“Nice atmosphere, cool terrace. The vegan oyster mushroom bitterballen are delicious, I’m a fan!” –Tina, from Google Reviews
Vegan oyster mushroom bitterballen! When I read this I knew something was fishy about Tina’s review. Word on the street is that Aloha bar, situated in the abandoned Tropicana waterpark that sits idly beside the Maas, was becoming a hip hotspot. But could it be possibly so hipster that they could take the classic Dutch bitterballen, add oyster, and still call it vegan?
No way in hell Tina! The waitress confirmed to me that the oyster is indeed a marine animal, and as far as I know, if it’s vegan, it certainly shouldn’t involve any animals. Looks like Tina mistook the Dutch word oesterzwam, a particular type of mushroom, for oysters.
"A creamy delight"
Still, Tina’s review lured my good friend Alp Gasimov and me onto the terrace, and accompanied by a couple Vedett IPA’s on tap, we tried the oyster-less vegan oesterzwam bitterballen served with coffee-infused mayonnaise. To my utter surprise, not only were the unorthodox bitterballen a ‘creamy delight’ as Gasimov put it, but the mushrooms inside it were grown next door at BlueCity, a hub for startups trying to usher in the circular economy that was also featured on the VICE series Munchies.
Tina may have been confused about the bitterballen (and the concept of veganism in general), but her description of the ambiance was accurate. Sitting on a woven, circular-string chair upon a wooden deck, Gasimov and I had a picturesque panorama of the city.
Our bird’s eye-view was actually so good that we were able to spot a fire burning behind Unilever’s margarine factory on the other side of the Maas. Although this doesn’t really have to do with Aloha, I found it amusing to be on the phone calling 112 (the Dutch 911) reporting a fire while holding glass of the house whiskey in the other hand. As we chatted with our pleasant-faced waitress, who served us cordially, we watched the firefighters race behind the factory and battle the flames. Am I a good samaritan or what?
The menu at Aloha is eclectic and decently-priced for a student. The waterpark-turned-café has their own bees to produce homemade honey, they roast their own coffee, and they even offer their own brand of filtered water, which I guess is cool. And while that’s all nice and dandy, what Gasimov and I found most important was that the drink selection was fine, the ambiance was peaceful, and the service was quality. You can even catch a whiff of chlorine as you weave through the deserted waterpark to find the bathroom, which, by the way, is located at the end of the emptied lazy river.