Discover Benelux, Issue 31, July 2016

Page 15

Discover Benelux | Amsterdam Highlights | Dam & Nieuwmarkt

Land of smiles TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK | PHOTOS: BIRD

Thai cuisine is regarded as one of the finest in the world – and with its fresh flavours, vibrant colours and subtle spices, what is not to like? It is that combination which has made Bird restaurant in Amsterdam a beloved culinary destination for almost 20 years. Bird restaurant opened its doors in 1998 at the Zeedijk in central Amsterdam, at a time when Thai cuisine was not as well established as today. “When we opened people did not know Thai cuisine at all,” proprietor Patrick Mertens says. “A soup with coriander and lemon? People were amazed by that.” As soon as you enter the restaurant the smell of a heavenly made marriage of spices and flavours washes over you. “The Thai cuisine has a strong emphasis on light flavours and subtle spices. Our

Thai cooks work with exclusively fresh ingredients,” says Mertens. Sounds too spicy for you? “Thai dishes aren’t necessarily spicy. Our menu consists of sharp dishes alongside milder ones.” Specialities are the red and green curries, combined with fish, chicken, prawns, beef or pork – and a fresh Singha beer. “Dishes like a delicious Panang curry will always remain a classic, but I am always on the lookout for new things.” Currently an absolute treasure, the area round the Zeedijk had to deal with a bad reputation for years. Being right near the Red Light District, the area attracted some unsavoury characters. “Our location was not always a plus. 20 years ago buildings were severely neglected. I personally had to break down the wooden planks nailed to the restaurant’s windows. It could not be more different today.” Nowadays,

business is flourishing and the Zeedijk in the heart of Chinatown has turned into one of Amsterdam’s most vibrant streets. It is a beloved location for locals and national and international tourists. “People cannot believe this street used to have a bad reputation. From our restaurant you have a beautiful view on the Zeedijk and the Achterburgwal.” Discovering new treasures is one of the reasons Mertens visits Thailand approximately three times a year, completing every trip with a suitcase filled with Thai ornaments and a mind full of ideas. “Thailand truly is the land of smiles. Its cuisine combined with an incredible ambiance make this Southeast Asian country so precious.” A combination Thai Bird restaurant embodies like no other. www.thai-bird.nl Issue 31 | July 2016 | 15