Garuda

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Question: Where can I eat Indonesian in Brussels? 

Answer: At Garuda.

With this, the introduction is made to the only Indonesian restaurant in Brussels. We were lucky enough to be invited to try out their unique cuisine as part of a food-bloggers dinner. And I have to admit this is what brought us to Garuda. But certainly a place we’ll go back again for a more in depth Indonesian culinary experience.

The story so far: As Sydney Houyoux, the owner, shared with us the story is simple : a love of Indonesia and their cuisine, and a bold,  spur of the moment decision to open an Indonesian restaurant in Brussels. The only such restaurant in Brussels. In love with Indonesia, Sydney managed to create a little micro Indonesian cosmos in Brussels which he shared with us over food and wine and good company. 

First impressions: The restaurant looks like and smells like an exotic holiday. Most of the furniture is imported directly from Indonesia, and offers a mix of the expected (the Garuda statue for example) with the unexpected (black and white photographs of people dressed in traditional Indonesian garments). As it was Monday, I expected the restaurant to be quite empty. To my surprise it was actually busy with people enjoying a little bit of ‘sunshine’ indoors.  

Our table was located at the back of the restaurant – convenient, as getting 10’ish food bloggers together means a lot of snapping which might shy some customers off – but also we got the chance to discover a true Brussels gem: the back  garden. Pity there is no sun in sight but if warmer days are coming I am sure the terrace, which can sit around 50, is a wonderful place to eat. Quiet, green, with zen like little water features here and there.  

The food: Before starting our Indonesian feast we asked Syndey what we should expect? It seems the Indonesian cuisine is a delicious mix of different influences – Indian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese etc. This was later confirmed by the explosion of flavors in the dishes we tried. Some of us started with the aperitif maison, the drink of the house – a curious green’ish flowery affair, which was pleasant but not memorable. A bit like the (holiday) drinks which taste so much better on the beach. The wine however which followed was very much to my liking and seems I am not the only one to think so (Youpi Wine being the wine expert in our group).

Although Sydney explained that the continental sequence of foods is not very Indonesian our aperitif was followed – traditionally – by starters, main and dessert. The starters were what I would call a mix plate of vegetable lumpias, mixed  skewers of lamb and chicken, and grilled shrimp. All served with home made sauces. Although simple food, I have to say the individual clean flavors really stood out and set the scene for what was to follow. 

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The mains is where the taste buds party started!

We were served a ‘rice table’ namely a mix of different dishes to be shared across the table. In no particular order we tried udang serundeng – shrimps with shredded, fried coconut; gulai kambing – spicy lamb in a curry sauce; terong kekap – grilled aubergines swimming in a sweet, sticky soja sauce; pepes ayam – steamed chicken wrapped in banana leaves; bebk bakar – grilled duck with peanut-butter sauce all served with rice and vegetables.  An Indonesian feast of flavor, texture and smells indeed!

Was there any space left for dessert you might wonder? Well … when in Garuda … We finished in sin with a mix of fried bananas with coconut ice cream and dadar gulung, green pancakes with caramel sauce and shredded coconut.  And I have to admit – probably the best compliment a restaurant can get – although we did eat and try out a lot of the Garuda dishes, I am sure there is still a lot to be discovered. 

Service with a smile: Yes. The staff is mostly Indonesian, very friendly and knowledgeable, which helped us diners navigate through the extensive menu. 

The verdict: A sample of Chefs Yahya skills, I am now eager to discover what other dishes make up the Indonesian cuisine next. With an Indonesian trip not on the horizon yet, Garuda is thus probably the next best thing to a mini escape holiday dinner at home, in Brussels.

Garuda: Ave. Adolphe Buyl 25, 1050 Brussels

Thank you to Garuda for organizing and inviting us to this bloggers dinner. 

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