Three spots to eat for cheap: Tadao, Le Cocq, Öz Tetik

Michel Verlinden

Eating fat and sweet for cheap is a relatively easy venture, but eating healthy for a small price can be a challenge. Within that field, Tadao is doing a great job.


Poke bowl is a speciality dish coming in all shapes and sizes. This popular meal has set its sails on our coasts since 2016 and it seduces a wide spectrum of appetites. Needless to say, the concept of mixing vegetables and fish inside a rice bowl is quite irresistible – especially as it is most of the time possible to create your own dish. Among the Brussels restaurants that have embarked on this adventure, Tadao is particularly attractive because of its family feel. And indeed, the creator of the concept, Cédric Barbier, tells us that the idea came up while touring the world with his wife and kids. “We tested a hundred different Poke bowls but the revelation happened in Australia. I went to eat there once in the evening with my wife…and went back the following day with the kids. That kind of food was clearly getting everybody on the same page. It gathers everyone, young and old, around a healthy meal,” he says.

This was confirmed with our lunch at his place, where we got ourselves caught up in what it has to offer. You are struck by the décor as soon as you enter the premises. Structured with light wooden planks, the place includes an aisle leading to the counter, going in front of the drinks cabinet, as well as a tasting room punctuated with a table d’hôtes and a few elevated spaces flanked with high stools. A few tasty details are spicing up the interior: a series of bowls riveted to the wall, evoking an acoustic device as well as an artistic installation, and a dozen wicker lights conveying the spirit of Chinese lanterns. There is something pan-Asian about the whole thing, particularly because of the logo painted on the wall, whose spherical character recalls the famous Pokémon “balls”.

Magic rice

When it comes to logistics, Tadao is well-oiled. Behind the counter, four employees are busy taking orders. Nicely done: Tadao plays the transparent game by displaying the various ingredients likely to make up the menu of the day. As we were too lazy to pick up a tailored assortment, we chose the easy solution, namely a medium version of the “Veggie” bowl (€11.40). Prepared in a few minutes, it comes on a tray.

The first pleasant surprise was the feel of the bowl itself, a little grainy, a joy in itself for those who, like us, think that the container is important – a taste experience is never partial, it is either total or it is not. The preparation has been deconstructed with particular care. It is the quality of the rice which strikes the eater first. It is moist, round and marked by a vinegary note. Cédric Barbier reveals the secret: “We cook the rice in the same way as in Japan, it is an automated process, so there is no variation. But the real difference is that we have invested in two expensive machines. The first one cleans the rice by removing all the starch, while the second one cradles it with rice vinegar. This modus operandi makes all the difference inside the mouth. We applaud the balance of the flavours brought together around the grain. In no particular order: the bitterness and freshness of the pink grapefruit, the roasted notes of the almonds, the slight spiciness of the young onions, the subtle acidity of the miso and sesame sauce... And in addition to all this, a welcome delicacy, namely shiitake mushrooms marinated for two weeks in star anise, soy and ginger. Let’s not forget about the raw carrots, which are not cut too thin, giving them an interesting presence in the mouth.

Among the strong points, we will also note the extended opening hours – every day from 11 am to 10 pm – and the welcoming smiles. What about drinks? Lovers of quality Brussels beers will be delighted to find Taras Boulba (€3.30) and Zinnebir (€3.40) from Brasserie de la Senne. That is all it takes to make us happy.

Tadao rue Francartstraat 14, Elsene/Ixelles, 02-356.32.20, 7/7, 11 > 22.00


1748 Le Cocq

Le Cocq

Don’t feel like eating healthy? Fans of cheap deals know that the generous plate of fries in Le Cocq is where the action is. Pricing for that 400 grams portion (possible to eat in duet)? 4 euro…with sauce included. You could say the offer is hard to beat when you see that they are fresh potatoes, poached as they should be. Let’s not forget about the pretty décor you can enjoy: an old-school tin counter coming from the Nectoux workshops, extravagant lighting, a ceramic wood stove (which looks like it comes from a collection), a gilded ceiling, tables burned in a checkered pattern, cladding made of pyramid-shaped wooden tiles recovered from the Jester (a café at Hallepoort/Porte de Hal)... All of that in pure Frédéric Nicolay style.

Le Cocq place Fernand Cocqplein 12, Elsene/Ixelles, ma/lu/Mo > do/je/Th & zo/di/Su 7.30 > 1.00, vr/ve/Fr & za/sa/Sa 7.30 > 3.00



Öz Tetik

A mitraillette? It’s a guaranteed good deal, 100% from Brussels, for whomever wants to eat cheap and get rid of that hungry feeling for a while. It is needless to say that dieticians would wield a crucifix in the face of this regressive dish. Popular among night crawling hungers, this speciality combines bread, fries, meat and andalouse sauce in a single mouthful. The best place to get a mitraillette is Öz Tetik, a Turkish snackbar among the pioneers of its kind. It is possible to choose a dissident version by opting for the baguette filled with a poultry skewer instead of beef (€7.50 instead of €7 for the classic version). Öz Tetik takes extra care of this speciality, notably with pickled onions prepared on the spot, making the whole thing super smooth.

Öz Tetik place François Bossuetplein 6, Sint-Joost-ten-Node/Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, ma/lu/Mo, wo/me/We, vr/ve/Fr > zo/di/Su 12 > 23.00

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