review

Little Apo: the true spirit of Vietnamese food

© Saskia Vanderstichele
| Little Apo: Hanoi street food, as authentic as it gets.
Onze score

Spurred on by a new generation of chefs, Asian cuisine is gaining momentum. For proof, look no further than Little Apo in Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles, a restaurant that is true to the spirit of Vietnamese food.

Goodbye to aquariums, nem drenched in oil, and menus in which the dishes have numbers. Asian food has now been given a new lease of life in Belgium. Thanks to a generation of visionary young chefs, there has been a tidal wave of successful restaurants that offer fusion cuisine that is both back-to-basics and highly original, bringing together international culinary trends and Eastern roots.

We have already told you about Nénu, Old Boy, and Yi Chan, all restaurants that have generated a real, and justified, cult following in Brussels. New examples of this new wave of Asian food keep popping up. What do they have in common? It is often the children of “first-generation” restaurateurs that run these popular establishments.

Located not far from place Van Meenenplein, Little Apo is no exception to the rule since it is run by Rosa, the daughter of the owners of Apocalypse, a reputable Asian restaurant in Elsene/Ixelles. It is a pocket­-sized place that seats about fifteen. The decor is dominated by wood. We like the thoughtful and efficient service and the pretty fresco on the wall depicting Vietnamese street food. That is, naturally, what this place serves for the most part, though a few influences from Thailand are also included.

It was one dish in particular, which was recommended to us by a friend, that brought us here: the “pho”. As you know, “pho” soup is considered a national dish in Vietnam. It consists of quite a simple recipe that is usually made with beef neck and oxtail. Unfortunately, it is rarely served the authentic way. Little Apo offers a variant of the soup with chicken, the Pho Gà (€12.50 for the main-course version).

We could tell straight away that the dish was served just as it would have been in Hanoi, in other words with chicken thigh on the bone (it is also possible to order the soup with pieces of meat). It was wonderful, bursting with flavours, among which believe we were able to distinguish star anise, clove, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and, of course, fish sauce. A delicious combination. To accompany this delight, we had a Weizen Saison (€3.50) from the L'Annexe brewery, which is located 800 metres from the restaurant. You cannot get much more local than that.

LITTLE APO
avenue Adolphe Demeurlaan 3, Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles, 02-426.87.01,
www.littleapo.be
ma/u/Mo > za/sa/Sa, 12 > 14.30 & 18 > 22.00

HIGH FIVE EAT & DRINK:

ELBOW ••••
Streetfood op z’n Amerikaans.
La street food made in US ? C’est ici.
US style street food.
www.elbowcounter.com

NONA PASTA ••••
Sublieme pasta... en basta.
Des pâtes (sublimes) et rien d’autre.
Sublime pasta... and basta.
www.nonalife.com

BOBBI BAO ••••
Vergeet de burger, hier is de bao.
Oubliez le burger, voici le bao.
Forget the burger, here is the bao.
www.bobbibao.com

MANGIAVINO ••••
Italiaans zoals in Italië.
L’Italie en V.O.
Authentic Italy.
Mangiavino Ristorante

LE CONTEUR ••••
Fancy Midden-Oosterse cuisine.
Chic cuisine du Moyen-Orient.
Fancy Middle Eastern cuisine.
www.le-conteur.com

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