When I go back to my hometown (Brussels) there are a few things that I always have to do. Call it tradition, nostalgia, whatever – most of them involve food.
Chips (frites) – I’m talking about french fries, not what we call crisps in the UK – with mayonnaise is a must. I’m sure I’ll do a whole post on these at some point. Stocking up on proper chocolate is also a requirement, and getting all those other things you can’t find in England. But apart from this, I always try to fit in at least one Vietnamese meal because you get great Vietnamese in Brussels and it reminds me of my childhood.
So, when I hopped across the Channel for a quick trip home, I was looking forward to some nem with vermicelli and beef. Tired, hungry and craving some prawn crackers, we wandered into Li Yuan without really checking the menu. Big mistake – the prices were pretty extortionate (mains starting at around €15.50 for the basic dishes) even for the swanky Louise area the restaurant is in. But we were starving, and wanted food fast.
All in all, the food was okay – the vermicelli, nem and beef was tasty and the vietnamese chicken curry was fragrant. However, there was something very weird going on with the vermicelli. Not long after digging in, I had a strange reaction to the food and my stomach swelled up to double its size. I have never ever had a reaction like that.
Aside from that, the servicewas slow and they couldn’t even tell the difference between green tea and jasmine tea. That may sound trivial, but for a Vietnamese restaurant that’s a basic mistake to make.
On the plus side – I ticked “Lipton Ice Tea” off my Brussels list of things to do. It’s fizzy and doesn’t taste like ice tea at all but there’s just something about it that makes it perfect. It’s one of those weird things that you don’t realise you’ll miss until you can’t have it any more.