Thai

Yaki (Brussels, Belgium)

THE STORY

At the beginning of our time in Europe, we were not actively searching out Asian food. Though in our exploration of Brussels, we passed a large window with what appeared to be bowls upon bowls of noodles and rice. I was in awe of just the artistry of it, let alone the fact we had found a noodle spot in Brussels. (It turns out that fake food art is a thing.)

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I was so excited about the decorative noodle bowls that I forgot to write down the name of the restaurant! I hadn't been as mindful of such things at the beginning of our journeys. A few days later though we finally stumbled upon it again for dinner - it was meant to be.

The restaurant is described on the internet as "Thai," though I would consider the dish I had to be Chinese, and there were definitely Vietnamese dishes on the menu, too. Such is the nature of Asian restaurants in Europe.

The restaurant itself is small, but luckily it was a warm summer evening and there was a table available for us outside. I was enamored with how the kitchen was set up: it was just a few ranges on one side and ingredients lining the other. The operation was admirable - one that I'd want in my restaurant if I ever opened one.

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THE REVIEW

I ordered a noodle soup with char siu pork, and the Ramen Marauder ordered...some other tasty soup. Much like Nam Kee in Amsterdam, this char siu noodle soup tickled my soul. I feel like the BBQ pork is a flavor that appeals to many, but I don't see it as often. The flavors were clean, simple, and distinct. It was the perfect amount of food on a beautiful Belgian evening.

There were so many delicious-looking noodle soups that I wish we could've gone back again! I highly recommend visiting Yaki for your noodle soup fix.


There are two Yaki locations, but we only went to the Grand Palace location: Rue du Midi 52, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgique, +32 2 503 34 09

Noodle Soup Party!

JUST A STORY

A friend suggested we have a noodle soup party, and before he could finish his sentence, I was already on board.

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I wasn't sure, however, of what to expect from this experience. The rough outline of an idea was to bring different noodles and broths, and let people build bowls for themselves. The group email request was for people to bring vegetable stock, chicken stock, noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro/koriander, chopsticks and more. There was also going to be lumpia rolling for anyone interested.

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I replied to say I'd be happy to bring noodles and stock, but should I make Thai boat noodle soup broth? Is that OK to add to the mix? My request was enthusiastically approved, and on the day of the party, I made my favorite boat noodle soup recipe from Andy Ricker's Pok Pok.

One of the hardest parts of cooking Asian food in small-town Bavaria is the lack of resources. I didn't include at least 5 of the ingredients the original recipes calls for because I can't get them easily. Luckily, there is a fresh market that brings in fresh cilantro and bean sprouts all year long, and there is also a wholesale grocery that sells some of the necessary sauces and noodles. (The grocer also sells Italian and Mexican ingredients.)

The boat noodle soup was a hit! Though to be fair, the recipe is solid and has been a favorite for many dinner guests of my own. My fear was that the flavor would be too bold, but then I remembered that this was a group of people who agreed to attend a noodle soup party.

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IF YOU CAN'T GO TO THE NOODLES, BRING THE NOODLES TO YOU

The logistics of throwing a noodle soup party can seem daunting, but the real issue is space. We found it easiest to put the noodles in the bowls, then let people dress them as they wish. As long as you have room to lay out the broths and the toppings (bean sprouts, cilantro, fried garlic, chili powder, limes...), people are happy to build their own bowls.

Some guests that came though weren't familiar with noodle soups at all. Let them experiment with a little bit of guidance - it's all for fun!