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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Take Sushi

Recently I had an opportunity to practise my chopstick technique again.  Bored of 4 euro sandwiches I thought that a sushi lunch in safe company would be a change - and we wouldn't risk bumping into any of our colleagues!  But it turned out that the restaurant I'd chosen, Take Sushi, was a dual carriageway of people entering and leaving: suited businessmen speaking Italian, well groomed lobbyists and Commission officials; and a collection of Ladies Who Lunch.  However nowhere could I see any Japanese (eating, not serving).  I think this is because we had chosen a weekday lunchtime, and that we were eating just a stone's throw from the Berlaymont and goodness knows how many other Commission and Council buildings.  It's also a reflection of the popularity of Japanese food in Brussels: it seems that every day I hear a new place mentioned, and pass somewhere selling sushi.  Japanese restaurants in Brussels promise a swirling sea of fish, tofu and seaweed, into which I've barely poked my toe. 

I have to start somewhere.  And I must acknowledge that my chopstick technique has improved immeasurably since last time, and there's no danger of embarrassment in front of the well-dressed business lunchers around me.  We order the good value set lunch for 18 euro per head: one of us takes sushi and the other sushimi. I like the fried bean curd and sauces that accompany my sushimi, and manage quite well manipulating the chopsticks to pick up the rice, helped by the fact that the rice is sticky.  But I think on balance the better choice was the sushi, as it offered a more generous portion of fish.  The sushi was very plump and fresh: seated in the white courtyard under parasols we were just meters away from the chefs in white hats preparing it inside.  We sat at tables with faded tablecloths and I was served tea refills by gentle, efficient middle-aged Japanese ladies in aprons.  It reminded me of the matronly aprons for sale at French markets and worn by widows in little villages: the ladies who kept chickens and let out the gîtes at the bottom of their gardens to holidaying English people.  Today I was not asking the aproned ladies for eggs, fresh-from-the-cow milk or tomatoes, but tea and sushi.  It was a traditional set-up, for while the ladies served, the men dealt with the fish.

Afterwards I learnt that beside the high ceilinged dining room and terrace, there is also an upstairs room available where you can eat seated on the floor.  That sounds like something I would try!

We have an ice cream before returning to work.  Much as I enjoyed my lunch - and broadening culinary horizons - I'm feeling pleasantly not-full and refreshed.  There's no risk of me falling asleep. 

Boulevard Charlemagne 21
1000 Brussels  

02 230 56 27

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