seafood

Maru Restaurant (Brussels, Belgium): A Small Korean Restaurant That Might Be Your New Favorite

THE STORY

I spent a weekend in Brussels because I wanted to see Janelle Monae. It was self-indulgent, but also a birthday gift to myself.

I also knew this would be a great opportunity to try a few Asian restaurants, since lately The Asian Craving has been mostly about restaurants in the Netherlands.

Naturally, I looked up ramen spots. It’s an easy Asian cuisine to research in a city, and the ramen spots that pop up in a search are dependably good. But ramen is a streak I’m trying to break.

And so somehow, due to the incredible Instagram algorithms, I learned about Maru.

Maru Restaurant Korean Food Sea Bream Brussels seafood kimchi pickles spinach daikon steaks

The first picture that was on their feed when I looked at their account was of a green tomato kimchi. The following pictures were all just as intriguing, and so I added it to my list.

The restaurant had maybe 12 tables, including the tables outside, and seated maybe 30 people at once. When I arrived, there seemed to be one table left, and so I sat down. A waiter came over and asked if I had a reservation. I didn’t, but they were kind enough to let me stay.

Maru Restaurant Korean Food Brussels Asian Craving

The menu itself is simply yet chaotically designed. Its section titles seemed to be illustrated by hand (entrees, beverages, sides), but the menu items appear in a typewriter font with possibly hand-stamped elements.

Upon first glance, the menu didn’t seem to offer what I expected, but then again, what did I expect? I went into this restaurant without looking at their menu online, or with any idea of what I wanted to eat. As a person eating alone, any BBQ seemed out of the question. But as a person eating alone, I could also order whatever the fuck I wanted and not worry about whether another person would be willing to share it.

Maru Restaurant Brussels Bruxelles Belgium Korean Sea Bream seafood fish

THE REVIEW

I ordered the sea bream. Not what I would consider standard Korean fare, but most Asian cuisines prepare fish in a way that European cultures don’t – whole and with clean, intense flavors. Unless the fish is small enough to be fried and eaten whole, many Westerners tend to eat fish filets, rather than the entire fish. (I know, not all Westerners.)

The sea bream came out, cut in half, served with thin daikon steaks on a bed of chopped leaks and soy sauce (or were they green onions?). It was also accompanied by kimchi, spinach, pickles, and rice.

Maru Restaurant Korean Food Brussels Sea Bream pickles kimchi spinach daikon steaks Asian Craving travel

Every bite was such a delight. The light saltiness of the daikon melted with every bite. I’d pinch a healthy piece of fish onto the rice and savored the combination of flavors and textures. I’d cleanse my palette with a bite of kimchi, pickles, or spinach, just to enjoy the fish again. It had been a minute since I had eaten a whole fish with bones, but it’s not a skill easily forgotten.


Maru Restaurant (make reservations!), Chaussée de Waterloo 510, Brussels, Belgium 1050, +32 2 346 11 11

Dim Sum Haus (Hamburg, Germany): The Best Looking Chinese Food in Germany

THE STORY

First and foremost, let me say that I wanted to go to Hamburg because I knew there would be seafood.

Friends of ours invited us to drive up to Hamburg for the long weekend. We rarely take the time to visit other parts of Germany, so we happily agreed. And also seafood.

Hamburg was never on my list of places to visit, but I am certainly glad we did! For anyone interested in military history, the German Tank Museum is located in Munster, an hour's drive south of Hamburg. Fun fact: the Germans named their tanks after cats (like Apple OS).

Hamburg felt like a city that didn't want you to know it was a city, so it curled up into itself at the top of the country where most people wouldn't want to bother it. The people who do seek it out, however, are packed together in small restaurants and bars like Auster Bar and Ramen Bar Zipang.

Hamburg Germany Miniature Land Dioramas

Miniatur Wunderland was the largest place we went to, and it may have been the most enjoyable tourist experience I've ever had. I thought it was going to be just dioramas of places around the world, but there were so many stories throughout the exhibit. If you don't think you'd like it, consider this: there are all kinds of sneaky Easter eggs tucked away into all the displays to keep you entertained, like unicorns, E.T., lovers in a field...

We also went to the Fischmarkt early Sunday morning to get all kinds of seafood goodies for dinner, including oysters, crabs, and mussels, all of which were alive when we purchased them. Even if your accommodations don't have a kitchen, there are trucks with prepared foods to be enjoyed zugleich (i.e. immediately).

Hamburg Germany Oysters Crab Seafood Dinner Homemade Market

The highlight of the trip, of course, was the dim sum restaurant Dim Sum Haus. Luckily our friends are equally as starved for delicious Asian food as we are, so the recommendation was well received. Shockingly, however, was that they had never eaten dim sum!

Dim Sum Haus is on the first floor of the building, modestly decorated as Chinese restaurants go. Nowadays it seems that carts coming around to the tables is out of fashion. I'm sure it helps with food waste and costs, but whether it helps me stuff my face with fewer dumplings has yet to be determined.

Hamburg Germany Dim Sum Haus Dumplings Chinese Food

THE REVIEW

Places that advertise dim sum usually have only three typical items listed under their appetizers: siu mai (pork dumplings), har gao (shrimp dumplings), and bao (steamed pork bun). Dim Sum Haus, however, lived up to its name. While I couldn't list every dim sum item there can possibly be, the menu included a significantly wider variety than what many restaurants in Europe seem to offer.

We ordered siu mai, cha siu bao, soup dumplings, spare ribs in black bean sauce, deep fried taro dumplings, and beef rolled in rice noodles. It doesn't seem like a lot of food, but I have this blurry memory at the end of being very, very full and satisfied.

It may not deliver the full dim sum experience, but does that really matter when your belly is full of delicious dumplings?


Dim Sum Haus, Kirchenallee 37, 20099 Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 280 23 12

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