Vietnamese food… So fresh, so fragrant, so delicious! I fell in love with its unique flavour many years ago while visiting a renown restaurant called Little Asia in Brussels. The setting of the restaurant is easy, right in the center of the city, in the middle of the restaurant and bars dinning area St. Catherine. The interior design inside the restaurant is extremely clean and simple, very few things do suggest a Vietnamese culture and cuisine. Yet, the zen background music makes one completely transcend into the ethereal, helped by the beauty of the Vietnamese waitresses all dressed in traditional veiled slightly translucent dresses. A bite of the delicious dishes and a person is completely taken by the restaurant’s charm.
The second introduction into the Vietnamese food happened by a chance while being on a business trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I have been introduced to the Vietnamese mangostin salad and have sampled the most divine food in my enter existence. Knowing what delights the Vietnamese cuisine could offer made me even more curious to learn the basics and cook the same dishes at home.
There is only one Vietnamese cuisine diva in Belgium and this is the founder of the Little Asia restaurant Quyen. She has written several Vietnamese cooking books, appeared on numerous TV shows and received countless praise and awards in the country. She is the welcoming host in Little Asia and the smiling face to wave each customer good bye by the end of the visit. And when the Monday afternoons are quiet she is the one organising cooking lessons to all daring to try.
The cooking lesson I attended was amazing. Not only that we learned about the basic flavour combinations in the Vietnamese cuisine, but we cooked our own three dishes and we sampled each and every one with delight.
Of course the same three course menu was repeated the following weekend at home and my confidence in cooking the dishes by myself and my pleasure in feeding my loved ones with something fresh and tasty made the return on investment in attending the coursed paid off in full return.