Tong Tong Fair 2019

Last Wednesday we went to the Tong Tong Fair in The Hague. When I was younger we did go often and after my father’s passing I decided I needed to go again once more.

My mother is from Indonesia and while I’ve never been there before my heart does long to the country. This fueled by the stories of her and other family members. But I know this is a romantic view that I have of Indonesia as my family left the country when they were very young and a lot has changed there. I do hope one day I can go visit.

The Tong Tong Fair gives you the chance to reconnect to your Indonesia heritage. You can buy Indonesian products, enjoy Indonesian food and listen to Indo music.
I do need to highlight the difference between Indo’s (I am one) and Indonesians. Indo’s have Dutch heritage in their family line. These are people who moved to Indonesia and started their life there during the colonisation. Indonesians are true locals so to speak.

The smell of the spices brought me back to the stories I’ve heard as a child. I could almost imagine myself walking along the rice fields. It is strange that you have a longing to a place you have never been before. But it is a longing that is fueled by my family’s history. It is sad to say that my grandmother is no longer with us, so I am unable to write down her stories. But I will sit down with my mother and write hers.

In the past the fair was bigger, with more stands telling the story of Dutch East Indies (the old colony) and the current Indonesia. But with the population who’ve migrated from Indonesia getting older, their stories are becoming lost in time. I’m a second generation, because my mother was born in Indonesia but a lot of people are third or fourth generation. Our ties with the past dwindling with each generation. People sometimes ask me why I find my heritage important. It’s because it made me, there are customs which are met with ridicule that I have from my Indo side. But I always say I have the best of two cultures, a thing that makes me able to understand how other second generations feel living in a country that sometimes not accepts them as their own even if you were born here.

It’s not been easy, living with an identity that pulls two directions. Not feeling your completely part of a culture because you are never truly Dutch or Indonesian. My skin colour gives me away for not being white but I am too tall to be Indonesian. People often piss me off by saying you don’t look Indonesian, holding on to the stereotypes portrayed in movies and books. But if they look at how diverse the Indonesian people are, people from Sumatra don’t look the same like the people from Maluku.
I am what I am.

One of the joys going to any Indonesian fair in the Netherlands is the difference in cooking you get to try. This year we got to try delicious treats from Surabaya, capital of the province of East Java. I enjoyed Soto Ayam with Longtong (Indonesian chicken soup with sticky rice), my mother had the same but with regular rice and my boyfriend had Sate Kambing with Longtong (skewers with goat meat covered in sweet marinade). The Soto Ayam is different then the one my mother makes, but just as good. Indonesian food is soothing for the soul.

While I was a bit sad that it was a lot smaller this year, I did enjoy myself. I’ll keep going back until I am able to set foot in Indonesia myself.

Indonesian garden
Indonesian garden
Soto Ayam
Soto Ayam
Sate Kambing
Sate Kambing
Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak
Exotic Fruits
Exotic Fruits

Birthday bash: day out with my boyfriend

This week my boyfriend celebrated his birthday and I planned a special day just for the two of us. Last year I was working but I think it’s better for us to spend our birthdays together, away from work doing fun stuff.

I read in the newspaper that the Philips Museum in Eindhoven has a special vinyl expo which made a great combo for our other plan which was to eat ramen at Xu Noodle Bar. YAY!

The day didn’t start out to great with the train broken down on the tracks which meant less trains were going to Eindhoven and we ended having to wait an hour before we could take a less crowded train. The waiting game was played at Star Bucks, where they never fail to misspell my name.

Arriving an hour later than planned we rushed towards Xu Noodle Bar. I just didn’t want to get caught between the lunch break of corporate peeps. Lucky for us it wasn’t crowded so we could have a nice lunch with Classic Pork Ramen (extra meat for the birthday boy) and some tasty snacks.

Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

With our tummies filled up we went to the Philips Museum which is right around the corner. We had quite a different expectation on the vinyl expo. I thought it was showing us how the pressing of the vinyl’s works but nonetheless it was still interesting. Being from Brabant we all know the impact Philips had on the industry of the south. It was awesome to see how the light bulb factory started and through the years the company developed a lot of other electrical products and became important in the medical field.

I would have love to see more about the pressing of vinyl, the display contained a timeline when Philips produced vinyl’s until the development of the first CD. I must say I am happy technology kept developing and making the devices smaller because the first tape recorder and record players were massive.

Bulb factory
Bulb factory
My grandmother had a carpet like this
My grandmother had a carpet like this
Retro bedroom
Retro bedroom
classic turn table
Classic turn table
Queen Gloria
Queen Gloria

All in all it was a fun day with my love.

My obsession with ramen

One of my lifetime dreams was going to Japan and it finally became a reality in 2006 when I spent two weeks in a ryokan (family hotel or inn) in Tokyo. And there I tasted the best Japanese fast food ever, ramen.
I call it fast food, because it is not very expensive and served fast. While some toppings can be fried, in my opinion is healthier than a meal at McDonald’s or Burger King. With that said, I am not a dietician and I know noodles have a high calorie value but anyway.

There are two main ingredients for ramen: noodles and broth. A good broth complemented with the right toppings makes a heavenly dish. So I was devastated upon returning home that I couldn’t get my need for feed anymore. So sad.
I did have my Indonesian equivalent in Soto Ayam (Indonesian chicken soup) which is also delish, but I kept longing for a good bowl of Ramen.

In 2013 I moved to Belfast for work and close to my office in the city center there was Wagamama, a place I could indulge myself with ramen again. Wagamama ramen was my favorite at that place but I still missed the broth I tasted in Japan. So my search for great European ramen places started.

When I moved back to the Netherlands in 2016 the ramen popularity had hit my country. Of course Amsterdam was a forerunner when it comes to foreign food but I don’t often go there.
Sadly my home town’s idea to foreign food is morphed Chinese to suit the Dutch taste. I loathe it.

Slowly and surely small ramen shops are popping up here and there, even not that far away from me in Eindhoven. Broth made with care and recipes handed down in the family. I even drove my boyfriend nuts with the stories of the yummiest of dishes I had in my life.

In my quest on finding great ramen close by I’ve had the joy to find some true gems in the Netherlands.

Hinoki Noodle Soup, Rotterdam. They change their menu to the seasons and I had the Black Special Tonkotsu. The smell and taste of garlic overloaded the senses and it was a really kicker broth. I kept tasting it later on the day whenever I burped. My advise when eating ramen, get a light drink like green tea or iced tea without sugar so the flavour of the broth stays with you longer.

Black Special Tonkotsu
Black Special Tonkotsu

When me and my boyfriend visited the Cool Japan expo in Amsterdam it was only fitting to eat ramen for lunch. When in Amsterdam I am always worried when trying to find little gems like Fou Fow Ramen that it will be packed. Lucky for us this shop was not smack in the city centre so it was moderately busy.
We had the classic Tonkotsu which has a rich pork flavour and some Karage (fried chicken) with wasabi-mayo and I think my boyfriend also fell in love with ramen at that point. I did take him to Wagamama before but he enjoyed this broth a lot

Tonkotsu
Tonkotsu

My last trip to delicious heaven was last week in Eindhoven. I had passed Xu Noodle Bar a couple of times but hadn’t walked in yet. I’ve been studying to get my degree as Financial Assistant and had my final exams that day. After passing with a whopping 9.0 I treated myself to some victory ramen. Again I went for the classic Tonkotsu and the broth was soft and sweet. The pork was really tender and melted like butter in your mouth. In the Netherlands we have the saying: “It was like an angel pissing on your tongue”. Them Dutch and their weird sayings. I was one happy bunny after this fantastic lunch. And I need hthat “Send Noods” hoodie.

Classic Pork Soup
Classic Pork Soup

Great news for my vegan friends. All the above shops I’ve visited have vegan options for ramen so everyone can enjoy.