From afar it looked just like any other take away shack but as soon as I saw the line of people, the Dutch flags and the giant seagulls at the front I knew we had stumbled on something special. Located in prime position at the Buitenhof Square, a Dutch heritage site right next to The Hague’s Hofvijver lake and the Binnenhof (Parliament buildings), this food stand specialised in local seafood specialities including the popular “Dutch new herring”.
I really didn’t feel like munching on headless raw herring, so when I saw a customer walk away from the counter with a plate full of fried battered pieces, I had to stop him and ask what it was. He was like, “Kibbeling (duh)?” So that’s what I ordered. I watched the cook take some fresh bits of white fish, dip it in batter and dump it into the deep fryer. A few minutes later he took the golden fish bits out then sprinkled a magical salt on top.
As the server handed us the kibbeling with a side of tartare sauce, she warned us not to take it outside since the seagulls were greedy and would take our food! It was only then I noticed the giant plastic seagull hanging above us, with a sign warning of the impending danger. I wasn’t taking any chances and sat inside to eat.
The fish looked amazing, perfectly cooked, crunchy and golden. I took one bite of the fresh hot kibbeling and understood why the seagulls were so aggressive. This was the best fried fish I have ever had! The flesh was light and flakey, and the salt spice mix really gave the fish an extra special something, The home made tartare sauce was a nice accompaniment too, but the fish was so good on its own that it didn’t really need it (not that I let that stop me scraping up every last bit).
The kibbeling was so good that we made a special detour the next day so that we could have some more. I could have happily eaten nothing but Kibbeling for every meal. People may visit The Hague for the beach or the world class museums, but I’ll visit the Hague again just so I can sit outside and taunt the giant seagulls with my plateful of kibbeling. Always trust the seagulls, they know where all the good street food vendors are.
Buitenhof, 2513 The Hague