Five hundred oysters per day
From Hong Kong with a detour via Breda to the Nieuwmarkt area in the early eighties; 200 addicts per minute, and do not play in the sandbox because there are needles and condoms. And from 4 chairs then, to 350 now – inc. 500 oysters with black bean sauce per day. Owner Polo Chan, among other things, about the billboard advertising that moved him.
Polo Chan: ‘There used to be a playground with a beautiful painting of a blue elephant opposite my restaurant, on the spot on the Zeedijk where the Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple temple now stands. My mother said: “That sandbox, you can not play in that because it is too dirty, and do not touch the condoms and the needles. If you remember that, it’ll be fine. “And we did, and it worked out well. Then we thought that was normal, we did not even see it. ”
The father of Chan came from Hong Kong, stranded in Breda with distant relatives, went to Amsterdam on his first day off, and stayed. “Beautiful story,” says Chan, “and every time he tells it, it becomes more beautiful. He arrived at the Central Station, walked into the Zeedijk, met a Chinese boy of his age and said he wanted to stay in Amsterdam. That boy slept with others in the warehouse of the restaurant where he worked, and from that moment on my father did as well. He went to work there, made my mother and us come over. He got the chance to take over a restaurant. The owner had to leave for a long time and said, “I want you to do it. You work hard, are honest. I know you can not pay it right away, but here is the account number of my wife – donate money every month. It will be okay. “And that worked out well.”
Polo Chan saw his father working in the restaurant and already knew he was going to do that before he knew he was going to do it too. “It was certain for me. I can say that. He was always in the business but he was always there for us … And Hong Kong … I often go there; it is a pruning city. You have to work hard to make something of it and even harder to really make something of it – and sometimes it does not work out. He had taken the big step, saved, came here and made it happen. My father was and is my hero. So from the moment that I was allowed to work, I started working in the restaurant. I took over on my twenty-sixth.”
Twelve hundred meals a day and five hundred of the famous oysters with black bean sauce – it is no exception for Nam Kee. Chan lives outside the city now like more Chinese people who originate from the Nieuwmarkt area. He has young children, ‘that’s why’, he says almost apologetically, but: ‘The neighborhood is my house. The Chinese community is still very present here. There are two retirement centers, a Chinese Medical Center, restaurants, travel agencies, supermarkets, the temple, the neighborhood lives. When I return from Hong Kong and I walk on to the Zeedijk … I am just an Amsterdammer of-course. I was born here. It’s in my blood. And especially the Chinese, Amsterdam being international, I experience that in a certain way as real Amsterdam. It will have to do with my father and how he settled in Amsterdam. It just does me good. Recently from the municipality wanted us to change our billboard. It was there from the beginning and I would not call it pretty. Ugly, by the way. We have replaced it and what is now there is much nicer, but still … the change did something to me. Or I am getting older and sentimental, or I am just in love with the city as is. Or both. “