December 07, 2023

Review: Pyongyang Restaurant, Amsterdam

Remco Van Daal, owner of the Pyongyang Restaurant in Amsterdam, has repeatedly said that his restaurant is not about politics, it is about culture. Before we get any further, I want to confirm this view. The restaurant walls hold a myriad of paintings, waitresses wear delicate silk Hanbok of varying colours and patterns, along with friendly smiles, and they showcase second-to-none singing and dancing talents.  In short, the restaurant does a good job at portraying the image and culture of the DPRK normally presented during a tour to the country, albeit in Europe.

“In my 40 years as a taxi driver, I have never even heard of this address!”, said my driver as I handed him the address I had printed. It is a 10 minute drive from Sloterdijk train station to Osdorp, a residential suburb of Amsterdam. Outside the restaurant, which was set far back down a concrete track hidden between two buildings on the main road, three beautiful North Korean women in stunning Hanbok stood smiling and waving, waiting to help the diners. They greeted me in Dutch, and I replied in English, a language they were far more comfortable conversing in. I later asked the waitress if she was studying Dutch, to which she replied that she had only learnt basic phrases. This is unlikely to be a problem given the Dutch peoples' impeccable English fluency.