All posts tagged “Japanese

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Sakagura – authentic Japanese in Congrès

Octopus in ginger

On an anonymous side street between De Brouckere and Congrès, next to office blocks and empty car parks, one finds the simple Japanese restaurant Sakagura. Despite its modest appearance, eating here is a culinary pleasure, and for very reasonable prices. Walking around the empty office blocs by night the area can feel dystopic, but stepping in through Sakagura’s doors saves you from the apocalypse.

Lightly bolied tuna

We tried their ‘Omakase umi’, which consists of three little salads and two extra dishes of your choice. The salads are exemplary if you like fish and squiggly vegetables. One contained meaty octopus slices in zesty ginger, and the suspiciously named “mountain jellyfish”, turned out to be a juicy vegetable in vinegar and chili. All the salads were fresh, filling and and delicious, with interesting flavours you don’t get in your typical Japanese restaurant. But the typical Japanese restaurant often sells mass-produced sushi, and sushi isn’t on the menu at Sakagura.

Fried chicken and dumplings

To the salads we were served pan-fried gyoza dumplings with chili and salty sauce, and deep-fried chicken made of the browner, tastier parts. The queen of the table was a lightly boiled tuna with horseradish, which was pure tender deliciousness. Horseradish and fish is always a winner. Our greedy eyes ordered in vegetable tempura as well, but this was far too much food after what we already ordered, and it felt bland compared to the first dishes.

Green tea panna cotta

My greed has few limits though, and we finished with a green tea panna cotta, dressed with sweet red beans. To me it tasted like fish and cream at the same time, but perhaps that says more about my tastebuds than Japanese desserts (from what I understand it’s an acquired taste). Next time, I’ll finish with sake instead (because they have a large selection) and try eat slightly less. Because I’m definitely returning.

Sakagura, Rue du Marais 15, 1000 Bruxelles, http://www.sakagura.be/, 02 201 78 88

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Steamy noodles at Umamido, Flagey

Huge bowls of Japanese noodle soup with pork neck and all the trimmings.
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Cycling in Brussels offers a new kind of cold, which makes a Swede feel almost at home. Freezing my fingers off whilst battling grey traffic every morning brings on strong a strong longing for Umamido in Flagey. It’s a loud and brightly-lit Japanese Ramen (noodle soup) restaurant, with welcoming kitchen smells, and a friendly waiter who doesn’t stress despite the constant queue of guests.

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It is advisable to start with kimchi or gyoza dumplings, if only because they look so nice. The kimchi is served in an oyster shell sat in a little pool of salt. I don’t quite get the salt, because the hot, salt and sour kicmhi has all the spicy and salty pickledness needed. If you go for lunch, and you are two, you get acouplpe of fried gyoza dumplings for free.

The miso soups are served up in an esthetically pleasing manner, in huge ceramic bowls. They taste rich and warming, and the creamy, meaty tasty of the pork neck accompanies the miso beautifully. It is so soft, it almost falls apart by itself. The garlic mushrooms adds a nice dimension of chewiness too, if you opt for adding that. And it is very filling food, so no worries for those who can’t imagine having just soup for lunch. The noodles are a very different quality than the ones you make at home, and keep their shape beautifully.

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Unfortunately, the vegetable miso is dull, even with the addition of smoked garlic butter, so I would only recommend Umamido to my meaty friends. Perhaps one can hope in the future they will serve some seafood-based, savoury and equally rich alternative to the meat soups. But aside from that, Umamido may be one of the best was of celebrating the cold chills.

Umamido, Chaussée de Vlerugat 1.