review

Nénu: Viet-Miam!

© Saskia Vanderstichele
| 1687 Nenu
Onze score

A new place in Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles is proof of the renewed vitality of Asian cuisine in Brussels. This little miracle, which is based on the idea of sharing, is called Nénu.

A new day is currently dawning for Asian food in Brussels. A series of freethinking establishments are reinventing Asian cuisine, inspired by what's happening today in Bangkok, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hong Kong. These non-traditional joints, such as Crab Club (Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles), Old Boy (Elsene/Ixelles), and Yi Chan (Brussels city centre), keep the customers coming. What all these restaurants have in common is that they bear the mark of chefs and entrepreneurs who combine everything: Western culinary trends, their Asian roots, and the most recent developments in exciting local street food. A new restaurant to have joined this tidal wave that threatens to send the “first-generation” establishments to rot at the bottom of the fish tank with the koi carp, Nénu is a particularly successful example of the genre. The approach is based on a concept called “anh nhau”, a Vietnamese culinary tradition that encourages diners to share their food.

The menu consists of fifteen or so dishes which throw the distinction between starters and main courses onto the culinary scrap heap. The decor is cosy, with bare bricks and attractive circular lights fixed to the walls. You can order as much as you like, allowing about three dishes per person. Our verdict: from the krupuk provided as an appetiser to the dessert, a delicious frozen yoghurt “sua chua” (€8), the meal was perfect. There was not a single flaw. The high points were the clams served with coconut milk, Kaffir lime, and spices (€14), the intense taste of the matured beef with lemongrass and chilli (€33), and the subtle flavours of the marrowbone brought to life with thick hoisin barbecue sauce (€12). There was also a truly excellent dish featuring salciccia with fennel combined with chilli and udon noodles. Our overwhelming impression is one of a liberated approach with an irresistible charm.

We were equally delighted by the wine menu, which dares to be natural (including a remarkable Italian white, Ottomani, at €6.50 a glass). The only hiccup is that this place, which is mobbed, does not take reservations. Our advice is to arrive at 7 pm on the dot, or even a bit earlier, or try to make it for the second sitting, which is at about 9.30 pm but is more unpredictable.

Nénu
rue Dejonckerstraat 21, Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles
Does not take reservations
di/ma/Tu > za/sa/Sa 12 > 14.00 & 19 > 22.00

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