After 2 days of walking around Amsterdam, we took a 15-mins train ride to neighbouring city of Zaandam. I first took notice of Zaandam after seeing the photo of a bizarre building. The colourful and mind-boggling facade looks really interesting. After reading up on the city, I soon realised that there is a Primark shop there! Woohoo…shopping day~
Our tired feet needed time to rest, so we went into HEMA store that has a restaurant on the top floor. HEMA is a Dutch retail chain which is somewhat equivalent to Target in the US.
At first glance, I felt as if I walked into the restaurant of IKEA…very Scandinavian feel, modern yet simple with clean straight lines. The layout is also rather open-concept. With self-service drinks counter on one side and warm food counters on the other side and a cashier at the corner.
We looked at the posters above the food counters and decided to go with the easy choice of what was pictured – Sate skewers with Fries. Grabbed a bottle of Chocomel – a chocolate milk drink that somehow gets Airfrov requests (I wonder which kind souls would help to buy them and add on weight to their luggages, risk spillages?!) and ordered a tea-time set comprising of a pastry-of-the-day and a coffee.
The Sate skewers were probably adapted from Indonesian cuisines (as Dutch had previously colonised them). The meat skewers were actually minced meat paste wrapped around the stick instead of sliced meat, hence to me it actually tasted like tsukune yakitori (Jap chicken meatball skewers). As for the sauce, although it has bits of chopped peanuts in it, the consistency of the sauce is a lot more paste-like compared to the more gravy-like satay sauces in Asia. It was an interesting experience tasting a “fusion” satay.
The chocolate milk was chocolate milk. Frankly I couldn’t tell how special is this Chocomel drink as I don’t usually drink chocolate milk. But it was a nice chocolate drink.
I was more impressed by the outstanding quality of pastries that we’ve tasted so far in Netherlands. Even a simple cake looks tantalisingly mouth-watering. Pastries are often decorated with bright and colourful fruits (think raspberries, strawberries etc.), it was a lovely sight to see them on display at the counters. Perhaps one could attribute the presence of wonderful pastries to the availability of high quality fresh cream milk?
After our break, we continued our shopping along the shopping street. Other than fashion stores, there are also Flying Tiger – a Danish retail concept store that sells lots of quirky lifestyle products, Albert Heijn supermarket etc. In fact we did quite a lot of shopping at the supermart, including buying touristy chocolates – loving those Amsterdam house magnets, wines from Austria (which are not common in Singapore), Dutch Drop (liquorice) – for my office jie-mei with acquired taste…In fact I chose one with half gummy and half drops for fear that full liquorice taste might be too overwhelming.
I guessed I enjoyed my trip to Zaandam because all the shops are concentrated along a nice pedestrian-only shopping street and its not overly touristy. Over at Amsterdam, stores are scattered around the city, having to navigate through the canals and walk a longer distances to cover the places you want to visit. I’m not sure if I’ve been to the wrong side of town, but I see more cafes/eateries/coffeeshops (for consuming Marijuana) in the 3 main canals area than other genre of shops.
However there is no luxury stores in Zaandam, for high-end shopping there is a big luxury dept store in Amsterdam called de Bijenkorf. We’ve seen some Chinese tourists waiting for the store to open when we passed by in the morning…
Photos taken earlier:
Once we stepped out of the train station at Zaandam, we headed towards the main shopping street and were greeted by the unique architecture that is a hotel.
This was the most outstanding structure along the shopping street. Nothing else compares.
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