Bia Mara, Brussels 03-2018

I didn't expect to eat fish and chips in Brussels, but I couldn't decide what to get. I'd tried EXKi already and didn't feel I had enough time to get something from Peck 47. Bia Mara looked tempting and the menu different to normal. They specialise in Japanese-style fish and chips with the fish coated in panko or tempura.

Panko is probably their mainstay given it is on 5/6 of options. However the tempura sounded different and so that was my choice.

Lemon Basil Tempura Sea Bream with seaweed-salted chips & homemade garlic truffle sauce €12 used a tempura advertised as infused with citrus zest and creative spice mixes. Indeed the crisp batter had excellent seasoning including a distinct citrus to it that wasn't just the lemon juice I later squeezed on. The fish was perfectly cooked and piping hot. For a nation that prides itself on fries, these chips were sensational. Firm and crisp coatings with burning hot soft insides and the seaweed-salt added an extra layer of flavour complexity to the norm. I was very impressed. They were smooth rather than ruffled for additional texture and they didn't have Belgium's distinct beef fat flavour as the frites karts, but neither of those are really criticisms. The garlic mayo did have an element of truffle (oil) to it but I didn't think the fish or chips particularly needed it, more an homage to the quality of the food.

The panko servings were even larger for fish than the tempura.

I'd gladly eat here again.