If you have been strolling around in a Brussels museum, shopping in the Rue Dansaert or trying Belgian beers for too long, and you realise that the theater show you’ve bought tickets for is about to begin and you still have to eat: don’t worry. There are plenty of places in Brussels where you can get great food without having to spend your entire evening in the restaurant. Of course, you can go to a typical Belgian ‘Friterie’ of ‘Fritkot’ (a list with the best ones will follow), but the world is so much bigger than Belgium. So here are some traditional cuisine restaurants from all over the world where you can eat without wasting time.
Noodle soup: Umamido
Umamido is Japanese for ‘The Way of the Savoury’. The broth of this noodle soup has been cooking for at least 24 hours before it is served, so this dish contains much more work and love than you might suspect. The menu of this restaurant isn’t a long list with plenty of choice. They do one thing and they’re good at it: making noodle soup. You have a few tastes you can choose, and a small list of starters and side dishes. You never have to wait long before your order is served and it is delicious.
The owner of Umamido is not Japanese, but he studied in Kyoto for a while. There he tried Ramen (noodle soup in Japanese) for the first time and fell in love with it. He started his first Umamido restaurant at Flagey in Brussels. His business is going very well, he recently opened a new Umamido restaurant at Place Sainte Catherine and another two in the city of Antwerp.
Chaussée de Vleurgat 1, Ixelles, Brussels
Place Sainte Catherine 1, Brussels.
Belgiums most famous meatballs: Balls & Glory
Balls & Glory is the restaurant of a famous Belgian TV chef: Wim Ballieu. He used to be on television baking cakes, and according to many women and gay men it was not only the oven that was hot in the TV studio. After baking cake, he opened his restaurants dedicated to meatballs: Balls & Glory. Mostly restaurants of TV chefs are way too expensive and not good, but that is not the case for Balls & Glory. I’d describe it as a down to earth restaurant where the food is good and the prices are low.
A plus for Balls & Glory is that there is free water on every table. In many countries such as the United States this is very common, but in Belgium this is real avant garde. Wim Ballieu even offers free fruit to his customers, which is even more extraordinary for Belgium restaurants. Vegetarians: don’t worry. However this place is famous for meatballs, there is always at least one vegetarian option like a vegetarian Risotto ball for example. I tried it and it was really good.
Balls & Glory: Lakensestraat 171, Brussels.
Rice paper rolls: Knees to Chin
Rice paper rolls are traditional food in Vietnam. Knees to Chin turns this ancient dish into an up to date deli, by combining for example beef with strawberries. Rice paper rolls are served cold, so you never have to wait when you order. The interior of this bar is simple but stylish. So Knees to Chin is a perfect spot for a quick dinner.
Watch out: a rice paper roll feeds you more than you’d think. Two rolls for one person will do, even if it doesn’t look like that. The advantage is that you can order roll by roll, so if you’re still hungry after two you can order an extra one.
Knees to Chin: rue Livorno 125, Ixelles, Brussels
Libanese heaven: Al Jannah
The ‘Marolles’ district is very popular for the huge amount of antique stores and the daily flea market. It’s in this area that you find Al Jannah. It looks like just another pita place, but the food is way better. Highly recommended is the ‘assiette Al Jannah’, that gives you a variety of six salads, chicken and two traditional Libanese pastries.
They have several different salads, and if you order the ‘assiette Al Jannah’, you can taste a few. If you come with several people, they make every plate different so you can taste from each other (if you’re friends enough to eat from from the other one’s plate of course).
Al Jannah: rue blaes 59, Brussels.
Inspiration of Tibet: Mo Mo
Momo’s are a traditional Tibetan dish. Word has it that momo’s were invented in Lhasa and spread across the country by traders. A ‘momo’ is best described as a type of dumpling. In Tibet it’s mostly eaten as street food, and also the Mo Mo restaurant in Brussels goes for no nonsense rapid service. However, most of their ingredients are organic and prepared the slow-food way. So actually, you’ll get the best of both worlds here.
The local television station, TV Brussel, made a nice television report about this place. The report is in English, and the owner explains the origin of the restaurants. According to the interview, before Mo Mo there were plenty of sushi and other Asian restaurants in Brussels, so why not launching something new? And that is exactly what happened. Watch the report here.
Mo Mo: rue Defacqz 27, Ixelles, Brussels
Eat the Peruvian way: King Kong
I know the name doesn’t radiate lovely food, King Kong is certainly worth a visit. The name comes from a wonderful Peruvian desert. This restaurant is founded by Pierre Lefèvre and he is not just a chef. He became famous in Brussels with his Café des Spores, a fancy restaurant entirely dedicated to mushrooms. His new concept is Peruvian fast food in a beautiful design.
This is a very bizar place: you order at the counter, and take the food with you on a tray just like in any other fast food restaurant. You eat with your hands, just like in any other restaurant. But once you’re eating you taste the difference right away: everything is fresh and very well prepared.
King Kong: Chaussee de Charleroi 227, Saint Gilles, Brussels
Do you have more time and are you looking for an exclusive dinner in Brussels? Check out “BRUSSELS: exclusive places to dine“.