★ &samhoud places, Amsterdam

Our first proper fine-dining meal for this trip is at Michelin-starred &Samhoud Places. I first came to know about this restaurant when they were featured in a TV programme “Top Tables, Top Cities” on NatGeo introducing top eateries in Amsterdam. I vaguely remembered Chef Moshik Roth sharing about how he gets inspiration for his dishes during his diving trips? I reckoned he would be a master in handling seafood ingredients.

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Welcome drink was served upon seated – can’t remember the exact ingredients but its a drink that resembles those served in Thailand post-massage – a bit of ginger-lemongrass, calming & soothing kind of tea.

Menu wise, from the Inspiration Menu (Degustation) there are options of Large Menu or Small Menu (of 5 course). We opted for 1 large and 1 small menu, whereby large menu has additional 4 courses over the small menu. We were excited to go through the menu and see lots of seafood dishes.

Trio of Starter was presented comprising of Herring/Potato/Apple/Cream Cheese, North Sea Crab/Red Curry/Cauliflower/Raita and Goose liver/ Sea buckthorn berry / Carrot / Yogurt.

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We were really fans of the Dutch herring and this version served here was an upscale version, much more exquisite and elegant compared to the ones from the street stalls.

The 2nd starter with North Sea Crab featured some spices used often in Asian/Indian cuisines.

Last starter had goose liver pate sandwiched between what looked like meringue discs. I loved that the bite-sized starters were all artfully plated with a touch of edible flowers and displayed much finesse.

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Up next was a snack from the kitchen, soft boiled eggs (eggs cooked for 40 seconds, to be exact) topped with salmon caviar, underneath were salmon carpaccio from Scotland and gambas from south of Spain.

For the large menu, guest will enjoy the Anna Gold Caviar Corn/Miso/Passion Fruit. Once again we see a bit of Asian ingredient incorporated in the dish with the use of Miso. Overall the base is sweet from the corn with mild (or minimal) taste of the passion fruit.

On the side, we were served the golden-coloured Guernsey Butter with bread. And after the first taste of the butter, both of us agreed that the rich and smooth butter was uncontrollably addictive! We found ourselves slathering more and more of the butter with each mouthful of bread! I would declare Guernsey Butter as probably the best butter in the world~

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Progressing onto the next course we had Garden of the Sea Gamba Carboneras/Langoustine/Sea Urchin/Kimchi and Our Summer Favorites Daikon/Kohlrabi/Summer Fruit/Verbena respectively.

The Garden of the Sea dish actually has 2 parts to it. On the upper deck was a composition of cubed tropical fruits including mango, papaya, dragonfruit etc. placed on what looked like a desiccator plate, with a rim soup bowl underneath. We were advised to taste this in a clockwise direction to taste the changes in the flavours. After finishing the top tier, the staff would then remove the plate to unveil the lower deck which was the langoustine with prawn stock flavoured with kimchi (juice? cos we didn’t eat any cabbage).

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For our summer favorites, it was a colourful display of refreshing and light “salad platter”.

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For the large menu, guest will enjoy Tomato Inspired by Andy Warhol Tofu/Ponzu/Thai Basil. A placard explains Chef’s idea behind the creation of this dish. Chef rediscovered the ‘originality’ of tomato with mozzarella and basil and replaced the ingredients with tofu, soy and Asian basil.

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The next course had options either From the North Sea Palm Heart/Red Bell Pepper/Elderflower Blossom or From the Land Black Truffle/Goose Liver/Leek. As we opted for 1 each, we tried both the dishes. The fish dish (pictured above) has a squid ink gelatin “skin” which was a playful presentation. The sweet red bell pepper sauce went well with the mild tasting white meat fish.

We were pleasantly surprised to see these cute and delicate “wantons” served.  They come at a supplement of €25, but I’m pretty sure its worth it. The skin of the wantons were pretty thin and wrapped inside were fillings with aromatic truffle.

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For mains there were 3 options available but one of which requires supplement of €65 – Hida Wagyu A5 Beef. So we choose the other 2 which were: Anjou Pigeon Liver/Chinese Cabbage/Plums/Orange/Angelica and Sweetbread Prepared on hay/Evolution of Citrus/Polenta.

Although I’m not adverse to eating pigeon, they are certainly not my favoured protein if given a choice. However this pigeon turned out to be the best pigeon I’ve ever had~ Other than the perfected roasted meat, the brown glaze was the star. This dish did not have any gamey taste and the blend of citrusy plum, orange was a good balance with the slightly bitter and warm angelica (presumably angelica root aka dang gui).  Overall this protein dish reminded me of Herbal Roast Duck back in Singapore.

For the other main, please pardon us for being ignorant…when we opted for Sweetbread we were still wondering what exactly it was… we were expecting something like bread pudding? To maintain the mystery, we resisted checking out the term on our mobile phones. Instead we waited till we tasted the dish before making a guess.

The service staff presented us with a dish with cloche. At the count of three, the cloche was opened and we saw the golden brown piece of sweetbread sitting pretty on a pile of hay. They wanted us to take in the earthy aroma of the smoked hay before plating the sweetbread for us. Doesn’t it looked like chicken meat?

After cutting through the piece of “meat”, I concluded that it is not a “meat” as it did not have the texture of muscle tissue. My guess was it has to be a type of offal. We thought it was rare to be served offal in Western countries as it is a food that is usually looked down upon (except for foie gras?).

I still recalled a British couple commented that they found it Barbaric to eat offal…I wondered if they eat Sausages? Or had they not known that traditional British offal dishes include black pudding and brawn?

Anyway, so what is Sweetbread? It’s made from an animal’s pancreas and thymus glands. Sweetbreads are considered a delicacy especially in France and I absolutely enjoyed the one served here. It was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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For the large menu, guest will enjoy Truffle Cappuccino Black Truffle/Emulsion/Turnip-Rooted Celery/Sorrel before desserts. They’ll get to try 2 desserts while the small menu would have 1 dessert.

Innovative was a rather acidic sorbet which didn’t go well with me. I’m really adverse to overly citric desserts…Homage to Paris was a Chocolate Mille-Feuille, which was my kind of dessert. Rich and chocolately mousse sandwiched between layers of flaky and crispy puff pastry.

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Overall the ambience at the restaurant was not as formal as other “fine-dining” restaurants. The staff were energetic and I noticed that they were even sporting running shoes with their blazers. Other than projecting a vibrant image, the running shoes are probably a lot more ergonomically friendly to the staff who had to stand for long hours daily.

Photos taken earlier:

After returning from Zaandam, we had time to explore other parts of Amsterdam searching for photospots.

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A bridge filled with love locks and could capture the Groenburgwal canal with the Zuiderkerk church at the end.

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(Top) Magere Brug, aka Skinny Bridge, over the river Amstel (Bottom) Python Bridge, officially known as High Bridge, in the Eastern Docklands.

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