Posted on Jan 28, 2019
The third anniversary of one of the darkest days in Belgium’s history is imminent.
The terrorist attacks in March 2016 killed 32 people and the fall out was felt far and wide.
This included horeca trade in Brussels which was devastated.
Not the best time, therefore, to launch a new business.
That was the fate that awaited the Tangla Hotel, located on the outskirts of the city, which actually opened the day after the attacks.
It was an inauspicious start and the hotel, like the rest of the industry here, suffered at first.
The good news, though, is that the hotel has bounced back in style and that includes its two restaurants: Le Cinq and, more recently, Tang Dynasty.
The former offers a casual Chinese buffet while the latter,Tang Dynasty, is a more upmarket restaurant, serving classy Asian dishes.
Due to several factors, this one is still to be fully open. At present, you can eat here only if you have pre-booked first though that isn’t a problem.
One reason for this is that some of the dishes simply take so long to prepare that they need plenty of notice. As it is still to get fully up to speed with the desired number of Chinese chefs on board, they require pre-reservation.
This is all worth the effort, however, because the food, service and surroundings are all splendid.
First, the food: there are several menus to choose and each are tempting, not least because of their names (which are inspired by flowers). Two of the most popular are the Cherry Blossom and Lilium menus. Both are priced €48 pp (min. 2 people), excluding drinks.
Both commence with a very nice “five flavour” cold starter – small but tasty nibbles such as beef tongue, tofu and green beans.
The tradition in southern China is to start and end the meal with a soup so that is what comes next and very nice it is too.
Each menu then offers a different choice of other dishes and mains, including pan-fried prawns, Cantonese-style steamed cod and grilled endives with spiced beef sauce (Cherry Blossom) or prawn bouchees, veal with black pepper sauce, fresh oyster mushrooms and green beans (Lilium).
A very pleasant culinary experience is rounded off with a selection of mouth-watering deserts such as seasonal fresh fruit.
Also worth noting that as well as the fixed menus there are what are called “family style” options as well.
The wine pairings are carefully chosen so as to bring out the very best of the Asian food. Look out too for the all-important Chinese tea (good for the digestion!) and some quite amazing cocktails (both with alcohol and without).
Of course, delightful food such as this is only part of the success of a good dining experience which brings us to the wonderful service from staff members like Sophie Hoebeke whose story is as curious and fascinating as that of the restaurant and hotel.
Born in Belgium, her dad is Belgium and her mother Chinese. After a spell in China she returned to the country of her birth at the age of 13 and has remained here ever since.
Now 29, she has worked here for almost as long as the hotel has been open and provides superb knowledge and expertise on the food, drink and also on Chinese culture.
It really is a great pleasure to hear Sophie imparting such expertise on all of the above and you will almost certainly leave here feeling enriched by the experience.
This place goes out of the way to make a visit as authentic as possible and one example are the numerous private rooms (ideal for special occasions such as birthdays and dinner parties) which are each named after Chinese dynasties: Song, Tang, Yuan, Ming and Qing.
The buffet restaurant opened at the same time as the hotel (which has since proved so popular it is often near-full and even includes among its guests patients from the nearby Saint Luc hospital as well as diplomats from the Chinese Embassy just down the road).
Tang Dynasty has had to wait a while before even its current partial opening (it is hoped to be fully open by the spring) but, with its fine food and rich décor inspired by Chinese homes, the good news is that it’s all worth the wait!
Chinese New Year (Year of the Pig) is almost upon us and, of course, this will be celebrated in style with some specially-arranged menus plus a lion dance performance on February 19.
The message is for a year of “success and prosperity” and, after the very unfortunate timing of its opening, this surely is what both Tangla Hotel and its restaurants now deserve.
Av E. Mounier 5, Brussels
02 345 6789
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