Bubble and Chic: Sushi in the land of moules-frites
Craving sushi in Belgium's land of moules-frites? Once you've done the rounds of traditional Belgian foods, here are three must-try top Japanese restaurants in Brussels.
Perhaps sushi isn't top of your list of things to eat in Brussels but once you've done the rounds of moules frites, savoured the oysters and had your fill of crevettes grises, the Japanese restaurants in Brussels are worth checking out.
One of the things I enjoyed most about my trips to Asia was the sushi; from stepping off the aeroplane until it was time to come home, I'd be gorging myself on sushi, sashimi and onigiri. Nowadays you get sushi everywhere (even Italians are ditching their pizza for sushi) and it seems there's a sushi-serving outlet popping up on every street. But any sushi lover will know, there's an abyss between pre-packed take-out stuff and the real McCoy.
If you're a sushi connoisseur and appreciate a good plate of maki, nigiri, or sashimi, here are my three must-do Japanese restaurants in Brussels:
1. Nonbe Daigaku
Located halfway up Avenue Buyl, I drove past this place for months never really imagining that one of Brussels' best Japanese restaurants could be hidden in this rather scruffy street close to ULB. Lucky a Flemish foodie friend mentioned its outstanding reputation one day and I managed to put location and appearances aside to check it out. The small, quiet restaurant is now one of my favourite places to eat sushi out. There are few enough tables and less enough rabble to make it nice for a night out for just the two of you. The menu is large and varied and if you get a seat at the bar (which is often all they have left on a Friday night for walk-ins) you can enjoy the swish swish of the chef's knife as he prepares the sushi and chats with his colleagues and the Japanese clientele. The aubergine cooked with miso is a dish I can't not order almost every time I go, but the sushi, sashimi and other dishes have all been very good also. As with all Japanese restaurants, desserts are pretty limited but the green tea ice-cream is the perfect way to end an evening here.
Nonbe Daigaku – Avenue Adolphe Buyl 31, Brussels 1050 (Ixelles)
2. Yamayu Santatsu
This is the sort of typical Japanese restaurant you would expect in any large city – busy, bustling, and the tables are packed (at least downstairs). Pull back the heavy red curtain and you'll find it's a squeeze to walk in. Whenever I walk in here it sort of feels rowdy, and besides the tables crowded with Japanese business men, you always see a few locals (Belgians? Expats?) sitting with expressions of 'am I in the right place?' on their faces. But this place is well-known for the excellent food. If you're expecting smiles or pleasantries, you're in the wrong place – the owner is not known for her charm – but the food will make up for it. It's also the perfect place to call ahead for take-out sushi. Don't wonder where the wasabi is – it's already in there and it's hot!
Yamayu Santatsu – Chaussee d'Ixelles 141, Brussels 1050, (Ixelles), Tel: 02 513 53 12
This was the first Japanese restaurant I went to in Brussels and possibly the most expensive but also the lmost chic of my top three. Close to Belga Queen, it attracts the smarter city-goers and even on a busy night is lacking the din of other places. The authenticity of the food is fantastic – for a very authentic Japanese experience, go for one of the fixed meals. Perfect place for a special night out. You can even cook meat at your table. Lots of fun.
Samourai – Rue du Fosse au Loups 28, Brussels 1000, Tel : 02 217 56 39
Having lived in five different countries, Faye Cardwell enjoys sharing her travel adventures and experiences of life as an expat on her hobby blog Bubble and Chic. She has been working in the world of wine for almost 10 years, and travels the globe organising trade fairs, events and promotions for consortiums and regional promotional bodies.
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