Caribbean restaurants in Amsterdam are few and far between. Planet Rose (West) is probably the best known, followed by Lalla Rookh (Oost). Eclipsing them both in size and location is Toko MC.
Located in the sprawling Westergasfabriek complex, Toko MC is the sister restaurant of Toko94 in Rotterdam. The interior is a sunny mix of white and blue pixilated walls and yellow lamps, and the menu promises modern soulfood from across the Caribbean.
I started with crab-mango salad with coconut, fresh coriander and a lime juice and allspice dressing. The coconut was described as grated on the menu but came diced, which was too hard and bulky - like biting into shards of escaped crab shell - for an otherwise light, well-balanced dish.
Up next was chicken with black-eyed peas and orange-cardamom-pistachio rice. The chicken was doused in orange sauce. It had the consistency and sweetness of marmalade, which overpowered this savoury course. Underneath the sticky coating, however, the meat was tender and smoky, as if it had just been hauled off a barbecue.
Sadly, I couldn't detect the orange or cardamom in the wonderfully aromatic-sounding rice, but like the chunks of coconut in the starter, the whole pistachios were hard to miss.
Toko MC's cake of the day was ginger, although the dry edges indicated it hadn't been baked that day. The fresh ginger packed a powerful, sinus-clearing punch, but the cake too was overly sweet.
The excessive use of sugar gave the majority of Toko MC's dishes a cloying overtone, masking the bright, vibrant flavours I would expect in Caribbean food. Toko MC's menu reads like a hit list of the best herbs, spices and fresh produce the Caribbean has to offer. It's a shame then that so many of the finer details have got lost between the description and execution.
Mon-Thur and Sun midday-01.00; Fri-Sat midday-03.00
Telephone: 020 475 0425
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