Friday, March 28, 2008

Amsterdam Trip Part Vijf: Wagamama

After the 15 months since I visited the one on a non-descript but well-traveled street in London, and several days after passing up my chance to eat at the Faneuil Hall one in Boston, I finally got my chance to go back to Wagamama. There are two in Amsterdam, three total in the Netherlands, and I insisted on dragging Jim to the nearest one, on the Max Euweplein near the theater, Museumplein and Leidesplein.

We had just come from the Anne Frank Huis, the museum built around the house where the famous Dutch Jewish girl hid from the Nazis with her family and another for several years, until their safe house was breached (only her father survived the death camps, which took 6 million Jews and 5 million others). We had also just visited the nearby Homomonument, which as far as I know is the biggest monument in the world dedicated to GLBT persons around the world, especially gay victims of the Holocaust (5,000 to 15,000, at least). Max Euweplein, dedicated to a famous Dutch chess champion, is the site where people (like Anne Frank's family and many other Amsterdam Jews, gays and other Holocaust victims) were marched to be sent to the concentration camps. It was very sobering.

Still, we did enjoy our trip to Wagamama, as did the US and (moreover) UK tourists around us, and the Dutch coming in to eat as well (maybe they were also tourists?). Jim assured me he liked his food, so I didn't feel bad obsessively making him wait for the place to open at noon). And this is why I wish they would open more in the US, maybe DC, especially Baltimore, even LA which I do occasionally visit:

  • The Wagamama Ramen (€12), a big steaming bowl of, as their menu states it, "noodles in a vegetable soup topped with a marinated and grilled mushroom, seasonal greens, kamaboko-aka [a type of fish], wakame [seweed], prawn, seasonal fish, chicken, fried tofu, menma [dried bamboo] and spring onions". Oh my God, this was good stuff. Everything was so wonderful, especially the kamaboko-aka and those grilled prawns. I got almost to the bottom, and was disappointed that there wasn't more at the bottom of that big bowl. Jim got the Seafood Ramen (€13), which had the same seafood as mine, plus other fish and squid.
  • The Banana Katsu (€5) covered with a dollop of orange-vanilla ice cream. I've had banana tempura but never banana katsu (banana fried in Japanese bread crumbs). Three small banana halves with a small dollop of ice cream. Heavenly, about as good as a good tempura ice cream. We each got this.
  • I was less impressed with the small side order of Japanese pickles (€1.50), not for the taste but specifically for the size. You could fit all three pickles together on the head of a quarter, they were that small).
While eating we did get the chance to see some guys playing chess outside. This was no ordinary chess game, mind you, but a game featuring very large and light pieces that can be played for all to see very easily. The piecs are in two large locked boxes so people can't just walk off with them. You have to get the key from somebody. It was amusing lunch entertainment.