Amsterdam Foodie

How to Eat in Omnivorous February: Burgers and Sushi

So, Vegetarian January came and went. And I started eating meat again. And instantly got lots of spots. Re-toxing one’s body sucks. But when you’re the Amsterdam Foodie you can’t go around having the dreaded “dietary requirements” forever, so last week I got firmly back into my omnivorous saddle.

As I said when I was reviewing Betty’s vegetarian restaurant, while I was having a great time with my vegetable friends, the two things I was really missing were burgers and sushi. So on 1st February, I set out to do something about my cravings. Having polled my Facebook and Twitter followers for their favourite burger spots, I landed on Lombardo’s – partly because I’d been meaning to try their burgers for years, and partly because several of the other places people suggested weren’t actually open on a Wednesday lunchtime. In the evening, I took up an invitation to Sushilee and caught the metro (yes, the metro!) all the way to the Zuidas to get my sushi hit. Admittedly, the lack of meat or fish for 31 days may have made me slightly biased in favour of what I was eating; on the other hand, it had to be pretty darn special to merit breaking the meat-fast. Here’s the verdict…

Lombardo’s

On the Spiegelstraat, Lombardo’s gets a steady flow of tourists from the Leidseplein and the Museumplein. But despite its location, it’s rumoured to serve one of the best burgers in Amsterdam. I chose the Wagyu Burger, which described itself as the best of the best – so why choose anything else? A simple, medium-rare beef patty that tasted suitably meaty to my iron-starved brain, if a tad under-seasoned. The Japanese-style beef came topped with onion compote, pickles, tomato, lettuce and a mayo-based sauce. It was served in a sesame bun, whose texture I liked and which tried to hold itself together but failed eventually due to the sheer magnitude of the toppings – the Honey Badger wouldn’t have given it a very good manageability-factor score. Luckily, he wasn’t there and I just let the whole thing drip down my fingers (and, probably, my face).

Lombardo's burger amsterdam
The Wagyu Burger at Lombardo’s

A Wagyu Burger from Lombardo’s will set you back €13 (a regular burger is €9), although I must admit I got mine for free because Ms Lombardo herself had heard about my post-Veganuary-burger-binge and gave it to me on the house. Was it the best burger in Amsterdam? I’d still have to give that to The Beef Chief, I’m afraid. But will I go back if I’m in the centre of town and feeling burger-inclined? Certainly.

Sushilee

Because you can never have too much of a good thing, that very same evening I set out to explore a sushi establishment to which I’ve been nursing an invitation for some months. Fellow Dutch restaurant blogger BySam gave Sushilee a good write-up last year, and I keep seeing tantalising sushi pics pop up on my Instagram feed (not that that’s an indicator that it tastes any good – but my curiosity was spiked), so now seemed as good a time as any to make the trek to the Zuidas. After a bowl of miso soup (made with dark miso, which was much more umami-wintry than its lighter cousin), we got started on our sushi. And ohhh my, how I had missed fish…

Amsterdam sushi restaurant
Sushilee’s “Diversity Set” of sushi

Although the sushi is available to order a la carte, British owner Lauren has created several sushi platters that showcase particular combinations – so you can go a bit more adventurous than the usual spicy tuna rolls and salmon nigiri. We went for her brand-new “Diversity Set”, which seemed particularly appropriate given the havoc Donald Trump was (and is) wreaking in the world as we speak. The photo probably describes it better than words can – it involved everything from cooked salmon and dill rolls and seabass nigiri to lightly grilled scallop and shrimp topped with creamy peppers. My only regret is that we didn’t order two of them.

Sushilee amsterdam
Sushilee’s seabass, fragrant with yuzu and ponzu

But had we filled up on more sushi, I suppose we wouldn’t have had room for the hot main courses: seabass with yuzu dressing and ponzu leaves, as well as soba noodles with pork belly (ohh heavenly pork belly!) and bonito flakes. They curled like those fortune-telling fishes we used to hold on our palms in the 80s… I couldn’t get enough of it.

Just when we thought we were full, Lauren brought us out some mackerel sashimi to try as well. It was firm and fresh and hit every omega 3-craving spot in my body. And – most importantly, obviously – made the prettiest Instagram pic.

Sushilee amsterdam restaurant
Perfect mackerel sashimi

Sushilee’s prices are pretty reasonable (€11-14 for the sushi sets, around €15 for the mains), and the service is extremely quick and efficient – possibly a little too quick. They’re clearly used to catering for business lunches and are still getting used to slowing things down for the evening service. Meanwhile, the wine selection, though small, had some interesting bottles that paired well with the food.

Of course, all this sucks for me because the Zuidas could not be further from my house unless I lived in Zaandam. Do you think I can persuade Lauren to open to branch in Westerpark?

all the info

A Lombardo's (American)★★★★€€

Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 50, (Leidseplein)020 420 5010 /

B Sushilee (Japanese)★★★★★€€

George Gershwinlaan 534, (Zuid)06 15469008 /

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