A little known fact about me is that for one dark summer I worked six nights a week over a ten week period making sushi for one of the UK’s leading supermarket chains. Yes, you’ve guessed it. I grew up in England’s sushi capital; Worksop, North Notts. What has this got to do with a public affairs blog you ask? Well, not a lot. Other than public affairs professionals have to eat too. We are, after all, only human.
As such if you wanted to see how we do that (eating that is) you would be well advised to visit one of two Japanese establishments on Rue du Trone. Hinodeya, a restaurant that makes up in service and good food what it lacks in décor, is a good choice – the business lunch box is recommended at 14 Euro. It also has a great locally brewed Japanese/Belgian beer (if it’s that kind of lunch). While the Japanese takeaway a couple of doors down throws in a free soup with your sushi take-away (though you have to buy the wasabi). Both are excellent if you want to ditch the boulette and baguette for once.
It was with some excitement therefore that several platoons of FHers stumbled upon a new Japanese place on Rue Montoyer in recent weeks called Kokeshi. However, once we got over the excitement of a new Japanese restaurant a block from the office, and remarked that it is still possible to generate such excitement in this city, we realised it’s ok but not super.
First, the setting. Yes, there’s a conveyor belt. It whizzes around and you awkwardly reach over your lunchmate as you seek to grab that plate that caught your eye. But the rest of the place has all the warmth of my sushi factory. White walls. Big neon lights. Heck I felt like donning my all over body suit and using a sanitizing spray. There’s nothing to break up the big rectangular white space you are sat in. Good for groups, if you can all fit round the small tables, not a winner for everything else.
Secondly, the food. The sushi is not bad from my humble perspective, though I bow to a former colleague come Commission official for awarding the gold stars. I did feel there wasn’t enough vinegar in the rice (back in the day checking the vinegar in the rice was my night job – not pleasant by the way at 3am). Really enjoyed the gyoza, although being warm they took a while. And well, I’m a glutton for chocolate and I have to say the chocolate tarlette thing went down well. Not very Japanese I daresay, but hey it’s chocolate.
Finally, the bill. With the colour coded plates ranging from 3 Euro to 9 Euro on the eat in menu, it can get pricey pretty quick if you’re hungry and don’t choose wisely. My grumble is that, unlike say Como Como in town, there’s no way of collecting plates in such a way that it turns into a menu price rather than paying per plate.
I admit that my sushi making days are over. But every now and again I want to close my eyes, taste rice and dream of England. After the last few weeks, the likelihood is you’ll find me doing so at Hinodeya rather than Kokeshi.