Monday, 16 March 2015

Le Belgo-Thai (rue Haute)

Living in Brussels doesn't, of course, mean that chips, mussels and other less stereotypical but still Belgian items constitute my diet - meals still include a fair amount of scrambled egg, stir fry and questionable canteen food, just like in Oxford. I'd be lying, however, if I said that I didn't get the occasional craving for something different entirely, and so a visit from the Photographer (never adverse to the odd chilli flake), and a trip to Brussels' flea market in the Marolles (highly recommended for encounters with men with splendid moustaches or metre-long saws held casually at the hip) led to Belgo-Thai in the nearby rue Haute. I was intrigued to see what form this east-meets-west fusion would take.

In fact, the menu was firmly divided into Belgium and Thailand - probably a good thing as even as a joke I can't think of any possible hybrid dishes. Deciding to leave Europe behind on this occasion, I went for gyoza (correctly listed as Japanese rather than Thai) to start with. There was nothing wrong with them, lightly seared and not too oily as they were, but I was pretty sure they had come out of a bag, and at 4 for 7.50E bore a rather hefty mark-up. The Photographer did better with the more authentically chicken skewers with satay sauce (8.50E). Their generous chunks of meat and thick, intensely nutty and probably home-made sauce were much more impressive.
These mixed fortunes continued with the main courses. The Photographer went for his favourite Kai Ped Ka Pao (15E; actually the transliteration varies from place to place but it's the same spicy chicken with Thai basil dish). He enjoyed its ample chilli element and strong mix of flavours, but wasn't so keen on the oily residue, although this was mitigated by the fact that rice and chicken came separately. I wasn't so lucky with my Kai Pad (14E; fried rice with chicken, egg and vegetables). For the first few mouthfuls its greasiness was a guilty pleasure but my appreciation of its high level of oil didn't last and I ended up full and slightly queasy. This was a shame, as the egg and vegetables especially had a fresh and high quality flavour.
So not - quite - a disaster, but definitely not a triumph, and rather over-priced for what we got, I feel. I can't comment on the quality of Thai food in Belgium generally (and I'm well aware that the European version probably bears little resemblance to what you'd get in Thailand), but I hope this isn't the best Brussels can offer. Any redeeming features? Well, despite its oriental character, and the fact that it was an accompaniment to my savoury lunch, my green tea came with a little sweet treat, as hot drinks always do here (carrot-flavoured chocolate at Exki is my favourite so far). Perhaps it's best to eat Belgian in Belgium.

Le Belgo-Thai
72 rue Haute
Brussels 1000


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