Eat & Drink

Published on December 20th, 2022 | by Brussels In View

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Fancy a fab festive treat? Try this fine Brussels resto

Are you among those looking to lift the New Year blues by doing something a bit special?

Some lucky ones are able to see in the new year by ski-ing or jetting off to sunnier climes.

But for those left here at home in Belgium, one solution  to make the start of 2023 that bit nicer is a meal out.

The question, though, is where? The vast majority of restaurants are usually closed on New Year’s Day but, happily, there is one exception.

It’s called L’Orchidee Blanche and if you fancy letting someone else slave over a hot stove on the first day of the new year (and that would appeal to many) then this is a place you really should consider.

Vietnamese restaurants abound in Brussels and, it has to be said, many can be rather expensive.Considering the top quality, the prices at this terrific eatery, though, are exceptional, along with the cuisine.

It might first be worth knowing a bit about how they celebrate Christmas (and New Year) in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a catholic country and traditional Catholics will decorate their homes accordingly and attend church.

But, unlike in the UK with his turkey tradition at Christmas and Belgium (where seafood like lobster is the tradition for some), there is no particular “traditional” Christmas dish served during the festive season.

But one thing Vietnamese increasingly do like to do is eat “European-style” cuisine whereas in the West, including Belgium, it is possibly the other way round with Europeans favouring Asian food.

Well, if Vietnamese food is your thing then you could not choose a better place than this restaurant.

The first thing that strikes you on arrival is the quite beautiful attire worn by the – all female – front of house staff.

The ladies, all very polite and very welcoming, are each turned out in quite beautiful traditional South Vietnamese tunics,each specially brought to Belgium from Vietnam, often when one of them returns there for a visit.

In Vietnam it is quite typical to find women, rather than men, in the kitchen so a (mostly) “all female team” here continues a long-standing Vietnamese tradition (we say “mostly” because the head chef is actually a man as is his assistant).

After being greeted by the staff, dressed in their traditional costume, you relax in a Zen-like atmosphere, surrounded by a natural wood décor.

Totally refurbished a few years ago, this stylish yet cosy restaurant serves some of the best Asiatique food in Belgium.  This tastefully decorated resto, is spread over two levels, each furnished and stylish, and there’s an outside garden terrace (for those warmer summer months).

For those who might be unfamiliar with Vietnamese cuisine, first bear in mind that in the north it is salty, spicy in the centre of the country and sweet in the south. The cuisine here is from the south which is where Katia Nguyen, the long-time owner here, was born.

There is a vast choice of traditional and very healthy Vietnamese food (see the website for fuller details) and, considering the quality, you are unlikely to get better value for money this side of Hanoi. It has a la carte (the most popular) and also three fixed menus: “Menu Orchidee Blanche” (€35pp); “Menu Mandarin” (€40) and “Menu Imperial” (€45), plus a quick 2 course lunch option at just €15.50.

It is now well over 30 years since owner Katia opened this restaurant which was voted by Gault and Millau the best Asian restaurant in Brussels in 2015. That is quite some accolade for Katia and her team given the number of such places in the city.

The restaurant is located close to the ULB university, in the middle of a very bustling suburb, and everything here is prepared in house. The dishes are based on either traditional or more contemporary recipes but similar to the best you might find in Vietnam itself. 

Katia admits to never being satisfied in her pursuit of ensuring that her loyal customer base always gets the best of fine Vietnamese cuisine, saying, “we always try to keep the customers satisfied.It is the philosophy that underpins all that we do.We try to serve delicious food and provide a nice, polite welcome. This is why we are so successful and managed to survive what was an awful period during the pandemic for the industry.”

Parking can be at a premium but the resto has a special “deal” with a local supermarket which makes this much easier.

For a restaurant still to be thriving after so many years after it opened is a massive achievement for Katia and her staff. Best to book if you want to pencil in a visit on New Year’s Day.

L’Orchidee Blanche
Chaussee de Boondael 436, Brussels
T. +32 (0)2 647 5621
www.orchidee-blanche.com

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