NR Digital

Totalitarian Tasting Menu

by Anthony Daniels
North Korean dining in the Netherlands

The Pyongyang Restaurant in Amsterdam, which serves Korean food in a North Korean ambience, is in a neighborhood of the city, a $40–50 taxi ride from the historic center, that might from the architectural point of view be called Little Pyongyang. The difference between the domestic architecture of Communist totalitarianism and that of European social democracy is subtle rather than great, a matter more of the quality of the construction than of the design. While party rallies and martial music disturb the deadness of the one, drug trafficking and the young men’s struggle for control of the streets do the same in the other.

The Pyongyang Restaurant does not rely on passing trade, for it is difficult to find among the nearly featureless blocks, and indeed you could easily spend a few hours looking for it. Nor does it cater to the local unemployed, or proletarians of any description, for it offers two menus, one at $65 and the other at $100, not including drinks. The latter is nine courses, intermitted by karaoke, piano serenades, and dancing performed by the waitresses.

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