointing.

Because of Blue Pepper’s reputation as one of the top 5 Indonesian restaurants in the Netherlands, I had expected something spectacular. I didn’t get what I expected, but I did get a pretty good meal. Not spectacular, but worth the experience. Indonesian food is definitely one of my new favorites. πŸ™‚

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 3/4


Pancakes Amsterdam- Amsterdam

Dutch pancakes are one of Amsterdam’s finest specialties (along with bicycles, of course πŸ˜‰ ). The best dutch pancakes in the area are served by Pancakes Amsterdam, a busy, local chain with crispy crepe-like pancakes and a line through the door and out to the side of the street.

The location I went to was at Centraal, at Prins Hendrikkade 48, 1012AC Amsterdam. I had hot chocolate to start, without whipped cream, and it came out in no time. The waiters seem to love the fact that we all ordered the Dutch pancakes and not the American ones (maybe Americans order American pancakes instead?), and anyways, they serve both!

The first time we went there (yes, that’s right, this is another one of those times where I was so addicted I went again πŸ™‚ ), I got the smoked salmon pancake, which came with creme fraiche and guacamole! We Americans like our avocados ;). In addition to that original base, I added a side of bacon, which they incorporated inside the pancake itself.

I later learned that most local Dutch get the ham and cheese pancake, because that’s what they make at home. So the second time, I ordered the ham and cheese Dutch pancake with bacon, pesto, and smoked salmon. I daresay I did a better job ordering the second time.

While both meals were absolutely AMAZING (maybe my favorite meal in Amsterdam in contrast to the last post, Wagamama), Dutch pancakes are very filling, so if you’re not very hungry, I would consider sharing. However, I highly recommend coming on a hungry stomach, as the food is well worth it (this is what calories are made for). And it’s healthy, too!

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

An amazing meal with amazing people <3

Wagamama- Amsterdam

Here’s a lesson for you kids (myself included): don’t go a day in a foreign city without either a) a friend, or b) research. After a wonderful day of walking around the beautiful city of Amsterdam, we realized it was dinner time. “Time to eat!” we thought. But where to go?

We searched and we searched and we came upon…. nothing. Okay, so that storytelling business may have been a bit exaggerated, but still, we ended up going and having a train station meal at this ramen place called Wagamama. We had seen it earlier, and had thought the name was hilarious (probably not a good reason to pick a restaurant). But oh well, why not give it a shot, right?

I do have this to say for Wagamama though. It’s very busy, the busiest restaurant at Centraal station (this happens to be the central-most station πŸ˜‰ ). That usually points to a sign that it’s good! Hurrah! Success! We managed to wing it and make it still. πŸ™‚

We sat down, gave our order (all spicy ramens– I got mine with pork). The cooking scene looked like this:

I got the shirodashi ramen, with pork belly in chicken broth. This sounded the best to me, but the rest of the ramen menu is here at But before that, we ordered an appetizer, the duck wraps, very similar to peking duck! Though definitely not as good.

All three of our group ordered ramen; even though they were all different orders, they were all EXTREMELY similar. All with chicken broth, with similar toppings (and NO spiciness). That was disappointing, especially because we had a separate conversation with our waitress about loving spicy food and ordering it in the first place!

Despite that mix up and eerie similarity, the food itself was mediocre, and the broth of the ramen was much more tasteless than say, other ramen restaurants (SHOUTOUT TO IZA RAMEN! YOU ARE GLORIOUS).

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 3/4

Honestly, this was our worst meal in Amsterdam, but still, not an entirely bad one. πŸ™‚

RIJKS- Amsterdam

RIJKS is a Michelin star restaurant located right near the famous RIJKS museum, which has famous Dutch painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. The RIJKS museum itself is famed for housing the very well-known Night Watch, which we saw when we went separately, after our meal.

RIJKS has one star, and was recommended to us by our concierge at the Sir Adam Hotel, who tells us that they don’t recommend restaurants to guests if they haven’t tried it out themselves first! That’s nice for us; they did the first-hand research and paved our way!

First, the amuse bouche came, along with the bread, which was set out at every table. In this case, the bread was more like Indian papad. For those not familiar, papad is crunchy, and thinner than a cracker. And the amuse bouche was wonderful! I often say that the amuse bouche is the best part of the meal, and this one was a bit like glorified cheese balls (and I do not mean that offensively).

And then they brought as actual bread. But clearly, the other stuff was better. French bread? PSHHHHH. It’s not even that warm! Okay, it’s kind of warm. But PAPAD!

For the first part of my meal, I decided to order the langoustine ceviche, which was green, frothy and delicious (maybe I’m weird, but the one from Mossel and Gin in the previous post is still my favorite). However, this ceviche was quite tasty too. πŸ™‚

Next, I shared the duck for two. Before it came out, they showed us the full duck on a wood chopping board with the seasonings and everything. Then, they prepared it with cherry, green almond, and brown butter. The green almonds were very unique; most places don’t even serve them. These are the unripened almonds (a bit like green mango– though that is far more popular).

For dessert, I had something called the Holy Trinity. Out of all the desserts on the table, we all agreed this one sounded the best but tasted the worst. The idea stems from having cheese in three main forms… which you can see here. The combination though, was not as good. All three cheese “ideas” persay had different intensities, strengths, and even varied in their sweetness/saltiness. I was not a fan. I did try some of the other desserts though, and the one that comes with the pre-made 3 course meal (with strawberries) was quite good as well. Although of course, next time that dessert will likely not be available. That’s the thing with temporary menus!

The best part of my meal was definitely the ceviche and the duck– delicious! Even though my meal didn’t necessarily end well, I can certainly say that it started well. I made sure my last bite was of someone else’s dessert. These days, I’m rumored to be a relentless dessert stealer. πŸ˜‰


πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 3/4

Mossel and Gin- Amsterdam

Mossel and Gin is a picturesque looking Dutch seafood restaurant, with both amazing service and amazing food. Looking back on my visit to Amsterdam, this was one of my top favorite restaurants there. It was also one of our first meals in town!

Surely, I have a lot of praise for my wonderful meal. I’m sure I didn’t just love it because I was hungry; my stomach doesn’t blind me of EVERYTHING, you see. πŸ˜‰ But the ceviche they served there was the best ceviche I can remember, served with coconut and mangos, giving off a bit of a tropical vibe. The fish in the ceviche was soft and creamy, elevating the ceviche’s texture and quality (clearly the fish was as fresh as could be πŸ™‚ ).

See, it even looks like a delicacy! πŸ™‚

Next, we got the pulpo (the octopus), another one of our wonderful waitress’s recommendations along with the ceviche. This dish was wonderful for sharing, and was very refreshing on a breezy Amsterdam evening.

Next, we got the lobster croquettes, which surprisingly were my least favorite of the appetizers (surprising because I ordinarily favor lobster over anything else).

The accompanying sauce went wonderfully. πŸ™‚

Oh! And I almost forgot. Oysters! Oysters were our last appetizer; they were special raw Dutch oysters from the region. Refreshing, refreshing, refreshing! πŸ™‚

What an amazing meal. No regrets. And I absolutely LOVVVEEEE Amsterdam. The Plaza. No wait! Eloise credits!

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Next time I’m in Amsterdam, I’ll be sure to be back. πŸ™‚ Check it out!

Zazie’s- San Francisco, CA

I visited Zazie’s twice– it was that good. The first time was for their special Bastille Day menu (Zazie’s is a French restaurant) and the second time, I got a taste of their regular menu, which was also pretty tasty.

Located on Cole Street, 941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA, Zazie’s is one of the places in San Francisco where you need a reservation to get into. On the plus side, Zazie’s reservation signs are super cute (clearly drawn by a small child with cute coloring skills). Each sign is different– that’s even nicer! Way to charm the customers. πŸ™‚

Our first meal, featuring the bastille day menu, had items like the magret de canard and delicious mille feuille. Since this was a limited edition menu, I’ve included a picture, below. πŸ™‚

I ordered the mussels, magret de canard, and mille feuille as my three course, and I’m happy to say it certainly did not disappoint.

The mussels were amazing, topped with garlic bread and some herbs. I also made sure to sop up that delicious sauce with the fresh bread they gave us (fresh bread is always the best).

After the mussels, our wonderful waiter (turns out he’s also a writer! True French form) brought me the magret de canard soon after. This is a dish that’s always served at French bistros, but most places in America don’t actually serve it. So while it’s easy to find in Paris, it’s strangely difficult to find it in the U.S. In fact, that was one of the main reasons I ordered the duck!

It did not disappoint. In traditional French style, it was served with some greens, sauce, and also a carb (their carb of choice being parsnip puree). The fig sauce they served with it also added a nice touch, a sweet tinge to the otherwise savory dish.

This may seem all extremely filling (and it was), but there’s always room for dessert! The mille feuille was deliciously light and beautifully prepared, with room for berries and raspberry sauce in between. πŸ™‚

The powdered sugar was also a nice touch. Dessert was beautifully presented, and I had wonderful company. Overall an excellent meal. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

As for my second meal at Zazie’s, which I was very much anticipating prior to my food-consumption-stomach-filling exercise (dinner), I’m sorry to say that it nowhere near matched up to my first meal. Beginner’s luck, perhaps.

My appetizer was pretty tasty, though. I ordered the French onion soup, which, as we all know, takes quite a bit of time to prepare, and it was much appreciated. I practically scraped off the cheese on the sides!

My main course, the lamb was mournfully mediocre. The lamb was soggy, though fully cooked, and the sides were absolutely not to my taste at all. The lamb tagine that I thought would be better prepared and tastier, seemed to me like something I could get off a regular buffet menu, anywhere. The eggplant and tomatoes seemed tinted with this “other” kind of taste, making it seem less fresh and more “microwaved up” than the other entrees we had there. The remaining guests at our table, however, seemed to come up with much nicer main courses. So my advice? Steer clear of the lamb and go for anything else. πŸ™‚

Oh, and the almonds. Whoever told the chef to add the almonds gives terrible advice.

For dessert, I overcame my trypophobia and ate through this dish as quickly as I could! I like to call this dish chocolate s’mores, but it was more of a chocolate lava cake with golden marshmallows on the top. This was the best part of my second meal at Zazi’e by far, echoing the French onion soup I had had earlier with it’s presentation. The chocolate underneath was rich and delicious, and the marshmallows, like the cheese on the soup, did an amazing job of sticking to my spoon (but were nevertheless worth the hassle).

My second meal at Zazie’s was more like a πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ :), but as an average of the first meal and the second meal, Zazie’s overall deserves πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 1/2! An excellent French bistro in the middle of San Francisco, perfect for going out with friends or celebrating.

Nam nam nam!


Banketbakkerjj Van der Linde- Amsterdam

This small shop is considered one of the top 10 ice creams in all of Amsterdam. It’s been around for quite a long time, so long that it only serves one flavor of ice cream– what I like to call whipped ice cream. There’s a line out the door, and this small, cramped space is filled to the brim with customers wanting a taste of their delicious one flavor ice cream.

It does indeed merit the description “whipped ice cream”, with it’s creamy, pure texture and airy and lightly sweet taste. I got a single scoop, in a cone.

I loved it so much the first time, that I decided to come again a second day! Sadly, we came too late: the shop was closed. It’s alright though; there’s always tomorrow! Personally, I’m planning on hitting all of Amsterdam’s top 10 ice cream places myself. <3 Happy eating! -Anya

Happy One Hundred Posts! ??

In honor of the 100 post special, I’ve compiled my nine favorite posts spanning from September 2011 to now. I hope you like them!

1) Tpumps vs. Boba Guys:

Now this one had to be on the list because A) I love boba, and B) I love boba. No, really. It’s unique because it’s one of the few posts I’ve ever written on this blog comparing two very similar and popular places among locals. Hopefully, future sophisti-kids will write similar comparison pieces; I certainly plan on it!

2) Salt and Straw- Portland, OR:

Previous to visiting Salt and Straw, I’d never had a flight of ice cream before. Not only was it delicious, but now that I’ve experienced MULTIPLE FLAVORS AT ONCE I’ll never go back to a single scoop. πŸ˜‰ I had so many options that I almost (almost!) ran out of options to choose from!

3) Pequod’s and Lou Malnati’s– Chicago, IL:

Another first, this Chicago trip was the first time I had real Chicago deep dish style pizza. I’d never had the pizza, but I’d also never had to WAIT this long for my pizza. Apparently deep dish takes a long time to cook. With this kind of quality though, the wait is seriously worth it. πŸ™‚

4) Otium- LA:

I picked Otium because it’s a representation of all the restaurants seeking to blend modern, experimental tastes and traditional French Laundry style cooking in their dishes. While it may sometimes seem like all the dishes in the world are already OUT there, restaurants like Otium proves us wrong with unique, never-before-heard-of dishes like porkbelly french toast (?!?!?!?!!). It might not seem good, but this version of chicken and waffles hit the spot. They not only manage to make new dishes, but they also find a way to make them delicious and appealing! That’s the rarity of a good chef. To me, good chefs are truly magicians in a kitchen.

5) Din Tai Fung- Torrance, CA:

A success story for foreign restaurants seeking to move abroad, Din Tai Fung is famous for their soup dumplings. In addition, Din Tai Fung manages to stay relatively consistent with the quality of their food (and not all franchises can say that). As a frequent customer (seriously by now they should be giving me my meals for free), I can say in all honesty that Din Tai Fung’s expansion has been a blessing to my enlarging stomach. πŸ™‚

6) Maison de la Truffe- Paris, France:

As far as I’m concerned, truffles should be immortalized as a foodie delicacy. Pasta? Add truffle. Burger! Add truffle. Sushi, add truffle. What could go wrong? The answer is nothing. Literally nothing could go wrong. So when I found a Parisian restaurant that SPECIALIZES in truffle, well, what’s not to like?

7) Paiche- Marina del Rey, CA:

Paiche’s one of those foodie posts that represents my younger writing, pictures, and posting style. It’s nice to look at posts like these (and what I’ve written for 8 and 9) because they serve as a friendly reminder of my growth as a writer, a foodie and a person. πŸ™‚

8) New Zealand, Christmas, 2012: North Island, Kauri Trees, and Waipoua Lodge – a Karsen post:

One of the few Karsen posts, this post is a popular one. He put a lot of effort into writing it, and I for one can truly appreciate it (and the pigs in the pictures). The pigs are so cute!

9) Lanesborough Hotel- Afternoon Tea:

Another popular one and one of my personal favorites, Lanesborough was one of my first experiences with British afternoon tea. I loved dressing up for it, the music, the tea, the food, the company. To this day, afternoon tea is one of my favorite experiences and a lot of that is because of this meal.

Cheers, and happy (belated) national creme brulee day! πŸ™‚ Honestly, this country manages to find a reason to celebrate every day.


Pomelo- San Francisco, CA

Right near the USCF campus, Pomelo is a restaurant meant for two and three person parties. It has an open kitchen, and serves delicious Asian fusion meals. The special for that day was paella, served with mussels and other delicious seafood.

And because it was the special of the day of course, we decided to get that and their famous noodles to share. The waiter said that their well-known noodles were featured in two dishes: the lanzhou and the manila. We ordered the lanzhou, which also came with lotus and tuna on the top.

While the texture and slightly peanut-y texture of the noodles was different and interesting, their special, the paella, was far better. Restaurants aren’t always generous with the seafood, but luckily, Pomelo was kind enough to lather both seafood and delicious flavorings on their dish.

The open kitchen was also a special luxury; restaurant-goers can eye their meals as the chef is cooking them, as well as notice the unique style of asian fusion cooking.

Though small and a little tight, I would definitely visit Pomelo again– and not all the items on their menu are as expensive as the paella. For reasonable prices, Pomelo offers excellent food, generous quantities, and quick service. In fact, there’s usually a line out the door.

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Bon Appetit,


P.S. Extra points for preparation πŸ™‚

Gary Danko- San Francisco, CA

With one Michelin star and several James Beard awards, Gary Danko links French cooking with modern tastes. They’re famous for their seared foie gras, but also serve dishes like roasted Maine lobster, branzini, and herb crusted lamb.

When we called for a reservation, the person on the other line said “there’s no way”. We only called a day in advance, and they were booked for the next three days– all evening. But miraculously, a reservation popped up when another group canceled, so we were very excited. We also happened to be going for a friend’s birthday dinner, so that made this opportunity extra special. πŸ™‚

Although the space was a little cramped and the tables were rather close together, the food came quickly, and in classic Michelin style, the servers came and went without so much as a notice.

When it was time to order, our waiter recommended the foie gras, ahi tuna, branzini, roasted Maine lobster, lamb, beef, and duck breast, as well as the warm Louisiana butter cake for dessert. An essential part of eating at a Michelin restaurant, or at least I think so, is trusting your waiter. Waiters and waitresses at Michelin restaurants especially, are professionals in their trade. In addition, they are also required to try every item on the menu so they are better able to assist and describe the dish to the customers.

I really wanted to get the foie gras, but as it turned out, so did everyone ELSE. πŸ™‚ So I shared the foie and the waiter’s recommendation, the ahi tuna, with my mom.

That’s the foie– beautiful, right? It was soft, melt in your mouth, and like a lot of French foies, it came with something fruity. In this case, that something fruity was the cranberries!

The ahi tuna was kind of disappointing, honestly. Initially, I was reluctant to get this dish, especially because you can get ahi tuna and avocado anywhere. But when the waiter recommended it, I thought “this must be good”, “trust, Anya”, and “they probably added their own restaurant flair ;)”. Unfortunately, I’m sad to say I’ve had better ahi tuna at cheaper places. The sauce was OVERWHELMINGLY citrusy, and the rest of the dish became overpowered by sauce!

The seaweed is placed on top of the tuna, and swarming underneath was that earth-shattering sauce (never again). Perhaps it’s unfair to be this critical, but for me, a bad start foreshadows a bad ending. And because Gary Danko’s is a Michelin restaurant, expectations are always higher. When it got down to that last taste, I made sure the foie was the last bite. Now that’s a dish worth writing about.

The duck breast– what the waiter described as his “favorite dish at the restaurant”– came in as my main course, but I also got a taste of the Maine lobster, so one seafood, and one meat and game.

Above, the lobster, was prepared beautifully, with a half shell on top for appearances. It’s nice when places detach the lobster meat from the shell for you, but ESPECIALLY nice when they add puree and delicious extras on the side. While I probably could have had the lobster and the puree by itself (it was that buttery and heavenly), the mushrooms and corn were an excellent addition to the dish.

The duck was a much better recommendation than the ahi tuna was. The preparation, the taste, everything was excellent. They were generous with the amount of duck breast they added onto the plate, and also added bacon braised endive and duck hash to the dish. These were good, but the quality of the duck as well as the port-glazed cherry could have also made an excellent stand-alone.

Also per recommendation, I ordered the warm Louisiana butter cake. It was sticky just like it’s supposed to be, and the peaches and ice cream were a nice addition. The dish wasn’t out of this world, but it was still delicious! For your visit to Gary Danko’s, however, keep in mind that the butter cake is very filling, so if you want it, make sure to save some room. πŸ™‚ After all, the food isn’t good if you’re not full afterwards (especially at a Michelin star restaurant).

P.S. I was a big fan of the cookie that came with the ice cream. πŸ™‚ Is it bad that I’m mentioning the cookie and not the butter cake as a whole?

Like many Michelin restaurants, Gary Danko’s has a cheese plate option. While explaining the specifics of each cheese to you, they let you choose four of the delicious cheese on the cart to end your meal with. In the future, I plan on getting the cheese plate instead of the butter cake, in part because at the end of every meal, Gary Danko’s brings out a complimentary dessert dish anyway (and it’s so impressive to have them explain cheeses to you).

These little dessert cakes reminded me a lot of the tea cakes accompanied with afternoon tea. I’m a big fan, and I believe these little desserts were better than our butter cake (aptly named, by the way). For our special birthday guest, Gary Danko’s also brought out a delicious, DELICIOUS chocolate dessert. Cheers Gary Danko’s!

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Thank you Gary Danko’s, for a wonderful meal, and cheers to all of you as well. Thanks for checking out this page! <3 P.S. The meal was good, but I'm not sure about awarding Gary Danko's a michelin star. That said, it certainly deserves lots of recognition for both its food and excellent service. Bon appetit, and keep eating! πŸ™‚