Reviewing a restaurant in its first week of opening is setting the stakes very high, but discovering a new Vietnamese restaurant in Haarlem was an eating experience I didn’t want to delay. Friday night and two of my children happily joined me at XIXO Gastrobar Vietnamees on Kleine Houtstraat.
As the first diners of the evening we were made very welcome by our capable and friendly waitress. The décor in the restaurant is simply stylish. The menu has all the Vietnamese favourite dishes and the smells from the kitchen definitely brought back memories of our times in Vietnam.
FOOD Beef Pho – I have tried many versions of this classic Vietnamese noodle soup dish in the Netherlands and am usually disappointed. This pho dish had the correctly combined soup flavours, succulent thinly sliced beef, and expected accompaniments (noodles, herbs, bean sprouts, lime, chilli). I’m not a beef ball fan, yet acknowledge that the balls are included in many restaurants in Vietnam. Due to my spicy palate, I asked and was given the sauces I needed to make the soup exactly what I wanted. I would like to have more fresh herbs available to add to the soup. BBQ Beef & Noodles – Very delicious slices of barbecued beef served on a bed of nut and rice noodles, with a salad and separate bowl of fish sauce based dressing. BBQ Pork & Noodles – The pork had been marinated and minced and barbecued on a skewer. The pork skewer was served with the same accompaniments as the previous dish – and included a sliced spring roll. Aromatic, fresh and tasty.
SUMMARY: We were also treated to a plate of barbecue spare ribs by the restaurant. Total bill included one glass of wine, a bottle of water, a bottle of lemonade = €44.50
We will be returning to XIXO and hope that in the months to come they continue in their mission to serve authentic Vietnamese food to Haarlemers.
Feeling the need for something spicy without the hassle of dressing up to look for a free table in Haarlem Centrum on a Saturday evening, we headed to Kleverpark and Zap Thai, a restaurant that offers dine-in, take-out and home-delivered thai food.The restaurant belongs to a husband-wife (Dutch-Thai) team. Their hope is to become an integral member of the local neighbourhood – like a neighbourhood meeting place, albeit with tasty food to attract a local following.
Complimentary Cassave Kroepoek arrived at the table as soon as we were seated. We ordered a bottle of decent sauvignon blanc (€20.50) – and made our selection from the extensive menu. Yam Woen Sen: for entrée we split a noodle salad comprised of a mix of seafood, chicken, rice noodles, herbs and salad decoration. The seafood tasted fresh and was aptly spiced by the herbs and chillies. Talay Phad Nam Prik Pao: Seafood stir-fried with onion and sambal. Delicious, generous helping of seafood and vegetables. Able to distinguish all flavors. Attractive dish. Ped Phad Khing: Duck stir-fried with ginger and vegetables. Lots of soft duck pieces complimented by the ginger in this lovely dish.
The restaurant interior is simple: green, wooden tables and chairs, and walls decorated with Thai images. When we arrived the restaurant was empty, but the kitchen was obviously busy with home delivery orders. The service was friendly and professional. The food was spicy as requested; fresh and delicious. Total bill including rice and wine: €62.
Zap Thai is a worthy addition to the list of Haarlem Asian restaurant – and will hopefully become an established eating venue in Kleverpark. http://www.zapthai.nl/