Surinamese Food for Beginners: Where to eat it in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known for its Surinamese cuisine… apparently. I don’t know about you, but in my experience Surinamese and Indonesian food often get lumped in together, and even when you think you’ve ordered the former it turns out to be the latter. It’s not helped by the fact that Surinamese cuisine has been influenced and infiltrated by the cuisines of China, Indonesia, Africa, South America (and probably more besides!) so it’s hard to know what we even mean when we talk about Surinamese food. Plus, while there are plenty of higher-end sit-down Indonesian restaurants, most Surinamese “restaurants” are in fact takeaways.

After a 15 years living in Amsterdam, I figured it was time to knuckle down and find out where I could find “genuine” Surinamese food – and what best to order when I found it. By the end of my research, I still can’t say I’ve found anywhere I’d take my friends for an entire evening, and I’m still very far from being an expert on what Surinamese food even constitutes. But then again, that’s perhaps not the point. If you know if anywhere that I’ve missed out on, let me know!

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Best Surinamese sandwiches in Amsterdam

De Tokoman

Now with three locations in Amsterdam (on Waterlooplein, Zeedijk and Haarlammerstraat), De Tokoman serves excellent Surinamese sandwiches. The first time I went there, I ordered the broodje pom (a spicy, citrusy mixture of chicken and a root called pomtajer) but I noticed everyone else was ordering the bakkeljauw (salt cod). So the next time, I tried that instead. Nope – still preferred the pom.

De Tokoman
De Tokoman: best broodje pom!

Tjin’s Toko

While Tjin’s Toko in De Pijp might be better known as a supermarket for Mexican and Southeast Asian ingredients, at lunchtime they also do a great line in Surinamese sandwiches at very reasonable prices. Plus, Tjin’s offers catering – so that’s your next office lunch sorted…

Best Surinamese takeaway in Amsterdam

Swieti Sranang

Swieti Sranang has a couple of branches, both in the Jordaan. Much like de Tokoman, they’re small takeaway joints with a range of hot dishes plus some sandwiches as well (although not as many as de Tokoman, as far as I recall). It was at Swieti Sranang that I was introduced to the concept of bakabana – slices of plantain that have been coated in batter, deep-fried and served with satay sauce. It sounds odd, but it’s very moreish! (Then again, pretty much anything slathered in satay sauce is good…)

Swieti Sranang
Sampling the bakabana at Swieti Sranang (Photo credit: Eating Amsterdam Food Tours – a great way to taste the city!)

De Hapjeshoek

Continuing the takeaway theme, De Hapjeshoek – a diner-style eethuis that’s literally inside Waterlooplein metro station – is so packed at lunchtime that you’ll need to queue even if you don’t plan to sit down. It’s more than worth it, though, for food that’s tasty, generous and affordable. One flaky, warm roti stuffed with a curried mix of chicken, potatoes, long beans and sambal will probably feed two people for lunch quite easily. But when the roti rolls are that good (and that good value) why not order the whole one for yourself?

Best Surinamese restaurants in Amsterdam


Better known as one of the biggest beer gardens in Amsterdam, and great for watching the boats go by on the Singelgracht, Waterkant is deluged by crowds every time the sun comes out. With its iconic “carpark chic” vibe, you can’t miss it. And you can drink there, too – hurrah! Surinamese beer, no less. Not everything on the menu is Surinamese (bitterballen and nachos make great beer snacks too, as we know) but there is plenty from that corner of the world to choose from. Think saoto soup, (Surinamese chicken soup), moksi meti (pork belly with all the Surinamese trimmings), roti rolls (see above) and plenty more.

Carpark chic at Waterkant

Warung Spang Makandra

Now with two locations (one in de Pijp and one in West), Warung Spang Makandra is great if you’re on a budget, as almost all items on the menu are less than €15. There are plenty of Javanese-Indonesian options: the beef rendang and ayam pedis (spicy chicken) are both fantastic. But for something more authentically Surinamese, try the roti. At Spang Makandra, they present you with the constituent parts (in my case: chicken on the bone, stewed lamb, a boiled egg, green beans, potatoes) and you roll it up yourself in the fluffy, spiced, nutty roti wrap that comes with it. Héerlijk!

Spang Makandra: excellent for roti, rendang and this! (Ayam pedis)

Want to eat more than Surinamese food in Amsterdam? Download my Amsterdam Restaurant Guide:

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all the info

De Hapjeshoek (Surinamese)

Warung Spang Makandra (Surinamese)

Swieti Sranang (Surinamese)

De Tokoman (Surinamese)

Waterkant (Surinamese)


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