City wanderings - and a pilgrimage to some of the best eating and drinking spots in Brussels. Or maybe not eating or drinking - ah, oh well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It is not often that I am defeated by a meal in a restaurant.  Sometimes I worry that followers of this blog will picture me gradually chomping and gulping my way through Brussels, literally consumed by the culinary offerings here - rather like an insect in Roald Dahl's giant peach or, worse, one of his gobbling, grasping villains.

I do like food, and eating, very much.  I like hearty meals, as I used to enjoy at home - involving generous amounts of mashed potato, or indeed potato in any form.  For that reason I immediately appreciated Belgian cooking, for here was another country that seemed to worship humble purée, stews and root vegetables -where else could the chicon have attained such status?  Yet while swede is one vegetable prized by British people, in Belgium it is impossible to find anywhere.  I suspect it is fed to livestock.  I am also unsure what happens to British chicons, if they exist.

Japanese cooking, on the other hand, does not use potatoes, chicons or overdose on carbohydrates.  At least that's what I believed.  But at Anata I realise that I know even less than I thought I did about Japanese cooking.  I order a beef, noodle and vegetable soup together with 5 gyoza (ravioli).  After all, soup is a lighter option, right?

Some time passes and, despite the lovely throat-warming flavours of the soup, I am struggling.  It really is good, with beef pieces and vegetables and even some boiled egg surprising me as I slurp and savour.  I plead with my friend to help me, but even then I am forced to give up, two-thirds of the way through, my mum's disapproving words ricocheting inside the brain. 

Yes, it was a shame not to finish: my eyes were clearly bigger than my head!  Next time, I will remember that soup is not necessarily a lighter option, particularly where noodles are involved.

Anata has friendly (Japanese) staff, very reasonable prices and a good central location.  If you're a novice  you'll enjoy the unstuffy surroundings and the chance to practise chopstick technique without feeling eyes boring into you.  Do not be fooled by the menu panels inside: service is quick, but fast food this is not.  And, if you reserve, you get a ringside seat of the chefs at work. 

Boulevard Anspach 74
1000 Brussels
Tel: 02 502 85 87
Open 7 days a week


  1. I agree with you that it's not that easy to finish ramen but it's so damn good :)

    Just a little note, the staff is not japanese but chinese. Nobody can speak Japanese there :)

    If you want to try a real Japanese restaurant in the same spirit try Hinode-ya (Rue du Trône 71)

    You can get real Japanese katsu curry (sliced pork in breadcrumbs with japanese curry) there. And that's just awesome :D

  2. Thanks for the tip! I'll check it out when I can....

    Oh dear: not Chinese, but Japanese? That's interesting! You can tell I didn't get very far with my Japanese lessons, can't you?