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Dutch people live and work abroad: Shanghai

Quote looks across the border at Dutch people abroad. This time at Ruben de Hoog, who got the Chinese to eat fries, or is it fries?

Ruben de Hoog, Royal Fries

Ruben de Hoog (28) is co-founder and French fries baker Royal Patat. Do: ‘Visit Bund, with some of the tallest towers in the world. The view from there is amazing.’ Don’t: ‘Don’t do weird things, if you follow the rules here, there’s little to worry about.’

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A part-time job at the Frietsteeg on the Parnassusweg in Amsterdam ensured that Ruben de Hoog has been living in Shanghai for a number of years now. ‘Edwin den Hartog used to pass by there and he had the idea to open a chip shop in China.

I thought he was a smart guy and he had also achieved something as an entrepreneur. So when he asked me to go to China in 2017, I thought it was a cool plan. First I finished my studies and in June 2019 we really opened in Shanghai with Royal Patat.’

The frying fat immediately started to fizz. ‘Yes man. It went very well from the start, until we had to deal with corona here. That was quite a blow. But also a moment for us to think about what we wanted with our two chip shops. We had by now realized that the Chinese do not see fries as a meal, but as a snack. So now we also sell spring rolls and fried chicken and stuff. That runs like crazy.’

De Hoog can also manage well in the city. “Our manager thought it was a real shame that I didn’t speak Mandarin, so I’ve been taking private lessons ever since. Basically I can make myself understood, although the dialect of Shanghai cannot be followed. Compare it with Frisian and Dutch, haha.” Fortunately for him, this dialect is spoken by only a small part of the inhabitants.

With more than 26 million inhabitants, Shanghai is a true metropolis. “This city is very chaotic. I have a scooter, because a car makes little sense here. Then you can start walking even better.’ What about the consequences of corona in such a metropolis? “There are a lot of rules, but you can do anything. Until someone gets infected, everything closes immediately. Visit wejustgotback.com for more information.

Recently, even all of Disneyland was locked because a visitor would have corona. You were not allowed out again until you had tested negative.’ Bizarre! ‘Yes, but it does work.’ De Hoog will therefore remain in Shanghai for a while. “Sure, and fry chips.”

“The offer is so bizarre. Make up a cuisine and it can be found here, even Kenyan. That’s why I don’t often visit the same tent more than once. There is, however, The Rooster, a hotspot for everyone who works in the hospitality industry. Super cozy. You also have Wuding Lu, a street with about ten bars in a row. Everyone is out on the street with a drink, which is great.”