de Bomma (Grandma's) Restaurant, Antwerp 07-2019

Wandering around Antwerp at 3pm looking for lunch proved to be a mistake. Croquettenbar was closed on a Monday and Nelly coffee was also having a hiatus, so then went for De Zeven Schaken for some Belgian food. Unfortunately as was the case with many bar/cafes around, they were serving drinks/beer but not food. Between 3-6pm most of the kitchens close all over Belgium the waitress told us. Hmm. That's no good.

After wandering around for 30mins more, we eventually found de Bomma which happened to have tourists and a few Belgian's sitting outside enjoying food. Wonderful.

I haven't previously been much of a fan of Belgian food. Generally it seemed like not as tasty French but with high price tags. Certainly at Grandma's the prices aren't cheap either - mussels vary from €22-24 for example. The stews are a little more reasonable although not cheap. However I am pleased to say they are remarkably good. I haven't had Belgian food this good.

- Grandma's rabbit stew with Steenbrugge beer €17.9 - a thick stew with two rabbit legs cooked beautifully such that the usually prone rabbit wasn't dry. The added mushrooms and onions brought some contrast. The flavours were hearty and deep;
- Beef stew with LeFort beer €17.9 - even deeper was the hops caramelised beef (shin I think) which was remarkably tender also and had a rich slightly burnt (in a good way) flavour. There was lot of meat in there;
- Potato croquettes €3.5 - fried to a perfect crisp thin coating. Really excellent.

I was sad none of the stews came with any vegetables in there, just loads of meat. It was delicious and one could easily feed 2 people with some vegetables or salad on the side. Luckily they do takeaway and the meats served as tomorrow's lunch.

This is the best Belgian food I've had. I doubt I'll ever be back in Antwerp but would happily eat here again armed with knowledge.

Zomsa Cafe, Antwerp 07-2019

Eating at Antwerp after 10pm even on a Saturday is not recommended. So many things are closed. In fact I also learnt a few days later that between 3-6pm is also generally a closed time.

On this rainy evening after arriving, the area surrounding the Antwerp Central station seems to be largely Asian with a huge number of Chinese and Thai places. The ones that weren't closed are called cafes or restaurants, but really they look like bars and probably don't serve much food.

After strolling through what I assume is Chinatown, we came across Zomsa who had a menu and were serving. We discovered the cuisine is Tibetan, and certainly everyone in there was probably of that ethnicity to the point they looked bemused/amused that anyone else happened to be in there. Football was playing in the background and what was probably the family running the place eating their own dinner too.

The menu helpfully had pictures and ordered the Special zomsa thali €6.5 and mokthuk €5.5. You can probably tell from the menu photos and the dish photos that they really look NOTHING alike. The thali didn't have any bread (the waitress said they didn't have any) and instead a huge amount of rice. Also the various little trays of curries (like a thali should) was replaced by one generic meat dish, some vegetables and some pickles with a mildly hot chilli. The lentil soup was good though. The mokthuk was supposed to be momos with soup. The picture had the soup red and spiced but this one was decent broth but without any spice. There was a spicy hot sauce (not sure what chilli but it was really decently hot) although I'm sure it wasn't what made the menu soup colour red.

Overall the food was fine. It did seem a little deceiving from the pictures. But the staff were nice at least. And they were open...