Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
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What: Like its neighbor Belgium, the Netherlands has an affinity for fried potato sticks, a.k.a. fries, chips, frites. Here they’re called patat, or Vlaamse frites (“Flemish fries,” referencing their northern Belgium origins). Crunchy and thick-cut, these patat are a very popular street food in Amsterdam, peddled by small storefront counters, street stands, and fast-food-type joints galore. They’re usually served in paper cones, always with a generous dollop of sauce—mayonnaise-y fritessaus is the standard, but others are offered too, including the deadly Dutch combo known as oorlog (“war”), a mix of mayo, peanut satay sauce, and raw onions. The supposed battle in your mouth that ensues? That’s a war we’ll stand behind.
Where: Located on a small pedestrian-only street, hole-in-the-wall Vleminckx (020-624-6075; Voetboogstraat 31) is hailed by many as the best frites in town. It’s been around since 1887, so you know it’s gotta be good.
When: Mon, noon-6pm; Tues-Wed, 11am-6pm; Thurs, 11am-7pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-6pm; Sun, noon-6pm
Order: Get the basic fritessaus, or go for the gold: patatje oorlog (€2,50 for large, plus €0,50 per sauce). It’s not pretty to look at, but the combo of rich satay sauce and creamy mayo with the crunch and bite of the onions somehow works wonderfully. The best news is that even plain, these golden fries are delicious: a bit salty, very crispy outside, soft and moist inside.
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