This post is an unusual one for me. I’m writing it knowing that it’s highly unlikely that anyone reading it will head to this place on my recommendation. But I’m going to write it anyway because the Volendammer Visspecialist H. Schilder at Van De Hooplaan really is the best fish shop in the Netherlands.
So why won’t you visit? Well it’s well out of Amsterdam centre and not even that accessible on the tram. It looks incredibly ordinary from the outside and is frequented only by locals and unless you’re staying around Amstelveen it’s a bit of a mission for a herring even for me. But if by any chance you do find yourself around Sportlaan be absolutely certain to check this place out.
I was introduced to the store by my wonderful mother in law who lives in Amstelveen.
If Marc and I have been good (and even when we haven’t!) she queues up the day before we arrive to get the freshest and best herring for us to enjoy.
Known locally for its outstanding produce, this shop has twice won the award for the best fish specialist in the country as well as the award for the best independent retailer in The Netherlands – and we’re talking a country that REALLY knows and loves its fish.
So what makes it special? Well first, let’s talk herring. Herring is herring – right? Well yes and no. For me there are several things that separate a good Dutch herring from a great one. Firstly the freshness – most visitors will be hard pushed to tell, but after a decade of enjoying herring, the difference between fresh and ‘just jumped out of the sea’ is profound. Secondly and no less important is how well the fish has been cleaned. This goes from lousy and full of bones (prepacked from the airport) to silky smooth and deliciously slippery. This is where Van De Hooplaan are in a league of their own with herrings that are uniformly brilliant.
But it’s not just herring that people queue up to an hour for here.
The store is both a fishmonger selling fresh fish and a deli selling Dutch and International specialties – from cold fish salads to cook-at-home fishy feasts.
Typically-Dutch cold items include prawn, tuna, mussel and crab salads; smoked eel (called paling) and salmon; and tiny Atlantic prawns known as Hollandse Garnarlen.
For hot bites (and they’ll heat them up for you there and then) try a recent addition to my favourite Dutch food list – fried mussels with ‘whiskey sauce’ a mixture of mayo and ketchup. Or maybe grab some of ‘grandma bob’s’ prawn croquettes or, if you’re like my kids, go for kibbeling – fried crispy fish bites -which never seem to make it back home in time for tea.
Other treats include fabulous sashimi, fish in a variety of sauces, Asian inspired teriyaki, Japanese fish dishes, grilled, fried and baked fish, shellfish pasta, a huge variety of home made fish soups and more than a dozen home made sauces and condiments.
If you’re staying in an AirBnB in Amstelveen, if you have a car, if you like fish – trust me, you’ll dine like kings after a trip to this wonderful unassuming place.
Staying in the city and looking for something a little nearer? Check out this post for the best herring in Amsterdam.