Mokum, Brunswick

MELBOURNE | What do you know about Dutch food? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably “not a lot”. I know about stroopwafels, speculaas, and poffertjes, but that’s about it. I have eaten Dutch food before, but haven’t really done a deep dive into the cuisine. I spent a day in Amsterdam back in 2009 and remember eating a burger at a well regarded place called Burgermeester, which still exists and now has three locations. I also had lunch, post visiting the Heineken Experience, at a place called “Café Mulder”, solely because I thought it was funny that there was a cafe called Mulder (yes, I’m an X Files fan). Turns out that one’s still around too, and has been since 1918.

Late last year, I noticed a new spot called Mokum, on Sydney Road. A Dutch cafe, restaurant, and bar, with a menu pinned to the wall featuring a whole lot of interesting sounding things on the menu. Add to that a long line of Dutch and Belgian beer bottles displayed in the window, and I was sold. I added Mokum to my list, and finally got around to trying it for lunch the other day.

Mokum is a sentimental nickname given to the city of Amsterdam. It is has come to mean “safe place”, which is apt for a city where differences are celebrated. Owner Albert Sikkens grew up in Amsterdam and has been working in Melbourne’s hospitality industry for 12 years. He opened Mokum as a place where he could welcome Dutch expats missing a taste of home, and locals interested in the flavours and dishes that Albert grew up with.

Dutch food traditionally uses ingredients native to the lowlands alongside flavours introduced through the centuries-old spice trade. Inspired by modern Amsterdam, Mokum’s menu features not just traditional Dutch dishes, but also dishes popular in Amsterdam from the city’s large Surinamese, Indonesian, Antillean, Turkish and Moroccan communities.

Items like pannenkoekjes (pancakes) with assorted toppings, patatje met (fries with mayo), and bitterballen (beef or mushroom croquettes with roux) share the menu with dishes like pom (Surinamese chicken casserole with sambal), nasi goreng, and kipsaté (chicken skewers with peanut sauce). It’s an insight into a side of Amsterdam that you might not be aware of.

Visiting for lunch, I went for some of the more traditional items on the menu. Wijngaard slakken are snails, with garlic butter, herbs, and crisp toast, that are a must order. So to, the zesty rolmops (pickled herring wrapped around a gherkin) and gerookte paling (smoked eel, pickles, crispbread, lemon, marjoram oil). Also be sure to try the unctuous beef bitterballen, filled with 15-hour slow cooked beef brisket. There’s a vegan mushroom version on offer, and many of the dishes are, or have versions which are, vegan and/or gluten free.

To drink, its freshly squeezed juices and coffee during the day, and the aforementioned beers (over 100 options at last count), wine, and spirits. Mokum has a tiny roastery at the rear of the venue, and roast all of their beans on site. You can purchase bags of beans for home, along with a small selection of Dutch pantry items.

I was thoroughly impressed by my lunch at Mokum. I love the bold flavours, and Albert’s passion for what he’s doing here. My curiosity has well and truly been piqued, and I’ll definitely be back to try some of the dinner options, as well as a few beers.


Mokum

359 Sydney Road
Brunswick
Victoria 3056
Australia

Telephone: 0421 147 424
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Wed – Sat: 8:00am to 10:00pm
Sun – Mon: 8:00am to 10:00pm

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