Taberna Dushi is another restaurant on the ever-popular Pannekoekstraat in Rotterdam. It serves up a unique mix of Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine and is run by a couple – the husband is in the kitchen and the wife provides the service with a smile. They have a small menu with 14-16 small dishes or so and it is a tapas concept, so you order a bunch of things and share. This makes it a great place for casual dining with groups of people. The prices and the service are very friendly and the food is tasty, so we’ve been here many times in the past years. This time around I went with 5 friends and, as I frequently do, ordered too much food.
We started the night with rum punch, which tasted pretty much like fruit punch and went down way too easily. Two rum punches later and I was already feeling the effects of the hidden rum. Better switch to wine! We ordered the bread with aioli – crispy baked flat bread served warm with very garlicky and creamy aioli. Then we got started on the real food. I ordered the dushi balls (beef croquettes), brined duck breast, two servings of the tostones with apple chutney, garlic shrimp, roast pumpkin with blue cheese, sweet potatoes with garlic sauce, fried plantains, and kabritu stoba (goat stew). Unfortunately, my absolute favorite on the menu, spare ribs, wasn’t available! But let me describe it to you… the meat is tender and falls off the bones, there is a sticky salty and sweet barbeque sauce on it, and they serve it with pika – spicy pickled onions.
They decided to serve the food in two waves. So first off we got the duck breast, dushi balls, tostones, and garlic shrimp. The duck breast was really interesting. It was brined and served with a quince cheese, also known as dulce de membrillo. It is basically a jelly made of quince and is sweet and tart. It paired very well with the duck breast. The dushi balls are these giant round croquettes filled with a meat and potato mixture, which unlike other croquettes, is more meat than potato. It’s served with just mustard and though it is quite heavy on the stomach, we ordered another serving of them. This may have led to our inability to finish the rest of the dishes in the second wave. The tostones are another one of my favorites: green plantains are squished and fried crispy and then given a light sprinkling of salt. The apple chutney is sweet, and the sweet and salty combo, as well as the soft and crunchy texture mix, is just heaven. The garlic shrimp are perhaps the least exciting, but good nonetheless.
The service was a tiny bit haphazard throughout the night as there were two other large groups. But the friendliness makes up for it and they corrected their mistakes in a proper way. For example, they forgot to bring an order of two beers and offered it for free. They also forgot to tell the kitchen to bring our second wave of food but ensured it came out quickly after we asked where our food was. By now everyone was actually quite stuffed and we still had a bunch of heavy things to go. The kabritu stoba (goat stew) came out first and was, to my delight, not very goat-like at all. Goat meat is, in general, a gamier and tougher meat compared to lamb because it is leaner and full of connective tissue. They had done a great job with this stew, however, and it was very tasty and the meat fell off the bones. The roast pumpkin with blue cheese was a favorite of one of my friends as you could really taste the roast-flavor. The fried bananas were sweet and the sweet potato with garlic sauce was also good. The garlic sauce is very smooth even though it packs quite the garlic punch. All these dishes were only barely touched by the end of the evening but I was happy to bring it all home in doggy bags. The stoba was even better the next day to be honest, but I find that happens a lot of with stews. When it cools down and coagulates, the flavors infuse into the meat even more.
Taberna dushi always serves food at a consistent level. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed when I’ve eaten there. I would say the one thing I don’t really enjoy there is the salads, but then again, I’m not really a salad person now am I. We’ve tried them twice before and weren’t that impressed so we just don’t order them anymore. The menu changes every now and then and you can follow them on Facebook for news and pictures and videos of their food. It is well worth a visit, and as I mentioned before, quite unique in Rotterdam!