Short history

Chinese people in The Netherlands

In 1911, when Dutch ship workers were striking for better working conditions, the first Chinese people came to live and work in The Netherlands. The captains had heard of Chinese ship workers in Great Britain who never com- plained and always worked hard. They went to Great Britain and brought the Chinese men to Rotterdam (Katendrecht). Here, the first ChinaTown in The Netherlands was settled. Some Chinese men got married with Dutch women and started families, and the first Chinese restaurant in The Netherlands appeared here. During the Great Depression (around 1930) many Chinese left The Netherlands, but after World War II, the number of Chinese restaurants grew again. Dutch families who returned from living in Indonesia to The Netherlands were used to eating Asian food, so Chinese restaurants started serving Indonesian food also. This is how the «Chinees-Indisch» (Indonesian) restaurants came up. The top 3 of most popular dishes: Babi Pangang (deep fried pork with spicy sour sauce), Foe Yong Hai (Chinese omelet dish with sweet sour sauce) and Tjap Tjoy (stir fried vegetables). Also Nasi (fried rice) and Bami (fried noodles) became very popular. The biggest growth of restaurants was in 1960 to 1980. Dutch people liked the Chinese Indonesian food so much that they were eating it on weekly basis. After 2000, Dutch people have started to eat less Chinese food. This is due to a wider diversity of Restaurants. This is why Chinese started to develop Wok-restaurants, all-you-can-eat formula and Sushi restaurants. The old fashioned Chinees-Indisch restaurants are now dying out; new generations don’t want to take them over and new entrepreneurs choose different ways.

Rotterdam «Chinatown»

Rotterdam, also known as the city with the widest diversity of cultures (176 nationalities), has the biggest Chinese community in The Netherlands: about 16,000 of a total of 100,000 people in the whole country. Still Rotterdam has no official ChinaTown – however, West-Kruiskade is well known by the Chinese community and other Rotterdammers as the ChinaTown of Rotterdam. This street is actually the most multi-cultural street in the city, maybe in the country even. When temperatures reach above 20 degrees in summer, you will hear loud foreign music, smell BBQ food, see people wearing exotic clothes, cars passing by slowly with undefined music coming out of the open windows. It all feels very «un-Dutch»; Many people feel like walking in a different country, like being on Holiday. Only at the beginning of this street, most shops are Chinese restaurants, Chinese supermarkets, Chinese barbers and other kinds of Chinese oriented shops. Halfway the West Kruiskade other shops take over the street.

Many Chinese people living outside of Rotterdam travel to Rotterdam to eat DimsumDimsum restaurants are considered the real Chinese restaurants. The Chinees-Indisch which I mentioned earlier, are «fake» Chinese restaurants. Few Chinese eat at such restaurants, maybe incidentally for take-away. Since about 40% of all Chinese people work in the restaurant business, Mondays are the busiest in the Dimsum restaurants. (Many Chinese restaurants are closed on Mondays when most Dutch people don’t eat out a lot.) For any restaurant the weekends are the busiest. All Dimsum restaurants are Hong Kong / Guangzhou style: a lot of Seafood dishes, smooth flavours, but still a lot of variety. Rotterdam not only has great Dimsum restaurants, but also nice small specialized restaurants, such as from the Sichuan province. Get ready to sweat eating in these restaurants.