Nieuwe Niedorp is a small village ‘in the middle of nowhere’, less than an hour north of Amsterdam in the province of North Holland. Who would have known that there is such a nice restaurant out there, Red Chilli. They call themselves “Modern Asian cuisine”, and it seems to be a fusion between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai with some western influences thrown in. Besides à la carte there are degustation menus of 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 courses. We opted for the 7-course “Prestige” menu (89.50 euros) with matching wines (56 euros). Very convenient for such an out-of-the-way location is the designated driver wine pairing (7 half glasses for 29.50 euros).
A total of 7 different small appetizers (amuse bouche) was served, ranging from good to outstanding. My favorite was with different structure of cucumber and lemon grass. The tempura of very fresh schar (some kind of plaice) was also very good, but it was gone before I remembered to take a photo.
These king prawn ravioli (raviolli’s on the menu) with a sauce of coconut milk, lemon grass and king prawn reduction, was absolutely wonderful. The king prawns were perfectly cooked with a nice bite to them. Excellent wine pairing with an oaked white merlot from Switzerland. The coconut milk worked very well with the buttery vanilla notes of the wine. 10/10
Japanese raw beef salad “Yuke” with a Tom ka sauce, paired very well with a chardonnay/garganega/trebbiano blend from Veneto. Host and sommelier Kelvin Lin explained that he pairs the wines according to the spices (in this case Tom Ka) rather than with the protein, and he does a very good job. The meat was very tender and a good combination with the sauce. 9/10
Quail confit with two preparations of Chinese sweet potato and a quail reduction. The quail was very tender and succulent and the combination with the sweet potato worked very well. The unoaked shiraz from South Africa was a great match, again paired more with the spices than with the protein (which may have called for white). 9/10
Wagyu with 5-spice and a peanut sauce, paired with a sangiovese/merlot from Tuscany. After all the hefty flavors this seemed slightly underseasoned when eaten without the peanut butter sauce. The beef was very tender and juicy though. 8/10
The “Sweet emotion” dessert was a great medley of fruit, ice cream, chocolate, and something crispy, held together by a mild Spanish olive oil (also used to make the ice cream instead of cream, as many Asians are lactose intolerant). It was a very nice dessert indeed and paired nicely with a madeira. 9/10
Appearances and locations can be deceiving. If you think of Nieuwe Niedorp and see the restaurant with Chinese lanterns and other such decorations, you would not guess that chef Tso Min Cheng churns out such great dishes. Even more unusual are the excellent wine pairings, which are better than at most two- or three-star restaurants. You have to like spicy food to enjoy the food here. There could have been a bit more variety in the Prestige menu, as 3 of the 6 savory dishes were beef. But I’m still scoring 9/10 for the food. Also very well-deserved 9/10 for the wines. Food and wine also offer good value as the pricing is reasonable.
The service started a bit slow and got better and better as the evening progressed. When I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice I first got juice from the day before (although it had taken long enough to drive to a nearby supermarket to buy the oranges and then freshly squeeze them), but that was remedied quickly. The matching wine was in a few occasions served after the food. This was made up for by the second helping of noodles and the interesting explanations of the sommelier, so I’m scoring 8/10 for the service.
We are definitely coming back!