Dim sum at Happyhappyjoyjoy, Amsterdam

Happyhappyjoyjoy red parasols

I love asian food – be it Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean or Thai. So I was Happyhappyjoyjoy to find out I could find it all under roof, in walking distance of our apartment.

Happyhappyjoyjoy is relatively new and is a hip and happening place to get Asian street food in West Amsterdam. So hip and happening in fact that we had to wait over two weeks for a table.

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Fortunately, it was well worth the wait. The restaurant is an explosion of colour and the ceiling is covered in red parasols – making all my pictures look slightly like they were taken in a photographer’s dark room. The atmosphere was buzzing and our waiter was super friendly.

We sat down, ordered a lychee juice and a ‘cheeky’ beer and perused the extensive menu. Happyhappyjoyjoy recommend about 3-4 plates each. Challenge accepted and then some.

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I had the best dim sum I have EVER had.  The duck gyoza was just the right amount of squishy yet crispy and the beef was crispy and delicious.

We shared three types of Bao. Pork was the winner for me but I would gladly eat all three again.

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Followed by stir fried chicken with cashews and red curry with beef, both served with sticky jasmine rice. The stir fried chicken was my favourite part of the meal – sticky chicken and cashews is a winning combination.

By this point I was ready to roll home but Matt wanted to try the mango bao for dessert. He loved it, I thought it was okay (weird). Tasted like a sugared doughnut you’d get from a circus, stuffed with mango and ice-cream. Which I can imagine is up most people’s streets but not for me, thanks.

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It’s my new favourite food find in Amsterdam and we loved it so much we booked to come back in a couple of weeks time.

How a-bao-t it? Check out the menu and book yourself a table.

Relocating to Amsterdam

2016 is going to be a little different – I’m going to be starting my new year, with a new job in a new country.

My boyfriend was offered a job at his work’s office in Amsterdam and after some deliberation (Him: Would you like to move to Amsterdam? Me: Yes, please) we decided to jump at the chance.

Amsterdam canal

I applied for a job and got it, so as far as I’m concerned the hard part is over. Now, I can just enjoy all the lovely things about moving somewhere new. Something I find both exciting and scary.

Exciting because relocating to a different country means new opportunities, new friends, new experiences and maybe even learning a new language.

Scary because, urr, have you heard Dutch? The phrase ‘double Dutch’ exists for a reason. Plus, there’s the new job jitters and what if there’s nobody fun in the whole of Amsterdam that wants to hang out with me?

Things I want to achieve in my first year in Amsterdam

Amsterdam houses and canal in summer.

Bearing in mind the scary:exciting ratio I thought a few goals would help me make the most of my first year in the Netherlands.

  • See more of the Netherlands. Some of it looks like a fairytale dream and I already have Utrecht and Leiden on my list.
  • See more of Europe, in particular: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy and Portugal.
  • Join a club. I joined a couple of netball teams when I moved to London and I made some fab friends (although we did eventually swap netball for regular dinner dates). I’m not sure the Netherlands has really embraced netball so I might have to settle for yoga instead.
  • Cycle! I am not  a natural on a bicycle but living in a country where there are more bikes than people might force me to reconsider my opinion on traveling on two wheels.
  • Learn conversational Dutch – or at least expand upon ‘ ik speekt geen Nederlands’ (I can’t speak Dutch!)

Image: WeHeartIt

Brunch at Grain Store, KX London

I don’t know why I bother having a general food category as according to this blog I only eat brunch.

It’s just the most exciting though, isn’t it? You can basically eat anything and it’s totally acceptable. Asparagus for breakfast? Eurgh. Asparagus with brunch? Perfectly fine.

Grain Store, Kings Cross London

Grain Store has been on my list for a while but the one time I tried to walk in without a reservation they basically laughed me out the door so I made sure that booked in advance this time. I managed to get us a reservation for 11am sharp – perfect brunch time. You’re STARVING but if you eat a big enough meal you’ll be full most of the day.

Cappuccino coffee at Grain Store, London

Grain Store has an eclectic menu that draws inspiration from all over and focuses on good, sustainable food, especially veggies.

I like veg as much as the next person, probably more than the next person, but I was in for something that felt like a treat. Which is why I was THRILLED when I saw the toasted banana loaf, with warm passion fruit sauce and vanilla ricotta on the menu.

All of my brunch dreams had come true. And then the waiter told me I probs couldn’t have it because it wouldn’t be ready until 12pm. Oh. dreams shattered. He mooched off to enquire with the kitchen but I was readying myself for a no, and when I got the thumbs up – we were back in business! A rollercoaster of emotions I was not prepared for at 11am on a Saturday morning with an empty stomach.

banana loaf and passion fruit at Grain Store, London banana loaf and passion fruit at Grain Store, London

But, oh boy, was it worth it. I said during the morning, more than once, that it was THE BEST brunch I have ever had. Ever. And it was truly incredible. Moist (*cringe* at the word moist but it’s the only worthy description),  tasty, comforting with a fresh passion fruit sauce and creamy ricotta.

Before I even ordered I said we’d have to come again so we could try something else on the menu as it all sounded so good but now I’ve had the banana loaf I’m not sure how I could come back and not order it.

Matt got the apple bircher – I think it goes without saying, he was infinitely jealous of mine but maintained that his was very tasty.

Grain store bircher gif
Not only was the food great but the atmosphere was buzzing and the decor with the open kitchen is just dreamy – I want to move in immediately. Even the bathrooms are fab (I am easily pleased.) Although this neon sign should totally say “sweet pee”. It’s in a toilet for God’s sake, a trick missed.

Sweet pea neon pink sign
Green wooden pear

PLUS, your bill comes in a wooden pear. What more could you want, really?

It was a lovely brunch, like I said one of the best I’ve ever had, and I really want to return soon. With the intentions of trying something new but with the knowledge I’ll actually be leaving with a belly full of banana loaf.

Visit the Grain Store website and get yourself a table.