Niko-Niko Restaurant (Brussels)

© Niko Niko

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“Ha-Ha!” Or Niko-Niko in the language of Murakami – this Japanese eatery doesn’t mess around with its bento boxes, prepared here by Fumi Congan and Nicolas Gauthier: she’s a descendent of Ajiyoshi’s first owners and a graphic designer who did the artistic direction for this place and manages the front-of-house; he’s a former film crew location manager who transitioned from film sets to the kitchen. On the metal shelves of this very immaculate mess (clean walls, tubular furniture, an injected plastic counter), all the classics of Fumi’s childhood parade by, Bull-Dog sauce and Kewpie mayo included, plus Japanese, American and Italian rice, mirin and panko… In our bento box the day we went for lunch, after an excellent inarizushi (vinegary rice with carrots and shiitake mushrooms wrapped up in a fried tofu pocket): three syrupy yakitori chicken skewers, served with lettuce and pumpkin dressed in the same sesame sauce; perfectly roasted sunchokes enrobed in a white miso sauce; crunchy pickled eggplant and sliced white radish; an inevitable bowl of rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds. Also available à la carte: nanban zuké bento (with vinegar-marinated fried fish) or korokké bento (with potato and vegetable croquettes); miso soup (available with or without pork belly). // Rosa Poulsard

FEELING THIRSTY? A handful of Hata Ramune sodas (those with a metal marble stopper, €3 for 200 ml), boxed sake (€13.50 for 500 ml) or more classic options, like Kirin and Saporo beer (€4 for 330 ml).
PRICE: Bento €16, soups €4.50 to €10, onigiri and inarizushi €4.

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