Published on March 29th, 2022 | by Brussels In View0
Crossing of cultures
Imagine going to a country where you don’t speak of a word of the language – and going on to run one of the top restaurants of its kind in Belgium.
That is exactly when Japanese-born Minoru Seino has done.
He arrived in Belgium, via France, a few years go from his Asian home not being able to speak French (or Dutch). But, after applying himself both personally and professionally to his “adopted” new home (Belgium) he has certainly made his mark.
He opened a restaurant in Ixelles that specialises in high-end French/Belgian-Japanese cuisine that is now attracting rave reviews.
And what more appropriate way to pay testimony to your own efforts than by naming the place after yourself?
Hence, “Seino” was born at the heart of what is a real melting pot of culinary tastes.
His aim has been to introduce the best of Japanese cuisine to a Belgian audience and, judging by the success he’s achieve, he has certainly done that.
The restaurant actually seeks to marry both French and Japanese culinary traditions, with the best of Belgium thrown in for good measure.
That, he says, means using locally sourced ingredients wherever he can (though he also imports quite a few Japanese products too) and then applying what he calls “Japanese techniques” to finish it all off.
The end result is terrific with a menu that changes every couple of weeks and featuring some mouth watering offerings such as seabass with asparagus, steak with sweet soya sauce and an “assembly” of sushi.
Sushi, probably, is what most readers will have come to Japanese food but, even here, Minoru tries something different to what you may find at what relatively few Japanese restaurants there are in Brussels (and Belgium).
Sushi was originally a kind of street food in Japan but, at Seino, you won’t find it rolled in any leaf but, rather, finely mixed with pieces of fish and rice. The result, like else coming out of Minoru’s kitchen, is delicious.
The 5 course fixed menu (including desert which can be accompanied by Umeshu, a traditional Japanese liqueur) is, considering the high quality, fantastically affordable, as is the daily lunch degustation menu which is a snip at just €25.There’s also the option of sampling some Sake, a popular drink in Japan.
The easy-on-the-eye décor is delightfully relaxed but with a touch of chic and class, as you’d expect from someone with such high standards as its owner/chef.
Praise also to Minoru’s sous chef, 30-year-old Oumar Drame who started as an intern at the restaurant but has rapidly gained the trust and confidence of his boss.
The very welcoming Oumar, who hails from Guinea, was originally a law student who decided against a career in the legal profession instead of pursuing one for his real passion: cooking and food.Having completed his cookery school studies, he’s been with Minoru for about four years during which time his fascination with Japanese cuisine has increased.
He says, “I never expected to be doing this but I love the Japanese culture, in particular its cuisine.”
After having cooked at Bernard Loiseau’s in Saulieu and Bruneau’s in Brussels, Minoru’s decision to open his own establishment has paid off and he now has big plans to expand both the business and restaurant.
The idea is for an open kitchen to replace the current bar area so that diners can see for themselves the skills and techniques that go into producing his lovely dishes.
Minoru also aims to invite specialise Japanese chefs, cooks and other professionals to showcase both their talents and products at special workshops in the restaurant.
It is an impressive “to do” list, not least after surviving the health pandemic during which Minoru and Oumar tried, as many others did, to get back on takeaways.
“We are not known for that and the food is not really suitable for takeaway service so it was a struggle,” says Oumar.
Anyone who is looking for something a bit different really should pay a visit to Seino which seeks to combine Minoru’s Japanese origins with his love of French gastronomyIt has been rated a lofty 14.5 out of 20 by the renowned Gault & Millau and is located opposite what is thought to be Belgium’s only starred Japanese resto.
It will not be long, one imagines, before Seino will join it.
SeinoRue du prévôt 37-39, Ixelles 02 538 84 76