Laksa mussels rule at Kingdom of Belgians
With our wings clipped, wanderlust sets in. I deal with it by eating the foods of foreign countries. When it is an authentic attempt, it can transport you.
Kingdom of Belgians (or KOB) opened in January, and we all know how the rest of the year panned out.
The bistro is the brainchild of Belgium-born Emmanuel Stroobant, one of the most prolific celebrity chefs we have in Singapore.
A couple of years ago, I visited Antwerp and was immediately charmed.
The best food I had there came from lively, casual places, offering down-to-earth and uncomplicated dishes. KOB reminds me of that experience.
As expected, there are more beer bottles on the table than plates. The list of Belgian bottled beers is impressive.
But it also has the same problem I felt existed in Antwerp - it is a lot of the same. Fries, mussels, waffles. Repeat.
Still, when you are hankering for a change of flavour profile, this works so well.
To me, mussel ($24 for 300g) is the national dish of Belgium, because I saw so much of it there. In fact, because I ate so much of it, I do not remember much of it.
So while I enjoyed the mussels done mariniere style (with white wine, celery, onion and parsley), it is not too far from every other mussel dish I have tasted.
The sauce is robust and the mussels are sweet - all that makes this successful but unremarkable.
It was the Laksa version that caught me by surprise though.
Generally, I am not a fan of the localisation of dishes, but this version works so well.
The sauce is rich and you can smell the dried shrimp, which does not overwhelm the subtle sweetness of the mussels. Instead, it is enhanced.
It seems the recipe comes from the family of one of the chefs. If chef Stroobant ever considers a Laksa stall, he needs to use this.
More "sameness" comes from the Loaded series. The Loaded Hola ($16) comprises fries, pork-beef chilli con carne and items such as avocado, jalapeno and cheese.
This is beer food for some, comfort food for others. It will fill you up quickly, it is messy and so much fun.
The Loaded Gautama ($16) looks pretty much the same, but this is a vegan version, with a vegan meatball.
If you think you will miss the taste of meat after you go on a vegan diet, this might change your mind. The beefiness and heft of this is pleasing.
Paired with a savoury tomato and basil sauce and lots of fries, it can be enough as a main.
The Boulet Liegeois ($24) is something I do not see often.
This is braised pork-beef meatballs, shallot, raisin and beef jus. The sweetness threw me off, but that is the traditional way. I did not enjoy it though.
The music at KOB is bouncy, the breeze is nice, and the service is friendly. Fingers crossed that dining rules relax soon because this is a great place to gather, chat and drink.