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For the love of Asian food..

Have you ever travelled abroad and recognized fellow Dutch people discussing kroepoek, bami, sate, or babi pangang? The fusion of Chinese-Indonesian cuisine has been deeply rooted in Dutch society for many years. The first Chinese restaurant, 'Cheung Kwok Low', opened in Rotterdam in 1920. Following World War II, as Dutch individuals returned from Indonesia with a newfound appreciation for Indonesian dishes, favourites such as sate, gado-gado, and babi pangang were incorporated into the menus of numerous Chinese restaurants to meet the growing demand. In 2020, the Chinese-Indonesian restaurant culture was officially recognized as part of Dutch intangible heritage.

chinese food weert - restaurant azie

The future of Asian cuisine in the Netherlands is uncertain

According to a report from Mordor Intelligence, The Netherlands Foodservice Market is projected to grow from USD 19.67 billion (18.33 billion Euro) in 2024 to USD 41.48 billion (38.66 billion Euro) by 2029. Asian cuisines represent a significant part of the market's full-service restaurants sub-segment. Market sales increased by 73.93% between 2020 and 2022 due to the rising popularity of Asian cuisine. According to CBS statistics in 2020, there were 14,380 restaurants in the Netherlands. VCHO (Vereniging Chinese-Aziatische Horeca Ondernemers) ) approximated estimated that there were 2,500 Asian restaurants in the Netherlands, constituting roughly 20% of all restaurants in the industry in 2020.

Given the increasing demand for Asian cuisine in the Netherlands, how can restaurant owners cope with meeting this demand once the specific job requirements for chefs from Asia are removed starting from July 1, 2024? An Asian restaurant without an Asian speciality chef – that is not possible. Preparing Asian dishes requires specific culinary knowledge, which to date has mainly been obtained from Asia. This puts the future of many Asian restaurants at risk. “VCHO has highlighted the current shortage of Asian speciality cooks in the country. Due to this issue, numerous restaurants are now forced to close for one or two days as they struggle to find an adequate number of chefs.” The removal of specific job requirements for Asian chefs could result in the closure of Asian restaurants in the Netherlands.

Save Asian Restaurants in Weert: Everyone is affected

chinese restaurant weert - restaurant azie
Aihua Chung & Lide Chung - Restaurant Azië

“For 50 years, my parents, sister and I have built with blood, sweat and tears what Restaurant Azië is today, with the help of Chinese chefs from China, some of whom have even successfully completed the Dutch integration program and exam,” says Lide Chung , owner of Restaurant Azië on Facebook .

And not only he and his sister are affected by the adjusted regulations: “Also consider Izumi Weert, Taj Indian Weert, Chinese Box Club, Chang Phurk in Nederweert, Atlantis in Nederweert, Peking Garden in Stramproy and other Asian restaurants in the region. There is an Asian restaurant in every village, so everyone will notice it.”

The government now proposes that individuals with a culinary degree from Europe can undergo training to transition into a Chinese/Asian chef role within a short period of 3 to 6 months. Following the removal of specialized job prerequisites for Asian culinary experts, restaurant owners are now required to hire a chef from the Netherlands or the European Economic Area (EEA) who meets general job qualifications applicable to other cuisines like French or Italian. Prior expertise in Asian cuisine is no longer considered a necessary requirement. Thus, preference will be given to a chef from the Netherlands or the EEA, even if they may not be proficient in preparing Asian dishes.

Asian and European cuisines vary in flavours and ingredients. European cooking techniques typically involve boiling, frying, roasting, and baking. In contrast, Chinese cuisine incorporates a wider range of cooking methods such as steaming, stewing, sautéing, braising, and quick-frying with a wok.

Andrew Zimmern, a renowned TV personality, chef, and restaurateur, is primarily recognized as the creator and host of the well-loved Travel Channel series. After trying Hunan-Szechuan cuisine for the first time at Uncle Tai's in New York City, Zimmern expressed his amazement, stating, "It was like food from Mars. I had no clue such food existed."

If cooking Asian cuisine were easy for everyone, wouldn't more people be making bami and babi pangang at home using ready-made food mixes? Creating authentic Asian dishes demands specialized cooking techniques and equipment that go beyond what a standard home kitchen or Western cooking style can offer. Asian cooking involves more than just following a recipe and precise measurements; it requires a certain intuition that comes from growing up with it.

How often do you find yourself at home longing for your favourite classic dim sum, ramen or sushi? Certain cravings go beyond what pre-packaged Asian meals can satisfy. In the name of Asian cuisine, VCHO encourages devoted fans to advocate for the preservation of authentic Asian culinary traditions and beloved restaurants by influencing politicians in The Hague.


Fancy an unforgettable evening with Modern Asian food, refreshing drinks and entertainment all night? Don’t miss  Restaurant Azië’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, 28 June 2024! Read the more details here.


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