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Kapsalon: A Rotterdam Specialty

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

We have all heard the terrible joke – ‘What’s the best thing about Rotterdam?’ The answer? ‘The train back to Amsterdam.’

And yet, despite common misconceptions of Rotterdam, Netherlands as the practical plain Jane, a discerning traveler can be delightfully surprised with Rotterdam’s little hidden secrets. Like its wonderfully diverse cuisines.

Take the Kapsalon for instance.

What is a Kapsalon?

Kapsalon is the Rotterdam version of British pub food. It is a Turkish meal, a local variant of the tasty shoarma.

Imagine an aluminum takeaway container with alternate layers containing crispy French fries and generous doses of fried lamb meat. Now, add sambal (thick spicy sauce), garlic mayonnaise, melted cheese and bits of lettuce to the dish. And the you get a Kapsalon, a truly greasy meal indeed.

It comes in two sizes; buy a klein (small) one for around 2.50 Euro and groot (big) for 4 Euro.

A little bit of History

It’s understandable if you are confused by the name of this unique dish. After all, every hair salon you come across in Rotterdam is also called a Kapsalon. So, what’s the story behind this?

Well, the story goes that a hairdresser walked down from his work to local Turkish food store in Schiedamseweg. It must have been one of those finicky days when he was not quite sure what he wanted to eat because he ended up asking ‘for a bit of everything, bit of that and this’ in the takeaway container. Creativity induced by hunger pangs and the Kapsalon was born!

Seems like he kept ordering that same dish and soon enough, everyone else wanted the same tantalizing meal. You can see how it came to be named after him – the kapsalon’s lunch eventually came to be known as the Kapsalon.

Now, the Kapsalon can be found in almost all Turkish eateries in Rotterdam.

So when you visit Rotterdam, be sure to try this interesting meal. Better yet, drop by El Aviva on Schiedamseweg, the little Turkish eatery that is believed to be the birthplace of the Kapsalon.

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer ami k. goemans

Ami K. Goemans is a freelance writer and webdeveloper who is based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She moved to Rotterdam from South Africa after living there for 5 years. In addition to visiting little eateries, she loves exploring book stores, museums and computer game stores.

7 responses to “Kapsalon: A Rotterdam Specialty”

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  1. Lew O'Keefe says:
    May 7th, 2009 at 09:06

    Hi Ami,
    I have just read your blog on Rotterdam & Kapsalon on the Venere website and thought it looked a little lonely without any comments ! My wife and I will travel to Europe from Sydney, Australia this year ( her first time in Europe ) and I’m a big fan of smaller cities for their comparative lack of congestion and chance to mingle with a much higher ratio of ” real locals ” and I’ve included Rotterdam in our likely itinerary – I can taste the Kapsalon now !
    Thanks for a great review.

  2. Ami says:
    May 7th, 2009 at 17:31

    Thanks for the comment. :)

    Both of you will have a great time in Rotterdam. The locals are friendly, the food is excellent and there is so much culture and history.

    When you are in Rotterdam, be sure to check out Delfshaven. It’s a small district filled with beautiful old buildings and cozy street side cafes.

  3. joegarlick says:
    August 2nd, 2009 at 15:37

    A Kapsalon is not only available in Rotterdam – I live in Amsterdam and I get them all the time mainly due to the fact I am allergic to wheat and so I can’t order a Turkish Pizza. In fact I am now eating the remnants of a groot kapsalon from last nights drunken munch right now (hence the google search).

  4. bing says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 14:34

    hi ami,

    Im fond of eating turkish pizza and I love the taste. I one meal you get everything…with carbohydrates which is patat, vegetables and minerals which is the meat. Its economical and nutrious. I am wondering for bring this to my land as my kind of business. Making my own restaurant just like this. But my problem is How can I start a business well in fact I dont how how to make it. Maybe its really simple just mix everything and bake a bit . But how the meat in the grill. Do this have to marinate it. I dont know any idea . And the sauces….How?? All the things I wanted to know and learn. Im really eager to know the idea of a turkish shoarma kapsalon business. Do you know something , please let me know and I appreciated most.

  5. freya says:
    October 28th, 2010 at 15:49

    marinade for the meat …coriander and garlic and salt , pepper , cumin .you can add a little cinnamon too . rest for 3 hours , then grill . recepy for the sambal , its just hotpeppersauce , like harissa , or make yourself by grinding red peppers with garlic , bit onion , salt . garlic mayonaise …crushed garlic , salt , bit black pepper , parsley chopped in mayonaise with some yogurt . For lettuce the turkish lettuce works best , bit of tomatoe , union . french fries are just what they are ! Hope i helped ! Ow dont forget to put some cheese on top before you serve . just a minute in the grill.

  6. edwin emanuel posse says:
    May 6th, 2012 at 19:59


    Ha ha when do u think Paris is gonne discover the “Hairdresser” ???

    ( ze kapsalone de luxe de la coifure !!! )

    Gr Edwin Emanuel Posse!

  7. Darren says:
    January 17th, 2015 at 08:23

    Kapsalon is a really delicious meal and so easy to make! I can recommend it to everyone that loves shoarma.

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